My Illlustrated Travel Journal with Essays about Roman and Mediaeval History and some Geology


20.6.12
  Views from the Neva - Some St.Petersburg Impressions

A smaller ship like the Albatros has a few advantages, among them the fact that the ship could get closer (in)to the towns than the big monsters that have to stay in the larger outer harbours. So the Albatros sailed up the Neva to anchor directly in town (same with the Daugava in Riga; and we got pretty close to the Old Town in Stockholm, too). That will make for a little series of photos.

Cranes in the inner freight harbour

I took those photos when the ship left St.Petersburg - with an extra swing towards the first of the bridges that connects the Vasilyevsky Island with the mainland to the south. There had been a thunderstorm in the morning after a hot day before, and towards the evening, the clouds started to let up, though they still were pretty impressive. I liked the surrealistic look of the cranes against the sky.

Annunciation Bridge, with St.Isaac's Cathedral in the background (mainland side)

Above is a view of the Blagoveshchensky Bridge (Annunciation Bridge, for those who don't want to get a knot in their tongue by pronouncing Russian, lol), the frist of the bridges that span the Neva, coming from the direction of the Bay of Finland. The second bridge in the background is the Palace Bridge, and the golden cupola belongs to St.Isaac's Cathedral.

Annunciation Bridge, on the Vasilyevsky side

The Annunciation Bridge has been renovated in 2007 when it also got its current name; before it had been known as Lieutenant Schmidt Bridge. Both bridges are drawn up for some hours every night to let transport vessels pass; thus effectively cutting Vasilyevsky Island off the mainland. This can end in a not so nice surprise for those who missed the time; they'll get stuck until about 5 o'clock in the morning.

The Vasilyevsky side of the Neva

The southern embarkment of the river - on the Vasilyevsky side - has some of the oldest houses in St.Petersburg (early 18th century). I got a nice view from my cabin, too, but the upper decks are a better place for taking photos. The canals and streets on this part of the island show a regular, square pattern that indicates a town planned on the drawing board.

The four masted barque Sedov

Another pretty sight was the four-masted square rigged barque STS Sedov; a training ship for cadets of various schools of navigation in Russia (mostly Murmansk and St.Petersburg). She was just preparing for a voyage around the world and would leave two days later.

The ship has an interesting history. She was built in Germany in 1921 as Magdalene Vinnen (later Kommodore Johnsen), a freight carrying sailing ship, and one of the largest, too, with 117,5 metres length. Today she's only surpassed by the Royal Clipper (134,8 m).

The Sedov against the Vasilyevsly skyline

After WW2 she came to Russia as war reparation and was renamed Sedov, after the Arctic explorer Georgy Sedov who had died on an expedition in 1914. She served as sail training vessel of the Soviet Navy until 1957, then she was used as an oceanographic research ship until 1966. In the following years, the old lady was only infrequently used until she got overhauled in 1981. Besides new technical equipment and a fresh layer of paint, she also got a glass-domed restaurant and cinema. The Sedov must have been the most luxurious training ship after that. After the independence of Latvia, she got transfered from Riga (her home since 1982) to Murmansk.

Mary's Annunciation Church on the Vasilyevsky side, seen thrugh the rigs of the Sedov

I saw a TV report just a few days ago that she had another thorough renovation in the dock of Wismar in Germany in 1995. She had been a white bird until 2005 when a movie about the Pamir that sank in 1957, was filmed on the Sedov and she got the black paint

The Sedov participated in windjammer races already during Soviet times and won a number of prices. Today she still serves as training ship but also accepts paying guests. Though I'm not sure I'd like to climb the riggings. *grin* Albeit seeing her in fulls sails might be worth it.

Another surrealistic photos of cranes in the freight harbour

The Neva is only 74 km long, running from Lake Ladoga to the Gulf of Finland in the Baltic Sea, but its water discharge puts it on place three after the Volga and the Danube. The river is navigable throughout and part of the Volga-Baltic waterway which already the Vikings used.

View over the Neva from the Peter and Paul Fortress

The water flow from Lake Ladoga to the Neva is pretty consistant all year round, so the floods that so often hit St.Petersburg are caused by the inflow of the Baltic Sea during storms. The Neva freezes from December to mid-April, in summer the temperature peaks at 17-20°C.

View from the Stock Exchange place to the Peter and Paul Fortress

The last steps in the formation of the river were the glaciers of the last Ice Age and their retreat which caused the Littorina Sea to form, 7-9 metres above present sea level. A wide strait between the delta and the future Lake Ladoga was covered by water; the former bed of the Tosna river. But the land around the lake rose faster and thus a closed reservoir developed (the race of seal particular to Lake Ladoga is a witness from that time). The rising level of the lake flooded a moraine ridge and ran into the valley at the Ivanovo rapids, the modern Neva with its tributaries Tosna and Mga formed about 2000 BC. The average decline of the river is 4.2 metres.

View from the Stock Exchange to the Palace Embankment

The development of St.Petersburg altered the hydrological network of the delta. The town was founded in 1703, and Peter the Great did not care much that he picked a low and swampy area for his much needed Baltic Sea harbour. Tons of earth had to be moved which was used to raise the city; countless timber posts had to be dug into the ground, and canals had to be built for drainage. When the work was completed, the delta of the Neva consisted of 48 canals and rivers, and a hundred islands. Some of the canals were filled in over time so that today only 42 islands remain. A tour through the canals is one of the nicest ways to explore St.Petersburg.

View towards the Eremitage

The area belonged to the realm of Veliky Novgorod, also known as Holmgård in the Norse sagas, since the 9th century; a time when the population was a mix of Slavic and Scandinavian elements, the latter ruling as the Rurikids. Several Norse kings spent a time of exile in Novgorod.

Novgorod had access to the rivers leading south via the river Volkhov / Lake Ilmen, while the route via the Neva / Lake Ladoga went further east; both made Novgorod a trade centre in the Middle Ages. The Hansa League erected their own depedance or kontor, the 'Peterhof', in 1192, thus making the place one of the earliest parts of the rising trade net.

Sunset over the palace embankment

Quarrels and outright war with the Swedes were almost a constant feature of the area. In 1240, Prince Alexander Yaroslavich won a great battle against them which earned him the name Alexander Nevksy; he still features as popular Russian hero. Later, during the Great Northern War 1700-1721, Peter the Great would integrate the lands around the Neva into the Russian Empire and found the town named after him.

White nights at the Neva, with the golden spike of the Admirality in the background
(photo taken from out of the bus)

St.Petersburg became the capital of the Russian Empire in 1712. It was renamed Leningrad after the revolution and suffered a devastating siege during WW2 which was only broken in January 1944. After the glasnost, it regained its old name St.Petersburg. But the white nights at the Neva never changed.

Source:
Website of the Sedov
 
Comments:
Fabulous pics! I'd so love to visit St Petersburg.
 
How lucky that you saw the Sedov before she left! She looks splendid.

Love the light gleaming off the golden dome of the cathedral.
 
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The Lost Fort is a travel journal and history blog based on my travels in Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and other places. It includes essays on Roman and Mediaeval history, as well as some geology, illustrated with photos of old castles and churches, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.
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Location: Germany

I'm a blogger from Germany with a MA in Literature and History which doesn't pay my bills, so I use it to research blogposts instead. I'm interested in everything Roman and Mediaeval, avid reader and sometimes writer, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, photographer, and tea aficionado. And an old-fashioned blogger who hasn't yet gotten an Instagram account. :-)


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