Vasilievsky Island Walking Tour (Self Guided), St. Petersburg

Vasilievsky Island is a part of Saint Petersburg's historic center. The southern embankment of the island has long attracted tourists with its old beautiful buildings, some of which date back to the 18th century. This self-guided walking tour takes you to explore the most popular attractions on St Petersburg's Vasilievsky Island.
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Vasilievsky Island Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Vasilievsky Island Walking Tour
Guide Location: Russia » St. Petersburg (See other walking tours in St. Petersburg)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
Author: emily
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Pushkin House Literary Museum
  • Old Saint Petersburg Stock Exchange
  • Zoological Museum
  • Kunstkamera
  • Twelve Collegia
  • Lomonosov Monument
  • Menshikov Palace
  • Imperial Academy of Arts
  • St. Andrew's Cathedral
Pushkin House Literary Museum

1) Pushkin House Literary Museum

Located near the Malaya Neva and Exchange Bridge is the Pushkin House. The building is also known as the Institute of Russian Literature and is home to a collection of over 120,000 Russian literary items that encompass the 13th century to the present. Named after one of Russia’s greatest poets and the founder of modern Russian literature, Alexander Pushkin, the museum’s origins began in 1905 when a commission that was erecting a Pushkin monument recommended a permanent institution be created to house his works. Today, the museum not only houses the works of Pushkin, but those of many other Russian writers such as Tolstoy, Blok, and Remizov.

Russian literature aficionados and museum visitors will enjoy the detail and wealth of material devoted to the history of Russian literature and the many exhibitions and lectures that occur quite often. Old Russian Literature, Russian Folklore and Records Archive, New Russian Literature, Pushkin Studies, Russian Literature, Correlation of Russian and Foreign Literature, Bibliography and Sources, Manuscript Division and Archive of Ancient Relics, and the Literature Museum are the museum divisions. Of special note are the rare photos, book illustrations, and autographs of Russian writers.

Why You Should Visit:
A beautiful academic museum with the richest collection of unique relics and artifacts that belonged to outstanding Russian poets and writers of the late 18th and early 20th centuries: Pushkin, Derzhavin, Zhukovsky, Dostoyevsky, Gogol, Lermontov (largest Lermontov collection in the world), Leo Tolstoy, Turgenev, Goncharov, Blok, Akhmatova, Gumilev and many others!

Opening Hours:
Monday - Friday: 11am - 4pm.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Old Saint Petersburg Stock Exchange

2) Old Saint Petersburg Stock Exchange

Old Saint Petersburg Stock Exchange is the main building in the architectural complex of The Spit of Vasilyevsky Island. The building, which is situated at Birzhevaya Ploschad 4, is a significant example of the Greek Revival architecture. Designed by French architect Thomas de Thomon and inspired by the Greek Temple of Hera at Paestum, the stock exchange was constructed between 1805 and 1810. It was built for the St. Petersburg Stock Exchange, but was subsequently used for a different purpose. Util 2011 it was home to Central Naval Museum.

The Old Stock Exchange was initially built by edict of Peter the Great for Saint Petersburg Stock Exchange, which he founded inspired by stock exchange in Amsterdam. In the six years from 1783 to 1789 on the shores of the Great Neva there were built the main building of the Academy of Sciences and the concave portion of the northern warehouse (1795–1797). Thus was built the building on the left and right of the location of future Stock Exchange building.

The Old Stock Exchange is sited to fill the majestic sweep of the Spit (in Russian Strelka) of Vasilievsky Island, just opposite the Winter Palace. Thomon's design called for a peristyle of forty four Doric columns resting upon a massive stylobate of red granite and supporting an entablature of triglyphs and slotted metopes. A monumental sculptural group similar in form to a quadriga featuring Neptune, and symbolizing maritime commerce, is mounted above the portico. Both inside and outside the Bourse, a motif of the semicircle is recurrent. The interior features a large colonnaded trading hall, now divided into eight exhibition halls. The central rooms are illuminated by an oblong skylight. The surrounding ceiling features double-sunk coffers.

