The Winter Canal, Swan Canal, Griboyedov Canal

The Winter Canal

The Winter Canal joins two rivers, and was put through over 1718-1719. The idea behind the canal was so that Tsar Peter the Great could sit in a canal boat directly from the river portal of his own house. The length of this small canal is just 228 metres.

Fascinating Facts

  • To begin with the embankments of the Winter Canal were impressively titled Palace Canal Embankment – but were later renamed as Post Office (Pochtovaya) Embankment. Finally, in the early 19th century it was renamed as Winter Canal – but in honour of the Winter Palace, of course.
  • Above the embankment is an arched gallery, which connects the buildings of the Winter Palace complex. Legend claims there was once a public holiday named 'Feast Above the Winter Canal'.
  • The canal's embankments were encased in granite over 1782-1784, at the same time as the building of the Hermitage Theatre.


The canal was put through over 1718-1719, at a time when two lifting stations were also built – the First Winter station and the Hermitage station. Soon after, Second Winter Bridge was built, connecting the Winter Canal to the Moika.

What to see

  • The embankments of the Winter Canal give you spectacular scenery to take photos. There is a ramp under Hermitage Bridge where you can take a photo in front of passing excursion steamboats.

The Swan Canal

The Swan Canal is the canal separating the Summer Garden island, and was built over 1711-1719. Its length is 648 metres. Over 1955-1956 its embankments were reinforced with granite – just like those of the River Moika embankments.

Fascinating Facts

  • The Lebednika, or Swan Rivulet previously ran here, and after the canal was built, it was renamed the Summer Canal. It got the name Swan Canal after swans from neighbouring ponds began to live here.
  • The building of the Swan Canal was connected with plans to create three Summer Gardens here. The Summer Garden island – which was created by the building of the canal – was intended to create a summer Imperial residence. The canal in this case is purely decorative, having a depth of just 1 metre.
  • Initially the Swan Canal was strengthened in timber – but in the latter 18th century the right-hand bank was given a stone terrace.


The Swan Canal was dug over 1711-1719 – from the Neva to the River Moika. It marked the boundary of the Summer Garden, on the western side. The first written records appeared on 21st February 1727, where it is called 'Canal alongside the Summer Garden'. Then in 1778 it acquired its name of the Swan Canal. Nearby, in the Summer Garden, there were two artificial ponds, where swans had taken up residence – and they also took a liking to the nearby canal, which thus picked up the name Swan Canal. Over 1955-1956 its embankments were strengthened in granite.

The Griboyedov Canal

The Griboyedov Canal is one of the most celebrated sights of St. Petersburg, and indeed of the whole of Russia. It was here that famous authors such as Pushkin, Griboyedov, Gogol, and the composer Glinka took their daily walks, along with many other famous figures.

Fascinating Facts

  • When the canal embankment became fully built-up, it was given the name of the Catherine Canal – in honour of Empress Catherine the Great. It was in 1931 that it was decided to rename the canal after the illustrious wit and playwright Griboyedov.
  • There was once a plan to fill the canal in. The decision was based around transport considerations of the time. However, as you can see, the project never went ahead.
  • The Griboyedov Canal is also famous in literature – as many of the characters of Dostoyevsky's novel Crime & Punishment are given addresses along the canal.


The history of the Griboyedov Canal dates back to the reign of Empress Catherine the Great. There used to be a small river called the Krivusha ('the twisty-windy') on this spot. If flowed from the marshes which used to be near Koniushennoy Square. Later, the source of this river was joined to the Moika, prompting a building boom along the embankment.

What to see?

  • As you walk along the Griboyedov Embankments, take a look at Theatre Bridge – one of three sections of Trinity Bridge. Your walk would be incomplete if you did not pay a visit to the Church on the Spilt Blood – built to honour the spot where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated by terrorists.
  • The canal is also home to the Benois wing of the Russian Museum, the Singer Building, Banker's Bridge, Lion Bridge, the St Nicholas Naval Cathedral, and Pushkin's House in Kolomna.
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