Nevsky Prospekt Walking Tour (Self Guided), St. Petersburg

Nevsky Prospekt (Nevsky Avenue) is the main artery of Saint-Petersburg, named after Alexander Nevsky, a prominent warlord and legendary figure in Russian history. The Avenue hosts a plethora of historic and cultural attractions, as well as shopping and entertainment venues. Follow this guide to the Nevsky most popular sights.
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Nevsky Prospekt Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Nevsky Prospekt Walking Tour
Guide Location: Russia » St. Petersburg (See other walking tours in St. Petersburg)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 18
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 km
Author: emily
1
Alexander Garden

1) Alexander Garden

The Alexander Garden lies along the south and west facades of the Russian Admiralty in St. Petersburg, parallel to the Neva River and Admiralty Quay, extending from Palace Square in the east to St. Isaac's Cathedral in the west. The English park is named after Alexander II of Russia who ordered some 52 species of trees to be planted there. It was formerly known as the Admiralty Boulevard, the Admiralty Gardens, and the Labourers Garden. The garden was designed by Luigi Rusca in 1805. William Gould, an English-born gardener, was hired to raze the southern ramparts of the Admiralty Fortress, replacing them with four lime-tree alleys. The moat of the fortress was filled in 1819, making room for additional lanes. The garden was a traditional place for Easter and Maslenitsa revels. Three lanes leading from the Admiralty tower to Nevsky Avenue, Voznesensky Avenue and Gorokhovaya Street were designed by Ivan Fomin in 1923. This arrangement made the Admiralty Tower the focal point of the entire downtown.

By contrast with the Summer Garden, the Alexander Garden originally had no statuary. It was not until 1833 that Paolo Triscorni's marble copies of the Farnese Hercules and Farnese Flora appeared. A fountain was installed in front of the Admiralty tower in 1879. The Nikolai Przhevalsky monument and four busts (showing Nikolai Gogol, Mikhail Lermontov, Vasily Zhukovsky, and Mikhail Glinka) date from the 1890s. Chancellor Gorchakov's statue was added in 1998.
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Admiralty Building

2) Admiralty Building (must see)

The Admiralty was built in 1704 by Peter the Great to demonstrate to the world the greatness of the Russian navy. Construction on the Admiralty, which was originally a fortified shipyard with four bastions, began in 1704. Thousands of tradesman worked non-stop to build the regent’s much-desired navy and the first warship was completed in 1706. A tower and spire were added in 1711. In 1730, a central gate was added and the wooden structure was replaced with a building made of stone.

Adrian Zakharov designed what we now know today as the Admiralty in 1806. A fire in 1783 had damaged the building and there was talk of moving the structure to another part of the city. Fortunately for all, this move never came to pass. Zakharov’s design featured white columns and statues of military leaders. A naval influence can be seen throughout the structure. In addition, a wall painting illustrates Neptune presenting his trident to Peter the Great. The building is massive at 400 meters and stretches for an entire city block.

Unfortunately, the building did not survive the wrath of the clergy. Many statues were removed as they were deemed pagan. The Admiralty also had to weather damage during times of war and a fire. Formerly the home of Russia’s Naval Headquarters, it is now a naval college.

Tip:
Check out the giant fountain in the park in front of the Admiralty!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Wawelberg Bank

3) Wawelberg Bank

The Wawelberg Bank Building is an impressive edifice that was built by the Wawelberg family, an important and influential Russian clan of Polish extraction. The current building was constructed in 1912. Architect Marian Peretiatkovich designed the structure and sculptors Vasili Kozlov and Leopold Dietrich contributed to it.

A massive structure, the building stretches for an entire city block. The structure reflects a Neo-Renaissance style. The exterior of the bank features gray granite. The walls, cornices, and columns are northern Art Nouveau influenced sculptures decorated with bas-reliefs.

The bank’s origins begin with Hyppolite Wawelberg who moved to St. Petersburg in 1869 and began what became the Wawelberg Bank Building. The bank made Wawelberg a very wealthy man and by 1900, he was an honorary citizen of St. Petersburg. He also became a member of the board of management for the Warsaw Bank of Commerce, a member of the treasury of the Jewish Colonist Society, the Jewish Educational Society, and a benefactor of the Roman Catholic Beneficial Society. He also co-founded the Museum of Industry and Agriculture where Marie Curie performed scientific experiments. The bank has served as a retail establishment, restaurant, employment agency, and art studio during its 100 year history. Currently, the building houses a travel agency.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Kotomin House

4) Kotomin House

Located on the Nevsky Prospekt in Saint Petersburg, is the illustrious Kotomin House. This historical landmark was originally owned by Cornelius Cruys. The next owner, Johann Neumann, hired Mikhail Zemtsov to convert it from a wooden building into a two-story stone house. Several shops sold their wares in this house until Konon Komotin bought the structure and the surrounding land. Komotin had designer Vasily Stasov renovate the building in 1812.

