The Moika River

Three centuries ago there was a small rivulet called the Muya in the local dialect – which was transformed into a charming waterfare. This little river welcomed swanky new palaces to its banks – as well as museums, banks, and government ministries. Known as the Moika these days, it's a tourist Must See on any visit to St. Petersburg.

Fascinating Facts

  • Its ancient Izhnorian name was Muya which means "slush" or "mire". The name Moika was officially adopted in 1797.
  • The Moika's embankments began to be actively developed with buildings during the 18th century. The burgeoning ranks of Petersburg's nobility chose to build their palaces here.
  • The delightful views and large number of bridges helped turn the Moika into one of St. Petersburg's most poetic spots.
  • The banks of the Moika River enjoy protected listed status under a nationwide government scheme to protect cultural heritage


The area of the Moika was a waterlogged bog until 1711 – at the area where today we find the Fields of Mars. The river and surrounding bog were very muddy – since the ancient Izhorian name of the river was Muya, meaning 'dirty'

All the bridges over the Moika were wooden until 1769. It was only after the embankments were completed in granite that stone bridges began to appear. There are fifteen bridges over the Moika today.

From the earliest days of St. Petersburg, the shores of the Moika were considered an area of high-priced real estate. It was already being actively developed in the 18th century. Today the embankments are lined with the mansions and palaces of the city's wealthy and noble families.

What to see

  • The Stroganoff Palace, built to designs by Catherine II's personal architect, Rastrelli. The Moika embankments were home to some of Russia's most famous literary figures, and we find the house-museum of illustrious Russian poet Alexander Pushkin here.
  • One of the most famous bridges is the Kissing Bridge, which has inspired numerous songs and verses. Its actual appearance isn't especially romantic - but the tradition of kissing here is said to make romance robust and long-lasting.
  • There are four painted bridges – the Red, Green, Blue, and Yellow bridges. The most distinctive is the Post Office Bridge – as it's a hanging bridge.
  • There is also the so-called Winter Channel, which links the Moika to the River Neva. But the name doesn't mean it was used only in Winter – it's named after the Winter Palace, the principle royal residence of the Tsars. No sooner had this illustrious waterway been finished, than three bridges were erected across it.

Guided Tour

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