The Petrogradskaya Side is located on the north side of the River Neva. It is a rich historical district with countless architectural, historical, and cultural landmarks spread over its 7 islands.
The history of St Petersburg began on the Petrogradskaya Side, when Peter the Great laid the foundation stone of the Peter and Paul Fortress on Zayachy Island. As the northern capital began to flourish, the embassies of England, France, Prussia, and the Netherlands were established on Petrogradskaya. Yet by the time of Peter the Great’s death, the centre of St Petersburg had shifted to the southern bank of the Neva.
Did you know? Up until the outbreak of the First World War, the Petrogradskaya Side was known as the Petersburg Side.
Over the 18th and 19th centuries, many industrial enterprises, educational and military institutions were established on the Petrogradskaya Side, many of which still operate today. The suburban residences of St Petersburg’s aristocrats, academics, statesmen and industrialists were also built there, in particular on Petrogradskaya’s three northern islands – Krestovsky, Elagin, and Kamenny.
Did you know? Famous educational institutes on Petrogradskaya Side include the Mozhaisk Military-Space Corps which prepares officers for the Space Force (originally founded as a military engineering school by Peter the Great in 1712), and the St Petersburg State Medical University, named after Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov (who carried out his famous ‘Pavlov’s Dog’ experiment and Nobel Prizewinning research there).
After the construction of the Troitsky Bridge over the River Neva in the 19th century, which linked the Petrogradskaya Side with central St Petersburg, more and more people began to flock to the islands. Most settled along the main artery of Petrogradsky Island, Kamennoostrovsky Prospekt, which became a dense residential district home to cafes, taverns, and entertainment venues. Petrogradsky Island was known as a seedier neighbourhood and was largely neglected by the authorities until the end of the 19th century.
Did you know? Petrogradsky Island is home to so-called ‘well’ courtyards. The houses on the island were built so close together that instead of a spacious courtyard, there was just a narrow space left in between the buildings, resembling a deep well.
The new Troitsky Bridge was opened in 1903, allowing even better connection between Petrogradskaya and the city centre, and this sparked an architectural renaissance on Petrogradsky Island. Wooden tenement houses and cottages were replaced with beautiful stone buildings in Neoclassical and Art Nouveau style, built with the latest technology, and the capital’s elite soon relocated to this classy, regenerated district.
Did you know? A prestigious competition was held to find an architect for the new Troitsky Bridge. Gustav Eiffel won first prize but, in the end, the Duma chose Russian architects to construct the bridge.
During the Soviet period, Petrogradskaya Side became a centre for culture, sport and relaxation, as well as a residence for the creative, scientific, and government elite. Public parks, sanatoriums, and sports facilities were established on the smaller islands, and a great number of museums and theatres appeared on Petrogradsky Island. Petrogradskaya Side remains today an upmarket and culturally rich district of St Petersburg, with countless attractions to be discovered by those who visit.
Petrogradsky is the largest island of the Petrogradskaya Side. It is covered by narrow streets of residential housing laid out in a grid like fashion, with beautiful architecture and a great number of cultural and historical landmarks.
Bolshoy Prospekt is the heart and soul of Petrogradsky, running north-east from Vasilievsky Island to Petrogradskaya metro; at a brisk pace, you can walk from one end to the other in 30 minutes. It bustles with people and traffic, and is lined with restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and boutiques. At the far end is the metro and Lev Tolstoy Square. There, you’ll find the Rosenstein House, an enormous building with hexagonal Gothic towers and arched windows. Despite resembling an English castle, it was built just over a century ago.
Kamenoostrovsky Prospekt runs south from Kamenny Island to the Peter and Paul Fortress, via Petrogradskaya metro (a 3.5km walk). A handful of small gardens and squares are dotted along the avenue. Halfway down you’ll find the octagonal Austrian Square, another architectural landmark. House No.16 on the square has an ornate turret and was built for the artist Ernest Karlovich von Liphart, whose workshop is visible on the top floor of the building.
Did you know? Other Petrogradsky streets with beautiful architecture include Bolshaya Zelenina, where the Art Nouveau Duke of Leuchtenberg Apartments stand at No.28.
Leningrad Zoo is located near the Peter and Paul Fortress. It the oldest zoo in Russia, and allows you to appreciate the world’s biological diversity from the heart of St Petersburg. Visitors can enjoy tours, feeding shows and educational programmes, and see rare animals such as polar bears and tigers.
- Alexandrovsky Park, 1
Alexandrovsky Park lies adjacent to the Peter and Paul Fortress, and is one of the first public parks in Russia. There are walking paths, ponds, and sculptures, as well as a music hall, planetarium, the Baltic House theatre, and Leningrad Zoo.
You wouldn’t expect that this wooden cabin was the first building erected in St Petersburg, now one of the world’s most extravagantly beautiful cities. Yet Peter the Great lived in three simple rooms for 5 years while his city was being built. It is a revered national monument which has been preserved throughout the ages, and is open for tours today.
- Petrovskaya Embankment, 6
On the night of 25th October 2917, the Aurora Cruiser fired blank shots at the Winter Palace. This was the signal for workers, soldiers and sailors to storm the Winter Palace and depose the Provisional Government. It is free of cost to explore this historical warship.
- Petrogradskaya Embankment, 2
You can learn about the turbulent political history of Russia at this museum. As well as permanent expositions charting the relationship between man and state from the 19th-21st centuries, the history of modernisation in 19th and early 20th century Russia, the Revolution and Soviet period, there are a number of thematic temporary exhibitions each year.
