Ride the green wave
Old Nevsky Prospect between Vosstaniya Square and the monastery Alexander Nevsky Lavra in the evening, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Some background information:
Nevsky Prospect is the main street in the city of Saint Petersburg, Russia, named after the 13th-century Russian prince Alexander Nevsky. Planned by Peter the Great as the beginning of the road to Novgorod and Moscow, the avenue runs from the Admiralty to the Moscow Railway Station and, after making a turn at Vosstaniya Square, to the monastery Alexander Nevsky Lavra. The latter stretch of street is usually called the Old Nevsky Prospect, because it was the first part of the avenue that was built.
The chief sights include Stroganov Palace, the huge neoclassical Kazan Cathedral, the Elisseeff Emporium (a famous Art Noveau food hall), half a dozen 18th-century churches, a monument to Catherine the Great, Gostiny Dvor (an enormous 18th-century shopping mall), the Russian National Library, the Anichkov Bridge with its horse statues (across Fontanka River), and the Art Noveau Singer House (a great book store, also known as Dom Knigi).
The feverish life of the avenue was described by Nikolai Gogol in his story "Nevsky Prospect". Fyodor Dostoevsky often employed the Nevsky Prospect as a setting within his works, such as "Crime and Punishment" and "The Double: A Petersburg Poem". The café-restaurant where the famous writers of the 19th century Golden Age of the Russian literature frequented still remains as "Literary Cafe" on Nevsky Prospect.
During the early Soviet years (1918 to 1944) the name of Nevsky Prospect was changed, first to "Proletkult Street" in honor of that Soviet artistic organization Prolekult. Following the demise of Proletkult the name was changed again, this time to "Avenue of the 25th of October", alluding to the day of the October Revolution.
Today the Nevsky functions as the main thoroughfare in Saint Petersburg. The majority of the city's shopping and nightlife are located on or right off the Nevsky Prospekt. The street is served by numerous subway stations of Saint Petersburg Metro, such as Admiralteyskaya, Nevsky Prospekt, Gostiny Dvor, Mayakovskaya, Ploshchad Vosstaniya and Ploshchad Alexandra Nevskogo.
Saint Petersburg (in Russian: Санкт-Петербу́рг) is Russia's second-largest city after Moscow, with currently 5.3 million inhabitants, part of the Saint Petersburg agglomeration with a population of 6.2 million (2015). An important Russian port on the Baltic Sea, it has a status of a federal city. Saint Petersburg is also the fourth-largest city in Europe, only excelled by Istanbul, London and Moscow. Other famous European cities like Paris, Berlin, Rome and Madrid are smaller. Furthermore, Saint Petersburg is the world’s northernmost megapolis and called "The Venice of the North", due to its many channels that traverse the city.
Situated on the Neva River, at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea, it was founded by Tsar Peter the Great on 27th May 1703. On 1st September 1914, the name was changed from Saint Petersburg to Petrograd, on 26 January 1924 to Leningrad, and on 7 September 1991 back to Saint Petersburg. Between 1713 and 1728 and again between 1732 and 1918, Saint Petersburg was the capital of Imperial Russia. In 1918, the central government bodies moved to Moscow, which is located about 625 kilometres (388 miles) to the south-east.
Saint Petersburg is also the cultural capital of Russia. "The Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments" constitute a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Saint Petersburg is home to the Hermitage, one of the largest art museums in the world. Many foreign consulates, international corporations, banks and businesses have offices in Saint Petersburg. The multinational Gazprom company has its headquarters in the newly erected Lakhta Center.
Saint Petersburg’s history traces back not before 1611, when Swedish colonists built Nyenskans, a fortress at the mouth of the Neva River. The small town of Nyen grew up around it. At the end of the 17th century, Peter the Great, who was very interested in seafaring and maritime affairs, wanted Russia to gain a seaport by the Baltic Sea, free of ice even in the winters, in order to trade with the rest of Europe. On 12th May 1703, during the Great Northern War, Peter the Great captured Nyenskans and soon replaced the fortress by laying down the Peter and Paul Fortress on Hare Island, which became the first brick and stone building of the new city.
