More Neva Impressions
First I had to fight a nasty crud and then there was a lot of stress at my job (and half of the staff sick with the same crud), so I didn't update my blog, nor do I have time for a long, reasearch-heavy post. But since my readers seem to like St.Petersburg, here are some more photos of that town - some lovely views of the Neva river.
View over the Neva from the Peter and Paul Fortress
The Neva is only 74 km long, running from Lake Ladoga to the Gulf of Finland in the Baltic Sea, but its water discharge puts it on place three after the Volga and the Danube. The river is navigable throughout and part of the Volga-Baltic waterway which already the Vikings used.
The water flow from Lake Ladoga to the Neva is pretty consistant all year round, so the floods that so often hit St.Petersburg are caused by the inflow of the Baltic Sea during storms. The Neva freezes from December to mid-April, in summer the temperature peaks at 17-20°C.
View from the Stock Exchange place to the Peter and Paul Fortress
The last steps in the formation of the river were the glaciers of the last Ice Age and their retreat which caused the Littorina Sea to form, 7-9 metres above present sea level. A wide strait between the delta and the future Lake Ladoga was covered by water; the former bed of the Tosna river. But the land around the lake rose faster and thus a closed reservoir developed (the race of seal particular to Lake Ladoga is a witness from that time). The rising level of the lake flooded a moraine ridge and ran into the valley at the Ivanovo rapids, the modern Neva with its tributaries Tosna and Mga formed about 2000 BC. The average decline of the river is 4.2 metres.
View from the Stock Exchange to the Palace Embankment
The development of St.Petersburg altered the hydrological network of the delta. The town was founded in 1703, and Peter the Great did not care much that he picked a low and swampy area for his much needed Baltic Sea harbour. Tons of earth had to be moved which was used to raise the city; countless timber posts had to be dug into the ground, and canals had to be built for drainage. When the work was completed, the delta of the Neva consisted of 48 canals and rivers, and a hundred islands. Some of the canals were filled in over time so that today only 42 islands remain. A tour through the canals is one of the nicest ways to explore St.Petersburg.
View towards the Eremitage
The area belonged to the realm of Veliky Novgorod, also known as Holmgård in the Norse sagas, since the 9th century; a time when the population was a mix of Slavic and Scandinavian elements, the latter ruling as the Rurikids. Several Norse kings spent a time of exile in Novgorod.
Novgorod had access to the rivers leading south via the river Volkhov / Lake Ilmen, while the route via the Neva / Lake Ladoga went further east; both made Novgorod a trade centre in the Middle Ages. The Hansa League erected their own depedance or kontor
, the 'Peterhof', in 1192, thus making the place one of the earliest parts of the rising trade net.
Sunset over the palace embankment
Quarrels and outright war with the Swedes were almost a constant feature of the area. In 1240, Prince Alexander Yaroslavich won a great battle against them which earned him the name Alexander Nevksy; he still features as popular Russian hero. Later, during the Great Northern War 1700-1721, Peter the Great would integrate the lands around the Neva into the Russian Empire and found the town named after him.
White nights at the Neva, with the golden spike of the Admirality in the background
(photo taken from out of the bus)
St.Petersburg became the capital of the Russian Empire in 1712. It was renamed Leningrad after the revolution and suffered a devastating siege during WW2 which was only broken in January 1944. After the glasnost
, it regained its old name St.Petersburg. But the white nights at the Neva never changed.