Discovering Сенная площадь
Walking down Садовая Улица (Sadovaya Ulitsa) from the city center you can see how the variety of shops restaurants and bars increases with every step you take until the street opens up on Сенная площадь (Sennaya Ploshchad). Here you are overwhelmed by a blaze of colours, smells and sounds: what uncovers before your eyes is the burst of life.
Sennaya Ploshchad is the connecting point of three metro stations, Sennaya, Sadovaya and Спасская (Spasskaya), and the crossroads of a great variety of ethnic groups and people from different social classes. In the marketplace you can find anything you need or you don’t need at all. Street vendors and shops spread all around the square and the entrances of the metro stations while beside them there are two shopping centres. It is a traditional and at the same time modern market in which western and eastern elements melt together. You can find fresh fruits, vegetables and food products at a very cheap price and several cafes and stalls with a great choice of Russian and ethnic food.
The market place was established in Sennaya Ploshchad in 1737 after Морской рынок (Morskoy pynok)in Дворцовая площадь (Dvortsovaya Ploshchad) burned down. Sennaya Ploshchad, that means Hay Square, was probably named after the Hay Market in London and there hay, firewood, oats and cattle were sold. At that time its location was at the edge of the city, but as Saint Petersburg grew it was incorporated into its limits as part of the city center.
Sennaya Ploshchad became soon a trading point for farmers, peasants and merchants who travelled from Moscow. It was the cheapest and crowded market of Saint Petersburg, where mostly the lower class lived and worked. In the 1730s Церковь Спаса-на-Сенной (Tserkov Spasa-na-Sennoy) was built on the market square. The Church went though many reconstructions and eventually in 1961 the government decided to blow it up to make way for Sennaya metro station.
The whole area has always been lively and cosmopolitan; such a unique little world that many writers and artists were deeply attracted to it, especially to its dark side. Around the market, in particular the area between Канал Грибоедова (Kanal Griboedova) and the Мойка (Moyka) river was known as a place of degradation, where dubious activities have taken place. The most famous literary reference to this side of the city was in Достоевский (Dostoevsky)’s Преступление и Наказание (Crime and Punishment) (1866), in which the writer depicted the mid-19th century Sennaya Ploshchad as the heart of common folk’s life.
The market square has a true soul and all the visitors are taken by its unique charm. Besides it is an important historical place in the development of Saint Petersburg. So it’s totally worthwhile visiting the whole area. In addition to its exotic atmosphere you can enjoy listening to street artists who play in the square, in band or solo performances especially during the early evening.
On March 3rd, on the World Writers Day, Liden & Denz organize a unique guided tour in the footsteps of the heroes of Dostoevsky’s novels around Sennaya Ploshchad. A unique journey to the past and though the places where Раскольников (Raskolnikov) and all the characters’s walked and lived in the writer’s works. Learn more about it here https://lidenz.ru/events/ai1ec_event/dostoevsky-st-petersburg/?instance_id=20459
Written by: Jessica Carrettiero
Photo Credit: Creative Commons