For those of you who are drawn to abundant spaces of greenery and nature, or who are simply in need of some R&R, away from the bustling streets, St. Petersburg is, without a doubt, filled with massive parks and mellow gardens. Each of these particular spaces has its own unique history, artistic features and seasonal displays. Nevertheless, these seven, renowned parks and gardens, of this cultural city, are beautiful to visit all year round.
1. Summer Garden
Commonly known as ‘Letniy Sad’ in Russian, the Summer Garden is surrounded by three canals, known as the Fontanka, Moika and Swan, and it is situated by the Neva river. It was founded by Peter the Great, who adopted its name from the Summer Palace, during the early 18th century. Although the Tsar himself oversaw the process of the design, the elaboration of the garden itself, such as the choice of flowers and plants, the marble sculptures and the gate railings are, in fact, designed by Western Europeans. The garden encompasses distinguishable influences of French, Venetian, Dutch and German art. The Summer Garden was not only dear to the Tsar and the garden’s designers, but it was also notable within Russian literary works of the Romantic era.
Everyone must visit this charming and serene garden - most people regard it an ideal place for couples. If you love ice-cream, buy a cone at Movenpick Ice-Cream stand, or if you love a cuppa, go to its quaint café situated in the upper east region of the garden. Sometime in late May or the first week of June, the fountains are turned on. There are also live concerts and a poetry series, around the park on Sundays - visitors can enjoy them for free. Despite the garden’s name, the best season to visit is spring, because it actually gets too crowded during the summer. Please do not jog or run around the Summer Garden (be warned, the guard will tell you off if you decide to engage in any exercise here).
Address: Kutuzov Embankment, 2, Saint Petersburg, Russia, 191187
Website: Summer Garden
2. Tauride Gardens
Far from the bustling city and tucked into a more peaceful neighbourhood, Tauride Gardens, or better known as ‘Tavrichesky Sad’ to Russians, acts more of a park than of a garden and was actually Catherine the Great’s favourite park. It also adopted the same name Tauride Palace, which is currently a base for the Interparliamentary Assembly of Member Nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Unlike the Summer Garden, you can jog here! I recommend you visit during the winter when the lake is deeply frozen and take pictures of yourself standing on it or do some sledding on the park’s small slopes - the experience is pretty special.
Address: Potyomkinskaya ul., 2, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 191123
3. Michael (Mikhailovsky) Garden
This hidden gem is in the vicinity of St. Petersburg’s famous landmarks, the Russian Museum and the Church of our Saviour On Spilled Blood. Named after the brother of Tsars Alexander I and Nicholas I, the Grand Duke Michael, Mikhailovsky Garden had several roles for the imperial family: from a place of formal gatherings, then later, a hunting reserve, plant nursery and a space for horseback riding.
The garden is currently a public park, landscaped with trees, along the fenced areas and a large pond. Although it is beautiful all year round, visit the garden during autumn when the leaves turn golden-brown.
Address: Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 191186
Website: Mikhailovsky Garden
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4. Field of Mars
This massive field is enriched with military history and national significance. It was once a marshland and when Peter the Great founded St. Petersburg, it was turned into an army parade ground, towards the end of the 18th century. The Field of Mars is of great importance to both the imperial family and the previous leaders of communism. The remains of those who fought during the February Revolution of 1917, were buried here and several monuments were erected in their honour.
Forty years later, the torch of the Eternal Flame was established, as a memorial to those who have battled in all Russian revolutions and wars. The Field of Mars is a public space, open to all and can be visited all year round.
Field of Mars
Address: Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 191186
Website: Field of Mars
5. Moskovsky Victory Park
Located south of the city, Moskovsky Victory Park was established in honour of Russia’s victory in World War II. Today, this recreational space is best suited for families and those who need a break away from city life. It is gorgeous during an icy cold winter when visitors can skate on its own skating rink and enjoy the abundance of snow everywhere. During the summer, Moskovsky Victory Park is filled with love, all around. The park features a small amusement park, a mini-golf course, playgrounds and a boat rental facility.
Moskovsky Victory Park
Address: Kuznetsovskaya ulitsa, 25, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 196105
Website: Moskovsky Victory Park
6. Aleksandrovsky Garden
A long stretch in the west of the city, Aleksandrovsky Garden is surrounded by renowned buildings and monuments, such as St Isaac’s Cathedral, the Palace Square, Hermitage, Admiralty and the Senate Square, with the Bronze Horseman Statue, featured in many Soviet classic films. Both locals and tourists enjoy a stroll on the gravelled paths, but the most striking aspects of this space are the statues of famous Russian cultural pioneers, such as the composer Mikhail Glinka, poets Vasily Zhukovsky and Mikhail Lermontov, writer Nikolai Gogol, and the traveller Nikolai Przhevalsky. You may find these statues if you start walking from the Palace Square.
Address: Admiralteysky pr-kt., 1, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 190098
Website: Aleksandrovsky Garden
7. Kirov Central Park of Culture and Recreation
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
North of the city centre lies a large and beautiful recreational area, called Kirov’s Central Park of Culture and Recreation, which is situated on Yelagin Island. The park was named after St. Petersburg’s beloved, Bolshevik leader, during Stalin’s era. Today, the park is not only the best place for locals to unwind and bond with their loved ones, but it also shows another side of St. Petersburg’s suburbia, for tourists.
During late spring to early summer, the park is filled with diverse and bright-coloured flowers, all around. Throughout the summer, visitors can enjoy a vibrant and relaxing ambience, either through cycling, roller-blading, boat-riding or having a picnic.
Kirov Central Park of Culture and Recreation
Address: Yelagin Island, 4 lit.B., Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 197110
Why parks and gardens matter in St Petersburg's modern culture
Since the founding of St. Petersburg, parks and gardens held various roles, from places for leisure gatherings and downtime for the Tsar families and the Russian elite to artistic inspiration for the intelligentsia and strategic military points for the Bolshevik revolutionaries. In modern times, both locals and tourists can appreciate the vital role these parks and gardens play in our health, livelihood and cultural awareness.
So, put on your best walking shoes and get going. These environments will encourage physical activity, foster deeper bonds with your loved ones, and most importantly, you will stand in historical places that withstood brutal wars and revolutions.
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