RIVERS AND CANALS
THE NEVA RIVER is an essential part of St. Petersburg’s charm. The river issues from the southwest of Lake Ladoga and flows 74 km west to the Gulf of Finland in the Baltic Sea. On average the Neva River is 400-600 meters wide, maximum width is 1200 meters, maximum depth is 24 meters. The islands in the Neva delta formed by both natural armlets and artificial canals are occupied by the historical part of St. Petersburg.
In the Middle Ages the wide and navigable river had great importance as a link between the Baltics and the Volga portages leading to the Orient. It was a site of the famous Battle of the Neva (1240). Alexander Nevskiy, the Duke of Novgorod, defeated Swedes in this battle, and thus earned his sobriquet Nevskiy. During the 16th century the mouth of the Neva was the site of the Swedish fortress Nyen, and the inlet to the Ladoga of the Russian fortress Shlisselburg.
The Neva River forms part of the White Sea-Baltic and Volga-Baltic waterways. From December to April, the river becomes unnavigable due to freezing over.
THE FONTANKA RIVER was once named Anonymous Creek (Bezymyannyy Yerik). The river received its present name in 1719, because water from it supplied the fountains of the Summer Garden. Its length is 6,700 meters, width is up to 70 meters, and depth is up to 3,5 meters.
Until the mid 18th century, the Fontanka River marked the southern boundary of St. Petersburg. Its banks were lined with the spacious mansions of Russian Imperial Family members and nobility. Among the samples of Baroque architecture along the Fontanka River are the Sheremetev Palace, Beloselskiy-Belozerskiy Palace, Shuvalov Palace, and the Church of St. Panteleymon. The notable Neoclassical structures from the 18th century include the Anichkov Palace and the Yusupov Palace. Some of the mansions contain museums of those writers and composers who lived there, including Gavrila Derzhavin, Ivan Turgenev, Anna Akhmatova and others.
The Fontanka River is spanned by fifteen bridges, including the 18th century Lomonosov Bridge and the extravagant Egyptian Bridge. The most famous of these, the Anichkov Bridge, carries the Nevskiy Prospect over the river.
THE GRIBOEDOV CANAL was constructed in 1739 on the basis of the existing river Krivusha. In 1764 – 1790 the canal was deepened, and the banks were reinforced and covered with granite. Before 1923 it was called Catherine Canal, after the Empress Catherine the Great, during whose reign it was deepened. During the Soviet period the canal was renamed after the Russian playwright and diplomat Alexander Griboedov.
The Griboedov Canal starts from the Moyka River near the Field of Mars and flows into the Fontanka River. Its length is 5 km, with a width of 32 meters. There are 21 bridges across the canal, mostly dating from the early 19th century, such as Bank Bridge and Lions’ Bridge.
THE MOYKA RIVER, originally known as Mya, derives its name from the Finnish word for «slush, mire». The river flows from the Fontanka River near the Summer Garden past the Field of Mars, crosses Nevskiy Prospect and the Kryukov Canal before entering the Neva River. It is also connected with the Neva by the Swan Channel and the Winter Channel. The river is 5 km long and 40 meters wide.
Among the magnificent 18th century edifices lining the Moyka quay are Stroganov Palace, Razumovskiy Palace, Yusupov Palace, New Holland Arch, St. Michael’s Castle, and the museum of Alexander Pushkin.