When the city of St. Petersburg was built Peter the Great ordered canals dug where the mouth of small rivers had emptied in the Neva. One of the these was the Fontanka River. Now called the Fontanka Canal, it circles the center of the city and it is crossed by many bridges as it passes many of monuments and palaces of the city. At Nevsky Prospect the Fontanka is traversed by the Anichkov Bridge crowned with four statues of neoclassical men taming horses by the German sculptor, Baron Klodt. Here at the Anichkov Bridge is the palace that gave the bridge its name, which was the residence of the heirs to the throne in the 19th century. In 1900 the Dowager-Empress Marie made this palace her principal residence in the city.

Above: The colonnade of the Anichkov Palace facing the Fontanka.

Across the canal from the Anichkov Palace stands Shtakenshneider's Baroque revival Beloselskii-Belozerskii Palace, which was built in 1846. In 1900 this palace was the home of Grand Duke Sergey and his wife Grand Duchess Elizabeth, who later, after the murder of her husband by terrorists in Moscow, became the Abbess of the Martha and Mary Convent in Moscow. On orders of Lenin and the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party she was murdered along with a group of her Romanov relatives in Alapaevesk in the Urals in July 1918. They were tossed alive into a mine, followed by grenades, gun-shots and burning logs which were tossed after them. Some of the victims lived for several days.

In the picture at the top of the page is the granite Simeonovskii Bridge over the Fontanka. In this picture taken by Burton-Holmes's photographer we can see a group of people are watching something happening on the canal below. St. Petersburg is famous for it's bridges - in 1900 there were 150 of them. Many of them were handsome and curiously designed. One, which crossed the Catherine Canal, had griffons with gilt wings. Chains extended from the griffon's mouths to the arch of the span over the canal.

The Fontanka was actively used for both commercial and passenger traffic. The central span of the Simeonskii Bridge was originally a draw-bridge, by 1900 it had been replaced in granite. In 1810 the bridge stood on the outskirts of the city - from the opposite side of the Fontanka were fields and open spaces.

In the picture below we can see the bridge as it looked in that era. At the time the water of the canal was clean enough to be used for washing and a groups of washer-women can be seen at left. In fact, the Imperial laundry was located on the Fontanka near the Anichkov.

Above: The Simeonovskii Bridge in 1810.

Above: The iron Pantelimonov Bridge over the Fontanka Canal in the 1820's.

Next photograph: An Officer of the Hussars

For a small map of the St. Petersburg area click here.

To see a large map of the center of St. Petersburg go here.

Comments on the website should be sent to Bob Atchison.

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