Finding Kanonersky Island on a map of St. Petersburg is a challenge on its own. Located on the westernmost end of the city within the commercial port area, it may seem like an odd place for a housing development: aft er all, what can possibly be there apart from container terminals? Yet, the island is very much inhabited, albeit looking like the last settlement on the end of the earth. Its only link to civilization is an old automobile tunnel, but the locals still can recall a time when all they had was a ferry. By the way, there are no streets on the island and all addresses read like «X, Kanonersky island».
It is worth visiting simply for that edge of the world feeling. The feeling grows stronger once you reach a spit on the south-west of the island: it feels like you are in the desolation of Murmansk Region only within a bustling metropolis. The island may look shabby, yet the sea views are breath-taking. Much to dismay of local residents, Western High-Speed Diameter goes right through the island. Enormous cement pillars that support the highway in mid-air create a setting that belongs in a sci-fi film. Just remember, there is nowhere to eat on the island.
A symbol of several bygone eras, the former Krasny Treugolnik (Red Triangle) factory towers above the Obvodny Canal. Titan of the rubber industry operating since pre-revolutionary times, it went bankrupt and collapsed in the 1990s. Production facilities still occupy a small area, and private tenants have moved into some of the buildings, but there is no one to watch over the huge territory as a whole. As a result, Krasny Treugolnik has acquired its gloomy yet impressive appearance.
It is a suitable place for those who can appreciate scenic ruins and artifacts of vanished civilizations. Everything here looks as if either a massive war has recently ended, or a zombie apocalypse is about to begin. You can wander and contemplate the transience of all things earthly or have a photo session in the setting of Andrei Tarkovskys Stalker all this to an unexpected accompaniment: many rooms here are rented out to local bands for rehearsal. You can find the factory at 134, Naberezhnaya Obvodnogo Kanala, a short walk from either Baltiyskaya or Narvskaya metro stations.
Sometimes, St. Petersburg toponymy can become the subject of fierce controversy. Here they dont like to decline names that belong to grammatically neuter gender, even though this what the Russian language wants you to do. But Petersburgers seem to see this as an attack on their own identity and stand their ground proclaiming that «Kupchino (Avtovo, etc.) is not declined!» By the way, if you opt not to use the word «Piter» as short for St. Petersburg, this will add to your reputation
Street Art Museum
For a collection of murals and graffiti, head to 84, Shosse Revolyutsii. An HPL manufacturer was going through a rough patch and decided to let street artists have a go at the walls of their buildings. There is a permanent exhibition of several dozen pieces, and temporary exhibitions are held regularly.
Connoisseurs of contemporary art will definitely enjoy this place: paintings and installations are curious and original, so a lot of great photos are guaranteed. The factory is still active, thus you can only visit on weekends, either on foot as part of guided tours or on your own by car (aft er all, the factory covers 11 hectares).
Historian Vasily Klyuchevsky once wrote that St. Petersburg was built literally «on the bones», since an untold number of peasants died during the construction of the city. The legend stuck around, even though there are no documents from that era that confirm excessive death rate among builders. It is a legend, but it is quite popular
When near 2/7, Ulitsa Tchaikovskogo (opposite the Summer Garden, just cross the Fontanka River), be sure to stop by the courtyard, transformed into a fascinating art venue through the eff orts of the artist Vladimir Lubenko. It will remind you of Gaudis architecture in Barcelona: the entire courtyard became one big image with various plots made of multi-coloured mosaics. Sculptures, basreliefs, benches everything shimmers with every colour of the rainbow, making you constantly click your camera. Its a very colourful place indeed.
Despite the fervent resistance from preservationists, the Lakhta Centre skyscraper has become a new symbol of the city. Alas, it is not quite yet ready to serve as a place of interest: construction is still in progress around it, so the skyscraper is best viewed from afar. From the Park of the 300th Anniversary of St. Petersburg, the city looks unusual: to the right there is a tower that is beautifully illuminated in the evening; to the left there is the futuristic new stadium, the Western High-Speed Diameter hanging over the water, and the pedestrian bridge to Krestovsky Island. All this comes in stark contrast with the «palatial» St. Petersburg.
Or, on the contrary, you can go for a walk along the streets of Olgino, the district of single-family housing opposite the skyscraper. There still are plenty of old wooden summer houses there the sight that looks particularly powerful against the background with an enormous skyscraper. And if you fi nd yourself in those parts, walk to the Gulf of Finland to wander along the deserted shore. By the way, it was here where Peter I helped to haul the ship from the shoal and caught a fatal cold.
A symbolic antithesis to the «cultural capital» in St. Petersburg is the Kupchino neighbourhood, which is often referred to as an example of a crime-ridden area, populated by uncultured people. In reality, it is just an ordinary residential community. Still, jokes on this subject are very popular with the locals
St. Petersburgs newest public space was launched just last year and was lauded the «opening of the year» by the citys poplar magazine Sobaka.ru. It is a lush recreation area with swings and benches, cafes and food trucks, and constantly changing list of promotions and festivals. During the wintertime, much to everyones fascination Nikolskie Ryady hosted the highest slide in the city. For the summer they are also promising to come up with something utterly original.
Less than a kilometre away, right along the Kryukov Canal embankment, sits another trendy space called New Holland. Nested on a small triangular island, it is the it spot where progressive citizens relax on the grass or on an artificial beach among restored old buildings, attend exhibitions and lectures, ending their evenings in numerous cafes for every taste. Exactly midway between Nikolskie Ryady and New Holland one will find the Mariinsky Theater, so you can plan your leisure time for the entire day.