Top 5 places to make a wish in St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg is a city famous for its fairy-tale looks. The turrets of the Church of the Spilled Blood and the intricate architecture combine to make St. Petersburg a truly magical place. So, where better to make your dreams come true? I’ve tracked down some of the best places in the city where you can make a wish.
1. Атланты Нового Эрмитажа (The Sculptures of Atlantis of the New Hermitage)
These imposing sculptures by the entrance of the New Hermitage have stood here since 1848 and are pretty hard to miss. The exact location of the statues is Millionnaya ulitsa, 35. During the Great Patriotic War, one of the statues was damaged but stayed standing. This only reaffirmed the locals’ belief in the magical nature of the sculptures. Newlyweds often come here to hold the big toes of the statues, as they believe it will bring them good luck and happiness in marriage. When I visited there were two newly-married couples proudly posing by the toes, so it does seem a popular rite of passage for them!
2. Памятник Остапу Бендеру (Statue to Ostap Bender)
Ostap Bender is a character from the stories of Ilf and Petrov, and his combination of good looks, quick-wittedness and casual criminality has cemented his place of one of Russia’s most beloved literary heroes. The chair he stands by is a reference to the famous story ’12 Chairs’, where the con-man Ostap and his partner Kisa attempt to track down an allusive chair stuffed with diamonds. Rumour has it that Ostap will grant you your wish if you sit in the chair and rub his nose. You can find Ostap on Italyanskaya ulitsa, 2.
3. Шар-фонтан (The Fountain Ball)
On Malaya Sadovaya ulitsa, a pedestrianised street in the centre of the city, sits a striking, modern fountain. People often throw money into the fountain and then give the ball a turn to ensure their wishes come true. This isn’t as hard as it looks – when there is water in the fountain the ball apparently moves fairly easily. As it is winter, there is currently no water in there but I still threw a rouble for good luck!
4. Чижик-Пыжик (Chizhik-Pyzhik)
This tiny sculpture is only 11 centimetres tall and perches on a ledge in the embankment of the Fontanka River, right next to Panteleymonovsky Bridge. Lots of people throw money at the sculpture, hoping their coin will land on its ledge. Unfortunately, my aim wasn’t great and my rouble ended up on the ice below! Legend goes that inspiration for the sculpture came from the students from the nearby Imperial School of Jurisprudence, whose uniforms resembled the plumage of a чиж (siskin). The locals soon made a rhyme referencing both their uniforms and their penchant for drinking:
“Чижик-пыжик, где ты был? На Фонтанке водку пил…”
(“Chizhik-Pyzhik, where’ve you been? Drank vodka on the Fontanka…”)
5. Грифоны на Банковом мосту (The Griffins of Bankovsky Most)
The Griffins of this small bridge supposedly possess magical powers. To make your wish come true, at midnight put your hand on a griffin’s head and think hard about your wish. Alternatively, rubbing their paws is good luck as well. Sadly, the Griffins are being restored at the moment but they will be ready to receive wishes soon! Bankovsky Most is located in the centre of the city and the bridge crosses the Groboyedova canal.
Hopefully I have inspired you to explore the more magical areas of St. Petersburg and fingers crossed that some of my wishes come true! Don’t forget to check out the Liden & Denz blog for lots more interesting posts about Russian life.
This post was brought to you by Tilly Hicklin, currently studying Russian at Liden and Denz, St. Petersburg.