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This architectural ensemble is so harmonious that they call his author Thomas de Thomon no other than the great French architect. Actually, this is not exactly so. Or rather, not at all true. Thomon was just an ordinary visiting adventurer which St.Petersburg of the late C18th had seen a lot of. He had no special education. Moreover, not only did he take the nobiliary particle de but also the title of an architect. Thomas de Thomon brought to St.Petersburg someone else’s architectural designs having erased the author’s signature and replaced it with his own. The huge fraud was discovered only a century later. However, this did not a bit affect the reputation of the architectural ensemble proper. Though, many people certainly wonder whether placing the beacon on the river was appropriate. More so that there are two of them.
Nevertheless, it’s no coincidence that both the beacons and the Stock Exchange appeared on Vasilievsky Island. Starting from 1720, it hosted St.Petersburg trading port with all necessary infrastructure, including quays, customs, warehouses, and merchant stalls. Yet, in the mid-C19th, when deep draft ships appeared, the port was relocated closer to the sea, and commerce on Vasilievsky Island was pressed up by academic institutions.
Vasilievsky Island is a historical district in St. Petersburg, located in the delta of the Neva River. It is bordered by the Bolshaya Neva and Malaya Neva Rivers in the south and northeast, and by the Gulf of Finland in the west. Two of the most famous St. Petersburg bridges, Palace Bridge and Blagoveshchensky Bridge, connect it with the mainland to the south. Exchange Bridge and Tuchkov Bridge across the Malaya Neva connect it with Petrogradsky Island.
In 1715-25 Peter the Great planned this island to become a city center but those plans were not destined to be fulfilled. There are lots of legends connected with Vasilievsky Island and its buildings. For example, the name of the island Vasilievsky people usually associate with a certain man called Vassily or Basil. The legend says that was the name of one Peter’s foremost gunner officers and military engineers, Vassily Korchmin, who had his artillery battery to ward off the Swedish navy at the spit of the island and got the tsar's letters addressed "To Vassily in the Island".
During the tour you will hear some legends of the island and see all its landmarks. It is better to start the tour from the easternmost tip of the island, called Strelka (or the Spit, literally Arrow) which features a number of museums, including the Old Saint Petersburg Stock Exchange as well as two Rostral columns. The Spit is a place popular for wedding processions and tourists. Nice postcard views on the city are open from here.
The edifices lining the Universitetskaya Embankment along the Bolshaya Neva include the Kunstkamera, The Palace of Peter II, the Twelve Colleges Building, the Menshikov Palace, the Imperial Academy of Sciences, and St. Andrew's Cathedral – all dating from the 18th century.
Museums, State University and the Imperial Academy of Sciences with library tell us the island has been for the recent centuries home to academic life. There is even the House of Academicians.
The island is a very romantic place with many cafes and restaurants, and panoramic views from the embankments. Just download the application “Your Audio Guide” (free) and the excursion. And walk as much as you want. Enjoy the unforgettable views of the northern capital.