Cutting right through the centre of St Petersburg, Nevsky Prospect is the city’s principle avenue, holding great historical, cultural and religious appeal. It’s also a great shopping hub, with St Petersburg’s smartest boutiques and designer stores all vying for attention. From touring Stroganov Palace and Kazan Cathedral to discovering extraordinary churches and shopping at Great Gostiny Dvor, it’s easy to spend a whole day walking down this one street. Here are the places to seek out on your next trip.
At the head of Nevsky Prospect you’ll find Admiralty, one of the capital’s longest-standing and most historic structures. Originally designed as a dockyard but instead serving as a defence fortification, the domineering building stands guard over three avenues that branch out from a central point – marked by a striking golden spire on top of the building.
One of St Petersburg’s finest palaces, Stroganov Palace is the former residence of the aristocratic Stroganov family. As well as marvelling at the stunning restored interiors and imposing architecture, visitors can browse collections from the State Russian Museum, which are on display inside.
Carrying Nevsky Prospect over Fontanka River, Anichkov Bridge is one of the architectural highlights of the avenue thanks to its panoramic views and famous Horse Tamers statues that stand guard at its four corners. The nearby imperial Anichkov Palace next to the landmark is also worth a quick look at for its beautiful baroque architecture.
One of the most photographed buildings in St Petersburg, The Church of the Savior on Spilt Blood is not only distinctive, but it also has a fascinating history. The colourful Russian church is covered in detailed mosaics created by the country’s most prominent artists, and stands on the spot where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated in 1881.
Kazan Cathedral is one of Russia’s principle Orthodox churches. The colonnaded cathedral is named after Our Lady of Kazan, one of the Russian Orthodox Church’s holiest icons, which rests inside the structure as a shine for devotees.
Alexander Nevsky Monastery is named after the patron saint of St Petersburg, and is home to some of the most historic structures in the city. While the complex has undergone many changes over the years, the sacred site still encompasses five of the original 16 churches, as well as graveyards where great Russian personalities such as composer Tchaikovsky and novelist Fyoder Dostoevsky have been laid to rest.
The people of St Petersburg adored Catherine the Great during her lifetime, and this statue, unveiled in 1873, is a dedication to the Empress and her dignitaries, such as General Alexander Suvorov, poet Gavrila Derzhavin and her personal favourite Prince Potemkin.
St Petersburg has a fascinating literary history and there’s no better way to discover Russia’s many great authors and poets than by seeing their works all in one place at the National Library of Russia – home to more than 17 million books.
A historic landmark in itself, Singer House is one of the most beautiful art nouveau buildings on Nevsky Prospect. Inside the former sewing factory, visitors can find the largest and most famous bookstore in St Petersburg, Dom Knigi (House of the Book).
One of the oldest shopping arcades in the world, Great Gostiny Dvor is a destination for any shopaholic. The complex, which features a labyrinth of shops selling everything from designer clothes to electronics, sprawls over 1km and is one of the best places to shop on Nevsky Prospect.
Murder, intrigue, crime and punishment… St Petersburg has it all. Those fascinated by the more ghoulish side of history will love these significant spots from fiction, and real life.