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Geographical Position and Climate  |  Brief History  |  Famous Sights  |  Transport  |  Bridges  |  Useful City Links  |  Useful Information

The Neva River.

Indubitably one of the major Saint-Petersburg's highlights is the Neva river that flows from Lake Ladoga to the Gulf of Finland. Being the main waterway of the Northern Venice it is only 74 km (46 1/4 miles) long what makes it the shortest river in Europe. The average width of the Neva within the city is 1300-2000 feet with the only exception - the spot near the Hermitage and Peter and Paul Fortress where the width exceeds 2600 feet, the depth of the river reaches 24 meters. The name of the "main street of Saint-Petersburg" as it was conceived by Peter the Great derives from the ancient name of Lake Ladoga -Ladozhskoe "Nevo" that means a maritime gulf or sea. The downtown is formed by its three branches: Bol'shaya Neva, Malaya Neva and Bol'shaya Nevka thus the south-western, southern, eastern and northern districts are located on the mainland, whereas the central and western districts lie on the 42 islands formed by the Neva's branches and other rivers and canals. Saint-Petersburg is one of the world's leading cities in terms of its number of rivers, islands and bridges that can't but add charisma to the cultural capital of Russia. Only Hamburg features more bridges than Saint-Petersburg. There are over 600 bridges, including 20 draw bridges that are raised during the navigation season that starts in May and lasts for almost six months till November when the Neva is covered with ice. One of the best ways to explore the city and to try to comprehend the soul of Saint-Petersburg is to undertake a boat trip or simply stroll along the infinite embankments. The eye of the onlooker will be captured by the architectural heritage of the downtown from the waterway. The boundless Neva river seems to be calm and composed however it is only an illusion: during the period that lasts from September up to December it threatens the city with possible floods that can be really disastrous. Peter the Great must have known that it was not wise to found the city on this spot. The first flood happened just 3 months after the Peter-and-Paul Fortress was founded thus it swept away building materials meant to be used during the construction. The water rises dangerously high usually once a year, however four floods, in 1777, 1824, 1924 and 1955 happened to be really disastrous. On the 19th of November 1824 the whole city went under water. Flood waters reached almost 4, 4 meters over the average level. Between 208 and 569 people got killed and 462 houses raised to the ground. This particular event inspired Alexander Pushkin to write his world-famous poem "The Bronze Horseman". The traces of that tragic page in Saint-Petersburg's history one can find wandering along Winter canal and Peter-and-Paul Fortress. In 1989 the city government issued a decree according to which a construction of a dam across the Gulf of Finland was supposed to be launched in order to prevent future possible destruction. However due to a huge environmental controversy and lack of funding the works on its construction were suspended and at the moment no one knows whether this task will be fulfilled at all. Hopefully next time a big flood occurs, Saint-Petersburg citizens will be able to face such a huge challenge.

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