JUL 01,2015 - JUL 01,2015 (1 DAYS)
Petrogradskaya Island: From Sobornaya Mosque - to Finlandskaya train station.
Distance: 7-8 km. Duration: 4-5 hours (with the Museum of Political History: 7-8 hours).
Attractions: St. Petersburg Mosque, Museum of Political History, Trinity Square, Troitskiy (Trinity) Bridge, Petrovskaya nab. (Петровская наб.), Cabin of Peter the Great, Nakhimov Naval Academy, Sampsonievskiy Bridge, Mikhailov Artillery Academy, Lenin Square, Finland train station.
Start: Gorkhovskaya Metro station (Red line #1).
End: Finland train station or Lenin Square (Ploshchad Lenina) Metro station (Red Line #1).
Introduction: this itinerary is ONLY in the Petrogradskaya island. It does not include the St. Paul and St. Peter fortress (also in Petrogradskaya) - browsed in the "St. Petersburg - Vasilievsky and Petrogradskaya Storona Islands" blog. This route starts in Gorkhovskaya Metro station - where the "St. Petersburg - Vasilievsky and Petrogradskaya Storona Islands" route ends. Most of the route passes along the northern bank of Neva river, overlooking the impressive southern shores of the Neva river. You'll have magnificent views of Petrogradskaya Island from the Holy Trinity Bridge and you'll pass by several wonderful Art-Nouveau buildings in Petrogradskaya and through a couple of well known icons of the Bolshevik revolution: the balcony where Vladimir Lenin spoke to the public after returning to St. Petersburg and the Finland train station with the train which brought him, in 1917, from his exile in Switzerand - back to revolutionary Russia and St. Petersburg. As for the old ship "Aurora" and its cannons - it is at Kronstadt for repairs till 2016.
We start in Gorkovskaya Metro station. We exit the station at the subway, crossing the Kamennoostrovsky Prospekt under the ground. Cross also the Kronverskiy street (Кронверкский пр) (caution !) from south to north. You should be on the left side of Kronverskiy bustling street - where the St. Petersburg Mosque is, immediately, on your left. You cannon miss the St. Petersburg Mosque, Kronverkskiy prospekt, 7 (Санкт-Петербу́ргская мече́ть) - a magnificent, oriental, bluish-greenish mosque - probably under restoration (as for summer 2015). It is the largest mosque in Europe outside Turkey, 50 m. high. It was opened in 1913, its construction completed at 1921 and it can accommodate up to five thousand prayers. In 1940 the Soviet authorities banned services and turned the building into a medical equipment storehouse. During the Second World War St. Petersburg Mosque was closed and was made into a warehouse. At the request of the first Indonesian President, Soekarno, ten days after his visit to the city, the mosque was returned to the Muslim Religious community of St. Petersburg in 1956. The mosque was built to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the reign of Abdul Ahat Khan in Bukhara. By that time, the Muslim community of St. Petersburg exceeded 8,000 people. The projected structure was capable of accommodating most of them. The architect Nikolai Vasilyev designed the mosque after Gur-e Amir, the tomb of Tamerlane in Samarkand. The hall for men is located on the first floor of the mosque, women pray in the hall on the second floor. The classrooms of the Sunday school, where the classes of Islam, the Arabic and Tatar languages are taught, are situated on the third floor:
Our next destination is the Museum of Political History, Kuibisheva st., 2-4. You continue south-east along Kronverskiy street. Almost in its end, on your left, you see a courtyard with sculptures (a university workshop):
The next, adjacent building, in the intersection of the streets Kronverskiy and Kuibisheva stands a splendid, asymmetrical, in Art-Nouveau style: in the past - the Kshesinskaya Estate or Mansion and, presently, the Museum of Political History. Opening hours: daily from 10.00 to 18.00, last admission is at 17.00. Closed: Thursdays and on the last Monday of each month. Prices: adult: 200 RUB, Students/children: 100 RUB. Audio-guide: 100 RUB. Photo: free, video: not allowed. NOT wheelchair accessible (no elevator/lift, many stairs). There is a good provision of English annotation as well. http://en.polithistory.ru/. This Art Nouveau building was originally built, in 1906, for Ballerina Mathilda Kshesinskaya (a lover of the Tsar Nicholas II), the Prima Ballerina at the Mariinskiy before the 1917 revolution. The design (by Alexander von Gogen) combines line of reception rooms with a winter garden and rotunda. The exterior comprises windows of different sizes set in walls covered with various materials. In 1917, the building was seized by the Bolsheviks and turned into their headquarters in the city. It became the centre of their revolutionary activities, and Lenin made a historic speech from one of the balconies after his arrival in the city. It was later passed through a number of organizations, before eventually becoming the Museum of the Revolution in 1957.