The house reflects a Classicism design style and has a remarkable and interesting history. It is the location where P. E. Eliseev sold wines and other goods, where Volf and Beranje had a confectionary shop, and where the French restaurant Albert was housed. Influential Russians Lermontov, Chernishevskiy, Shevchenko, and Dostoevskiy and royalty visited the restaurant. Pushkin walked through the confectionary shop on his way to a fatal duel. It is rumored that Tchaikiovsky fell ill by drinking non-boiled water at the Kotomin.

Since 1983, the Literary Cafe has been housed in the Kotomin. The Kotomin is the host of many literary events, musical and other artistic events. It is highly recommended that one sample the many dishes the cafe has to offer. In addition, the restaurant serves wines from Italy, Australia, France, Russia, Chile, Argentina, Spain, and Portugal.
5
Stroganov Palace

5) Stroganov Palace

The Straganov Palace was built by Francesco-Bartholomeo Rastrelli between 1752 and 1754. The Straganov’s, an important aristocratic family, were well-known in creative and artistic circles. Many of the family went on to become art connoisseurs or major political figures. The world-famous Beef Stroganoff meal is their creation.

Prominent artists, writers, and composers of the day were associates of the Straganovs. Sergei Straganov was an art connoisseur and acquired an extensive art collection that later became the property of the Russian Museum. Artwork, a wax figure collection of the Romanov family, and icons from the family’s private collection are some of the items you will see on display in this beautiful Baroque building.

The fortress became property of the state when the family emigrated in 1917. The palace served as a national museum until 1929, at which point its contents were given to the Hermitage Museum. In 1988, it became the property of the Russian Museum and a restoration process began to restore it to its former glory. Tours are available in English and can be scheduled in advance.

Opening hours: Wednesday - Saturday 10 am - 6 pm; Monday 10 am - 5 pm.
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Kazan Cathedral

6) Kazan Cathedral (must see)

The Kazan Cathedral is a Russian Orthodox Church located on the Nevsky Prospekt in Saint Petersburg. The church is named after the religious icon Our Lady Kazan, a 16th-century saint, to whom many miracles have been attributed. Built by architect Andrei Varonikhin, the place of worship reflects the influences of Saint Peter’s Basilica. Construction took more than 10 years to complete. Many workers toiled day and night to accomplish the great task.

The interior of the cathedral features arched ceilings with ornate carvings and beautiful paintings. Spectacular columns accented with gold majestically line the corridor of the cathedral. The exterior of the building displays a stone colonnade and a small fountain that is encircled by a garden. Many leading artists of the day contributed to the design of the cathedral. Although a site to be seen during the day, the cathedral is exceptionally spectacular when viewed at night. The cathedral was closed by the Bolsheviks for many years but resumed religious services in 1990.

The church became a symbol of Russian victory after the War of 1812. Banners and keys from captured forces were displayed in the church. Mikhail Kutuzov, a hero of the war, is buried inside the church.

Why You Should Visit:
For anyone who hasn't been inside an active Eastern Orthodox Church, this is recommended as worshippers abound and the building's architecture is something you can admire.

Tip:
Try to visit during a service (6 pm) and focus on the service and voices of the quire to get a better feel for the soul of the country and Russian people.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-8pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
House of Books

7) House of Books

The House of Books was one of the first bookstores in Russia. It is also one of the most prolific bookstores in St. Petersburg. The structure, constructed from 1902 to 1904 by architect Pavel Suzor, features an Art-Nouveau Neoclassical design. Estonian Amandus Adamson performed the sculpture work. Initially, the House of Books was to be a skyscraper for the Singer Sewing Machine Company.

The building codes in St. Petersburg did not allow buildings to be taller than the Tsar’s Winter Palace. The architect found an alternative to this rule by constructing a top tower crowned by a glass globe. This gave the impression of a taller building, seven floors, without obstructing any nearby five-story structures.

The building remained in the Singer family until 1919 when it became the property of the Petrograd State Publishing House. From 1919 on, the building housed a bookstore, several of Leningrad’s publishing houses, a music store, and a foreign literature store. In addition, court photographer Sergey Levitsky had a photo studio at this location.

