Field of Mars (Saint Petersburg)
The Field of Mars or Marsovo Polye (Russian: Ма́рсово по́ле) is a large park named after Mars, the Roman god of war, situated in the center of Saint-Petersburg, with an area of about 9 hectares. Bordering the Field of Mars to the north are the Marble (Mramorny) Palace, Suvorova Square and Betskoi’s, Ficquelmont and Saltykov’s houses. To the west are the Barracks of the Pavlovsky Regiment. The Moyka River forms the boundary to the south.
The history of Field of Mars goes back to the first years of Saint Petersburg. At that time it was called the Great Meadow. Later it was the setting for celebrations to mark Russia's victory in the Great Northern War and the field was renamed the Amusement Field (Poteshnoe Pole). In the 1740s the Amusement Field was turned for a short while into a walking park with paths, lawn and flowers. Its next name – Tsarina’s Meadow – appears after the royal family commissioned Rastrelli to build the Summer Palace for Empress Elizabeth. But towards the end of the 18th century Tsarina’s Meadow became a military drill ground where they erected monuments commemorating the victories of the Russian Army and where parades and military exercises took place regularly.
In 1799 the Rumyantsev obelisk was placed in the centre of the Field and in 1801 a monument to Alexander Suvorov by Mikhail Kozlovsky was placed on the south side. The great military leader was depicted as Mars (Roman god of war). In 1805 the Tsarina’s Meadow was officially renamed the Field of Mars. The Rumyantsev obelisk was removed to Vasilyevsky Island in 1818, while at the suggestion of Carlo Rossi the monument to Suvorov was resited on Suvorov Square alongside the Field of Mars. After the February Revolution in 1917 the Field of Mars finally lost its significance as a military drill ground and became a memorial area, used to buried the revolution's honoured dead. In summer 1942 the Field of Mars was completely covered with vegetable gardens to supply the besieged Leningrad.
On 23 May 1917 the participants of February Revolution were buried there. 184 of 1382 citizens who were killed during the Revolution were buried in the common grave. In 1917-1919 a monument “To Fighters of Revolution” (architect – L. Rudnev) was erected above the graves. In 1918 the square was renamed to “The Place of the Victims of Revolution” but in 1944 it was renamed back.
On 6 November 1957 in the center of the Field was lit an Eternal Flame. It was the first in Russia. From here the Flame was delivered to Moscow in 1967 and was placed near Kremlin wall on the Tomb of Unknown Soldier. The Flame from the Field of Mars also burns on Piskaryovskoye Memorial Cemetery and on other memorials in Saint-Petersburg.