Saint Petersburg – in one word - breathtaking.
And so was the three-day celebration of the 7th ESSENS Anniversary, which took place over the extended weekend from 12th to 14th October 2018, in the exclusive Four Seasons Lion Palace hotel.
Saint Petersburg, the second largest city of Russia, founded in 1703 by Petr Veliký to become the capital of the Russian Empire for the next 200 years. Although the city has a very short history, it boasts a number of admirable monuments listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. More than 160 guests have tasted a fascinating experience, which was ensured not only by a rich programme, but also a magnificent gala evening with an anniversary ceremony.
The official programme was launched on Friday morning with a sightseeing cruise on the river Neva, whose both river banks are lined with refined, illuminated monumental palaces. Following was a dinner at the renowned Brasserie de Metropole restaurant, which was established in the 19th century as a café, later as a Lux restaurant, which was sought after by artists, poets and journalists from St. Petersburg. It has also become a favourite restaurant of the peculiar mystic Grigory Jefimovich Rasputin. After 1931, it was named Metropole and during the Soviet Union it served the elite of the Communist Party as well as foreign guests, such as Ronald Regan and Jacque Chiraque.
On Saturday, the programme started by walking tour to the Hermitage Museum, where a private tour of this renowned gallery took place. The museum, with its collection of more than 3 million works of art, ranks among the largest in the world and is located in a complex of five buildings, headed by the impressive Winter Palace. In the 350 exhibition halls you can admire the rich collections of fine art, precious stones, coins, medals and other art objects. The chambers themselves are exceptional by their very exquisite decoration, as they were originally used by the tsars for festive occasions.
The day was definitely not over and continued with guided city tour with a stop at the world-renowned cruiser Aurora and continuing to Orthodox Cathedral of St. Isaac, lying in the immediate vicinity of the hotel. It was exhibited by Tsar Alexander I. in 1858 on the occasion of the victory over Napoleon, and as the second highest cathedral in the world, it can be occupied by more than ten thousand people.
After an emotional experience of the stunning city, everybody could enjoy a lunch at the nearby Stroganoff Steak House, the largest restaurant of its kind in Russia and Europe, opened in 2007 in a renovated building originally serving as a barracks.
The Gala Evening itself took place in the Ethnographic Museum, which usually offers its visitors an example of the diversity of cultures of many nationalities from the Baltic to the Far East. This time, however, the spacious hall of the museum became the scene of a magnificent event. After the opening speech and ceremonial toast from Mr. Michal Kovář, an excellent four-course menu of the Chef of the Four Seasons Lion Palace hotel was served.
As a surprise, the St. Petersburg Army choir and dance ensemble perfomed, followed by the award and reward ceremony for the most successful leaders of the past year, giving thanks to valuable guests and the ESSENS owners.
Traditional cutting of the birthday cake couldn´t be forgotten, which symbolically took a step to the next, eighth year of existence of our successful company.
Before the official announcement of free time, accompanied by reproduced music, Mr. Michal Kovář introduced the exciting video of Barcelona, as a small taste of the planned 8th ESSENS Anniversary.