On beautiful, sunny days in St. Petersburg, many Russians head to the beautiful shaded areas of the city, such as three popular parks and gardens that make up a trifecta just off Nevsky Prospekt. These gardens and parks are Mikhailovsky Garden (Михайловский сад), Field of Mars (Марсово поле/Marsovo Polye), and The Summer Garden (Летний сад/Letnii Sad), all originally founded by Peter the Great. These green spaces offer a breath of fresh air from the car-filled city and are great for any lazy day.
The Mikhailovsky Garden is located just behind the Church on Spilled Blood (Церковь Спаса на Крови), through the black iron gates. This park has wide green areas, a pond, and a great view of the Russian Museum. They also have benches that were painted for a local art initiative. As I was walking through the park, a few Russians asked me to take their pictures, and one Russian even asked me to recommend a path. In short, people are friendly there and often enjoy a short conversation. There are also toasted almond stands that also offer beverages.
Towards the back, right corner of the park, there is an exit to the street. Right across from the street is Field of Mars. Although not a park, there are a few paths there, Russian sunbathers, and a memorial to the “Victims of the Revolution,” with the immortal words, “They were not victims/They were heroes.” A section of Field of Mars is the burial grounds for a select few who died due to revolutions in Russia. This area also offers amazing views of the Church on Spilled Blood, unobstructed by the mass of people that fill the street off Nevsky Prospekt. If you walk a little beyond this area, there is sidewalk right on the Neva River, which offers great views of the city, such as the Peter and Paul Fortress.
My favorite garden has to be the Summer Garden, which is across from Field of Mars and catty-cornered from Mikhailovsky Park. In this garden, it truly feels like a step away from the city. The air is fresher and the trees are incredibly tall. The garden also boasts a swan pond, although I overheard one Russian woman complaining that there, “weren’t as many swans as there used to be” and “something should be done about that.” Throughout the garden, there are Greek and Roman styled statues, fountains, arches, and tree-lined allies. Also hidden towards the back of the garden is a small cafe, where you can buy the most delicious (albeit expensive, at around 600r) ice cream. There is also a large cafe towards the front, where you can buy lunch or dinner, but also rather expensive.
If you happen to find yourself with spare time, these gardens are the perfect way to spend it. I saw many people reading books on the benches, strolling about taking pictures, and simply enjoying a break from the city.
Central Saint Petersburg. Wikimedia Foundation, 15 March 2013. Web. 14 July 2013.
«Марсово поле» Википедия. Wikimedia Foundation, 16 April 2013.Web. 14 July 2013.
«Летний сад» Википедия. Wikimedia Foundation, 19 June 2013.Web. 14 July 2013.
Mikhailovsky Park, Field of Mars,
and the Summer Garden/
Михайловский cад, Марсово поле и Летний cад
Центральный район/Central Region of the City
Metro: Невский Проспект
Jackie Dufalla is currently a student at the University of Pittsburgh, majoring in Slavic Studies and Politics and Philosophy. She will be participating in SRAS’s Internships: NGO and Cultural program in St. Petersburg over the summer of 2013. She hopes to combine her interests by going to graduate school for political science, focusing on Eastern Europe and Russia.