Far away up north, where the river Neva flows into the Baltic sea, there lies a city full of secrets. A city, like no other, that served as an inspiration to many artists who enriched the world’s cultural heritage; a city imprinted with thoughts and literary works of Dostoyevsky, Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin, Nikolai Gogol and Alexander Blok.
When you set foot in Saint Petersburg the first thing you ought to do is visit the river Neva, because there, where the water kisses the sky is where it all starts. Love stories, romantic White Nights in June and July, not to mention the gleam of the breathtaking architectural buildings situated on the coastline make everything worthwhile.
The river Neva is of crucial importance for Saint Petersburg. In the past, rapid waters of the river were a strategic weapon of Peter I, the emperor of Russia. His intentions were to symbolically open the “door of heaven” (Saint Petersburg) to Europe. Neva is the bright spot of this city but also its canker, for it has caused some disastrous floods several times in history. Her stream is actually short, all 74 km, but by its discharge it is one of the most abundant rivers in Europe. To protect the city from potential floods, her coastline was secured with granite rocks. Cruising Neva is an unavoidable journey in Saint Petersburg. The river stretches 28 km within the city area. Most of the buildings that are of some importance are situated next to the river like: the Peter and Paul Fortress, the Anichkov Palace, the Hermitage Museum, the Mariinsky Theatre, the Summer Garden and other numerous landmarks. Make yourself comfortable and the time-travel throughout history may begin.
There are quite a few magnificent bridges that stretch above the river. After midnight, in just a glance, you can see some of the bridges in all their robust beauty splitting into half, as if they’re spreading their wings in this, somehow, fairytale place. Most of November and December the river is frozen, however when the ice-cubes start to melt we can say that spring is knocking on our door. Unfortunately, no matter what time of year it is, in this city, the air is always icy. In summer it’s cold but in winter, it’s freezing, so you better put on a good jacket if you want to enjoy Neva and her divine surroundings. Keep in mind that the humidity in Saint Petersburg is extremely high therefore if you got curly hair, it will be almost impossible to tame it down.
Another thing that captures the charm of this fair city is the mystical relation between the past and the present. If you’re looking to spend unforgettable moments with your loved one, experience Neva during the “White Nights”. The view of the midnight sun will be one of the most memorable and romantic moments you have ever witnessed.
Since Russia has a weak spot for poetry and prose, I am ending my story with a little quote from the series of newspaper articles “White Nights”, by one of the most influential writers of Russian literature, or maybe of all time, Fyodor Dostoyevsky. His interpretation of Neva during the White Nights in Saint Petersburg was considered a metaphor for the redemption of the soul.
“It was a glorious night, a kind of night that could only be, kind reader, when we are young. The sky was so starred, so bright, that just by looking at it, you had to ask yourself: Can it be that under this sky, exist such bitter and capricious people? “
“White Nights”, Fyodor M. Dostoyevsky, 1848.