The store sells books in English, French, German, and many other languages. They also have postcards, calendars, handbooks, greeting cards, and children’s books. English speaking staff is available to help American visitors.
Sight description based on wikipedia
8
St. Catherine Catholic Church

8) St. Catherine Catholic Church

The St. Catherine Catholic Church is one of the oldest catholic churches in Russia. Located on the Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg, it is known as the mother of all Russian churches. Architect Antonio Rinaldi designed the current house of worship which features a Neoclassical design. The church is in the shape of a cross and can hold 2,000 people. The groundbreaking for the church occurred in 1763. The church officially opened for services in 1783.

Although much of the original beauty of the building was destroyed by the Soviets, restoration has returned this spectacular place of worship to its former glory. The church was closed from 1938 to 1992 and it is only though the efforts of the Russian people that it survives today. It is said that a 20 year-old girl confiscated the cross in 1938 and returned it 20 years later once the Catholic church regained control of the church.

Most stunning are the elaborately decorated ceilings that are covered by a cupola. Mass services are available in English, Latin, Polish, and Russian to address the needs of the multi-ethnic congregation. The church also has a shop that sells an assortment of religious literature. Visitors and tour groups are welcome, but the parish requests that you notify them in advance.
Sight description based on wikipedia
9
Saint Petersburg Duma

9) Saint Petersburg Duma

The Saint Petersburg Duma was a city council established in 1786 during the reign of Catherine the Great. Located on the grand Nevsky Prospekt, this board of Imperial Russia was responsible for collecting fees for the municipality i.e. education, dues and fees, medical, trade, and other services. The original council consisted of six members. Emperor Nicholas I expanded the council to 12 members.

The building reflects a Neo-Renaissance style and was designed by G. Quaranghi. One stunning aspect of the Duma is the tower that can be seen from one end of the Nevsky Prospekt to the other. In the past, the tower was also used for fire observation and as an optical telegraph.

The Duma experienced many renovations. Construction to add the tower, designed by Giacomo Ferrari, began in 1799 and was completed in 1804. In 1847, public halls were added and the overall height of the building increased. Additional construction, which added two floors, occurred between 1913 and 1915.

The Duma was briefly abolished by Emperor Paul in 1798. Four years later, Alexander I restored the Duma after the death of Emperor Paul. The Duma was disbanded during the Revolution and is now used for cultural and other events.
10
Gostiny Dvor

10) Gostiny Dvor

Located on the infamous Nevsky Prospekt, Gostinyi Dvor is a shopping center that holds the distinction of being the world’s first mall. It is also considered to be one of the best shopping centers in Europe. Constructed from 1757 to 1785, the Gostinyi Dvor is enormous and occupies an entire city block. The eye-catching building features a Neoclassical design. The architect was Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe.

The structure was originally a department store that was converted into individual shops. J.P. Gaultier, Galliano, Ungaro, Versace Jeans, and Christian Lacroix are some of the upscale stores that visitors will enjoy. A playroom is available for parents who wish to shop without the distraction of their children. The Gostinyi Dvor has it all. In addition to retail stores, they offer tailor services, currency conversion, museum exhibitions, and cafes for those who wish to eat. They also offer numerous arts and craft classes that parents and children will enjoy.

Gostinyi Dvor has experienced a lot of renovation. In fact, renovations continue to this day. The renovations after World War II, in which interior walls were demolished, helped to create the mall design we see today. The mall is open until 10 o’clock every night.
Sight description based on wikipedia
11
Passazh

11) Passazh

The Passazh, from the French word Passage, is an elite department store on Nevsky Avenue in Saint Petersburg, Russia, which celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1998. Parenthetically, the Passage premises have long been associated with the entertainment industry and still remains home to the Komissarzhevskaya Theatre.

The site where the Passage sprawls had been devoted to trade since the city's foundation in the early 18th century. It had been occupied by various shops and warehouses (Little Gostiny Dvor, Schukin Dvor, Apraksin Dvor) until 1846, when Count Essen-Stenbock-Fermor acquired the grounds to build an elite shopping mall for the highest echelons of the Russian nobility and bourgeoisie. The name came from a vast gallery between Nevsky Avenue and Italianskaya Street which provided the main passage through the mall. The gallery was covered over by an arching glass and steel roof, thus giving it a claim to being one of the world's first shopping malls, along with Passage du Caire in Paris (1798) Burlington Arcade in London, Galerie Vivienne in Paris (1823) and Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert in Brussels.

The three-stored building of the Passage opened its doors to consumers on May 9, 1848. It was one of the first structures in Russia to employ gas for lighting. Another innovation was an underground floor, where an electric station would be installed in 1900. Although the store specialized in jewellery, expensive clothes and other luxury goods, crowds of common people flocked to see the most fashionable shop of the Russian Empire. A fee of 50 kopecks had to be introduced in order to limit admissions.

