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St Petersburg City Layout
Found Out How Russia's Northern Capital Was, and Still is, Designed!

Learning about St Petersburg city layout will help you better plan your visit and understand more about how the city has been designed since Peter the Great put the first stone back in 1703.

Called the "most artificial city in the world" by Dostoyevsky and "a window to Europe" by Pushkin, the St Petersburg city layout has developed gradually as the architectural trends and concepts of the city landscape have changed.

Built upon 100 islands on the Neva River, with more than 60 rivers and canals, the elegant city of St Petersburg has been historically and logically split into four main areas: Admiralty side, Vasilyevsky Island, Petrograd side and Vyborg side.

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ADMIRALTY SIDE


This is considered the city center where much of St. Petersburg's historical and cultural heritage is concentrated.

Admiralty side is considered the most central, active and bustling part of St Petersburg Russia. This area is full of stunning architectural monuments and buildings from the late 18th-19th centuries and offers interesting things to do and see.

Located between the Neva River in the north and the Obvodny Canal in the south, and crossed by the Fontanka and Moika rivers, Admiralty side will please you with its many museums, key sights and attractions as well as its numerous amenities such as several cafeterias, restaurants, hotels, shops and clubs.

This side includes the famous Hermitage Museum, the Kazan Cathedral, Summer Garden, the Church on the Spilt Blood, St Isaac's Cathedral, Russian museum, Alexander Nevsky Lavra, the main avenue of the city, Nevsky Prospekt, and much more.

For any visitor, like yourself, and for many locals, Admiralty side is the best place to stay and hang out in town, go shopping, eating out, have fun and enjoy one of the many St Petersburg Sightseeing Tours available.

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VASILYEVSKY ISLAND


This part of the city offers almost nothing to see apart from a beautiful view over the Hermitage and Peter and Paul Fortress from the spit.

Vasilievsky Island, located between the Bolshaya Neva and the river’s other arm, is the largest island in the city. Considered the center of the city's academic life, this area of the city is not as busy as Admiralty side. An important seaport has been situated here since the 1730s and there are also many stunning landmarks and sights to see. So this island shouldn't be underestimated.

In the past, this area was supposed to be the administrative and cultural center of the city, which was developed in the 19th century.

Due to the lack of access (the first bridge was built in 1850) and the risk of floods and stormy crossings, Vasilievsky Island became a middle-class haven.

The island features broad tree-lined avenues, examples of attractive classicism architecture and several Lutheran churches. It is also an area of learning and the St Petersburg State University, various institutes, libraries and museums have been established here in the former warehouses and customs buildings.

As said early, on the island you won't find many options for drinking or eating out as in the city center (Admiralty side), but for sure, you will get the best views of St Petersburg. In fact, if you walk from the Palace Bridge to the right, you can reach the famous Spit of Vasilievsky Island with two famous Rostral columns. From here you can enjoy an amazing view of the Hermitage, Marble Palace, Summer Garden and the Peter and Paul Fortress.

Walking from the Palace Bridge to the left you can also admire the views of Admiralty, St Isaac Cathedral and other stunning buildings positioned on the other bank of the River Neva.

If you are visiting Vasilievsky Island don't miss Kunstkamera, Zoological Museum, Naval Museum and the fascinating Menshikov Palace. If you start to feel hungry, go to the Seventh Line near Vasileostrovskaya metro station. Here you will find a beautiful, long pedestrian avenue full of cafeterias, Russian restaurants, sushi bars and much more.

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PETROGRAD SIDE


This is the first part of the city to be erected back in 1703. Mostly residential and home to several smaller universities, including the stadium of FC Zenit, here you will find very little to do or see.

Petrograd side is the largest part of the imperial city and it occupies seven islands. On one of these islands is Hare Islands which is small and well protected by the surrounding waterways Hare Island, Peter I laid the foundation of the Peter and Paul Fortress to protect the mainland and to secure Russia's outlet to the sea.

Petrograd side is the northwestern part of the city and one of the earliest residential areas was built in this zone.

Along with the famous fortress and historical buildings designed in art nouveau style, Petrograd side has always been a recreational area with many gardens and parks, such as Botanical Garden, Kirov Central Culture and Leisure Park and Maritime Victory Park.

Here you will find the stadium Petrovsky, which is home to the St Petersburg football club Zenit and the tallest structure in the city, a 326 m high TV tower. Also, in case you want to drink or eat something, many international and Russian restaurants, cafeterias, pubs and clubs are randomly strewn along the big avenues which start at the Peterogradskaya metro station.

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VYBORG SIDE


This is where the city ends and the road to Finland starts. Mostly a residential area for the Russian working class, here you may find the biggest park of St Petersburg, a few war monuments and many old style soviet apartments.

Located on the east of Bolshaya Neva, and stretching up to the north along the river, is Vyborg side. This is the industrialized part of this Russian city and the biggest residential area, where the majority of the working class live.

Called Vyborg side because of the motorway, which is close to the small Russian town Vyborg near the Finnish border, this is the right place for you to get a glimpse of the Soviet era. In fact, Vyborg side still has a few factories, industrial buildings and ugly and old Soviet-era apartment blocks, alongside new tall buildings and emerging modern residential areas.

This part of the city holds little appeal for tourists compared to other zones of St Petersburg, but its contribution to the city's history cannot be disputed. Vyborg side is the place where Lenin was welcomed back from exile at the Finland Station and subsequently hid out in the quarter before the October Revolution.

If you go a bit further north of the city, you can find the picturesque St Sampson's Cathedral and the biggest cemetery in the world Piskarovskoe, where 470 000 victims of the Siege of Leningrad were buried.

Furthermore, not too far from the Ploscad' Muzhestva metro station, you can also find the biggest and oldest park of the city, Sosnovka. During the Second World War, this huge park served as a military airport for the Russian army.

Today, this is the best place for many locals to ride a bike, ski, go for a picnic or relax at any time of the year. Surely it might be also an interesting and alternative place for you to see.

If you are interested why not take a look at our St Petersburg alternative tours.


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ST PETERSBURG CITY LAYOUT - OTHER AREAS


Apart from the historical areas featured in the St Petersburg city layout, there are also two parts of our Russian city, which are often underestimated by most visitors, that you should also think about seeing the southern part and the right bank of the Neva River, which may include also Peterhof and Tsarskoye Selo, if you move out a few kilometers from the city's outskirts.

The southern part of the city boasts gorgeous industrial architecture and magnificent Stalinist buildings along with several attractions such as the Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad, the Narva Triumphal Arch, Chesme Church and Pulkovo Observatory, just to name a few.

Meanwhile, the right bank of Neva hosts historical gunpowder factories, a few beautiful churches and parks and the hockey arena Ice Palace, which is also used for concerts, exhibitions and as a skating rink. These rarely visited areas of the city can be considered off the beaten path, so why not visit them if you have enough time.

Written by Davide C.

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