Petrovskaya Naberezhnaya (Peter's Quay)

Petrovskaya Naberezhnaya is located in the oldest part of St. Petersburg. After the founding of the city in 1703, its first center was located on what is now Troitskaya Ploshchad (Trinity Square). Nearby, on the banks of the Neva River, was the wooden cabin of Peter the Great, as well as similarly modest houses for his close associates - Yakov Bryus, Matvey Gagarin and others. The first port of St. Petersburg was built here. When the first foreign trade ship docked, the captain was greatly rewarded by Peter. There is even a legend that Peter himself was at the helm of the ship when it arrived. The Cabin of Peter the Great - which today is carefully preserved in a special pavilion and open to visitors - is considered St. Petersburg's first residential building. Here can be found exhibitions of Peter's personal belongings, as well as a boat supposedly built by the Tsar himself. In 1872, a bronze bust of Peter was erected near the cabin.

Fregat Blagodat floating restaurant moored off Petrovskaya Embankment in St Petersburg, Russia
Fregat Blagodat floating restaurant moored off Petrovskaya Embankment

In the mid-18th century, the area fell into neglect after the city center was shifted to the opposite bank of the Neva River. From time to time, large-scale development projects were mooted, for example a new building for the City Council was proposed to be built here, but nothing was implemented. Only at the beginning of the 20th century, after the construction of the Trinity Bridge across the river, did Grand Duke Nicholas, uncle of the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II, move here. A palace and apartment house were built in 1907-1910. These were subsequently replaced by curious institutions such as the Brain Institute and the Institute for Limnology. A granite embankment was built that descended to the river. In 1907 a sculpture brought from Manchuria depicting the Chinese mythological character of Shi-tsza was installed on the waterfront.

Shi-tsza (Chinese lion) on Petrovskaya Embankment in St Petersburg, Russia
Shi-tsza (Chinese lion) on Petrovskaya Embankment

In the early 1930s two notable apartment buildings were constructed on the embankment: the House of Political Prisoners in the constructivist style (1929-33) and the House of the People's Commissariat of the Navy in the Stalinist neoclassical style (1937-40). The first was a unique house-commune for former prisoners of the tsarist regime and the latter was for veterans of the Soviet fleet. Both houses were equipped with ultra-modern amenities at the time: mechanical laundry machines, electrified cabinets for heating ready meals, and a cinema. In 1961-1962 a seemingly unremarkable apartment building was constructed behind Peter's Cabin. This house, popularly known as the "Noble Nest", had large apartments with floor-to-ceiling windows, and became home to several leading cultural figures. Residents included the famous chief director of the Bolshoi Drama Theater, Georgiy Tovstonogov, actor Evgeny Lebedev, artist Viktor Oreshnikov and others.

Nakhimov Naval College on Petrovskaya Embankment in St Petersburg, Russia
Nakhimov Naval College on Petrovskaya Embankment

In 1948 the Cruiser Aurora, a symbol of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, was docked at the intersection of Petrovskaya and Petrogradskaya Embankments. It was turned into a branch of the Naval Museum, whose exhibition shows a hundred years of history of the legendary cruiser and Russian naval equipment beginning in the 20th century. Today, the broad and uncrowded Petrovskaya Naberezhnaya is a pleasant area to explore on foot, with its splendid views of the Neva River and Palace Embankment.

Metro stations:Gorkovskaya
Directions:Exit Gorkovskaya Metro Station and turn right along Kamennoostrovsky Prospekt towards the Neva River. Cross the avenue to reach Petrovskaya Naberezhnaya.
Best walking route:All the embankment (about 30 minutes)
What's here? Cabin of Peter the Great, House of Political Prisoners, Palace of Grand Duke Nicholas, House of the People's Commissariat of the Navy, Shih tsza sculpture
What's nearby? Troitsky (Trinity) Bridge, Troitskaya Ploshchad (Trinity Square), Peter and Paul Fortress, Neva River, Petrogradskaya Embankment, Cruiser Aurora