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It is a cliche that tsarist Russia had two rival capitals: St. Petersburg, Russia's "window to Europe"; and Moscow, city of palaces and onion domes, the tradition-bound metropolis of the Orthodox heartland.Enlightened Metropolischallenges this cultural myth by examining the tsarist regime's efforts to turn Moscow into a European city. In the eighteenth century, Europeans and even some Russians scorned Moscow as part of Asia, and the tsars themselves thought it a benighted place that endangered both their political security and their effort to Westernize their country and gain respect for Russia abroad. Beginning with Catherine the Great, they sought to remake Moscow on the model of St. Petersburg by reconstructing its buildings and institutions, fostering a Westernized "middle estate" and constructing a new image of Moscow as an enlightened metropolis. Drawing on the methodologies of urban, social, institutional, cultural, and intellectual history,Enlightened Metropolisasks: How was the city's urban environment - buildings, institutions, streets, smells - transformed in the nine decades from Catherine's accession to the death of Nicholas I? How did these changes affect the everyday lives of the inhabitants, and did a "middle estate" in fact come into being? Did Moscow's urban modernization resemble that of Western cities, and how was it affected by the disastrous occupation by Napoleon in 1812? Lastly, how was Moscow's modernization interpreted by writers, artists, and social commentators in Russia and the West from the Enlightenment to the mid-nineteenth century?
Alexander M. Martin grew up in Germany, Switzerland, and France, and was educated at Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania. He taught from 1993 to 2006 at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia.