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Saint-Petersburg: Making the Most of the City's Bridges

RUSSIAN FEDERATION | Sunday, 27 September 2015 | Views [111]

Troitskiy most: Art Nouveau

Troitskiy most: Art Nouveau

During my stay in St Petersburg I got to appreciate the number and variety of bridges that there are in this "Venice of the North". Given that St Petersburg is dissected by a series of islands and waterways, bridges are an integral part of the cityscape. There are hundreds of bridges scattered around the city and the easiest way of seeing a healthy percentage of them is from the deck of one of the innumerable canal boats. If you have the luxury of time though, on foot is a better way to view in detail at least a representative sample of the bridges. In the 19th century the city administrators decided to colour-code some of the bridges, but now-a-day only the Blue, Red, Green and Yellow (this last one now renamed Pevcheskiy) bridges remain of those originally designated by hue. The best known of these is the Blue Bridge (Siniy most), which crosses the Moika River and has the widest span of any bridge in St Petersburg. The other three 'colour' bridges also cross the Moika but they are less ambitious constructions than the Blue Bridge. I couldn't really fathom where Pevcheskiy bridge (the Singers' bridge) got its former name from (Zholtyi) as it looks more olive-green than yellow in its colouring. Some of the bridges display a mythological animal motif, eg griffins (Bank Bridge), the Sphinx chimera, aptly enough, on the Egyptian (pedestrian) Bridge.

One of the most famous bridges, in part because of its central spot in the city, is Anichkov Bridge. This bridge provides passage over Fontanka canal for traffic and pedestrians on busy Nevskiy Prospect. Visitors to St Petersburg invariably stop to admire the four bronze horse scultures on each corner of the bridge. I had several opportunities to do this as on our journeys along Nevskiy Pr we regularly crossed this spot back and forth. The four-cornered "Horse Tamers" are one of St Petersburg's most recognisable landmarks. Another bridge over the Fontanky River interesting in its design, is Lomonosov bridge. This bridge is a remnant of the movable, towered bridges common in 18th century St Petersburg. Lomonosov is characterised by four rusticated Doric columns which look a bit like sentry boxes on top of the bridge. Further down the Fontanka River we came to Panteleymonovsky Bridge at the point of the river's confluence with Moika (near the Mikhailovskiy castle). Pantelymonosky is an attractive bridge with some interesting martial elements. The bridge's railings incorporate an impressive motif of shields, battle-axes, spears and other weapons of war. The end-columns holding up lanterns continue the theme. Its design of a bundle of spears, atop of which is a golden eagle, is suggestive of Imperial Rome.

Out on the Neva River the Palace Bridge (Dvoretsovy) is the bridge that gets most attention in St Petersburg. Dvoretsovy is probably the most photographed (and reproduced on posters, T-shirts, caps, etc) highlight in St Petersburg. The Palace is a bascule bridge with a mechanised, double-leaf lifting action. At night it is the standard pastime to take photos of the illuminated bridge opening for passing vessels on the Neva. The Palace bridge also features prominently in the "White Nights" cruise on the river from June to July each year. Along the river from Dvoretsovy is Trinity Bridge (Troitskiy most), another interesting segmental designed bridge and a single-wing lifting mechanism. most visitors appreciate Troitskiy bridge for its spectular Art Nouveau feature such as the elegant metal lanterns and the elaborate rostral columns at each end. Whilst visitors tend to focus, rightfully, on the feast of grand buildings on display in St Petersburg, its good to keep in mind that the city's bridges have a particular charm and fascination of their own.

 

 

Tags: city tour

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