- Ulitsa Kuibysheva, 2-4
This is one of the world’s largest military museums. Its collection showcases artillery from the medieval period to the present day, uniforms, engineering equipment, artwork, weapons belonging to the imperial family, and an open-air exhibition of cannons, tanks, and other heavy artillery in the museum courtyard.
- Alexandrovsky Park, 7
Aptekarsky Island is separated from Petrogradsky Island by the Karpovka River. In 1714, Peter the Great gave this island to the Medical Chancellery and Main Pharmacy to grow medicinal herbs. The island takes its name from this: aptekarsky means ‘pharmaceutical’ in Russian.
In 1823, the pharmaceutical garden was transformed into the Imperial Botanical Garden, and became one of the world’s largest botanical gardens and institutes of botanical science. Today, it is home to the largest greenhouse complex in Russia, with more than 13,000 species in 24 greenhouses, an arboretum with over 900 species of plants and trees, and a Botanical Museum founded in 1823.
- Ulitsa Professora Popova, 2
Did you know? A pedestrian embankment with gardens, cycle paths, and stylish street furniture has just been created on the Karpovka River, opposite the Botanical Gardens.
A quiet garden on the banks of the Neva, which formerly belonged to a noble family. There are ponds, bridges, woodland walking paths and a path along the Neva, a historic mansion, and little pavilions.
- Ulitsa Akademika Pavlova, 13
The Ioannovsky Convent stands on the bank of the River Karpovka. It was built in the early 20th century, and has a Byzantine-style church with five domes and a bell tower, and a smaller chapel by the entrance.
- Naberezhnaya Karpovki, 45
This museum is located in the apartment of internationally acclaimed opera singer, Fyodor Shalyapin. The rooms have been restored, and the main events of Shalyapin’s life are told through photographs, posters and programmes, personal items, costumes and scenery sketches, and artwork – including the famous portrait of Shalyapin by Boris Kustodiev.
- Ulitsa Graftio, 2B
Did you know? The second-tallest structure in St Petersburg – a 326-metre TV tower – is located on Aptekarsky Island.
One of the smaller northern islands. Elagin takes its name from the 5th owner of the island, Ivan Elagin, who was an important member of the Imperial Court under Catherine the Great. During his ownership, the elegant Elagin Palace and an English-style park was built there. After the island was bought by the royal family in 1817, the palace was rebuilt by Karlo Rossi and the park was beautifully landscaped and opened to the public. In 1932, Elagin Island was designated a Central Park of Culture and Recreation named after Sergey Kirov (whose name was also given to the Mariinsky Theatre).
Today, almost the entire territory of Elagin is occupied by the Central Park. It is a beautiful and peaceful place, and a popular attraction in all seasons. You can visit the palace and pavilions designed by Rossi, rent boats to sail on the picturesque ponds, hire bicycles or use the outdoor sports courts.
Krestovsky Island was owned by members of the royal family and aristocracy. It was a place of relaxation for rich and poor alike. During the Soviet period, the Primorsky Victory Park was constructed, as well as the Kirov Stadium which hosted the 1980 Olympic Games.
Today, Krestovsky Island is home to Primorsky Victory Park and the Gazprom Arena stadium, home of Zenit football team. Gazprom Arena resembles a spaceship which has landed on the shore of the Finnish Gulf. Primorsky Park is a large, beautifully landscaped park with ponds, a huge variety of trees and flowers, and alleys of oaks planted by delegates from St Petersburg’s sister cities. At the end of the main alley is a grand fountain which stands in front of Gazprom Arena. Primorsky Park is also home to Divo Ostrov amusement park, which has 46 rides for adults and kids.
In imperial times, only members of noble families were allowed to build their residences here. A walk around Kamenny Island provides a unique architectural tour of the elite suburban dwellings from centuries past – ornate wooden cottages, Art Nouveau and Gothic mansions, and Neoclassical palaces. Today, this verdant space remains the residence of St Petersburg’s wealthiest citizens. But you can explore the island to your heart’s content – the entire territory of the island comprises Park ‘Tikhii Otdykh’, which means ‘Quiet Relaxation.’
The laying of the first stone of the Peter and Paul Fortress on Zayachy Island in 1703 marked the birth of St Petersburg. Over the next centuries, the fortress became the nucleus around which Russia’s northern capital took shape, and is one of St Petersburg’s most famous landmarks. Its most famous attractions are the Trubetskoy Bastion - Tsarist Russia’s main political prison, counting Trotsky, Dostoevsky and Lenin’s brother amongst its inmates, and the Peter and Paul Cathedral - the world’s tallest Orthodox church and resting place of the Romanov family.
This long, narrow island is the least well-known of Petrogradskaya’s islands, and has few attractions. It is home to the small Petrovsky Park, Petrovsky Stadium (formerly the home of Zenit football team), and luxury housing.
Petrogradskaya Side is served by 6 metro stations:
- Blue Line:
Petrogradskaya (right in the heart of Petrogradsky Island and a 5-minute walk to Aptekarsky Island)
Gorkovskaya (in Alexandrovsky Park, next to Peter and Paul Fortress)
- Green Line:
Zenit (next to the Gazprom Arena)
- Purple Line:
Sportivnaya (on the south-west corner of Petrogradskaya Side, with one exit by Petrovsky Stadium and another exit on Vasilievsky Island)
Chkalovskaya (in the heart of the residential district of Petrogradsky Island)
Krestovsky Ostrov (by the entrance to Primorsky Victory Park, a few minutes’ walk from Elagin Island)
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