Васильевский остров

Orientation & Geography

Europe, Russia, Saint Petersburg

Vasilyevsky Island is an island in Saint Petersburg, Russia, bordered by the rivers Bolshaya Neva and Malaya Neva (in the delta of the Neva River) in the south and northeast, and by the Gulf of Finland in the west. Vasilyevsky Island is separated from Dekabristov Island by the Smolenka River. Together they form the territory of Vasileostrovsky District, an administrative subdivision of Saint Petersburg. The population was 202,650 in 2002. Situated just across the river from the Winter Palace, it constitutes a large portion of the city's historic center. Two of the most famous St Petersburg bridges, Palace Bridge and Blagoveshchensky Bridge, connect it with the mainland to the south. The Exchange Bridge and Tuchkov Bridge across Malaya Neva connect it with Petrogradsky Island. Vasilyevsky Island is served by the Vasileostrovskaya station and the Primorskaya station of Saint Petersburg Metro - . There are also tramways lines. Geographically, the island consists of two main parts. The south and east of the island are old, with buildings mostly from the 19th century. The southern embankment has some of the oldest buildings in the city dated from 18th century. That part of the island is notable for its rectangular grid of streets (originally intended to be canals, like in Venice), with three prospects – Bolshoi (Big), Sredniy (Middle) and Maly (Small) – going roughly from east to west, and with 30 Liniya (Line) streets going perpendicularly from south to north. The easternmost tip of the island, called Strelka (spit, literally Arrow), features a number of museums, including the Old Saint Petersburg Stock Exchange (Bourse) as well as two Rostral columns, and is a popular tourist attraction. The edifices lining the Universitetskaya Embankment along the Bolshaya Neva include the Kunstkamera, Twelve Collegia, Menshikov Palace, Imperial Academy of Sciences, and St. Andrew's Cathedral – all dating from the 18th century. In the island center there is a biggest Museum of electrical transport. It is based at the oldest Vasileostrovsky tram depot. Another notable attraction is an animated musical fountain located just off the Spit. The western part of the island was developed much later, in the late Soviet times, and has mostly typical Soviet apartment blocks. In contrast with the beautiful Neva embankments in the historical center, the sea coast in that part of Vasilyevsky island is still an uncultured wasteland that is not easy to walk on, even despite the fact that the fully populated multi-story apartment blocks are about 100 meters from the shore. A monument to Vasily, a legendary peasant after whom the island had been named, was opened in 2003. The principal buildings of Saint Petersburg State University are located on the island and include the Twelve Collegia by Domenico Tresini (1722–44) and the former palace of Peter II of Russia.