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Sredny Prospekt on Vasilevsky Island

Sredny Prospekt runs parallel to Bolshoy Prospekt, about 500m to the north. While the avenue does not boast any really famous buildings, it does showcase a wide variety of architectural styles, acting like an encyclopedia of design in St. Petersburg. The avenue is also home to several interesting museums.

Intersection of Sredny Prospekt and the 12th Line of Vasilevsky Island in St Petersburg, Russia
Intersection of Sredny Prospekt and the 12th Line of Vasilevsky Island

Originally, Peter the Great planned Vasilyevsky Island as a network of parallel canals intersected by broad avenues. Although this idea was soon dismissed by St. Petersburg's town planners, the geometry of Peter's plans nonetheless determined the street plan of the island. Sredniy Prospekt was laid out in the 1730s and initially called Malaya Pershpektiva - "Small Avenue" - in comparison with the already existent Bolshaya Pershpektiva, now Bolshoy Prospekt ("Grand Avenue"). With the appearance of a third parallel avenue on the island, the new street became Maliy Prospekt, while Malaya Pershpektiva was renamed Sredniy Prospekt - "Middle Avenue".

In the 18th century, like Bolshoy Prospekt, Sredny Prospekt was built up with wooden houses, behind which were open saves where the locals grazed their cattle. In the first quarter of the 19th century, stone buildings began to appear on the avenue. Of the few that have survived, although with considerable alteration, it is worth noting the Mansion of Officer Sokolov and the Morgan Apartment Building on the corner of Tuchkov Pereulok.

Former building of Municipal Elementary Schools on Sredny Prospekt in St Petersburg, Russia
Former building of Municipal Elementary Schools on Sredny Prospekt

The main development of the street took place in the second half of the 19th century. Among the buildings of interest on the avenue are the Essen-Stenbock-Fermor Bathhouse, the Building of City Elementary Colleges, the former club of the Uritsky Tobacco Factory (now the Theatre of Satire on Vasilevsky), the Benigsen Apartment Building, and the building of the Olginsky Children's Shelter of Industry. On the corner with 3-ya Liniya, the neo-gothic Lutheran Church of St. Michael was turned into a toy factory during the Soviet period, but is now almost completely restored, and hosts regular services as well as organ recitals.

St Michael's Cathedral on Sredny Prospekt in Saint-Petersburg, Russia
St. Michael's Cathedral on Sredny Prospekt

The two main attractions on Sredny Prospekt are connected to museums. The first is the F. N. Chernyshev Central Scientific and Research Geological Prospecting Museum, situated in the building of the Geological Committee of Russia, built in 1914. The museum has over a million exhibits, from dinosaur bones to 1.5m Altay crystals and a mosaic map of the Soviet Union decorated with diamonds, rubies and other precious and semi-precious stones from 500 different sources. For 34 years, this map was displayed in the St. George Hall of the Hermitage.

VSEGEI Geology Institute on Sredny Prospekt of Vasilevsky Island in St Petersburg, Russia
VSEGEI Geology Institute at Sredny Prospekt of Vasilevsky Island

The other no less remarkable museum is located on the territory of the Vasileostrovsky Tram Park, which was home to the first electric trams in St. Petersburg. Built in 1907, it is now home to the Museum of Electric Transport, with over 50 historic trams and trolleybuses dating back as far as 1927 in its sheds. Further west along Sredny Prospekt are three important cultural centers - the Sergey Kuryokhin Centre of Contemporary Art, New Museum of Modern Art, and, a few steps off the avenue on 29-ya Liniya, Erarta Museum and Gallery of Contemporary Art.

Metro stations:Vasileostrovskaya
Best walking route:The historic section of the avenue from Naberezhnaya Makarova to 25-ya Liniya (2.1km)
What's here?Lutheran Church of St. Michael, Mansion of Officer Sokolov, Essen-Stenbock-Fermor Bathhouse, Building of City Elementary Colleges, Theatre of Satire on Vasilevskom, Benigsen Apartment Building, Olginsky Children's Shelter of Industry, F. N. Chernyshev Central Scientific and Research Geological Prospecting Museum, Museum of Electric Transport, Sergey Kuryokhin Centre of Contemporary Art
What's nearby?Naberezhnaya Makarova, Malaya Neva River, 1-ya Liniya / Kadetskaya Liniya, 6-ya / 7-ya Liniya, New Museum of Modern Art, Erarta Museum and Gallery of Contemporary Art
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