Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa (Small Garden Street)

The shortest street in St. Petersburg runs between Nevsky Prospekt and Italianskaya Ulitsa - all 179 meters of Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. However, despite its diminutive size, Malaya Sadovaya generates an indescribable atmosphere that attracted even Emperor Alexander II, who used to enjoy walking here. At the end of the 20th century, this street was made entirely pedestrian and adorned with numerous monuments and sculptures, and Malaya Sadovaya became an even more popular destination for walks and meetings for both St. Petersburg's residents and visitors.

Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa in Saint-Petersburg, Russia
Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa

One of the street's main attractions is its fountain with a granite kugel ball spinning freely in jets of water. Bronze and cast iron sculptures of animals line the street: a stray dog named Gavryusha looms in one of the courtyards of Malaya Sadovaya, and the two cats which St. Petersburg residents have named Elisha and Vasilisa rest on the ledges of a house overlooking Nevsky Prospekt. People throw coins on the ledges where the cats rest, hoping it will grant them their wishes. The latest "settlers" on Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa are the photographer Karl Bulla (a former resident of the street) and his little bulldog.

Granite Ball fountain on Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa in St Petersburg, Russia
Granite Ball fountain on Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa

Malaya Sadovaya has long been known for its cafes and restaurants. In the 19th century, Fyodorov's Restaurant offered a glass of vodka and a boiled pork sandwich for just 10 kopeks. At the other end of the social spectrum, the famous Eliseyev Emporium opened on the corner of Malaya Sadovaya and Nevsky Prospekt in 1903, the flagship store for St. Petersburg's top wine merchants. It also housed a luxury restaurant and a theatre. This eclectic building with its giant store-front windows was renamed Delicatessen No. 1 in the Soviet era, while the store's theatre became the Theatre of Satire, one of the most popular in Leningrad under director Nikolay Akimov (it is now the N. P. Akimov Theatre of Comedy).

A sculpture on the facade of the Eliseev Emporium and a view of Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa in St Petersburg, Russia
A sculpture at the facade of the Eliseev Emporium and a view of Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa

The other two most notable buildings on Malaya Sadovaya flank the opposite end of the street at the junction with Italyanskaya Ulitsa. On one side, the Palace of Ivan Shuvalov, one of the leading statesman of the reign of Empress Elizaveta Petrovna and founder of Moscow University and the Russian Academy of Arts, is a pretty baroque building by architect Savva Chevakinsky, has since 1918 housed the Museum of Hygiene. Opposite, the House of Radio is a fine Russian Neoclassical building of the early 20th century, built as the Assembly of the Gentility, a club and social centre for St. Petersburg's haute bourgeoisie.

Statue of Vasilisa the Cat on Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa in Saint-Petersburg, Russia
Statue of Vasilisa the Cat on Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa

Today, Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa has Spanish and Vietnamese restaurants, a tea room, and fast-food outlets. On warm summer days and nights, musicians and artists showcase their talents on the sidewalks. Even in the depths of winter, Malaya Sadovaya is generally buzzing with activity at all hours, thanks to the fact that it is the only heated street in the city, always clear of snow, ice, or puddles.

Metro stations:Gostiny Dvor / Nevsky Prospekt
Directions:From Gostiny Dvor: Cross Nevsky Prospekt via the underpass and turn right. Malay Sadovaya is the first street on your left.
From Nevsky Prospekt, use the exit for Mikhailovskaya Ulitsa, turning right out of the underpass. Use the next underpass to cross Sadovaya Ulitsa, and Malaya Sadovaya is the next street on your left.
Best walking route:The whole street (10 minutes)
What's here? Eliseyev Emporium, Kugel Ball, Monument to Karl Bulla, Shuvalov Palace / Museum of Hygiene, House of Radio
What's nearby? Nevsky Prospekt, Italianskaya Ulitsa (Italian Street), Ekaterinsky Square, Manezhnaya Ploschad (Manezhnaya Square)