Rivers and Canals, Saint Petersburg
The Strelka (or Point) picturesquely lies on the edge of Vasilievsky Island overlooking both the Peter and Paul Fortress and the Winter Palace. The Neva is at its widest point here (one kilometer). The Strelka is bordered to the west by the stock exchange building with a great Neptune statue on top. The Strelka was St. Petersburg's main port for over one hundred years, with the big reddish rostral columns serving as lighthouses. During festivities, flames alight the top of the columns and fireworks explode over the Neva
From the very outset the city was built on water, on numerous islands in delta of Neva River. The combination of the architecture and water in St. Petersburg, as well as in Venice, has a special charm. St. Petersburg was built on the delta of the River Neva and is spread out over numerous islands of varying sizes, frequently prompting the nickname the "City of 101 Islands".
The evening cruise was most enjoyable as the August daylight lingered into the evening. We passed many outstanding buildings and palaces, too many to remember the names. Eventually it became too cold to remain on deck so we all went inside and enjoyed som Russian entertainment.
When you stand on the Anchikov Bridge you have a great view over the Fontanka.
The Fontanka Channel is 7 km long, and is the longest channel in Saint Petersburg. It is also the busiest of all the waterways in St Petersburg.
And in the past this was the city border.
The Fontanka is also surrounded with great buildings on both sides. I really enjoyed my walk along the Fontanka. Also there are some remarkable bridges which cross this channel: The Anchikov Bridge (see higher), the Lomonosov Bridge with it small towers with a dome and the Egyptian Bridge.
We arrived onboard at 7:30 pm on a late August evening for a 2 hour cruise with commentary and entertainment. A good night out with plenty of historic buildings and palaces on either side of the canal.
The tour boat was a good size with plenty of seating when we went inside for beer and show.
This was an after dinner cruise which commenced at 7:30pm. On the water it was cold, a late August evening and most of our group were caught without a coat.
We cruised the river and canals, the sights were excellent and the commentary made sure we knew what we were looking at.
At one stage of the evening the commentator mentioned that the Romanoff family, including cousins,had approx 69 palaces in St Petersburg prior to the revolution. It is easy to understand why the revolution happened.
The Moyki River intersects the Nevsky Prospect near where the Church of Spilt Blood is. A river boat leaves every few minutes and costs about 400 rubles (about $16 year 2008). I boarded it at 2020PM and only the 1600PM ride had an English guide. Some people might care, but I don't. All the lady spoke over the speaker was Ruskee (Russian) and somehow it added to the ambience of the trip (I'm really in Russia!). The ride started at the canals and then turned left onto the big river Neva where a huge fountain was shooting up in the sky. It was nearing sunset and so the glow from the red sun was great on the river and the buildings on its fringes. Spectacular river view worthy of the camera! But I am no photographer so just bear with my amateur digital captures.
A new fountain is located in the widest place of the Neva River near Vasil'ev Island Split. Good viw to this fountain from Peter and Paul Fortress, the ambankment near Winter Palce, Palace bridge, of course Vasil'ev Island Split, Birzhevoy bridge and Mytninskaya embankment. In the evening this fountain is light up with color lights. At 0.00 you can see a perfomance in amazing decorations of bridges and ambankments - laser show (symbols of the city are displayed on water screen), the illuminated fountain operates in accordance with classic music. It's worth to see this perfomance (20 minutes 0.00-0.20) - free.
It operates only in summer.
Between the Old hermitage and the Hermitage theatre you can see the Winter Channel.
Like this you can understand why the call Saint Petersburg the Venice of the North.
Three bridges are crossing this narrow channel.
Coming from the front side of the Hermitage along the river Neva, you can reach the Millionaire Street (Millionnaja Oelitsa).
These people looked like they were enjoying being riverside early evening. From our river cruise it looked cool and 30 minutes later we were forced to go inside due to the chill. I guess summer temperature varies depending how close your home is to the Equator.
During the summer, the major bridges in St. Petersburg open during the night to let the bigger boats pass through. This can get annoying, because you need to schedule around the bridge openings if you want to stay out at night in the center. But it's fun to watch them open. People gather on the banks to watch, and a bunch of small boats also approach the bridge to watch it open - it's like a small party. The times they open vary - usually around 1:30 AM, coming down again around 5. Many maps and guidebooks have the exact times.
During the white nights of June adn July is a perfect time to go down to the Neva River and watch the bridges open to let the big ships up the Neva River.
You can also take a ride on a boat to watch the bridges and landscape from the water.
Boats load about 1 am and usually go for more than an hour to see a number of bridges along the Neva.
I remember walking along University Embankment.
In front of the facade of the Academy of Arts you can see a pier embellished with two Egyptian sphinxes on high pedestals with granite benches.
The granite benches are embellished with figures of gryphons.
The sphinxes are carved of pink granite.
They say it was brought from the famous Aswan stone quarries in Egypt.
There are hieroglyphic inscriptions on the support plate.
They glorify the Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep III who lived in the 15th -14th century B.C.
The inscriptions reads,
Son of Rah, Amenhotep, the ruler of Thebes,
the builder of monuments rising to the sky
like four pillars holding up the vault of the heavens
The sphinxes were bought by Russia from Egypt in 1831.
On the right side of the Nevskiy Avenue, opposite the Kazan Cathedral is the Griboyedov Channel, the most famous one in St.Petersburg. It is named after the russian writer and poet of the beginning of the 19th century Alexander Gribojedov. You can start a boat trip here or you can walk along the channel until you come to so called Spilt Blood Church, which was built on the place where the russian tsar Alexander II was murdered by bomb. It is an amazing chirch in a old russian style.
There are several ways of cruising on the Neva ranging from almost nothing to lots of cash.
Our first cruise in 2003 was with our tour group. It cost us $25 per person for a group of about 30 and our guide was the narrator so I think we chartered the boat for a couple of hours.
Our second cruise we picked up at Peter and Paul Fortress. For 100 rubles each, they gave us a 40 minute cruise, taking us past the Church of the Spilled Blood and dropped us off close to the Hermitage. For 100 rubles I would have paid just not to have to walk all the way back! I think there was also a round trip option for slightly more.