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Nevsky Prospekt

Magellan Three-star Site
Day - night rollover images and Hyperlink to an aerial view looking away from the admiralty.

The most famous street in Russia, Nevsky (Nevskiy) Prospekt in St. Petersburg was planned by the French architect Alexandre Jean Baptiste LeBlond, whilst working for the city's founder Peter the Great.

This proud landmark originally called the Great Perspective Road was cut through 4.5 km of forest land (c1718) and for many years was roamed by wolves. Stretching from the historic Admiralty in the north to the Alexander Nevsky Monastery, it is renowned for its splendid architecture and famous former patrons, like Tchaikovsky, Gogol, Rimsky-Korsakov and Nijinsky. Today it thrives with great prospects for both locals and tourists alike, as the magnetic heart of the city.


Alexander Nevsky was a 13th century national hero who was given credit for defeating the separate Swedish and German invading armies. He was later canonized and lies buried in the Lavra, which is the monastery named after him on the purported battle site against the Swedes.
At least twice, in 1721 & 1777 Nevsky Prospekt was completely navigable by boat due to flooding.
Only the occasional building on the whole of the street was built as late as the twentieth century. One being the bizarre fortress-like Aeroflot building at number 7, another on the same side is number 21 the former Mertens Fur Trade House. This Neo-Renaissance building has glass walls set in three arches mounted between slim rustic stone piers. Over on the north side at 28, is the former HQ of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, which is now Dom Knigi, the largest book store in town (But they don't accept credit cards!). Plus, only three buildings have been erected since the Revolution; including the Central District Tax Office at 68, and the school house at No.14, upon which is a simple memorial recalling the days of the horrific German siege between 1941-44. A plain blue sign 2m from the ground has the words "Citizens! This side of the street is the most dangerous during artillery bombardment" stenciled in white.
At number 18, the quaint Literaturnaya Cafe has a delightful interior reminiscent of pre-Revolutionary St. Petersburg. Pushkin was a frequent visitor to the 19th Century confectionery company housed here and it was where he had his last meal here prior to his fatal duel with Georges D'Anthes in 1837. Some of the cafés authentic furnishings were provided by the Pushkin Museum.
Overlooking Ostrovsky Square and the bronze monument to Catherine the Great, is number 56 Nevsky. This 'moderne' style Art Nouveau building was designed for the Yeliseyev brothers by Gavril Baranovsky and built between 1902-06. On the ground floor one can find the most exotic and most overpriced caviar, fruit & vegetables in town.

Saint Petersburg's main shops and businesses are located on and around this central thoroughfare, where a diverse culinary choice of restaurants, cafes and bars to suit all tastes and pockets is available. They match any European City for quality and atmosphere, although stepping into a side-street could save more than a few Dollars.

Nevsky Prospekt's architecture is in spirit with the Champs-Elysées and it rivals the best of Amsterdam, Rome and Venice. "Step into it, and you step into a fairground," wrote Nikolai Gogol. In Gogol's time, it was swept clean by prostitutes doing their early morning penance, prior to them being released to err afresh on the cobbles that evening. Today, the authorities appear to turn a blind eye to the elegant ladies of the night who ply their trade around the hotel bars and in the bustling night clubs.

Upon crossing the Moika river you will see the recently restored orangy-pink and white baroque style Stroganov Palace at number 17. Completed in 1760 on the site of an earlier palace, it was designed by the Italian Court architect Rastrelli who was also responsible for the Winter Palace. This is where the internationally known beef dish was created by the Count's cook.

Directly opposite the Kazan Restaurant and Dom Knigi (number 28) you cannot fail to see the monumental Kazansky Cathedral, built in a semicircle with 96 towering columns. Strangely this awesome façade is at the rear of the building. The reason being that the altar of an Orthodox church must face towards the west. After the Revolution this stately cathedral was the home of the Museum of Religion and Atheism for many years.

Of Nevsky's four bridges, the handsome Anichkov Most over the Fontanka river is probably the best known and is famed for its four bronze sculptures by Baron Peter von Klodt of men taming wild horses. These statues were removed during World War II and buried in the grounds of Anichkov Palace for safety. The four legendary sculptures were again removed over the winter of 2000-2001, but this time for restoration using laser technology and chemicals. During the work it was newly discovered that each horse has a secret hatch on its back. For many years the Fontanka marked the city boundary and the newer buildings beyond the river are noticeably less grand, having large apartment blocks and more modest shops. The newest bridge, the Alexander Nevsky Most, at the south eastern end of the Prospekt is the longest in the city (905.7 metres) and was built in the early 1960's.

The Prospekt has five Metro stations along its length, with each having its own unique identity. These are; "Ploshchad Aleksandra Nevskogo", "Ploschad Vosstaniya", "Mayakovskaya", "Gostinyy Dvor" and "Nevsky Prospekt".

The Tercentenary of St. Petersburg occurred during 2003. It is now over 300 years since Peter the Great declared that the old Finnish village by the Neva was going to be the new capital of Russia. Construction of the city began with laying the foundations of the St. Peter and St. Paul church in the wooden fortress where Peter made his base and only nine years later the capital was formally transferred from Moscow to St. Petersburg. The whole city recently experienced a carnival atmosphere which lasted throughout the summer of 2003 and Nevsky Prospekt was right at the center of many spectacular celebrations. Virtually all prominent buildings on the street benefited from extensive restoration work and repainting, which brought to an end a two year period during which time almost every other building was covered with scaffolding and tarpaulins on the facade rejuvenation project which cost over a hundred million dollars. Is it mere coincidence that Vladimir Putin is a native of St. Petersburg?

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Acknowledgments; Thanks go to Tatiana Chernykhovskaya, Irina Tchij, Natasha Grigorieva, Larisa Pivovarkina, Albina Edalova, Eugene Soukharnikov and Dr. Philip Murphy for their inspiration & help in creating this site.


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