Spend a whole day checking out sites along the Nevsky Avenue, St. Petersburg.
They say that St. Petersburg gets only 30 days of sunshine and this makes the city unfriendly. I noticed right from the time I arrived at the Moskovsky Rail Terminal (RU: Московский вокзал / MR: मोस्कोव्स्की वोक्झाल) after an overnight train from Moscow that St. Petersburg is better suited to handle foreign tourists compared to Moscow. One can see several signboards in English and there is even a tourist information office.
The Nevsky Prospect (MR:नीव्सकी प्रस्प्यक्त) is the main thoroughfare of St. Petersburg and runs from the Admiralty (ex-Naval headquarters) to Nevsky Monastery (Nevsky is the patron saint of the city). The chief sights include the Rastrelliesque Stroganov Palace, the huge neoclassical Kazan Cathedral, the Art Nouveau Bookhouse, half a dozen 18th-century churches, Ostrovskogo plaza, a monument to Catherine the Great, an enormous 18th-century shopping mall, a mid-19th-century department store, the Russian National Library, Anichkov Bridge with its horse statues and the Hero-city monument among several other sites. One can easily spend an entire day walking on the by lanes or shopping on the pedestrian walkways while exploring the landmarks.
Dedicated to Our Lady of Kazan, probably the most venerated icon in Russia, the Kazan Cathedral of Russian Orthodox Church was converted to house a museum of the ‘History of Religion and Atheism’ during Soviet times.
Libraries say a lot about a city’s interest in culture and education. This is the oldest library in Russia and has collected rare books and documents from all over the world. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to go in.
The Anichkov bridge is mostly known for its four famous horse sculptures (1849-50). These beautiful sculptures depict the stages in taming of a horse. During the German attack in WW2, the sculptures were removed and buried, in a series of similar measures taken by the city to protect its decorations and architecture.
Located in the Vosstaniya Square, next to Moskovsky rail terminal is this obelisk dedicated to the resilience of Leningrad (old name of St. Petersburg) during world war II. The monument is made from granite that was quarried near Vyborg. Opposite side of the train station is a big hotel with Cyrillic letters that say “Hero City Leningrad.”
Nevsky Prospekt has three metro stations (fourth one is under construction) on the green line and offers convenient transfer to all other subway lines. Moskovsky Vokzal, the long distance train terminal is also located on this street and is a great point to start the trans-Russia rail trip. Being the central street, there are large number of buses that connect it to the rest of the city. A car or taxi is not required to explore this stretch.
The street is lined with large number of cute cafés, bars and restaurants that serve diverse European and even World foods. There are plenty of shopping options, but in a casual conversation with a local, he revealed that “We’d rather go to New York or London to shop, this place is too expensive.” Ahem!