The Alfred Nobel Monument

09 April, 2015

Understandably, visitors to Saint Petersburg might be a bit surprised and confused when they discover that there is a monument «Памятник Альфреду Нобелю» honouring Alfred Nobel in the Petrogradskaya district. However, honouring the inventor of dynamite and the founder of the prize that bears his name has its reasons and links the ground-breaking invention that is dynamite with Saint Petersburg.

The story behind this monument lies in Nobel’s childhood. In 1842 when Alfred was nine years old he, together with his siblings and mother, moved east from his native Stockholm to Saint Petersburg where his father had founded a mechanical factory a few years earlier. The reunited Nobel family moved in to a wooden house on the Petrogradskaya Embankment «Петроградская Набережная». Here Nobel would spend some very formative years, and receive the education that would pave the way to his later successes as a businessman and inventor. Alfred’s father, Immanuel, made sure that his children got the best available education. Among the subjects taught were physics, philosophy and of course Russian – a language Alfred would master fluently. However, the subject and teacher that would influence him the most was chemistry taught by the famous Russian professor Nikolay Zinin. Not only did professor Zinin introduce the young Nobel to the field that now has its own Nobel Prize, he also introduced nitro-glycerine to the young Alfred.

Alfred, by this time rather enthusiastic about the possibilities of nitro-glycerine started to experiment with the new and notoriously unstable substance conducting his first experiments on the frozen river Neva during the winters of the early 1860s.

Alfred moved back to Stockholm in 1863. He returned to Russia and Saint Petersburg only once after that, in the mid-1880s to visit his brother and the factory that the family owned.

The twenty years Nobel spent in Saint Petersburg thus proved to be extremely important to his education and famous ingenuity. Today, his legacy still lives through the Nobel Prize – and in Saint Petersburg through a monument where the Petrogradskaya Embankment meets Pinskiy Pereulok «Пинский переулок».

 

Getting there:

Northbound Metro no. 2 to Parnas. Get off at Gorskovskaya. Head south towards Troitsky Most and take a left onto ulitsa Kuybysheva following this road until you see the bridge, then turn left.

 

 

By: Vincent Becker

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