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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.

To continue to read feel free to click on the links below or just scroll down slowly with the mouse to the bottom.


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 both day and night.

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 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 many more tourist sites.

For any visitor, like yourself, and for many locals, Admiralty side is the best place to stay in town, so go sightseeing, shopping, eating out, and have fun. If you're looking for a hotel or flat to stay, Admiralty is the right place to stay.

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This part of the city offers a beautiful view over the Hermitage and Peter and Paul Fortress from the spit as well as other interesting sites to see but not as much as Admiralty side.

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. If you may travel to St Petersburg by ferry or by ship cruise you will dock at the Marine Facade port terminal in Vasilievsky Island.

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 stunning 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 like in the city center (the Admiralty side), but surely you 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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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 can 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 you can find the small Hare Islands which is well protected by the surrounding waterways. History says that 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 to be 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 starts at the Peterogradskaya metro station.

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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 the city and the biggest residential area, where the majority of the working class live, including us.

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 as well as gloomy old Soviet-era apartment blocks together with new tall buildings and emerging modern residential areas.

This part of the city holds little appeal for tourists compared to other zones of Saint Petersburg as Admiralty for the example, 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 and war memorial 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, while today it serves as a recreational zone for locals living nearby.

In fact, this is the best place 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 as a visitor. That's why during summer we like to arrange private bike tours at the Sosnovka park, because by going there you will feel like a local.

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Apart from the historical areas featured in the St Petersburg city layout, there are also two other parts of the city which are often underestimated by most visitors: the southern part and the right bank of the Neva River, which are located in the outskirts of the city and not too far from the famous Peterhof and Tsarskoye Selo (about 30Kms).

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. While 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 are out of the tourist radar, so why not visit them if you have enough time. I am sure you'll like it!

Hope you have enjoyed our St Petersburg city layout page!

Written by Davide C.


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