This is a guest post from Priyank, a traveler who is preparing to explore the whole world some day. He keeps a detailed account of his travel stories, pictures and experiences on his blog: Final Transit. For the past 2 weeks, Priyank and I have exchanged imaginary posts about St. Petersburg and Manila. I have never been to St. Petersburg and he to Manila. We wanted to write about what a trip there might be like. I’m helping to break down his trip to Manila from perception to reality while he does the same for me about St. Petersburg.

“Walking down the Nevsky Prospect is a quick way to experience the diverse charms of St. Petersburg.”

priyanks nevsky prospect street view
Nevsky Prospect on a rainy day.

The Nevsky Prospect is the main street of St. Petersburg, the second largest city in Russia, and runs from the Admiralty (ex-Naval headquarters) to Nevsky Monastery (Nevsky is the patron saint). The chief sights include the Rastrelliesque Stroganov Palace, the huge neoclassical Kazan Cathedral, the Art Nouveau Bookhouse, half a dozen 18th-century churches, a monument to Catherine the Great, an enormous 18th-century shopping mall, a mid-19th-century department store, the Russian National Library, and the Anichkov Bridge with its horse statues. One can easily spend an entire day walking on the by lanes or shopping on the pedestrian walkways while exploring the sights.

I spent 2 days in St. Petersburg and unfortunately the weather was not at its best (hence the limited pictures). They say that the city gets only 30 days of sunshine and this makes St. Petersburgers snobbish and unfriendly. I had the exact opposite experience right from the time I arrived at the Moskovsky Rail Terminal (Московский вокзал). St. Petersburg is better suited to handle tourists compared to Moscow, and one can see an occasional signboard or two in English.

Kazan Cathedral

priyank kazan cathedral
Kazan Cathedral

Dedicated to Our Lady of Kazan, probably the most venerated icon in Russia, the Kazan Cathedral of Russian Orthodox Church was converted to house a museum of the ‘History of Religion and Atheism’ during Soviet times.

Anichkov Bridge

priyank statue of a horse tamer on the anichkov bridge
Statue of a horse-tamer on the Anichkov Bridge

The Anichkov bridge is mostly known for its four famous horse sculptures (1849-50). These beautiful sculptures depict the stages in taming of a horse. During the German attack in WW2, the sculptures were removed and buried, in a series of similar measures taken by the city to protect its decorations and architecture.

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National Library

priyank national library and the departmental store
National Library and the departmental store

I love visiting libraries since they tell a lot about a city’s interest in culture and education. This is the oldest library in Russia and has collected rare books and documents from all over the world.

Housekeeping

Nevsky Prospekt has three metro stations (fourth one is under construction) on the green line and offers convenient transfer to all other subway lines. Moskovsky Vokzal, the long distance train terminal is also located on this street and is a great point to start the trans-Russia rail trip. Being the central street, there are large number of buses that connect it to the rest of the city. A car or taxi is not required to explore the city.

The street is lined with large number of cute cafés, bars and restaurants that serve diverse European and even World foods. There are plenty of shopping options, but in a casual conversation with a local, he revealed that “We’d rather go to New York or London, this place is too expensive.”

About This Post

For the past 2 Thursdays, Anil and I have exchanged imaginary posts about St. Petersburg and Manila respectively. We are guest blogging on each other’s blogs to break down the imagination from reality.

Anil was quite right about his impression of the city. St. Petersburg feels like a European city, with its powerful Western European architecture and is very different from Moscow or other cities I visited in European Russia. Peter the Great, the founder of the city, made an overzealous attempt to import neoclassical architects to plan the city. In fact, the owner of a café I went to said, “You don’t have to visit Paris anymore!”

Tourist infrastructure is absent in Russia except for two cities – Novgorod and St. Petersburg. In this city, streets are well named in English too, and occasionally you’d find English menus in restaurants. There are also private city-tour buses catering to foreign tourists.

In my next concluding post, I’ll take the metro to visit some touristic places around Nevsky Prospekt and join some locals for a shot of Vodka.