Carusel Tours
27 December 2021

Best Old Cinemas of St. Petersburg Where You Can Watch Films in Their Original Language

Angleterre Cinema Lounge in Angleterre Hotel St. Petersburg
We have our favourite hobbies, but it seems that there is one that all of us like and that we can practice anywhere, at any time of the year regardless of gender, age and nationality.

I am referring to cinema, the art that is young, but so fascinating that it leaves no one indifferent. Both of us are real cinema lovers and we are not ashamed of this passion. That is why I would like to tell you a little about cinemas where you could go when you are in St. Petersburg and you want to see a good film in its original language.
We live in a city that is full of history and we also have some historic cinemas.
As the leader of all communists once said, "Of all the arts, cinema is the most important for us." With this statement, Vladimir Lenin meant that at that time the cinema (along with the radio) was the most effective means of communication for the formation of the masses, and we can affirm that this continues to be the case.

Certainly, Lenin was not the first to understand the real potential of cinematography that appeared in Russia before he came to power. Our country discovered this invention of the Lumiere brothers very early. That happened on May 14, 1896, when Arrival of a Train was first shown at the Aquarium Theatre, in the intermission of the vaudeville Alfred Pasha in Paris.

This way the era of cinema madness began, which quickly turned into an authentic fever that swept through the vast territory of Russia and led to the emergence of many talented Russian film directors and their works.
Tell us, what Russian directors do you know, what films have you seen and do you want to know more about them?
Lenfilm Cinema St. Petersburg
Lenfilm Cinema
Kamenoostrovsky, 10
Metro Gorkovskaya

Now the Aquarium Theatre does not exist, but its location is still related to the cinema! There Lenfilm stands now, the oldest film studio in the country.

Lenfilm Studio is located on the territory of the former Aquarium Garden, which belonged to merchant Georgi Aleksandrov, and contained a restaurant, a public garden and a theatre.

In 1923 Aquarium was nationalized, it was given to the film studio of the young Soviet state and it continues to function that way. Many great filmmakers and actors, as well as writers, artists and musicians, worked very hard to make Soviet cinema prominent. Among them there are the names of Sergei Eisenstein, Grigori Kozintsev, Iosif Jeifits, Eugene Zamiatin, Dmitri Shostakovich, Alexei German, Alexander Sokurov.
Not all films in Lenfilm Cinema are shown in their original language
Sokurov Exhibition Lenfilm St. Petersburg
Lenfilm continues to shoot the films, and everyone can visit the studio's museum with many curious things or see the films released worldwide and produced by the studio in a recently renovated and very comfortable cinema. And in the entrance hall of Lenfilm Cinema there is almost always an exhibition, like the one about Aleksandr Sokurov's creative path in the photo above.
The Blue Bird, the first Soviet-American film, was shot at the Lenfilm studio in 1976 in collaboration with 20th Century Studios. It is based on the homonymous play by Maurice Maeterlinck and stars Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardner and Jane Fonda along with Soviet actors.
Entrance to Aurora Cinema Hall St. Petersburg
Aurora Cinema
Nevsky, 60
Metro Gostiny Dvor/Nevsky Prospect

Only 2 days after the first screening at the Aquarium the first permanent cinema hall was opened on Nevsky Avenue. It was Biograf Cinema, inaugurated with the announcement - the performance of the electric world of Lumiere. There they screened the stereoscopic views of St. Petersburg and Paris in the first world's blockbuster - The Gardener, Watering the Lawn.

You can see this miracle of cinematography in the old photos of Nevsky Avenue, made during the celebrations of the coronation of the last Russian Tsar Nicholas II. Today Biograf Cinema does not exist, but just a few steps from this place you will find Aurora, the oldest and most popular cinema in St. Petersburg, opened in 1913.
Luxurious interiors of Aurora Cinema Hall St. Petersburg
Aurora Cinema was inaugurated on December 27 first as the Piccadilly Cinema Palace. Spectators were mesmerized by the comfort of its halls that had 800 seats, a privileged location and amazing decor with mosaics, frescoes, Chinese ceramics and a fountain at the entrance.
As you know, the films of that time were silent and among the pianists, who accompanied them in Aurora, there was a young student of the conservatory, Dmitri Shostakovich.
The Cinema Palace was so luxurious that some screenings were accompanied by the symphony orchestra. It got its current name in 1937 in honour of the revolutionary cruiser Aurora.

It was one of the first cinemas to screen sound films and one of the few cinemas that was open during the Siege of Leningrad.
E. Glebova, the younger sister of the prominent Russian avant-garde painter Pavel Filánov, lived In the same building. She carefully kept the collection of his works and donated it in 1977 to the State Russian Museum.
Aurora Cinema Hall has always been the preferred venue for premieres, as well as for international and Russian film festivals.

Today two halls of Aurora are not as large as in their early years, but they still are very comfortable. This charming cinema is loved by many famous filmmakers and it has its loyal audience - we are among it!

In Aurora you can watch the films in their original language and with subtitles, while most of the films shown in Russia are dubbed.
Cinema Halls on Karavannaya Street St. Petersburg
Dom Kino and Rodina
Karavannaya, 12
Metro Gostiny Dvor/Nevsky Prospect

Just a few steps from Aurora, on Karavannaya Street, you will find two historical cinema halls at once, Dom Kino (The House of Cinema) and Rodina (Motherland), both situated in a massive and impressive neoclassical building with gilded capitals and Venetian windows.

