If you decided to visit St. Petersburg in summer, you must take a boat tour of the canals of the city. They are very beautiful and quite unlike. Moyka, Fontanka, Griboyedov Canal and Kryukov Canal – in summer nearly every minute an excursion boat full of tourists passes on these rivers and canals.
However, be careful, you should wear rather warm clothes when sailing on the canals even in summer, as the wind may be quite strong (to make sure, demand warm blankets from the captain).
Totally, there are about 63 rivers and canals flowing within Petersburg, with a total length of over 300 kilometers, however, all excursions include only four of them: Moyka and Fontanka rivers, as well as Griboyedov and Kryukov canals. As a rule, the routes of big ships go along the broad Moyka and Fontanka rivers. However, if you go aboard a small motor boat, you can sail on the very beautiful Griboyedov Canal, which is inaccessible for big boats because of its narrowness and tortuosity.
Considering that the Moyka flows through the very center of the city, it will be interesting to have a boat ride on this river. Its tourist section begins at the New Holland Island and ends at the place where it falls into the Fontanka River.
Opposite the New Holland Island the Moyka River is spanned by the Potseluev (Bridge of Kisses) Bridge. When you sail in a motor boat under this bridge, it is quite clear what you should do – to kiss (the main thing is to have some one to kiss). Farther down the river, on the right bank there will be the Yusupov Palace where Grigori Rasputin was killed, and on the left bank - a huge dome of St. Isaac`s Cathedral.
Then you will see the Blue Bridge - the longest bridge spanning the Moyka River. The bridge is a part of the ensemble of the square in front of the St. Isaac`s Cathedral. Apart from the cathedral itself, you can see the monument of Nicholas II and the Mariinsky Palace on the square.
At the intersection of the Moyka River with the Nevsky Prospect (Avenue) is the Stroganov Palace. This family was known by their hospitality. Every day tens and even hundreds of people had their meals there. It was the cooks of this palace who invented the dish, which is now known all over the world by the name of `Beef Stroganoff.`
From the Moyka River near the Palace Square one can see the General Staff Building, the Court Capella (at the Pevchesky (Singing) Bridge), the Hermitage Building and many other beautiful buildings. Near the Hermitage Building is the Zimnyaya kanavka – a small canal by which you can come out to the Neva River. Then at the crossing of the Moyka River with the Griboyedov Canal you can see the Church of the Savior on Blood, and farther on the Mikhailovsky Garden and Castle, the latter also known as the Engineers` Castle.
It is the the second most beautiful boat tour after the Moyka River. The most interesting section of the canal is between the Church of the Savior on Blood at the Mikhailovsky Garden and the St. Nicholas Marine Cathedral at the intersection with the Kryukov Canal.
If you start the excursion from the Mikhailovsky Garden (Savior on Blood Cathedral), you will cross the Nevsky Avenue. Just past it you can see the Kazan Cathedral and then one of the most beautiful bridges in St. Petersburg – the Bank Bridge. The angular sculptures of griffins on this bridge are one of the most recognizable landmarks of Petersburg.
Then the canal began to wind in the area of the Sennaya Square. The area is known as the `Petersburg of Dostoevsky.` It is there that the great Russian writer and the characters of his novels lived. The road along the bank of the canal between the Sennaya Square and the Sadovaya Street had been described in detail in the `Crime and Punishment`, as it was by this road that Raskolnikov went to the house of the pawnbroker (104, Griboyedov Canal). Along this road is another beautiful bridge of Petersburg – the Bridge of Lions, and near it is the House of Sonya Marmeladova (73, Griboyedov Canal).
Farther on at the intersection with the Kryukov Canal you can see the St. Nicholas Marine Cathedral, the main church of the Russian Navy. A bit further on, in the Rimsky-Korsakov Street is the beautiful St. Isidore Church of the orthodox Estonian community.
It is the broadest river for tourist boats. The most interesting part of the river is between the place where it empties into the Neva River and the Nevsky Avenue. The rest of the Fontanka River is not as picturesque.
Near the Neva River the Fontanka flows along the Summer Garden. The Summer Palace of Peter I overlooks the river. Near the place where it crosses the Moyka in front of the Engineers` Castle, on the right side of the embankment is the tiny figure of chizhik pyzhik.
Before the Nevsky Avenue the Fontanka is faced by the beautiful façades of the nobility mansions. The Nevsky Avenue crosses the Fontanka over the Anichkov Bridge with the sculptures of Horse Tamers. Further on the river is overlooked by the Anichkov Palace on the right and the Belosselsky-Belozersky Palace on the left. After these palaces there are no remarkable buildings along the Fontanka until the Kryukov Canal.
It is a very small canal, but since it connects the Fontanka to the Moyka, the routes of nearly all tourist boats run along the canal. The Kryukov Canal begins before the Lermontovsky Avenue at the Trinity Cathedral of the Izmailovsky Life-Guard Regiment, and then runs along the St. Nicholas Marine Cathedral.
The only black house in St. Petersburg faces the Kryukov Canal. In the 19 century it was forbidden to paint the houses in black in Petersburg (so that the city did not look gloomy), and only the owner of this houses could obtain the permission to paint it in black having paid a lot of money. Further on the Kryukov Canal runs along the Mariinsky Theatre and falls into the Moyka at the Pevchesky Bridge.