Embankments with palaces’ facades, bridges with graceful fences reflected in the river smooth surface … These paintings, like gems in a kaleidoscope, make up a portrait of the beautiful and mysterious Northern capital. Water gives a special charm to urban landscapes — the rivers and canals of St. Petersburg wash its islands and draw an intricate pattern on the map of the megalopolis. We will tell about the natural and man-made channels crossing the city on the Neva.
Peter the Great decided to build a port city, which was to become the “gateway” to the Baltic. Reclaimed from the Swedes, the Neva delta was the best place to fulfill these plans. The river flows from Lake Ladoga and brings its waters into the Gulf of Finland, divided into several branches. The area of the delta is more than 80 square km. All this space was covered by large and small rivers, to which, during construction, artificial canals were added. Man-made rivers in St. Petersburg were created to drain wetlands: water was diverted to the dugout channels, and land areas were improved with the help of extracted soil. In addition, the channels were built for the transportation of goods. The number of islands in St. Petersburg at the end of the XIX century reached hundreds. As the city grew, the need for a part of the “waterways” disappeared, so they fell asleep. A number of large and small channels disappeared from the map of St. Petersburg, leaving him with their own names: Ligovsky, Vvedensky, Masterovoy, Maslyany and others. In place of these avenues and streets, the Neva water once splashed. Today, there are much fewer islands — 42. Of the 93 watercourses flowing through modern St. Petersburg, 20 are man-made, and the total length of canals and rivers is 282 km.
Rivers. Below are the main rivers of St. Petersburg, the list contains brief information about them.
Big Neva. This is the name of the Neva section — the main river in Petersburg — from the Palace Bridge to the confluence of the Neva Bay. Here are the most spectacular embankments in the city — Palace, University, Admiralty, English. Along the coast are iconic landmarks — the Bronze Horseman, Sphinxes, Kunstkamera, Admiralty, Summer palace and others. Here the routes of the most popular excursions along the rivers and canals of St. Petersburg intersect. The Malaya Neva is separated from the Big, forming the Spit of Vasilyevsky Island. Big Nevka outlines the right side of the delta. At its source, the battleship Aurora stands, and closer to the mouth, this river is divided into two branches, forming Elagin Island.
The Fontanka River in St. Petersburg flows from the Neva near the Summer Palace of Peter the Great and flows into it near Gutuyevsky Island. Here you will find a great number of significant attractions – tiny statue of Chizhik Pyzhik, Michael’s Castle, Sheremetev, Shuvalov and Beloselsky palaces, Lomonosov bridge and more.
The Moika River branches off from the Fontanka, separating the Summer Garden and the Mikhailovsky Castle. Many «pearls» of Petersburg architecture — Razumovsky Palace, Yusupovsky, Stroganov, Mariinsky Palaces stand along its winding bed. Here is built the famous Blue Bridge, which looks more like a square spread out over the water. It’s one of the Colored bridges of St Petersburg. Besides, here you will come upon the most romantic bridge in the city called Kissing or Potseluev. There are still many rivers on the territory of St. Petersburg that are the channels of the Neva delta: Ekaterinofka, Zhdanovka, Krestovka, Karpovka, Smolenka and others. It is necessary to mention those rivers of St. Petersburg, which are major Neva tributaries — the Chernaya River, the Okhta, the Slav. The first one is famous for the fact that a duel for Alexander Pushkin was fatal on its shore. On the second is the Okhta reservoir. Slavyanka nourishes the ponds of Pavlovsky Park.
Channels. Can a pond be a tourist attraction? If we are talking about St. Petersburg, the answer is yes. An example is the Griboyedov Canal, from which we begin the story of the «artificial rivers» of the city. Griboyedov Canal in St. Petersburg winding line connects Moika and Fontanka. It is obliged by its intricate form to the river Krivusha, along which the channel was laid. Its five-kilometer embankments are an ideal route for walking along the canals of St. Petersburg. Famous sights are located on the banks (Savior on the Blood, Nikolsky and Kazan Cathedrals, Repin’s house and others). More than a dozen bridges make this waterway an unforgettable tourist attraction. The Kryukov Canal in St. Petersburg today flows from the Admiralty Canal to Fontanka. Initially, it ran from the Moika to the Neva, but after the construction of the Blagoveshchensky bridge, its northern end was filled up and the southern end extended. The place where the Kryukov Canal intersects with Griboyedov is known to tourists as the Seven bridge sight, here, you can see seven bridges at once. The Obvodny channel in St. Petersburg is the longest. It was laid along the southern border of the city since the XIX century and served as a protective ditch. Subsequently became a major traffic artery. A lot of plants and factories worked on its shores, which had a negative effect on the ecological condition and appearance of the reservoir. Today, eight-kilometer embankments of the Obvodny Canal of St. Petersburg are enclosed in strict granite, equipped with beautiful fences and parapets. Nothing reminds of those times when the industrial zone far from Petersburg aesthetics was located here. The bulk of the attractions of the Obvodny Canal are old buildings valuable for the history of St. Petersburg. In addition to the above, there are many shorter, but no less beautiful canals in the city — Lebyazhiy, Admiralteysky, Bumazhny, Resurrection, Marine, Kronverksky, Winter Canal and others. Many of them are included in the routes of excursions along the canals of St. Petersburg.
It should be noted that navigation can be partially or completely closed during large-scale public events. Water walks through St. Petersburg, through its canals along the palaces and squares, are a great alternative to excursions on land transport. It is more convenient to contemplate the historic architecture of the city from a ship, since, at the behest of Peter the Great, all significant buildings were located facades to the water. The bridges, openwork railings and curved parapets of embankments add charm to this journey.