‘Venice of the North’
This phrase is often used to describe many European cities; however, St Petersburg has certainly earned this moniker.
I’m always one to enjoy a stroll along a riverside or hop on a boat, if there’s water involved I’m happy.
The Fontanka river embankment
Amazingly, St Petersburg has around 800 bridges, so it is quite difficult not to find yourself meandering along the canals and zig zagging over some of the bridges.
The Stroganov Palace on the Moyka River
Saint Petersburg’s Rivers & Canals
Where do you begin…….Neva, Moyka, Fontanka, Griboedov (lets do all of them)
The Neva River runs through the heart of St Petersburg, taking a boat trip along this waterway is a must. From this great vantage point you can really appreciate the architecture of the palaces along its main embankments.
The full span of the Trinity bridge
Most of St Petersburg’s waterways are within a short distance of the Hermitage Museum, the Neva is straddled by five bridges, the widest of which is the Trinity Bridge.
Trinity Bridge opened in 1903 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the founding of St Petersburg, it consists of ten arches and stretches across the widest point of the Neva River.
The Trinity Bridge over the Neva River
Point to Note
Ensure you check the language of your boat tour, depending on your language of choice will dictate the time of the tour.
The four other bridges that can be seen from the main embankments are Blagoveshchensky, which opened in 1850 and is a bascule bridge, similar to London’s Tower Bridge, but not as elegant (I my opinion anyway, but I am biased).
The Blagoveshchensky Bridge
The Dvortsovy opened in 1916 and also is a bascule bridge, often known as the Palace bridge. Birzhevoy bridge was opened in 1894, this is also known as the Exchange bridge, after the Old Stock Exchange. The fourth bridge, Liteyny, was opened in 1879.
The Blagoveshchensky Bridge control box over the Neva River
Bring your comfy shoes, you’ll going to need them crossing backwards and forwards.
A useful guide
If you've yet to discover the incredible history and architecture in St. Petersburg, you're in for a treat. I found this DK Top 10 Pocket Travel Guide invaluable, they're extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.
We used a previous version of this book to plan our St. Petersburg adventure, now you can grab the revised copy.
The Moyka River
Heading into the heart of St Petersburg and you’ll come across the Moyka River. This river encircles the core of St Petersburg and give you some fantastic views of the city.
St Isaacs from the Moyka River
Originally the Moyka only had four bridges, which were named the Blue, the Green the Yellow and the Red, each painted in that colour. Nowadays the river is spanned by 15 bridges.
Don't just take our word for it!
The Griboedov Canal
The Griboedov Canal is really pleasant to stroll along, passing by some of St Petersburg’s iconic sights along the way.
A close-up of the Lions on Lions Bridge
The canal was constructed in 1739, 5km in length and has an incredible 21 bridges spanning it. One of which is the Lions Bridge, even though this bridge is small in comparison to the ones stretching across the Neva, it’s actually one of the most famous bridges in St Petersburg.
The Lions Bridge
Situated near the Mariinsky Theatre, the pedestrian bridge was constructed in 1826 and has two eye-catching cast iron lions sitting at either end, almost guarding it.
The Bank Bridge over the Moyka River
Continuing along to the Bank Bridge, which was constructed in 1825-26, this is the narrowest pedestrian bridge in the city. Adorned at each end of this suspension bridge, are two shimmering golden-winged griffins.
Kazan Cathedral or the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan
Further along the canal you pass by the Russian Orthodox Kazan Cathedral, which was modelled on St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
The House of Books aka Singer House
Then a quick hop across Nevsky Prospekt, and you come to the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood.
This is one of my favourite sights in St Petersburg and quite possibly the main reason we visited.
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
The Fontanka River
The Fontanka River is 6,700m length and is spanned by 15 bridges. One of its most famous bridges is the Anichov Bridge, this bridge was completed in 1841.
It has four stunning bronze statues of men taming wild horses, viewed in the correct order you may notice that they appear to be broken in.
Now the beast is under control.
Just near the Anichov Bridge you can also visit the Fabergé museum.
The Faberge Museum,
The Winter canal
The Winter canal is the narrowest waterway in the city, it only has 3 bridges and is 228m in length. This little canal is fed one end by the Moyka river and the other by the Neva river, the Winter Palace is just a short walk away.
Inspired to visit Saint Petersburg?
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