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Strelka of Vasilyevsky Island: Neva is Divided Here

The Strelka of Vasilyevsky Island (Spit of Vasilyevsky Island), along with the Peter and Paul Fortress can be seen on a 50-ruble banknote. The Emperor, having built the Peter and Paul Fortress, wanted to turn the city into an important trading center. The Petrograd Side was not suitable for the port because of the shallow water, and it was decided to arrange it on Vasilyevsky Island, the eastern part of which is called the Strelka (Spit) of Vasilyevsky Island. Here, the Neva River is divided into Bolshaya Neva and Malaya Neva, and two embankments diverge – Makarov Embankment and Universitetskaya Embankment.

The building-up of Vasilyevsky Island started under Peter the Great. Here appeared the Palace of Tsaritsa Praskovya Feoodorovna (today - St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences), Kunstkamera, and in the XIX century - Novobirzhevoy Gostiny Dvor and Customs House (now the Pushkin House). The architect Domenico Trezzini, working upon the conversion of Strelka into a business and cultural center, built a baroque Twelve Colleges Building, and offered to make the area in front of it, called Kollezhskaya, the city’s main square. The architectural dominant of Strelka is the classical Stock Exchange building, resembling a Greek temple and built by French architect Thomas de Thomon. Today it houses two natural science museums. There are 32-meter-high rostral columns on both sides of Birzhevaya Square – a symbol of power of Russia as a maritime state. The port on the Strelka of Vasilyevsky Island developed rapidly, so that people here traded in exotic animals - turtles and parrots - on the days of arrival of oversea ships. But soon the port moved to Gutuevsky Island. Today, Strelka is museums, gardens and views of the Neva River.

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