St. Petersburg Kaleidoscope from home: Penkovaya street

08 May 2020

Not only guests of St. Petersburg, but also its residents are often surprised by the fact that, in addition to the beloved Spit of Vasilievsky island, on the Neva banks there is another one – the Spit of the Petrogradskaya Side.

Spits are known as the places where powerful arms of the Malaya Neva and Bolshaya Nevka branch off the bed of the Bolshaya Neva, as if outlining the pointed ends of Vasilievsky and Petrogradsky islands. The Petrogradskaya Spit, "protected" by the legendary cruiser "Aurora" and decorated with the palace-like building of the Nakhimov Naval School, hides the first house of the city's founder – the Cabin of Peter the Great - in the shadow of a cozy square. The history of Saint Petersburg began here, in the very first residential quarter. And here is one of the oldest streets of Saint Petersburg that, ironically, did not have its own name until the XIX century. But, having found its name, Penkovaya street has never changed it - neither in the Tsarist, nor in the Soviet, nor in the post-Soviet times.

The street got its name because it led a short way directly to the bank of the Neva river, where Gagarinsky Penkovy Buyan was located. "Buyans" were called commercial wharves, often with warehouses. On the pier, near the house of Peter the Great's associate and the Governor of Siberia, Prince Gagarin, there was a warehouse of hemp that was necessary for the ship industry. Strong hemp ropes did not chafe for decades, equally withstanding the heat of the tropics and the Arctic cold. They were in good condition despite sea salt in a naval expedition and buckshot in a naval battle. Hemp was one of the most important export products of the Russian Empire. The warehouse doesn’t exist anymore. But the street remained. And there are many things to see on it!

Penkovaya street is perfect for a leisurely thoughtful walk. It is small and uncrowded. There are no residential buildings or restaurants on it. But after the construction of the new building of the Nakhimov School in 2018 and the reconstruction of the buildings of the former water treatment plant, the street became an elegant. The magnificent pavilions of the former cellar and the water tank, faced with granite and decorated with coats of arms of Saint Petersburg and lion heads, were also restored. Through the elegant fence with naval symbols, anchors, guns and banners, you can clearly see the bright blue color building at the end of the street. In front of the main entrance, portrait sculptures of the great Russian naval commanders Ushakov and Nakhimov are placed on granite pedestals.

The impression of Penkovaya street is based on contrasts. One side of it is light with snow-white columns of modern neoclassicism on a sky blue color background. And the opposite side surprises with strict harmony and monochrome of red brick. The building of the former fire workshops of the XIX century is more like a street of a medieval city than a building of industrial significance. This impression is especially enhanced when you look at the old fire station with a tower (on Michurinskaya street), resembling an Italian castle of the Renaissance. As for the former water treatment plant, built in the early XX century, it has its own history. The station is one of the few in the city that worked the whole war, providing clean water to fighting Leningrad.

Nowadays, the unusual house with huge lancet windows is occupied by a sport complex for the students of the Nakhimov Naval School. You may take beautiful photos in front of it in sunny weather. Penkovaya street is a witness of the early days of St. Petersburg. It cherishes the memory of the sound of Peter the Great's boots and the tread of many generations of glorious Russian sailors. Today it appears renovated and eye-pleasing before us!