So you have walked all 2.8 miles of St. Petersburg's Nevsky Prospect. You've seen all sorts of beautiful buildings: imperial palaces, art nouveau shopping malls and banks, the old market place, Catholic and Lutheran churches – you name it. But you have only scratched the surface. In fact, most locals tend to avoid Nevsky because it is too touristy and crowded. And if you are looking for the best restaurants and bars, it's time to need to leave Nevsky behind.
And so, here are five must-stroll streets in the Northern Palmyra, once you get off Nevsky (with convenient links to Google Street View, so you can explore the streets virtually too).
Rubinstein street is the city's “dining heaven.” There is a restaurant, café, bar, or pub in almost ever one of the 40 buildings along this compact street.
If you are up for American food, visit “City Grill” (#4); for Spanish paella, go to Barslona (nope, not Barcelona – get used to it) tapas bar (#25); if you are interested in Jewish cuisine, then Beziker (#40) is your destination. The oldest Irish pub in St. Petersburg, Mollies, is located at #36, just across the street from #23, where Russian-American writer Sergei Dovlatov lived before he emigrated to the US in 1978.
If you are up for a crazy party, don’t miss Poison karaoke bar at #11, where the language for singing is English and all Russian songs are prohibited. Guess that's where the Poison comes in.
The street's architectural gem is Tolstoy House (#15-17), built for Mikhail Tolstoy, a distant relative of the famous writer. Try to sneak into the yard, which has been used as set for many films. [Google Street View] But if you get caught, we had nothing to do with it.
Bolshaya Konyushennaya is one of few "green" streets in the city center. It’s perfect for luxury shopping: Dior, Louis Vuitton, and Prada boutiques are at #13 and more world-famous brands are in the DLT department store (#21). You’ll find the Imperial Porcelain Factory shop right across the street from DLT.
If you are interested in looking at the life of Russia's creative youth and hipsters, expore Tsarkhitektor Art Cluster (#9), with its numerous cafes, bars, design and book shops. And don’t miss St. Petersburg's oldest Pushechnaya (donut shop) at #23. It's been there since 1958. [Google Street View]
Bolshaya Morskaya street starts at Palace Square and the General Staff Building, which today houses the Hermitage Museum's modern art collection. Before the Bolshevik Revolution, Bolshaya Morskaya was the city's most fashionable street, as proven by the presence of numerous majestic (former) bank buildings (#3, 5, 15, and 32). Trust us, you've never seen such a fashionable bank.
So it’s no surprise that the Fabergé family, producer of famous jewel-encrusted eggs for the Russian Tsars, had their shop and workshop at #24.
For those interested in the arts, visit Rosphoto Photography Center (#37), or cross the street to the former building of The Imperial Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, where local artists are exhibited (#38). Literature lovers should pop into the Vladimir Nabokov Museum; he was born in #47. [Google Street View]
Kamennoostrovsky prospect offers many examples of art nouveau architecture, which boomed under Tsar Nicholas II. The street stretches 2.1 miles, but the most beautiful part is located between subway stations Gorkovskaya and Petrogradskaya (on the blue line).
Have a cup of coffee at the café of Lenfilm Studio (#10), which was the Soviet Union's second largest film studio (after Mosfilm). Then admire Austrian Square with its fairytale towers and artistic mansards (starts at #13). For a history lesson, visit the memorial flat of Sergei Kirov (#26-28), the party boss whose murder marked the beginning of Stalin-era Terror.
When you arrive at Leo Tolstoy Square, you can admire the “House with Towers” (#35), which looks rather like a medieval castle, or you can turn left and explore Bolshoi Prospect on the Petrograd side – one of the city's best luxury shopping streets. [Google Street View]
Lines 6 and 7 on Vasilyevsky Island are partly blocked off pedestrian areas. The area is a canal that was supposed to have been built in the eighteenth century, but never made it past the blueprints. The closest subway station, Vasileostrovskaya, is due to reopen in June, 2016, but if your travel takes you to the island before that, you can make your way there via the Sportivnaya station as well (purple line).
Make a stop near the monument to “konka” – the horse-drawn trams that appeared in St. Petersburg in 1863 (at the crossing of Line 6 and Sredny prospect). If you would like to try local cakes, visit Sever-Metropol bakery (#25).
Other attractions along this street are the Novy Museum of Modern Art (#29), the Monument to Vasily (Peter the Great's main engineer and artilleryman), St. Andrew’s cathedral (#11) and Andreyevsky market (#9), which has decent souvenir shop inside. Those who would like to feel the atmosphere of prerevolutionary St. Petersburg, should visit the restored Doctor Poehl pharmacy (#16-18). [Google Street View]
Not enough walking for you? Need more? Head over to the Hermitage and stroll its miles of exhibits. Or you can always do Nevsky again in the opposite direction. Whichever way you go, Piter is always bound to give you something new.
Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.
PO Box 567
Montpelier VT 05601-0567