The Helvetia Hotel occupies two 19th-century buildings at 11 Marata Street. The front building is a mansion that was built for the Khristovsky family in 1828; the second building was added on behind the inner courtyard a half century later. Listed among St. Petersburg's heritage structures, the Helvetia’s buildings are protected by the federal government’s Bureau of Landmarks.
Boasting some of the more refined architectural features of the buildings along Marata Street, No. 11 has an intriguing history. Petersburg historians have learnt a great deal about some periods of the history of the mansion and its owners in the 19th century. Some more recent decades have, unfortunately, remained incomplete, compelling historical researchers to rely on rumour and conjecture, along with their own wisdom and experience, in reconstructing the mansion's full history.
Among the sources considered reasonably trustworthy are personal memoirs. These are diaries written by people who lived on the street originally called Preobrazhensky and later Nikolaevsky. In 1918 the Soviets, in typical Bolshevik fashion, renamed the street after the 18th-century French revolutionary, Jean-Paul Marat.
One of the more curious details of the building's façade relates to the atlas figures, called telemones by architectural historians. The ones on the Helvetia are artistically unique in Russia. Read more...