Saint Petersburg kaleidoscope excursion Repin Street

01 May 2020

Saint Petersburg is famous for its wide water panorama, the spaciousness of its squares and the perspective of its main streets. It is these views of the city that are captured in millions of photographs taken by tourists, replicated in albums and guidebooks. This is the kind of places where local guides usually take their large tourist groups.

St. Petersburg can be different though. One can find interesting streets that cannot boast of splendor of their facades and the perfection of their lines. That is not their value. They attract rather, by their non-triviality, even by a peculiar fall out of the general architectural context. However, it is on such streets   one can easily feel the very essence of the city and become a part of it.

Repin Street is the narrowest of St. Petersburg streets. Its width is a little more than five and a half meters. Among the long avenues and geometrically verified lines of Vasilievsky Island, Repin Street looks like a “foreigner”. It seems to be transported from some town of old Holland, where sometimes two carts could not pass each other.

This street is one of the oldest streets of St. Petersburg though. It appeared in the 1720-s, when they had just started building up Vasilievsky Island according to a single plan. However, this street had never been on the plan. It appeared as if by itself, as paths trodden in snow appear in winter. This was the road leading to the Menshikovsky market that existed at that time on the banks of the Neva (now the Rumyantsev Garden is on its place). The natural slope made it possible to transport carts loaded with goods without much difficulty. The road was called Pesochny (“Sandy”) Lane, probably because instead of the pavement, compacted sand was first used. Then, of course, they made a real pavement of stone, which, surprisingly, remained almost unchanged to this day. In the XIX century, the lane was renamed Solovyovskiy - in honor of the rich merchant and honorary citizen, philanthropist and organizer of geographical expeditions Stepan Solovyov. Among his services to the city was the improvement of the Rumyantsev Garden. The street got its current name (after a famous Russian painter I.E.Repin) in Soviet times. After all, it is located next to the Academy of Arts.

The street is very picturesque and the buildings here are completely different. Tall apartment buildings, as if leaning toward each other and hanging over the heads of passers-by, alternate with very small two- and three-story neat houses. And then suddenly you find yourself at the wall with a massive arch leading into a typical St. Petersburg courtyard, full of secrets – the made up and the real ones.

Repin Street is easily recognized in one of the most mystical tales of St. Petersburg - the tale of Anthony Pogorelsky “Black Chicken or Underground Residents”. The main character of the tale, the boy Alyosha, studies in a boarding school, the fence of which faces the Sand Lane. Looking through a hole in the fence, Alyosha imagines that a kind sorceress will appear in the alley and bring him a toy or a letter from his parents. And a magic hen Chernushka is pecking grain near fence...

The street does not look just like an old Petersburg one. It is very cinematic. Therefore, episodes of historical films and literary adaptations were often shot here. The famous scene from the “The Master and Margarita” serial film by Vladimir Bortko, where Margarita first meets the Master was one of them. So, it is not only the philosophy of the city concluded in the narrowest street of St. Petersburg with its unique pavement.  It also reflects the appearance of the diverse, unofficial Petersburg.St. Petersburg can be different though. One can find interesting streets that cannot boast of splendor of their facades and the perfection of their lines. That is not their value. They attract rather, by their non-triviality, even by a peculiar fall out of the general architectural context. However, it is on such streets   one can easily feel the very essence of the city and become a part of it.

Repin Street is the narrowest of St. Petersburg streets. Its width is a little more than five and a half meters. Among the long avenues and geometrically verified lines of Vasilievsky Island, Repin Street looks like a “foreigner”. It seems to be transported from some town of old Holland, where sometimes two carts could not pass each other.

This street is one of the oldest streets of St. Petersburg though. It appeared in the 1720-s, when they had just started building up Vasilievsky Island according to a single plan. However, this street had never been on the plan. It appeared as if by itself, as paths trodden in snow appear in winter. This was the road leading to the Menshikovsky market that existed at that time on the banks of the Neva (now the Rumyantsev Garden is on its place). The natural slope made it possible to transport carts loaded with goods without much difficulty. The road was called Pesochny (“Sandy”) Lane, probably because instead of the pavement, compacted sand was first used. Then, of course, they made a real pavement of stone, which, surprisingly, remained almost unchanged to this day. In the XIX century, the lane was renamed Solovyovskiy - in honor of the rich merchant and honorary citizen, philanthropist and organizer of geographical expeditions Stepan Solovyov. Among his services to the city was the improvement of the Rumyantsev Garden. The street got its current name (after a famous Russian painter I.E.Repin) in Soviet times. After all, it is located next to the Academy of Arts.

The street is very picturesque and the buildings here are completely different. Tall apartment buildings, as if leaning toward each other and hanging over the heads of passers-by, alternate with very small two- and three-story neat houses. And then suddenly you find yourself at the wall with a massive arch leading into a typical St. Petersburg courtyard, full of secrets – the made up and the real ones.

Repin Street is easily recognized in one of the most mystical tales of St. Petersburg - the tale of Anthony Pogorelsky “Black Chicken or Underground Residents”. The main character of the tale, the boy Alyosha, studies in a boarding school, the fence of which faces the Sand Lane. Looking through a hole in the fence, Alyosha imagines that a kind sorceress will appear in the alley and bring him a toy or a letter from his parents. And a magic hen Chernushka is pecking grain near fence...

The street does not look just like an old Petersburg one. It is very cinematic. Therefore, episodes of historical films and literary adaptations were often shot here. The famous scene from the “The Master and Margarita” serial film by Vladimir Bortko, where Margarita first meets the Master was one of them. So, it is not only the philosophy of the city concluded in the narrowest street of St. Petersburg with its unique pavement.  It also reflects the appearance of the diverse, unofficial Petersburg.