The exhibition WAS based, during the 20th century years, on the collection of artifacts gathered by key players in the Communist revolution long before the museum itself was actually established, including their own personal items, documents, posters, pamphlets, and banners. Of particular interest are the belongings of politicians, statesmen, scientists and military leaders, among them the 19th-20th centuries Tsar Nicholas II, Lenin, Trotsky, Gorbachev and Yuri Gagarin. During the last years, the museum's collection Had been extended and its time spectrum had been broadened - from the reign of Catherine the Great (the second half of the 18th century) to the political climate in present Russia. There are nearly 500,000 exhibits on display now. Among them: original document signed by Napoleon, piece of the Berlin Wall, an actual Sputnik and correspondence letters of Mikhail Gorbachev. You can visit the same room and balcony from which Lenin spoke during the 1917 revolution. THIS IS AN IMMENSLY INTERESTING MUSEUM FULL WITH HISTORIC AND CULTURAL INFORMATION, ARTIFACTS AND DOCUMENTS. DO NOT MISS !!! More than that: it is the creative presentation of the materials that makes it truly so inspiring, phenomenal and outstanding. Unforgotten lesson in recent history !!! Allow, at least, 3 hours. There is also a good Soviet-style cafe'/cafeteria (hidden at the end of a long corridor, behind the washroom and cloakroom) with budget prices:
We head now to the Neva river - without crossing the Troitskiy bridge. We stay on the northern shore of the river. With your back to the museum, head RIGHT (southwest) on Kuibisheva (ул. Куйбышева) toward Trinity Square (Troitskaya Ploshchad) (пл. Троицкая), 110 m. On your left is the Troitskiy (Trinity) Church - a recently built (year 2003) Troitskaya (Trinity) Chapel devoted to 300 jubilee of the city of St. Petersburg:
Today, the Trinity Square is comparatively bustling and unremarkable green space - leading to the more famous bridge, further south-east. At the centre of the square, Domenico Trezzini designed the wooden Troitsky (Trinity) Cathedral. For a long time it was the main cathedral of the St. Petersburg. The square was also used for the reading of royal decrees and for a variety of festivals and military parades. Celebrations took place here in 1721 as the Great Northern War with Sweden came to an end, and St. Petersburg's first triumphal arch was erected here to mark the victory of the young Russian Navy at the Battle of Gangut. On October 22, 1721, Peter was declared the first Emperor of Russia at this site. From 1720 onwards, however, the area started to lose its significance. The port and the administrative center of the city moved to Vasilievsky Island, and during the 1720s and 1730s fires destroyed almost all of the buildings on Troitskaya Ploshchad. The only one rebuilt was the Troitsky Cathedral in 1756, this time in stone. Nevertheless, life on the square did not slow down and it continued to play host to many celebrations, firework displays, military parades, and public executions. We see the church and the square from the north-west. Try to walk further and have a view from the north-east:
Continuing, zigzag left and right, crossing the green square toward Kamennoostrovsky Prospekt (пр. Каменноостровский), 340 m. Slight right onto Troitskiy (Trinity) Bridge (мост. Троицкий). Trinity Bridge (Тро́ицкий мост, Troitskiy Most) is a bridge across the Neva that connects Kamennoostrovsky Prospekt (north bank of the Neva river, Petrograd side) with the Palace Embankment (Suvorovskaya Square) in the southern bank in SPB mainland. In the middle of XIX century necessity of a bridge in this area became obvious, but only in 1890 the decision on construction was accepted and another two years later a competition on the best project of the bridge was declared. It was the third permanent bridge across the Neva, built between 1897 and 1903 by the French firm Société de Construction des Batignolles (it was first handled to the Eiffel French company). The bridge's creation was a symbol of a new military coalition between Russia and France. During St. Petersburg's bicentennial celebrations in 1903, the area was connected to the opposite bank of the Neva by the new Troitsky Bridge. This brought new life to the area, and grandiose plans were developed for Troitskaya Ploshchad. It is 582 meters long and derives its name from the Old Trinity Cathedral which used to stand at its northern end. Troitsky bridge changed its name many times: in the 20th century it was known as Equality Bridge (мост Ра́венства, 1918-1934) and Kirovsky Bridge (Ки́ровский мост, 1934-1999):
When you are standing on the bridge - you see a ship on your left. IT is NOT the "Aurora" ship. It is the Fregat Blagodat', Restoran:
The view from the Trinity Bridge to the southern bank of the Neva - to St. Petersburg city centre and the Palace Embankment:
We trace back and head with our face back to the north, returning from the bridge to the north shore of the Neva.
The view from the Trinity Bridge back to the Trinity (Troitsky) Square (in the background - SPB Mosque):
After returning over the bridge from south to north - we turn RIGHT (EAST) to Petrovskaya nab. (Петровская наб.) with the Fregat Blagodat', Restoran on our right (south). A splenidid and pleasant walk along this embankment or promenade:
We walk 220 m. further, north-east along Petrovskaya and reach a couple of lions' stone statues on the Petrovskaya Embankment overlooking the Neva - their face to the south, to St. Petersburg City centre, to the southern shore of the Neva:
Opposite, in the northern side of Petrovskaya street, hidden in a dense garden or pitch is the Cabin of Peter the Great, Petrovskaya naberezhnaya, 6,: When Peter the Great arrived to supervise the construction of the Peter and Paul Fortress and his new city and capital, he needed a place to stay. So, in three days (reputedly) the army carpenters built him this modest little cabin where he lived for the next six years. The site he had selected near the Gulf of Finland for the new city wasn't much more than a swamp and there was no accommodation or luxury whatsoever. But Peter decided his grand ambitions were more important than the comfort of a luxurious home. But due to his involvement in the Northern War with Sweden, Peter did not spend much time in the cabin and in 1712 he moved to the partially completed Summer Palace. After the Tsar left, the cabin stood abandoned for years. In 1723 his wife Catherine decided to protect the cabin from decay, so a protective wall was built around the wooden structure. In 1844 the wall was replaced with the current brick and glass encasing, which gives the log cabin the appearance of a brick house. Today, the house - the oldest in the city - is home to a museum, the Muzey Domik Petra I (Museum of the House of Peter I). It gives an idea of life during the very first years of the city of St. Petersburg. The little cabin feels more like a shrine than a museum, but confirms Peter’s love for the simple life with its unpretentious, homely feel, visibly influenced by the time he spent in Holland. The building, which is just 5.5 meters wide and 12 meters long has only two rooms - a study and dining room - and a hall which doubled as bedroom. Inside are some items from Peter the Great, such as his chair (built by himself) and his compass. There is also a small boat that Peter made, who is sometimes referred to as the Tsar Carpenter. Look out for the bronze bust of Peter by Parmen Zabello in the garden. The cabin has always been a sentimental site for St Petersburg. During WWII, Soviet soldiers would take an oath of allegiance to the city here, vowing to protect it from the Germans, before disappearing to the front. After the Siege of Leningrad, this was the first museum to reopen to the public. Opening hours: daily 10.00 - 18.00, THU 13.00 - 21.00. Closed TUE and last MON of month. Price: adult 200 RUB.