The city was built by conscripted peasants from all over Russia and Swedish prisoners of war in the extremely swampy marshes of the mouth of the Neva River. Tens of thousands of serfs died building the city. During its first few years, the city developed around Trinity Square on the right bank of the Neva, near the Peter and Paul Fortress. However, Saint Petersburg soon started to be built out according to a plan. By 1716 the Swiss Italian Domenico Trezzini had elaborated a project whereby the city centre would be located on Vasilyevsky Island and shaped by a rectangular grid of canals. The project was not completed, but is evident in the layout of the streets. In 1716, Peter the Great appointed Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Alexandre Le Blond as the chief architect of Saint Petersburg.
The high nobility of Russia was forced to move from Moscow to Saint Petersburg by telling the peers that they would lose their titles and properties otherwise. Therefore they had no other choice but to move and built new palaces in the new capital city. However, Peter the Great’s endeavours to modernize Russia had met with opposition from the Russian nobility. In 1725, he died of natural causes, after having survived several attempts on his life.
From 1736 to 1737 the city suffered from catastrophic fires. To rebuild the city center, it was moved to the Admiralty borough, situated on the east bank between the Neva and Fontanka. It developed along three radial streets, which meet at the Admiralty building and are now one street known as Nevsky Prospekt. Baroque architecture became dominant in the city during the first sixty years, culminating in the Elizabethan Baroque, represented most notably by Italian Bartolomeo Rastrelli with such buildings as the Winter Palace. In the 1760s, Baroque architecture was succeeded by neoclassical architecture.
Established in 1762, the Commission of Stone Buildings of Moscow and Saint Petersburg ruled that no structure in the city can be higher than the Winter Palace and prohibited spacing between buildings. During the reign of Catherine the Great, the banks of the Neva were lined with granite embankments between 1762 and 1790. However, it was not until 1850 that the first permanent bridge across the Neva was allowed to open. Before that, only pontoon bridges were allowed.
The Revolution of 1905 began in Saint Petersburg and spread rapidly into the provinces. On September 1, 1914, after the outbreak of World War I, the Imperial government renamed the city Petrograd, meaning "Peter's City", to remove the German words "Sankt" and "Burg". In March 1917, during the February Revolution, Nicholas II abdicated both for himself and on behalf of his son, ending the Russian monarchy and over three hundred years of Romanov dynastic rule.
On 7th November, 1917, the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, stormed the Winter Palace in an event known thereafter as the October Revolution, which led to the end of the post-Tsarist provisional government, the transfer of all political power to the Soviets, and the rise of the Communist Party. After that the city acquired a new descriptive name, "the city of three revolutions", referring to the three major developments in the political history of Russia of the early 20th-century.
In September and October 1917, German troops invaded the West Estonian archipelago and threatened Petrograd with bombardment and invasion. As a consequence, the Soviets transferred the government to Moscow, to keep it away from the state border. During the ensuing Civil War, in 1919 general Yudenich advancing from Estonia repeated the attempt to capture the city, but Leon Trotsky mobilized the army and forced him to retreat.
On 26th January 1924, five days after Lenin's death, Petrograd was renamed Leningrad. Later some streets and other toponyms were renamed accordingly. The city has over 230 places associated with the life and activities of Lenin. Some of them were turned into museums, including the cruiser Aurora – a symbol of the October Revolution and the oldest ship in the Russian Navy.
During World War II, German forces besieged Leningrad following the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. The siege lasted 872 days, or almost two and a half years, from 8th September 1941 to 27th January 1944. The Siege of Leningrad proved one of the longest, most destructive, and most lethal sieges of a major city in modern history. It isolated the city from food supplies except those provided through the Road of Life across Lake Ladoga, which could not make it through until the lake literally froze. More than one million civilians were killed, mainly from starvation. Many others escaped or were evacuated, so the city became largely depopulated. On 1st May 1945, Joseph Stalin named Leningrad, together with Stalingrad, Sevastopol, and Odessa, a hero city of the war.
Today, the city is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list as an area with 36 historical architectural complexes and around 4000 outstanding individual monuments of architecture, history and culture. It has 221 museums, 2,000 libraries, more than 80 theaters, 100 concert organizations, 45 galleries and exhibition halls, 62 cinemas and around 80 other cultural establishments. Every year the city hosts around 100 festivals and various competitions of art and culture, including more than 50 international ones. In 2017, the city was visited by 7.2 million tourists and it is expected that in the years ahead the number of tourists will still be on the rise.