Bolshoy Prospekt on the Petrograd Side

Bolshoy Prospekt on the Petrograd Side is the second major thoroughfare of the Petrograd Island, also known as the second Nevsky Prospekt thanks to the high number of up-market stores and boutiques. The street is also famous among sports fans for the Petrovsky Stadium, the main home ground of Zenit FC, and the Yubileyny Palace of Sport, which hosts ice hockey and volleyball matches.

Rosenshtein Apartment Building (House with Towers) on Bolshoy Prospekt in St Petersburg, Russia
Rosenshtein Apartment Building (House with Towers) on Bolshoy Prospekt

In the beginning, the region where Bolshoy Prospekt now runs was home to several regiments of the St. Petersburg garrison. It was soldiers who originally laid out the three parallel roads, the largest of which was initially called Bolshaya Garnizonnaya Doroga ("Big Garrison Road"), then Bolshaya Ofitserskaya Ulitsa ("Big Officers' Street"), and finally just Bolshoy Prospekt ("Big Avenue"). Until the middle of the 19th century, the street was lined with mainly wooden buildings, as there was a ban on individuals building stone buildings on the Petrograd Side in connection with the defensive capabilities of the Peter and Paul Fortress. However, once the ban was lifted towards the end of the 19th century, Bolshoy Prospekt was transformed into a respectable trading thoroughfare with large apartment buildings and stores. The architecture of the street covers all the fashionable design trends of that period, including style moderne, revivalism, and Russian neo-classicism.

Kolobov Apartment Building on Bolshoy Prospekt in Saint-Petersburg, Russia
Kolobov Apartment Building on Bolshoy Prospekt

The oldest buildings on the avenue can probably be considered the Tuchkov Buyan warehouses, which are now home to the Cadets College of the A. F. Mozhaisky Military University of Cosmic Engineering. Other interesting buildings at the beginning of the avenue include the style moderne Chubakov Apartment Building and the Kolobov Apartment Building, which now houses the Eastern European Institute of Psychoanalysis and the Sigmund Freud Dream Museum. Among the avenues richly varied architecture, buildings of particular note include the "Building with owls", a style moderne apartment building that recalls a medieval castle with its brutal granite facades, and the two Rozenshtein Apartment Buildings, located next to each other on the newest and probably the most interesting section of the avenue, from Ploshchad Lva Tolstogo to the Karpovka River. The first building, facing the square at an angle, is the more famous, with its thick hexagonal towers and elaborate Romanesque decorations, while the second is in more subdued but extremely elegant Palladian style. Also of note are the Gontskevich Apartment Building and the Baranovskaya Apartment Building, with its distinctive circular towers.

Vasilyev Mansion (House with Owls) on Bolshoy Prospekt in St Petersburg, Russia
Vasilyev Mansion (House with Owls) on Bolshoy Prospekt

Many of the buildings on the avenue have mansard roofs - in fact, it's fair to say that the trend for mansard levels in St. Petersburg, prompted by increasing land prices and local regulations forbidding buildings higher than the Winter Palace, really began here. As the resulting garrets provided cheaper accommodation, they became popular with artists and intellectuals. On Bolshoy Prospekt these included the linguist and sinologist Vasiliy Alekseev, the poets Georgiy Ivanov and Nikolay Tikhonov, and the artist Ivan Puni, whose apartment became a type of literary salon, visited in the 1910s by the great avant garde poets Velimir Khlebnikov, Vladimir Mayakovsky, and Igor Severyanin, amongst others.

The Soviet era left almost no mark on the architecture of Bolshoy Prospekt and today, like Kamennoostrovsky Prospekt, the avenue is almost like a museum of late 19th/early 20th century architecture.

Metro stations:Sportivnaya, Petrogradskaya
Best walking route:The whole avenue (2.5km)
What's here?Tuchkov Buyan, Chubakov Apartment Building, Kolobov Apartment Building, Sigmund Freud Dream Museum, Building with owls, Rozenshtein Apartment Buildings, Gontskevich Apartment Building, Baranovskaya Apartment Building, Buildings of the Princess Tereza Oldenburgskaya Women's Charitable Insitute (the Petrograd District Palace of Children's Art), Antonova Apartment Building, Nikonov House, Former mansion of Governor Secretary Vasiliev (Children's Art School 16), Monument to Nikolay Dobrolyubov, Alexander Nevsky Chapel
What's nearby?Ploshchad Lva Tolstogo (Leo Tolstoy Square), Naberezhnaya reki Karpovki (River Karpovka Embankment), Kamennoostrovskiy Prospekt, Malaya Neva, Prince Vladimir (Knyaz-Vladimirsky) Cathedral