About the Local History
The famous Sennaya Square or Sennaya Ploshchad (literally Hay Square) is a large city square in Central Saint Petersburg, also known as Peace Square between 1963 and 1991.
Sennaya square was established in 1737 in a place that was at that time edge of the young city, after Marine market, a market place nearby the Palace Square was destroyed by fire. Sennaya Square was a market where hay, firewood and cattle were sold. It grew quickly, becoming the cheapest and liveliest market in Saint Petersburg and an economic epicenter for the countless workers and other new arrivals to the city. It was a chaotic, raucous and crowded market, the antithesis of Peter the Great’s desire for a well ordered, Europeanized capital free from what he considered the backwards and Eastern elements common throughout his Empire.
Sennaya Square grew rashly, already in the 1740s the first merchant houses and a wooden church were built at the Square. As the city grew Sennaya Ploschad was incorporated into the city limits and as the area continued to grow the market became a part of the center of the city but still was occupied mostly by the lower classes, petty criminals, prostitutes and starving children. The surrounding district was known for its overcrowded dubious slums, which provide the setting for numerous works of literature, for example Dostoevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment.
Photo K.K. Bulla 1910s. Sadovaya Street. Hay market.
Soviet time this once deprecated area was completely transformed and revived. In the 1920s slums, brothels and dubious taverns were demolished and in the 1930s the area was reconstructed, houses were built around the square and old facades restored. Market was renamed as the October collective farm market and moved to nearby Moskovskiy prospect. During the siege of Leningrad many of the buildings around Sennaya Square were destroyed and damaged. In 1952 Sennaya Square was renamed as Peace Square.
In 1753-1765 the Church of the Assumption of the Mother of God, known as Spas Na Sennoy, was built in a sumptuous Baroque style. The five-domed Church was built with funds from the merchant Savva Iakovlev on the site of wooden Church. The Church was blown up in 1961 to make way for the construction of the metro station. Today, the place where the Church was built is marked by a chapel and in 2014 begins reconstruction of the Church.
The Church of the Assumption of the Mother of God will be reconstructed at its historical place.
In 1991 the area’s historic name was returned from Peace Square back to Sennaya Square. In the beginning of the 2000’s Sennaya Square went through a reconstruction. Today it is again a lively market area with shopping pavilions, restaurants, department stores and lots of entertainment possibilities.
The square has an excellent traffic connection with other parts of the city – it is served by three metro stations; Sennaya Ploshchad, Sadovaya and Spasskaya.