Neva River in St. Petersburg, Russia

Neva River in St. Petersburg, Russia


Early history of river Neva

River Neva is the main river of St. Petersburg, in fact, the city was founded around the delta of this river. While the river is only 74 kilometers long, it is one of the largest rivers in Europe in terms of volume and over the centuries it has been crucial for transport for human populations in the area. People from areas that now belong to Russia, Sweden, Finland and the Baltic countries have fought for the control of the river many times. Between the 8th and the 13th centuries Neva river was a part of the trade route called “From the Varangians to the Greeks”, which extended from Scandinavia all the way to Turkey (Byzantium). While the river and its banks were a part of many great chapters of history, Neva really began to shine only when St. Petersburg was founded in its delta in 1703. 

The founding of St. Petersburg around river Neva

The architects who first began planning and erecting St. Petersburg believed that river Neva will be crucial to the city’s economical and cultural development. They started building the city by straightening its banks and constructing wood and later granite embankments that became a signature mark of St. Petersburg. Since the city was built around Neva’s delta, it was built not only on the banks of the river but also on two islands in the delta - Vasilievsky and Petersburgsky. Interestingly, almost 150 years passed between when the city was founded and the construction of its first bridge, Blagoveschensky, which was opened in 1850. Today, there are over 20 bridges in St. Petersburg, most of which are bascule bridges. Since the river is still an important transport route for ships, the bridges are opened at night to allow large ships to pass through - this is another signature mark of the city. Watching the raising of the Dvortsovy, Troitsky or Bolshoy Okhtinskiy Bridges in June or July during the White Nights should be on the bucket list of any tourist. 

Neva tourist attractions today

One of the favorite tourist activities in St. Petersburg today is taking a water tour of the city on one of the many pleasure boats that surf the waters almost year-round. Neva used to freeze completely during winter - there were electric trams that rode over ice as a method of transportation and people used to go ice skating on the river. Today, if the winter is warm, you can take a boat tour even in December. In addition to tours of the city, dinner cruises, romantic right rides and jazz trips are available. 

Other famous tourist attractions is St. Petersburg include the Alexander Nevsky Monastery, the Winter Palace, the Summer Garden, the Kunstkamera and many more.  
Neva River in St. Petersburg, Russia
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