Saint Petersburg is also known as Northern Venice, so it makes perfect sense that a chain of captivating architectural ensembles is formed on the Neva granite embankments. The embankments were built along the waterways of Saint Petersburg as far back as the early 18th century in order to stabilise banks and reclaim land. The first wooden embankments appeared in Gorodskoy Island on the left bank of the Neva River between the Main Admiralty and Summer Garden. Though built out of necessity, Saint Petersburg’s embankments were executed with taste and style. This makes them worthwhile attractions for those looking to explore the city and admire its views.
Here is a review of the 7 most worthwhile city’s embankments:
The Admirality Embankment
This embankment is rather small – less than 500 meters and it comprises of only 8 buildings. There are two Admirality buildings (#2, #16) here. At building #2 you can take pictures of the infamous Saint-Petersburg’s lions. Famous people lived here: composer P.Chaikovsky, and geoscientist Knyaz B.B.Golitsyn. Building #4 used to be the theatre where famous singer F.I. Shalyapin performed for the first time. Unfortunately, it was destroyed during a fire and after having been rebuilt has been turned into a school.
The embankment is perfect to observe the Dvortsoviy Most (Palace Bridge) drawbridge.
Location: from Dvortsoviy Most to Senatskaya Plotschad.
The English Embankment
The embankment’s architecture is a reflection of Saint Petersburg’s 300 year old history. The Romanov royal family lived on this street. All the buildings and monuments are a mixture of different styles. Here you’ll see the palaces from Tsarist Russia and a monument devoted to Aurora’s first shot (which served as the signal in 1917 to storm the Winter Palace and start the revolution).
The embankment had different names. It used to be Galernaja, Isaakievskaya, Krasnogo Flota (Red Fleet). It was called the English Embankment at the end of the 19th century, a name it got when Queen Elizabeth II of England visited Saint-Petersburg in 1994.
Location: from Senatskaya Ploschad to Novo-Admiralteyskiy channel.
The Palace Embankment
This was the first embankment made using granite. It was built in the 18th century and it won’t take you long to figure out why it was named the Palace embankment. Here you’ll find an outrageous number of palaces and museums — all in one deal for a tourist. Situated here are the New and Old Hermitage, Hermitage Theatre and the Winter Palace. All of them belong to the State Hermitage Museum. You’ll also find the Vladimir Palace decorated with its famous griffins and coat-of-arms and the Marble (Mramorniy) Palace famous for the variety of marbles used in its ornaments. The embankment ends with the buildings of the Saint-Petersburg State University of Culture and Arts and a delicate railing of the Letnij (Summer) Garden.
Location: from Palace Bridge to Letnij (Summer) Garden.
The Kronverkskaya Embankment
It is a relatively new embankment. It was built only in 1977 and got its name in 1980. Being the cradle of the city, here is where you’ll find the oldest tourist attractions. Visit the Peter and Paul Fortress, which has the tallest bell tower in the city center, the Kronverk on Petrogradsky Island that went down in history as the execution site of the Decembrists in 1826. You can take a serene boat trip along the channel and enjoy the views of the Hare (Zayachiy) Island.
Location: along Kronversk channel.
The Sverdlovskaya Embankment
The famous Bezborodko Dacha with its dozens of lions is situated here. On the opposite side you will find the Smolniy Cathedral and Tavricheskiy Garden district.
For a breathtaking view of the Neva River, you should come to the Sverdlovskaya Embankment. You can take the best photos of the river up to the Troitskiy District and Vantoviy Bridge.
Location: from Arsenalnaya Ulitsa to the Okhta River.
The Synopskaya Embankment
Synopskaya is one of the first embankments in the city. It too has seen its fair share of name changing. In the first half of the 18th century, it was called Naberezhnaya Street or Nevskaya Rozhdestvenskaya Embankment, in 1887-1952 — Kalashnikovskaya Embankment (after the corn-merchants Kalashnikovs); its current name was given to commemorate the victory of the Russian Fleet over Turkish Fleet at Sinop Bay in the Black Sea in 1853.
The embankment was put in order only in the 20th century. Among the preseved building on this embankment is the St. Nicholas Chapel. Today you can enjoy great views from the Bolsheokhtinsky Bridge and business center of Malaya Okhta district from Synopskaya.
Location: from Prospekt Obykhovskoy Oborony to Smolniy Prospekt.
The University Embankment
The embankment is ideal for strolls and dates. You’ll see the Saint-Petersburg State University and Dvorets Menshikova (Menshikov Palace) in a famous Petrine baroque style. On the other bank of the river there is a famous Statue of Peter the Great called Mednyi Vsadnik (Bronze Horseman). You’ll find the Isaakievskij Sobor (St Isaac’s Cathedral), Senate and Synod buildings in neoclassical style on the background of the monument. Well-known Sphinxes from Egypt, that are more than 3500 years old, look at the Imperial Academy of Arts.
Universitetskaya Naberezhnaya is the best place to watch the drawbridge.
Location: from Birzhevaya Plotschad to the Imperial Academy of Arts.