Monday, September 6, 2021

Canal City: St. Petersburg, Russia

I hope you’ve enjoyed our virtual visits to the beautiful and historical canal cities of Europe and Scandinavia. If you missed last month’s trip to Empuriabrava, Spain, visit here. Today, we’re going to travel over thirty-four hundred miles north through Europe to arrive at St. Petersburg, Russia. 
Covering an area of 556 square miles, the former Russian capital of St. Petersburg was founded by Peter the Great on May 27, 1703. Because of its name, most people think the city was named for the famous leader, but in reality it is named after the apostle Saint Peter. Formerly known as Petrograd between 1914 and 1924, and Leningrad, from 1924 to 1991, St. Petersburg is the second largest city in Russia. It is located at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea and has over five million residents. 
The city was originally built by Swedish colonists on the Neva River in 1611 as a fortress and called Nyenskans. During the Great Northern War in 1703, Peter the Great captured the city and replaced the fortress with the Peter and Paul Fortress, the original citadel. Conscripted peasants and prisoners of war constructed the city’s buildings. 
Man-made rivers were created to drain the wetlands, water was diverted to the
dugout channels, and land areas were improved with the help of extracted soil. The rivers and channels were conceived as one of the means of transportation throughout the city. Numerous vessels ran along the waterways to carry goods and passengers. By the end of the 19th century, the number of islands in St. Petersburg reached hundreds. 
There are more than 186 miles of canals in the city, sporting over 800 bridges. The Winter Canal connects the Bolshaya Neva with the Moika River near the Winter Palace. Dug in 1718-19, it is only 748 feet long, making it one of the shortest canals in the city. Its width is about sixty-five feet. Nearly four miles in length, the Griboedov Canal is one of the longest canals with twenty-four bridges spanning its width. The Canal is famous as the location of the place where revolutionaries killed Emperor Alexander II. 
Ligovsky Canal was originally used to deliver drinking water to the city and to the fountains of the Summer Garden. In 1777, the city flooded, spoiling the fountains. Water pipes gradually replaced the canal and by the late 1800s, the canal became Ligovsky Avenue. 
Westport, Connecticut, Lansing, Michigan, and Galveston, Texas are sister cities with St. Petersburg. Did you know that St. Petersburg is a canal city?



Linda Shenton Matchett writes about ordinary people who did extraordinary things in days gone by. A volunteer docent and archivist for the Wright Museum of WWII, Linda is a former trustee for her local public library. She is a native of Baltimore, Maryland and was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry. Linda has lived in historic places all her life, and is now located in central New Hampshire where her favorite activities include exploring historic sites and immersing herself in the imaginary worlds created by other authors. Learn more about Linda and her books at

Daria’s Duke (Westward Home and Hearts Mail-Order Brides) 

Will a stolen inheritance and false accusations thwart the chance for happily-ever-after? 
After the death of her father, Daria Burke is thrust into the role of a servant by her stepmother. Locked in her room one night, Daria watches as the woman and her daughters sashay from the house wearing her mother’s gowns and jewelry. Realizing she’ll never be accepted as family, she flees the house and applies to be a mail-order bride. Then the sheriff arrives on the eve of her wedding with an arrest warrant. Can she prove her innocence or will she go to jail and lose her one chance at happiness? 
Ewan McKay’s father was stripped of his title, property, and wealth, and sent to prison for crimes he didn’t commit. The stain of his father’s incarceration prevents Ewan from finding a woman willing to be his wife, so he uses a matrimonial agency to secure a mail-order bride. But when she’s accused of stealing, he wonders if he is destined to go through life alone.

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  1. Thanks for posting! I have enjoyed this series. I did not realize that St. Petersburg was a canal city.

    1. Me either! My knowledge of Russia is quite limited, so I enjoyed the research.

  2. Great post. Thank you for sharing history for St. Petersbury.