The Fontanka River flows right through the center of Saint Petersburg. As the name suggests (the ‘Fountain’ River), it used to supply water for the first city’s fountains.
In the late 18th century, the river had 7 bridges over it, and each boasted innovative construction and design. One of them, the Anichkov Bridge, with equestrian statues at its sides, is one of the most famous city’s landmarks.
Until the mid-18th century, the Fontanka served as the southern border of the city and all the local nobles (including Peter the Great) built their gorgeous mansions and palaces along its embankment. Nowadays these gorgeous buildings house museums and concert halls.
One of the main attractions on the Fontanka Embankment is the Summer Garden (Letniy Sad). The beautiful regular garden with fountains and Italian statues used to host sumptuous balls.
The Mikhailovsky Castle (aka the Engineers’ Palace) opposite the Summer Garden was once home to the Russian tsar Pavel who had lived there for only 40 days before he was murdered by conspirators. Other highlights of the Fontanka embankment include the Sheremetevsky Palace that used to belong to five generations of Shetemetev counts, the Ciniselli Circus (now the Bolshoi Saint Petersburg State Circus), the Shuvalovsky Palace housing the Faberge Museum with unique Imperial Easter eggs on display, the Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace (how hosting regular chamber music concerts), and the Yusupov Palace where the famous Rasputin was killed. And these are only some of Fontanka’s gems!
Note also the little sculpture of Chizhik-Pyzhik, the famous siskin bird that according to a popular nursery rhyme used to drink vodka from the Fontanka. Don’t miss it as you cross the bridge leading from the Summer Garden to the Mikhailovsky Castle.
And don’t forget to make a wish and throw a coin at the bird. If it falls on the pedestal and not into the water, your wish will come true The Fontanka Embankment is a truly beautiful and remarkable historic place. A good way to explore it is by going on a guided boat trip.