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Traversing St. Petersburg. The city - from the water, underground and from the rooftops


St. Petersburg can be traversed in many different ways. For instance, from the rooftops, underground, on foot and even on the water. Lets start on the water. Setting a target - to get from the suburbs at Krestovskiy island to the office at Chapygina. We shall measure and document every route - to know how long it takes! Lets go!


St. Petersburg can be three different cities, perceived in three different ways - from the land, from the rooftops and from the water. In this report, we have chosen five obvious, but yet incredible routes. And filmed those in one shot!

Its only five kilometers from Yuzhnaya road at Krestovskiy to harbor at Lopukhinskiy garden at Petrogradka. The route down Malaya Nevka towards Bolshaya, along Peschanaya embankment, underneath four bridges takes twenty minutes. If you are living in the North and are working at Petrogradka, it would take you quarter of an hour. It only takes buying a boat.

And these are the maps of architect Ekaterina Novikova. Detailed route - how to cross the city through its inner yards without hitting the main streets. From Liteinyi to Ligovskiy. From the first lines of Vasilievskiy to museum of electric transportation.

Ekaterina Novikova, architect: «I love the city, I know it very well and got a little tired of just walking its streets - so im trying to explore new paths. I moved to Vosstaniya and found out that there was a long pathway there - from Liteinyi to my building. And its very long - not just one back alley. And here you can see a different life, quietness. Another city, another world in the back alleys».

So we shall explore this another world - St. Petersburg other side. Starting at Fontanka, 90. Walking to Obvodnoy Canal’s embankment. Many residents of Leningrad have known these routes through back alleys and cut down their walk to work. Ekaterina simply restored those geographically.

The whole walk is 1.35 km, but the city became unrecognizable along the way. More space inside than on central streets. More green than any park.

How long would an underground route take? The longest underground pedestrian tunnel in St. Petersburg - from Vyborgskaya metro station to industrial area at Chugunnaya street. Two dark, narrow passageways with horrifying blinking lights - like a decoration for a Balabanov’s movie. The tunnel was opened in 1983 and since then has been one of the mystical places of St. Petersburg. The route along the legendary path takes 3 minutes 22 seconds.

And on to the next underground route. Or, to be more precise, an underwater one. How long would it take us to get from Vasilievskiy to Dobrolubova on a travelator? That is three hundred meters. Two escalators down and two up. Its 13 minutes and 10 seconds.

We are ascending on a roof at the corner of Vosstaniya and Kovenskogo. Our guide - Svante, who asked us not to give out his real name - takes the lead. To get the best, in his opinion, view of the city. Traversing St. Petersburg atop the roofs - not even descending onto the ground - is not some kind of fun for this man, but the only way to traverse the city.

Svante, roofer: «I know the city’s rooftops better than the streets»

  • meaning you would get from A to B easier atop the roofs than if you were on the ground?

  • Yea, you can say that. There have been times when I was in certain parts of the city and didn’t know where I was. But I looked up at the roofs and knew where I was.

We’ll put it through our own test. Walking between Mayakovskogo and Vosstaniya, from Nekrasova towards Kovenskiy lane. One blocks, half a dozen connected roofs and hundreds of wires. Total time - 2 minutes 10 seconds.

  • you and me, we walked a short distance now - just half a block. How long would you be able to seamlessly walk for atop the roofs?

  • One hour

  • Just via the rooftops?

  • Yes!

You can traverse St. Petersburg in many ways. And each one of those opens up our city in a new light. Through the back alleys, underneath the Neva on a travelator and on foot underground. On a boat to work. Or roam the entire city center atop the roofs, without going down once. This is St. Petersburg.