We continue along Petrovskaya street with our face to the east - on the left side of the street (the northern, tree-lined) pavement - leaving the Neva river on our right:
Note, on your left - when Petrovskaya street meets the Michurinskaya road - The Sha'arei Shalom Progressive Jewish Community Synagogue (Sankt-Peterburgskaya Obshchina Progressivnogo Iudaizma), Michurinskaya ul..
Just before Petrovskaya street slights left (north), where the tree-lined avenue meets a small park - stand a couple of public buses which had been transformed into public restrooms:
On our left is a MAGNIFICENT pale blue building - Nakhimov Naval Academy (Нахимова Военно-морской академии), 2-4 Petrogradskaya Embankment. Opposite the academy - nice fountain and small garden. Established in 1944 to teach and bring up children who became orphans during the WW2 (today sailors' children have advantages for acceptance). It is, now, the only one in Russia. Named after Imperial Russian admiral Pavel Nakhimov (defender of Sebastopol in the Crimean War):
We slight / turn left from Petrovskaya street to Petrovskaya Embankment - and see the eastern facade of Nakhimov Naval Academy:
We continue northward along Petrovskaya Embankment, turn right and cross the Bolshaya Neva river over the Sampsonievskiy Bridge (Сампсониевский мост) - 212-meter, seven-span bridge that dates in its current form from 1958. The current structure, fully renovated in 2000, consists of steel spans resting on granite-faced reinforced-concrete piers. The name refers to a nearby cathedral, and the bridge was known as Freedom Bridge in the Soviet era:
After crossing the river over the bridge - we turn RIGHT (south) to Pirogovskaya nab (Пироговская наб.). On our left is the St. Petersburg hotel, Pirogovskaya Emb., 5/2. It is a huge hotel, but with very old rooms with overall feeling of returning back to the Iron Curtain years. There is small section of the hotel which was renovated and its look is far more modern. The hotel might be a good option for tourists continuing to Finland with the Allegro train (10 min. walk from the station) (see below):
Walking eastward along Pirogovskaya nab - we arrive to Liteynyy most (bridge) and walk underneath. We turn our head back to the west. You see the high spire of St. Paul and St. Peter Fortress and the Fregat Blagodat', Restoran ship behind your back and the small golden dome of the Trinity Church on your left (still behind):
Keep walking along Pirogovskaya nab (it changes its name to Arsenalnaya nab.) and 250 m. further east, on your left (north) - you see the Mikhailov Artillery Academy (Михайловская военная артиллерийская академия). The school is one of Russia's most prestigious military institutions and established in 1849 by the Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich. In 1855 the school was transformed to the Mikhailov Artillery Academy (СПб Михайловская артиллерийская академия). During the Soviet era, the school was known as the Leningrad Artillery Academy by Mikhail Kalinin . This military scientific and educational institution trains of artillery command personnel:
Several steps further we arrive to the Lenin Square (pl. Lenina) (Ploshchad Lenina). We turn left and take the more distant (EAST) side of the square. It is the Moskovsky district - where we are now. This square, located between the Finland Station and the Neva River, is best known for its impressive statue of the Father of the Russian Revolution, Vladimir Lenin, and a charming light and music fountain which is popular in the summertime. Surrounded by the grey severe-looking buildings and crowned by the huge statue of Lenin (16 meters tall, together with pedestal) - the square was originally intended to hold parades and host the government administration in the House of Soviets overlooking it. The monument to the founder of the Soviet Union is situated on Ploshchad Lenina (Lenin square). Vladimir Lenin can best be referred to as the father and founder of the Soviet Union. He was at one time a student of the Saint Petersburg State University. The monument to Lenin was erected on the square near the Finland Station in 1926. It is the work of the sculptor S. Yevseyev, architects V. Shchuko and V. Gelfreikh. It was on this square in 1917 that the communist leader made a speech immediately after his return to Russia from exile in Switzerland. In April 1917, Lenin returned from exile to Finland Station to lead the Russian Revolution. Standing on an armored car, he gave one of his most famous speeches, inspiring the actions of the Bolsheviks for years to come. Due to this historic event, the square was renamed in his honor in 1924 and two years later the monument to the revolutionary leader was erected, becoming a prototype for hundreds of monuments throughout the Soviet Union. The monument is so super-imposing; you can see it as soon as you come out of the subway station (metro station) 'Ploshchad Lenina'. Take the exit to the Finland Train Station. Despite Lenin sculptor’s idea was to express strong will and single-mindedness of the leader, the masses call Lenin here “a dancer of good cheer”. Nowadays, Lenin square is still the biggest in the city but naturally serves for more relaxing purposes like observing the music fountain and skating youngsters in the summertime.