Until 2011, the building used to host the Central Naval Museum. Today, the city management plans to return the building its historic mission and pass it to St. Petersburg International Mercantile Exchange.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Zoological Museum

3) Zoological Museum

The Zoological Institute is one of the oldest museums in St. Petersburg. Located on Vasilievsky Island, the museum was formed from the collections of Peter the Great. With over 60,000,000 items, it is one of the largest scientific exhibits in the world.

As you enter the museum, there is a display of Peter the Great’s two dogs and horse. Children and adults will enjoy the dinosaurs, mammoths, whale skeletons, stuffed animals, birds, and butterflies that line the corridors of the building. Jellyfish, corals, mollusks shells, starfish and sea urchins are also on display. Many of the animals are extinct which makes a visit to the museum that much more meaningful.

The museum is home to the only stuffed and mounted adult mammoth in the world. It also houses Dima and Masha, extinct baby mammoths who are over 40 thousand years old. In addition, the museum publishes scientific research. Quite simply, the museum is a site to be seen and paradise for those interested in mammals, birds, amphibians, fishes, insects and invertebrates, from times long gone.

Exhibitions occur on a regular basis. The museum receives thousands of visitors per year and is open Sunday through Saturday from 11 am to 6 pm; Tuesday- closed. The gallery is closed during public holidays.

4) Kunstkamera

A place for the scientifically curious, the Kunstkamera or Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography is not for the weak hearted. Located on the Universitetskaya Embankment in Saint Petersburg, the building was designed by Georg Johann Mattarnovy and completed in 1727.

The museum was founded by Peter the Great in 1704 and features anatomical specimens, preserved animals and human fetuses, body parts, and other curiosities. Over 2,000,000 items make up the museum collection. One of the more bizarre displays is the head of Willem Mons, who was executed for embezzlement by Peter the Great.

The museum was incredible for its time. Most of Russia feared deformities at that time. Peter the Great, however, had an interest in modern science and is often credited for laying the foundation for creating the institutions that produced leading scientists of the day. The museum also contains a display of coins and collections and other artifacts from around the world.

Conferences and seminars occur frequently and the museum staff also works in a research capacity. A must-see is the photo collection that features photo prints, glass plates, negative and positive films, postcards, and sketches from the past to the present. Visitors must have special permission to videotape or photograph and are not allowed to touch the artifacts.

Why You Should Visit:
While the museum is probably most famous for its First Scientific Collection, don't miss the opportunity to view the amazing collection of original ethnic items from around the globe, ranging from the Eskimos to Africans.

The display of malformed human and animal fetuses on the top floor may not be suitable for young children or the faint-hearted.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 11am-6pm;
Last Tuesday each month, 1 January, 9 May, 31 December: closed.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Twelve Collegia

5) Twelve Collegia

The Twelve Collegia, or Twelve Colleges, was commissioned by Peter the Great who sought a central location for Russian government. Peter the Great is often credited for transforming Russia from a medieval and outdated country into a modern and significant nation. His influence and directives in education, science, medicine, and the arts helped to make Russia a major authority in Europe. One only simply has to stand and gaze at the many buildings and monuments to see Peter the Great’s legacy.

The Twelve Collegia was designed by Domenico Trezzini and Theodor Schwertfeger. It was built from 1722 to 1744 and features a red and white design that is 440 yards long. The Senate, the Synod, nine colleges, and a ministry for trade were the original divisions of the institution. The building is now home to the Saint Petersburg State University, an internationally recognized educational institution. Noteworthy alumni include Nikolai Chernyshevsky, Ivan Turgenev, Alexander Blok, Pyotr Stolypin, Alexander Kerensky, and Vladimir Lenin. This institution features one of the longest hallways in the world.

Saint Petersburg State University has two campuses, 22 specialized faculties, and 13 research institutes. The university boasts over 20,000 students, eight Nobel Prize winners, and a four million volume library.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Lomonosov Monument

6) Lomonosov Monument

Located in St. Petersburg, on the Mendefeevskaya Line, is the monument of the remarkable and brilliant Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov. The monument was erected in 1986. The sculptors were Sweshnickov Y.D. and Petrov B.A. The architects were Shachov LA. and Tyacht E.A.

Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov was an amazing individual who made important contributions to the field of literature, education, and science. Part man and part genius, he was a physicist, poet, astronomer, chemist, historian, and mosaic artist. Some of his accomplishments include hypothesizing that Venus had an atmosphere, writing a book that helped to standardize Russian by combining Old Church Slavonic with the local language, being the first person to record the freezing of mercury, inventing sea tools that made calculating distances and directions easier, suggesting the existence of Antarctica, restoring the art of mosaics, and organizing an expedition to find the Northwest Passage.

Lomonosov was truly one of the great minds of his day and the Lomonosov Gold Medal is awarded in his honor annually to individuals who achieve excellence in the natural sciences and the humanities. In addition, a town, lunar crater, university, Mars crater, and Arctic underwater ridge all bear his name as a sign of respect and honor for his works.
Menshikov Palace

7) Menshikov Palace

Menshikov Palace, one of the oldest palaces in St. Petersburg, was built on Vasilevsky Island in 1710. The palace has a luxurious design that reflects a combination of influences. Formerly the political, cultural, and social center for Peter the Great and his associates, the palace is now used to display some of the State Hermitage’s collections.

Alexander Menshikov, the former owner of the palace, was an important friend of Peter the Great. Although noble by birth, he was given the title of Serene Highness, became governor of Ingermanlandia, and achieved the rank of General Field Marshall. Unfortunately, Menshikov was also well known for his deceitfulness, which eventually caused his demise.

Russian design is stunning and breathtaking and the Menshikov Palace lives up to this standard. The Dutch cobalt tiles, Italian marble, Russian stove tiles, leather, textiles, and tapestries decorate the palace interior in full splendor and perfectly accent the 17th and 18th century sculptures, paintings, and artwork displayed throughout the building. The rooms, which are fully lined with Dutch cobalt tiles, are a site worth seeing. In addition, many of Menshikov’s belongings are available for viewing.

Opening hours: Saturday - Sunday: 12 - 8 pm; Thursday: 10:30 - 5 pm.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Imperial Academy of Arts

8) Imperial Academy of Arts

Founded in 1757 by Ivan Shuvalov as the Academy of the Three Noblest Arts, the art school taught Neoclassical style and technique. The school, also known as the Russian Academy of Arts or the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts, was the place to go if you wanted to become a successful artist. Some well-known graduates of the academy include Anatoli Nenartovich, Nikolai Galakhov, Yuri Neprintsev, Yuri Tulin, Alexander Laktionov, Nikolai Pozdneev, Piotr Belousov, and Yuri Belov.

The structure currently features an impressive collection of books, music, and important papers that date back to the 1400s. It is one of the largest museums in the world. Some of the museum’s collections came from the Royal Family. Most impressive are the authentic 3,000 year-old Egyptian sphinxes. Rare treats that all will enjoy are canvases of Monet, Renoir, and Van Gogh. In addition, the artwork of Zurab Tsereteli is permanently housed at the museum.

Numerous exhibitions that display the finest of art, photography, design, and architecture occur frequently. The academy performs research regarding history and the theory of fine arts and architecture. In addition, workshops designed to advance the knowledge of students are a frequent event. An average of six million visitors per year visits the academy.
Sight description based on wikipedia
St. Andrew's Cathedral

9) St. Andrew's Cathedral

Located on Vasilevsky Island, this pink and white church is one of the last Baroque cathedrals constructed in Russia. Peter the Great ordered the construction of the place of worship and named it in honor of the Apostle Andrew, whom he considered to be his guardian.

Nicodemus Tessin the Younger was the original designer, but he did not get to complete the project due to the death of Peter the Great. In 1727, architect Giuseppe Trezzini constructed a wooden structure behind the Twelve Colleges. Empress Anna donated furniture. The icon screen came from the nearby Menshikov Palace chapel. In 1740, architect Giuseppe Trezzini constructed a stone structure. Construction was finally completed 22 years later.

The cathedral has survived many disasters to include the death of Peter the Great, burning to the ground in 1761, an attack and capture by the Bolsheviks, and the Siege of Leningrad which caused the death of 1,500,000 citizens. Once the cathedral was returned to the people, it was restored to its former glory. Visitors should make sure to view the religious icons that parishioners hid from the Bolsheviks and the Germans. The cathedral features an authentic orthodox choir.

Why You Should Visit:
Ancient carved iconostasis. Elegant architectural beauty. Rare antique icons. Cozy pedestrianized street.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-7pm

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