Angliyskaya Naberezhnaya (English Embankment)

The English Embankment has long been the front gate of St. Petersburg. For foreigners who come to the city by the sea, one of the most magnificent views is of this embankment, dressed in granite and adorned with magnificent mansions. These were once exclusively the residences of Petersburg aristocrats and wealthy foreigners: the Vorontsov-Dashkovs, the Dolgorukovs, the Rumyantsevs, the Barons von Stieglitz, and the grand dukes of the House of Romanov. Today, it is still possible to see some of these houses from the street.

English (Angliyskaya) Embankment in St Petersburg, Russia
English (Angliyskaya) Embankment in St. Petersburg

At the beginning of the 18th century, the promenade led from the city center to the galley shipyard and so for a time was even called the Galley Quay. Because of its proximity to the Admiralty shipyards mostly workers and naval officers settled here. By the end of the 1730s, however, waterfront mansions belonging to foreigners started to appear here. Soon there was a whole English community busy constructing the English Church and the English Theater, where actors and musicians came from London to perform. In the second half of the 18th century, this area boasted the English Club, whose members were mainly Russian aristocrats. By the end of 18th century, the embankment naturally received the name "English."

Panorama of the English Embankment in St Petersburg, Russia
Panorama of the English Embankment

In the middle of the 19th century, the English Embankment was completely built up with mansions and converted into a fashionable district of St. Petersburg. Among the buildings of note: the Baron Stieglitz Mansion; the Rumyantsev Mansion with its twelve magnificent porticos (now belonging to the Museum of the History of St. Petersburg); the Countess of Laval Mansion; the Tenishev Mansion; and the Art Nouveau Palace of Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich. House No. 32 was constructed in classical forms by the architect Giacomo Quarenghi, and it was originally home to the Board (Ministry) of Foreign Affairs, where famous Russian writers including Alexander Pushkin, Alexander Griboyedov, Willhelm Kuchelbecker and Fyodor Tyutchev did their bureaucratic service. Today, the Palace of Grand Duke Andrey Vladimirovich houses the Palace of Marriage, quite possibly the most beautiful registry office in Russia. The Naryshkin Mansion (No. 10) hosted a ball that was attended by Alexander Pushkin and officer Georges d'Anthes only a few days before their fatal duel. Envoy Otto von Bismark, the future Prussian Chancellor, lived in house No. 50 from 1859 to 1862.

Cruise ships and sailing ships moored off the English Embankment in Saint-Petersburg, Russia
Cruise ships and sailing ships moored off the English Embankment

On October 25, 1917, the Cruiser Aurora docked in front of the English Embankment and fired the famous shot which served as a signal for the storming of the Winter Palace by revolutionaries. In Soviet times, the English Embankment was renamed in honor of the sailors of the Baltic Fleet and the waterfront was called the Red Fleet (Krasny Flot) Embankment. In 1994, to honor the visit of the British Queen Elizabeth II to St. Petersburg, its original name was restored. Today, the English Embankment is a must-see for visitors of St. Petersburg. During the White Nights it turns into one of the most popular walks for both St. Petersburg's residents and visitors.

Granite lions on the English Embankment in St Petersburg, Russia
Granite lions on the English Embankment
Metro stations:Admiralteyskaya
Directions:Exit Admiralteiskaya Metro Station and turn left along Nevsky Prospekt to Palace Square. Turn left on Admiralteiskaya Embankment, and walk around 600 m to reach the English Embankment.
Best walking route:All the embankment (about 1 hour)
What's here? Senate and Synod, Baron Stieglitz Mansion, Rumyantsev Mansion / Museum of the History of St. Petersburg, Countess Laval House, Tenishev Mansion, Dolgorukov Mansion, Anglican Church of Jesus Christ, Palace of Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich, College of Foreign Affairs, Palace of Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich, Naryshkin Mansion, Durnov Mansion
What's nearby? Admiralteyskaya Naberezhnaya (Admiralty Embankment), Annunciation Bridge, Senatskaya Ploshchad (Senate Square), Ploshchad Truda (Labor Square), Bolshaya Neva River