Running shoes: Exploring St. Petersburg

After the awesome city/tourist run of Rome in January, I prepared a similar run for my visit to St. Petersburg. The approximately 10 km route is filled with views of some of the ‘must see’ sights of the city, as well as with views of the river, some quieter parks and monuments.
Screenshot 2015-03-14 08.00.46

The Winter Palace and State Hermitage Museum

Turns out St. Petersburg is a much more welcoming city to run in than Moscow. Less large, polluted streets, less underpasses, make the running experience less daunting. Nevertheless, I’d recommend running in the early hours of the morning, before the museums open (at 10.30) and all of the people emerge on the street. The route I plotted starts in front of the Winter Palace/Hermitage museum, in the heart of the city. The building, a turquoise and yellow palace, glows in the early morning light. Feel free to circle around the granite Alexander column in the middle of the square- one solid, granite block celebrating the Russian victory over Napoleon, before heading west past the Admiralty.

Statue of Peter the Great squashing evil

Here you can run through the park, rather than along the road, which will give you the chance to see a few statues, along with St.Issac’s Cathedral, with it’s domed cap. Turning right towards the water, you run past another monument- a statue of St. Peter the Great on a horse, squashing a snake under its hoof. This statue symbolises the victory of Russia over evil (hence the squashing of the snake), and this square is also important because it was the setting for the Decembrist uprisings. This uprising after the death of Tsar Alexander I in 1825 was lead by aristocracy in the Army, was forcibly suppressed and participants exiled to Siberia (many to Irkutsk).

DSC_0070LCross onto the river bank and continue west, towards where the  river Neva opens out into the sea. At the first bridge turn left and cross the river, before tuning left again to visit the two Egyptian sphinxes that sit on the river bank. Avoid the makeshift souvenir stalls, and continue along the river bank, past Menshikov Palace, University buildings and museums, and enjoy the view across the river. Ignore the next bridge on your left, and cross over to the ‘Strelka’, a viewpoint from which you can admire the Peter and Paul Fortress, the winter palace, and all of the colourful buildings that line the river.

A view of the Fortress
A view of the Peter and Paul Fortress
Sculpture of Peter the Great
Sculpture of Peter the Great inside the Fortress

Once you have seen enough, continue on across the river and towards the Fortress itself. Here you can either run circles within the walls, admiring the cathedral, the bizarre sculpture of Peter the Great, with his face copied from his death mask and his body elongated in the style of Russian icon painting, or you can run on the cobblestones on the outside, taking in more views of the river. On the other side of the fortress you catch a glimpse of the Mosque (currently under construction), before heading back over the river towards and through the ‘Field of Mars’ park. This park, a monument to victims of war as the name suggests, was a former military ground and is a place of burial. The park is also a nice break from the roads, and offers a great view of the next big monument on the running tour- the famous ‘Cathedral of the Saviour on Spilled Blood’. Run through the next park to get there, and admire St. Petersburg’s version of ‘The Cathedral of St. Vasily the Blessed’ (St. Basil’s).

Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood
Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood
Pushkin in front of the Russian State Museum
Pushkin in front of the Russian State Museum

From the Cathedral you can either run along the canal to the Kazan cathedral, or take a quick detour by turning right along the first road and visiting the Russian museum and circling round a statue of the poet Pushkin. For the final stretch, run along the Nevski Prospect, past the Kazan Cathedral which is modelled on St. Peter’s in Rome and take absorb the city street as it comes to life- book shops and cafes open, advertisers hand out leaflets, and natives hurry to their next appointment. If the big city gets too much for you, you can take a left and head through an archway on the first road after the Moyka river, which will lead you right back to where you started.

Puh! Run done!

Written as part of the Saturday Virtual Running UK Blog Hop.

One thought on “Running shoes: Exploring St. Petersburg

  1. St. Petersburg is such an awesome city. Unfortunately I didn’t get to run when I was there. If I ever make it back I’ll try out this one, thanks for sharing.


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