Bridges in Saint Petersburg: history and quirks
10 June, 2019
Today we’re having a closer look at history and quirks of Saint Petersburg’s most beautiful bridges. I mean, this city has an astounding 342 bridges connecting its 42 islands. I feel obliged to mention them. And, on top of that, I find bridges in Saint Petersburg absolutely fascinating, not only because of all the key historical events they’ve witnessed, but also because of their sheer beauty.
Before we start, a little advice for newcomers who live on the islands, you should “keep an eye on the bridges. They like to change”. Jokes apart, some of them open every night following this schedule. So be attentive, otherwise you’ll spend big money on cabs.
Дворцовый мост (Palace Bridge)
As i explained in the introduction bridges “like to change”, not only they open, most bridges in Saint Petersburg have been renamed several times throughout the centuries. Palace bridge opened in 1916, one of of the most famous and dramatic, (given this name as it stands near the Winter Palace) is no exception. In fact, already in 1917, it was renamed “Republican bridge” due to the Communist revolution, to come back to its original name already in 1944.
Traditionally the bridge is opened and used as a screen for a light show in occasion of “Алые паруса” (Scarlet sales), the celebration in honour of high school seniors that takes every year on June 23rd. On that night the municipality organises a firework display, a party for seniors only in Palace square, and a scarlet vessel sails trough the opened bridge.
Мост поцелуев (Potseluev Bridge)
Historians explain that Мост поцелуев (Potseluev bridge), standing over Moyka river, got his name from a nearby restaurant owner’s surname. But among people another version of facts is widespread.
Legend says that one of the most characteristic bridges in Saint Petersburg is named that way because couples that had to hide their feelings and relationships for whatever reason and sailors and prisoners used to kiss their lovers in that particular place. Nowadays it is believed that couples, who kiss or leave their lock on the bridge will be happy ever after. But pay attention, you and your partner’s happiness depends on how long you kissed for.
Центральный участок ЗСД
This is not only a bridge, but also a timesaver for those, who live on Vasilevsky Island. Before its construction, it took one hour or more to reach the centre from the island by car. On top of that, after its opening in 2016, people, whose flights were scheduled early in the morning, have been able to carefully plan their way to the airport (up to then they used to go to the airport the night before and sleep there, otherwise they would’ve missed their flights due to morning traffic jams). But there’s a lot more to it. In fact it connects the old and the new Saint Petersburg. The landscape is tangibly different, it goes from historical palaces and monuments, to parks, skyscrapers and this massive, nevertheless harmoniously fitting, construction.
Мост Ломоносова (Lomonosov Bridge)
This is the first bridge on Fontanka river, which was built in the 18th century and used to split and open up until the end of the 19th. The interesting thing about this bridge is that it has had various names throughout the years: firstly it was named after 18th cen. Empress Catherine II, then it was named in Count Chernyshev’s honour and lastly in memory of Lomonosov’s polyhedric talent.
Банковский мост (Bank Bridge)
Built in 1826, Банковский мост owes its name to Saint Petersburg’s former city bank building that happens to be just a few steps away from it which, since 1930, houses Saint Petersburg Economic University. There’s an urban legend about this bridge and its gold plated winged lions. It is believed that if someone puts a couple of coins in their mouth they’ll be very lucky from that moment on. Oh, maybe you noticed I just mentioned lions and not griffins. For your interest, unlike what most people believe, the statues represent winged lions and not griffins. Be very careful because people may get annoyed by this kind of mistakes.
Синий мост (Blue Bridge)
Синний мост is the first iron bridge to be built on Moyka as well as the widest of all bridges in Saint Petersburg, and the reason why it’s been called this way is self-explained. As you can guess, it got its name from the colour of its railings (Same as the Green and the Red bridges that also cross the Moyka, with only difference that the latter are wooden).
Аничков мост (Anichkov Bridge)
Anichkov bridge is the most famous bridge crossing Fontanka river and is world-known for the “”Horse tamers” (1841) quadrilogy sculpted by Peter Klodt. These have a “troubled” story: Nicholas I sent two of them to the Austro-Hungarian Emperor in 1842 and the second pair to Naples in 1846, to get them back to their pedestals in 1852. Then, during WW2 they’ve been buried in the Anichkov palace nearby to be brought back in place only at the and of the conflict. Copies of these sculptures can be found in Peterhof, Berlin and Moscow.
As of legends regarding Anichkov bridge we have two different version of the same story:
One day, on a ride around the city, Klodt had lost control and accidentally overtook the Emperor (By law no one could do that). But, what happened then?
- Someone say the Emperor just told him “you sculpt horses better than you drive them”
- Others claim that the two were exactly on Anichkov bridge at that moment and he said “Look, they’re the reason why I’m forgiving you” pointing at the statues
I hope this article came on cue, since some of you may want to do something other than visiting museum during summer. So, what now? Time to put theory into practice. Go and sense the magical atmosphere created by the bridges in Saint Petersburg. I strongly suggest to do so, especially at night. If you happen to be wandering around the city just go to the nearest “набережная” (embankment) and enjoy the breathtaking view.