The Passage is now privately owned by employees and shareholders. Updates and renovations throughout the entire building were done to meet modern international standards. Expanded showrooms welcomed more customers. Passage established relations with new trade and business partners, such as Escada, and other international department stores. One of the first upscale food markets in Russia, with a wide variety of international produce, opened in the basement. New restaurant opened on the upper level with the panoramic view of the Nevsky Prospect.
Sight description based on wikipedia
12
National Library of Russia

12) National Library of Russia

The National Library of Russia is one of the oldest public libraries in Russia. Located on the Nevsky Prospect, it is also one of the largest libraries in the world. The library was established in 1795 by Catherine the Great and opened in 1814. The designer was Yegor Sokolov and features classical architecture. Among the jewels you will enjoy at the NLR are the Saint Petersburg Bede, an Anglo-Saxon manuscript, the Ostromir Gospel, the second oldest East Slavic book in existence, the Codex Zographenis, an illuminated manuscript Gospel Book, and the personal collection of Voltaire.

The library contains over thirty-three million volumes, as well as a national center of librarianship. Visitors will enjoy reading the archives of Peter I, Catherine II, Nicholas II, Peter Tchaikovsky, Fyodor Chaliapin, and many others. Other items for viewing include 16th century Cyrillic imprints, the Frantsysk Skaryna, the Free Russian Press collection, and Russian and Slavonic manuscripts that span the 11th to 16th century. The main reading rooms are open from 9 am to 9 pm Monday through Friday and from 11 am to 7 pm Saturday and Sunday. Visitors should check the library’s website for opening and closing times for the special reading rooms.
Sight description based on wikipedia
13
Alexandrinsky Theatre

13) Alexandrinsky Theatre

The Alexandrinsky Theater, also known as the Russian State Pushkin Academy Drama Theater, was established as a museum in 1756. Next to the Fodor Volkoy Theater, it is one of the oldest national theaters in Russia. Carlo Rossi designed the Empire-style building that houses the museum today.

Located on the well-known Nevsky Prospekt, the world-famous theater hosts performances by the Russian Ballet and other troupes. Dramatic plays by famous playwrights also occur on a regular basis. Visitors lucky enough to visit during the month of September should not miss the Alexandrinsky Festival. The festival strives to bridge the gap between the Russian theater and the theaters of other countries. In addition, the theater has an impressive catalog of costumes, set decorations, and furniture for those lucky enough to visit.

The beauty of the theater can only be appreciated in person. The immense stage is graced by a beautiful arched five-tier balcony, while the lobbies display a luxury one would expect in a palace. The walls of the theater display images of Russian artists, politicians, and servicemen. Leading artists of the day, Pushkin, Tolstoy, and Tchaikovsky visited the theater. Valery Fokin, a highly acclaimed director, is the current artistic director of the theater.
Sight description based on wikipedia
14
Ostrovsky Square

14) Ostrovsky Square

Ostrovsky Square, a beautiful creation designed by architect Carlo Rossi, is located in St. Petersburg, Russia. One of the focal points of the structure is the Alexandrinsky Theatre where plays of Alexander Ostrovsky, Alexandr Griboyedov, Anton Chekhov, and many other great Russian writers take place. A statue of Catherine the Great stands majestically in the center of the square. On both sides of Catherine the Great are statues of her confidants in varying poses of reflection.

Intricate bas-reliefs decorate the attic and the façade of the building. The top of the building is crowned with Apollo who stands in his chariot. Below Apollo are two Glories who hold laurel wreaths and branches in their hands while facing a lyre that is surrounded by oak leaves. The building façade features garlands and masks.

Behind Ostrovsky Square is the Pushkin Theater where one can view plays, operas, or concerts. At the corner of Ostrovsky Square is Rossi Street, named after the famous architect. A rare treat is to see the square’s lights and decorations at night during New Year’s Eve. The annual 25 day Christmas Market, where countries from around the world show visitors their culture and cuisine, is a unique and recommended experience.
15
Elisseeff Emporium

15) Elisseeff Emporium

The Elisseff Emporium is a retail establishment located on the Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg. The five-story granite building was built from 1902 to 1903 and features an Art Nouveau design. The emporium was designed by Gabriel Baranovskii for the Elisseeff Brothers.

The Elisseeff Brothers were sons of the founder of the Elisseeff Trading House. Although the structure is actually three buildings, it is the building on the corner that is known as the Elisseeff Store. Although the theater lost its original interiors during a 1960s renovation, it is one of the few design elements, along with the lower hallway, that survives to this day.

