4 reasons to visit Vasilyevsky Island
Vasilyevsky Island, or “Васька” as it is known to the locals, is frequently visited by tourists but some parts are more popular than others. The most touristic area is found around the beautiful Dvortsoviy bridge that connects the island with the mainland, just a stone’s throw from the Hermitage and a few minutes walk from Peter and Paul’s fortress on Zayachy Island. Although the embankment offers a great view of the river and has some beautiful buildings to show for, one should not limit a visit to the island only to this part.
Here are four reasons to visit Васька:
The food stalls around Primorskaya
On the way out of the metro station, which marks the western endpoint of green line, there is nothing that really catches the eye. At least nothing that will cheer you up. Continue walking a few metres, however, and you will see the most delicious stalls filled with fruits of the season, berries, mushrooms, dried and fresh fish, cured ham and pastry. I would strongly advice trying some of the fresh fruits, especially the slightly oversized арбуз (watermelon). The абрикосы (apricots), ежевика (blackberries) and лисички (chanterelles) also taste lovely, but if you want to go full Russian you should buy some dried fish and octopus to enjoy with your be(v)er(age).
No, I am not talking about the main building of Saint Peterburg’s State University, Kunstkamera or any of the other buildings along the embankment. I am thinking of the four concrete apartment buildings along Novasmolenskaya naberezhnaya (see featured image) and all other buildings constructed during the period in which Saint Petersburg was known as Leningrad (1924-1991). They are predominantly found in the north-western parts of the island, close to Primorskaya. Grab some fruit outside the station, find a bench next to the river and enjoy the view of the majestic buildings that dominate the skyline of Васька.
Russia’s first ever museum is located on Vasilyevsky Island, not far from where it splits the Neva river in two. Peter the Great established the museum in 1724, inspired by what he had seen on his trips to Europe. It is particularly known for its collection of malformed humans and animal fetuses, but also include some collections available for the faint-hearted. Erartra – Russia’s largest museum of contemporary art –is the other museum you should consider visiting. It includes permanent installations and exhibitions, as well as time-limited ones. If you are not sick of museums already, the third option is the metro museum next to the Primorskaya station.
Very touristic at times but, nevertheless, beautiful. I suggest crossing the Blagoveshchensky bridge and walk along the University embankment, past the Dvortsoviy bridge and to the Spit of Vasilyevsky Island. From there you can keep walking to Peter and Paul’s fortress or go up along the Makarova embankment and catch a glimpse of Zenit’s old stadium “Petrovsky”. I am usually not the one to give away any romantic advices, but if you are here with your better half you should take him/her for a stroll around midnight when the bridges open for shipping traffic. Just keep in mind that they will stay like that for a couple of hours, so I recommend you to be on the same side when they go up, otherwise you might find yourself in a bit of trouble..