House of Soviets - Lenin Square:
Lenin Square (Ploschad Lenina) - musical fountain opposite the Finland station. The fountain on Lenin Square runs every day from 10.00 to 23.00. It displays the light and music performances at 12.00 and 22.00 from MON to FRI, and, on weekends and public holidays it has additional performances at 20.00 and 21.00. The duration of light and music show - 20 - 25 minutes. The repertoire of the musical fountain contains the masterpieces of classical music, works of A. Petrov, V. Soloviev-Sedoy, Paul Mauriat, hits of 60's, marches and waltzes:
We walk further north (after crossing the whole Lenin Square from south to north) and we'll enter the Finland train station (St Petersburg-Finlyandsky) (Станция Санкт-Петербург-Финля́ндский). This railway station handles transport to northern destinations including Helsinki and Vyborg. The station is most famous for having been the location where Vladimir Lenin returned to Russia from exile TWICE: from Switzerland on 3 April 1917 ahead of the October Revolution and, second time, from Finland - after the turmoil of the July Days, when workers and soldiers in the capital clashed with government troops. Lenin had to flee to Finland for safety, to avoid arrest. Lenin secretly returned from Finland on 9 August 1917. Both times Lenin crossed the Russian-Finnish border on the engine #293. The steam locomotive was donated by Finland to the Soviet Union in 1957, and is now installed as a permanent exhibit at one of the platforms on the station. YOU SHOULD ASK PERMISSION TO SEE THE LOCOMOTIVE AND ENTER THE STATION WITHOUT BUYING TICKET FOR RIDE. THERE IS A SPECIAL POLICEWOMAN WHO IS CHARGE FOR SHOWING THE WAGON FOR THE LOCAL OR FOREIGN TOURISTS. THE SHORT VISIT IS FREE. DO NOT OFFER TIP. The Finland Station was built by Finnish State Railways as the eastern terminus of the Riihimäki-Saint Petersburg railroad and was owned and operated by Finnish railways until early 1918. Later, ownership of the station was exchanged for Russian property in Finland, including the Alexander Theatre in Helsinki. It was designed by Swedish architects and opened in 1870. The station formerly contained a special pavilion for Russian Tsar family:
Locomotive # 293:
After completing the visit in Finland station you can take the metro back to SPB city centre - or sample a wonderful budget restaurant nearby (see below, Tip 2).
St. Petersburg - Lenin Square (Ploschad Lenina - Finland train station (St Petersburg-Finlyandsky) (Станция Санкт-Петербург-Финля́ндский) - SOLYANKA RESTAURANT, pl. Lenina, 6, лит. Е:
With your face to the Finland station (to the north) the restaurant resides on your right (east) - a bit behind the train station complex. Actually - a self-service dining room. Cheap prices. Fantastic, Russian, fresh, trustworthy food, generous portions, friendly, polite service, comfortable seating, spacious hall and rich menu. Everything was delicious! Heartily recommended !