St. Petersburg Stories and Tips

Petrogradskaya Storona

The statue of Peter the Great Photo, St. Petersburg, Russia

Petrogradskaya Storona is the Russian name for the Petrograd side of St. Petersburg. Consisting of five islands joined by numerous bridges, this is St. Petersburg's oldest and most treasured historical area. The best way to come here is to take line 2 of the metro to Gorkovskaya Station, from where you can reach the main sights in a couple of minutes. For a good orientation of your whereabouts, take Bus 46 which crosses the Neva over the Troitsky Bridge and continues along Kamennoostrovsky prospekt.

Gorkovskaya adjoins Alexandrovsky Park, a medium-sized green area of walkways and streams shaded by old trees. If you walk west from the station, you'll reach the Planetarium and the Wax Museum; farther west, next to the children's fun park, you'll come across St. Petersburg's zoo, home to numerous animals, some of which are still living in poor conditions and neglected habitats. Gorkovskaya station leads south towards Ioannovsky Bridge, the footbridge that joins Alexandrovsky Park to Zayachy Island. While crossing the bridge, look towards the small adjacent beach and the boat rental stand nearby. In summer, it is not unusual to see local swimmers enjoying a swim in the heavily polluted waters of the Neva.

Just opposite the bridge, St.John's gate leads to the front courtyard of the Peter and Paul Fortress. There's nothing to see here but the ticket and Tourist Information Office next to the gate has free brochures and souvenirs for sale. You can wander as much as you like in the fort's courtyards but entry to the attractions requires separate tickets. From St.John's gate, walk straight to the opposite side. From here, St.Peter's gate leads to the heart of the fortress and its main attractions. The whole complex is ringed with bastions but Nevsky Gate, constructed along the south stretch of the bastions overlooking the Neva river offers a splendid view of the Winter Palace, St.Isaac's Cathedral and the Admiralty.

The big building you see on your left as you enter through St.Peter's gate is the engineer's building which houses an interesting museum about the town's architecture. The smaller building next to it is the senior officer's barracks, in front of which you can't miss seeing the statue of Peter the Great, an unusual out-of-proportion, bronze-cast statue depicting the ruler seated on the throne of Russia. The building on your right, opposite the statue is the Grand Ducal mausoleum which houses numerous exhibits about the reconstruction of the fortress. The highlight is without doubt the adjoining St.Peter and St.Paul Cathedral whose 122 metres high needle-thin spire is the city's highest building. Designed by D. Trezzini and recently restored to its original splendour and grandeur, the cathedral has an unusually plain exterior and a magnificent Baroque interior. Don't miss the redecorated gilded pulpit and the numerous burial vaults and marble tombstones with the remains of the Russian tsars, including those of Peter the Great.

The building south of the cathedral is the former Commandant's house, now occupied by the St.Petersburg Museum of History. The small building to the north is the house of the Russian Navy. Here, an exact copy of the boat used by Peter the Great is preserved. The huge building in front of the cathedral's entrance is the former Mint which has recently opened for visitors.

If you still have time after visiting the fortress, walk back along the footbridge, cross Kamennoostrovsky prospect and continue east along Petrovskaya naberezhnaya until you reach the little stone building that encloses and preserves the small log cabin from where Peter the Great supervised the construction of the city. If you continue farther east along the embankment, you'll reach the Cruiser Aurora, a unique ship museum that contains numerous interesting documents and photographs witnessing the ship's agitated history.

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