The building design reflects its purpose and features everything a retail establishment would need to succeed. Large hallways and storage rooms, a performance theater, refrigerated rooms, and walk-in/drive-in coolers make this structure a premium choice for commerce. The building is decorated with the symbols of commerce, industry, science, and the arts. A stained glass window fills a large arch and connects each of the buildings to each other.

The Elisseeff Brothers operated the establishment until 1917. From 1917 until the 1990s the shop was owned and operated by the Soviet government. Since 1995, the Parnas M has owned the shop. The shop has been closed since 2009 for repairs.
Sight description based on wikipedia
16
Anichkov Bridge

16) Anichkov Bridge (must see)

The Anichkov Bridge is a prominent and well-known overpass that graces the Fontanka River in St. Petersburg. The bridge is located on the Nevsky Prospekt and is surrounded by beautiful palaces. Well-known authors Pushkin, Gogol, and Dostoevsky referred to this structure in their writings.

A stunningly simplistic design, the pink granite bridge features three arched spans and cast iron railings that are decorated with mermaid and seahorse decorations. Anichkov Bridge was constructed from 1715 to 1716 by order of Peter the Great. The original bridge was wooden and designed by Domenico Trezzini. In 1841, the original bridge was replaced with a stone bridge to meet the demands of traffic.

One of the most stunning elements is the Four Horseman bronze sculptures that were designed by Baron Peter Klodt von Urgensburg and installed at each end of the bridge in 1851. The sculptures illustrate the four stages of horse training (taming, starting, foundation training, and sports training). The statues were so popular that they were replicated many times and were also sent to Prussian King Frederick William IV as a present by Peter the Great. During World War II, the statues were buried in the Anichkov Palace garden to prevent the damage that occurred to the bridge.

Why You Should Visit:
Nice sculptures and full atmosphere of Nevsky Prospekt. The palaces facing the bridge are splendid. Also, you can schedule a boat trip from this bridge (no need to go to Neva river).
Sight description based on wikipedia
17
Anichkov Palace

17) Anichkov Palace

Anichkov Palace is the former imperial palace of Empress Elizabeth of Russia. Named after the nearby Anichkov Bridge, it occupies an entire city block. The palace was built from 1741 to 1754. The original designer was Mikhail Zemtsov. The remaining construction was completed by Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli. The palace was renovated in 1778 by Ivan Starov.

The palace was a gift that passed from one person to another. Empress Elisabeth gave the palace to Count Aleksey Razumovsky. After the death the Count, Catherine the Great of Russia gave the palace to Prince Potemkin. Lastly, Alexander I gave the palace to his sister, Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna of Russia.

The palace features a Baroque style and has two pavilions and a small museum. The rooms are beautifully decorated and are a worthwhile visit. Marble pillars, beautifully tiled floors, stunning chandeliers, bas-relief ceilings, and beautiful statues are some of the treats you will see.

After the Revolution, the palace was nationalized and became property of the Soviet State. Since 1936, the palace has housed an assortment of clubs for children. Each year the palace hosts a Christmas party for children whose parents were killed in the line of duty. Visitors can visit the museum if they call in advance. You must give the date, time, number of people, and contact information at the time of your request.
Sight description based on wikipedia
18
Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace

18) Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace

Beloselsky Palace was built in 1747 for Prince Mikhail Andreevitch Belosselsky. Known as one of the most lavish palaces in Russia, it was designed by French architect Thomas de Thomon. The three-storied pink-colored building is located on the corner of Nevsky Prospekt and the Fontanka River. The structure features a Neo-Baroque design.

Major renovation occurred from 1847 to 1848. Wings were added to the building and figures of atlases and caryatids were added to the facade in 1848 by A. Stackenschneider. Princess Elena Pavlovna Belosselskaya-Belozerskaya is responsible for the sumptuous appearance that we are familiar with today. Unlike many other structures, the palace survived Soviet use. It was used as the Communist’s Party District Headquarters and remained virtually intact with no major alterations to the original design.

Opulence and beauty abound everywhere one looks. Gorgeous wetlands, a beautiful staircase, silk-lined rooms, carved walls, and bas-reliefs of cherubs are some of the design elements you will discover at the palace. In addition, a wax museum that illustrates many of Russia’s former leaders, an art gallery, and a concert hall are also available for enjoyment. It is highly recommend that one take advantage of the selection of concerts that the concert hall holds each year. Tours are available from noon to 6 pm daily.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in St. Petersburg, Russia

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Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
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Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
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