This building, designed by young architects K. Bobrovsky and B. Botkin in 1916 during World War I for the Petrograd Credit Society, housed not only a bank, but also a concert hall and fashion stores.

The building's commercial purpose is confirmed by the shield with 3 balls on top - it is the medieval symbol of moneylenders, very similar to the Medici shield, which only enhances the pseudo-Italian features of this house.

The Credit Society was functioning there until 1917, when it gave way to the first cinema. It was called Splendid Palace and very soon it turned into one of the best cinema halls of Petrograd.
On November 7, 1918, the first Soviet feature film based on Lunacharsky's script, Uplotnenie, was released there to celebrate one year of the revolution. Uplotnenie literally means compaction and it was a purely Soviet phenomenon, when almost every room in the apartments housed different families.
Inside Rodina Cinema Hall
After the Great Patriotic War, the cinema was repaired. On June 12, 1948 it was reopened as Leningrad's first children's cinema and was renamed Rodina.

Additionally, in 1960 a new chapter in the life of this building began. It was turned into the cinematographic centre of our city and the headquarters of the Cinematography Union. The second part of the cinema was divided and got another name, the House of Cinema or Dom Kino in Russian.

Since then 2 cinemas are located under the same roof, but both are very beautiful with a special environment around them.I can't say that they have very modern technical equipment, but they distinguish themselves with the perfect selection of films and both are true meccas for film lovers.
Cafe in Dom Kino Cinema St. Petersburg
Just like in Aurora, in the halls of Rodina and Dom Kino you can watch films in their original language, with subtitles. They offer their audience Russian and foreign masterpieces, and present the best examples of contemporary art house films. Retrospective screenings and film festivals are also very often hosted there.

In addition, Dom Kino has a cozy cafe, where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the square from its large windows, while you are waiting for the film you have chosen.

From time to time Dom Kino organises photo and painting exhibitions.
Little Centaur Sculpture at the Entrance to Dom Kino Cinema
When you climb the stairs leading to the main entrance of the cinemas, have a look at the bronze sculpture - the Little Centaur. It is a symbol of the International Film Festival Message to Man, which has been held annually in St. Petersburg since 1989. The same small statuettes are awarded to the winners.

It is the work of D. Pakhomov based on a drawing by Nadia Rusheva, a talented Russian artist who died very early at the age of 17, but created more than 10,000 works of art, including the illustrations to the books by Tolstoy, Shakespeare, Saint-Exupery, Pushkin and Bulgakov.
Cinema en hotel Angleterre in St. Petersburg
Angleterre Cinema Lounge
Malaya Morskaya, 24 (close to St. Isaac´s Cathedral)
Metro Admiralteyskaya/Nevsky Prospekt

It is located in one of the historical hotels in St. Petersburg, next to the famous Astoria, and bears the same name - Angleterre.

If you are lucky enough to stay at this wonderful historic hotel in St. Petersburg, you can spend an afternoon enjoying the latest film releases or retrospectives. But even if you are staying in any other hotel, I still recommend you to visit it, with a good film as a starter before a Russian dinner or tea ceremony.
Angleterre Cinema Lounge
The cinema is located in the conference hall of Angleterre Hotel. Here you can watch not only films, but also the recorded performances of the best Russian and European drama theatre, opera and ballet companies. It was the first cinema hall in St. Petersburg, organised as a club.

In Angleterre all films are screened only in their original languages with subtitles in Russian.
It is interesting that when you buy a ticket to Angleterre you cannot choose your seat, the seating in this cinema hall is free.
Beautiful Interior of Lendok Studio Cinema Hall
Lendok Studio Cinema Hall
Kryukov Canal, 12 (close to Mariinsky Theatre)
Metro: Sadovaya/Ploshad Mira/Spasskaya

Lendok is the abbreviation for the studio of documentary films, which was organised in 1918 and in its early years produced chronicles. It has the luxurious interiors of a former stable and riding hall.

During the years of the Great Patriotic War (Eastern Front of World War II) it was the only film studio that worked on the battle fronts. During the days of the siege, it did not stop working, filming and projecting newscasts. The studio's collection amounts to more than 50 000 tapes.

Since 2012, the studio functions as an art centre that brings together creative people. Interesting events, film screenings and concerts are held there. There is also an educational centre in Lendok that aims to support creativity among young people.

Like most cultural centres, it has a beautiful restaurant with a friendly atmosphere, decorated with the bas-relief with horses - an old horse trough, turned into a fountain.
Lendok Cinema Hall
If you intend to see a film in Lendok, don't forget to check what's on first, and keep in mind that not all the films that are screened there are subtitled. They are mostly dubbed, but during festivals and special screenings they can be subtitled.

Of course, in St. Petersburg there are many modern and large cinemas, with 3D Max technologies and I don't know what, but for me, they are more or less the same all over the world and I am not going to recommend them as something special that is worth visiting during your stay in another country.

I hope that you enjoyed this tour of the best cinemas of St. Petersburg, and a brief outline of the early years of Russian cinema.

If you ever visit one of the recommended cinemas, please share your opinion with us.

And if you are also interested in the topic of Russian cinema and you would like to know more details about its history, about Russian filmmakers and actors, let me know. I would be happy to tell you more about this wonderful art, magical and deceptive ...

Text by Karina Carusel Tours
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