History and mystery
Almost part of the city center nowadays, in the 18th century Obvodny Canal marked the southern border of St. Petersburg. Initially made for transporting goods from Neva to the seaport, during the industrialization era it became a hotspot for numerous factories. They actively exploited the nearby waters not only for shipping but also for waste disposal.
Not eerie enough? The city’s legends add to the charm: according to one of them, the canal was dug through an ancient pagan graveyard. The gravestones found there during the construction works of the 1920s, despite warnings of archeologists, were sent to become curbs for Ligovsky Prospect. It is said that from that very moment on, a curse befell this place, and once in every 10 years, a mysterious voice calls on passersby to come down into the water.
Centuries later, the area remains gloomy and gray and keeps its industrial vibe to the full extent. Nevertheless, there are still several spots not to miss.
Based on personal research, I’d suggest starting from the Baltiyskaya metro station. It’s conveniently adjacent to the Baltic Railway Station, where you can catch a train to the southwest and reach Peterhof, Lomonosov, or Pskov. As that’s not our plan today, why not drop by next door to the Russian Railway Museum. It’s massive, interactive, and very informative – with 121 unique exhibits of rolling stock from different centuries on display, you’ll get an immersive lesson on railway history and even try yourself as a locomotive driver. As one of the reviews says: “Here, you can stand near a train, get inside a train, under a train, and even above a train.” Definitely a 360-degree experience.
Until recently, it was a challenge to find a decent place to eat around, for there was nothing but busy fast food cafes at the station. Luckily, now we have a huge food mall (the biggest one in Europe!), located in the building of the former Warsaw Railway Station. Opened only in the fall of 2022, it already attracts many visitors – not only as a unique location with a wide choice of food but also with its interiors, styled like luxury 19th-century trains.
Just behind the station-turned-foodmall, there’s the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ, an example of Russian Revival architecture. With majestic facades and a high bell tower, it became one of the few eye-catching sights of Obvodny. The interesting fact is that it was built on the donations of the city’s temperance association.
Another, this time industrial, centerpiece of the canal’s embankment is a grim red-brick factory called Red Triangle. Back in the 19th century, it supplied the city and the whole country with rubber products – and galosh was their star product. As with many other enterprises of the past, it decayed in the ‘90s and soon got abandoned. I’d recommend crossing the canal to enjoy its former industrial grandeur from the other side – not only for a better view but for safety reasons, too – the building is now in critical condition.
In case you’re craving nature among this stone-and-concrete scenery, head down Liflyandskaya Street to the historical park of Ekateringof. Although there’s not much left from its original 18th-century appearance, it's still a spacious and quaint oasis in which to hide from the city rush.
And if you're up to exploring the canal till the western end, you’ll indeed find interesting things there, as it finishes by the seaport premises. Besides, you can take a bus to Kanonersky Island – and start another page of your adventure.