Economic Forum: Power Sightseeing
Published: June 21, 2013 (Issue # 1764)
Alex G / Wikicommons
The Singer building, on the corner of Nevsky Prospekt and Canal Griboyedova, sits within sight of the Church on Spilled Blood and Kazan Cathedral.
The program of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, with its solidly packed program of forum topics, each lasting 75 minutes, doesn’t leave participant’s much time for sightseeing. But if key world issues can be covered in just over an hour, so too can a few of the city’s most memorable sites. One simply needs to know where to go. When it comes to St. Petersburg, that inevitably means sticking to its most famous street — Nevsky Prospekt.
Start your gallop around the city at Gostiny Dvor (35 Nevsky Prospekt), the largest indoor department store in St. Petersburg and also one of the world’s oldest malls, dating back to 1757. Head right out of the metro entrance and walk up Nevsky past Russia’s first public library until you reach the Catherine Garden with its monument to Russia’s most famous Empress surrounded by renowned dignitaries at her feet. See if you can spot the only female there — Ekaterina Dashkova, the first woman to chair the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Continue further along Nevsky to the iconic Anichkov Most with its four magnificent horse statues. Built in the 1840s, this striking bridge has a little secret tucked away. According to local legend, the testicles of one of the horses is said to be the face of the lover of the sculptor’s wife. Others say that it is the face of Napoleon — we’ll let you discover which horse hides this “ballsy” act of revenge.
Cross over the bridge and walk back down Nevsky until you reach number 56 — here you will find the exquisite Art Nouveau Yeliseyevsky Food Emporium. Located on the corner of Nevsky and Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa, the charming delicatessen offers an atmospheric place to grab a quick cup of coffee. Once back outside, turn right into the pedestrian street and try to spot the sculpted cat, a symbol of St. Petersburg, perching high upon on a ledge and throw a coin up to it — if it lands, your wish will be granted (hint: it’s on the same side as Yeliseyevsky).
Further along Nevsky, at number 54, sits the famous Karl Bulla photo salon and museum, which has been there since the 1850s. Climb up to the fourth floor, admiring antique photos displayed along the way and, for a small admission, step out onto a balcony for a view of the city below.
Back on Nevsky, keep walking back towards Gostiny Dvor and after passing through the underground crossing of Sadovaya Ulitsa, you’ll quickly spot the beautiful blue and white 18th-century Armenian church down a short alley on your right. Just in front, hidden away and just to the left, you will find a tiny window where you can buy authentic Armenian sweets.
From here, continue along Nevsky past a small square filled with colourful paintings for sale, until you reach Canal Griboyedova. To your right you have a spectacular view on the breathtaking Church of Spilled Blood, while to your left sits the grand-dame of Petersburg churches, the Kazan Cathedral. Directly in front of you is the famous Singer Building, which houses the popular Dom Knigi bookstore. If your camera has not been in you hands for most of the walk already, this would be the time to pull it out.
Cross Nevsky again and behind the Kazan Cathedral, you will find Bankovsky Most — regarded by many as the most beautiful bridge in St Petersburg. With golden-winged Griffins on each end, the bridge provides picturesque views of the city.
To end this quick tour, head back to Gostiny Dvor and wander through for some shopping including souvenirs. It’s worth heading to the second floor and finish by walking along the balcony for a last bird’s-eye view of the city before hopping on the metro to get back for the Economic Forum’s next important session.