“Malaya, da udalaya”: treasure box in the heart of St Petersburg

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“Malaya, da udalaya” literally  means “Small but dashing”. This is an apt description of a small centre city street called Malaya Sadovaya. From the first glance Malaya Sadovaya seems to be just another cozy walking street with coffee shops, street lamps and European charm. It’s true: Malaya Sadovaya deserved its popularity among youngsters, street musician and dancers, and tourists for a reason. The charm and spirit of old quiet European cities with cobbled streets and intricate facades is definitely there. There is also something extra that this street has to offer.

If you look at it closely, you will notice quite few interesting sculptures that draw tourists’ attention.

First and foremost, don’t miss the view to the Alexandrinsky Theatre and Catherine the Great monument that can be seen at the far end of the street! Always turn around when you reach the end of the street: St Petersburg is incredibly surprising from each and every corner, due to the straight prospective of its streets and avenues.  The city was carefully and precisely planned, in order to stun the beholder.

Cats’ sculptures on the moulding.

Turn your back to Alexandrinskiy theatre at the very beginning of the street, then and look to the right and up. Do you see a curious cat looking at you? Make a wish and drop a coin, so that it falls and stays on it’s small base. If you managed that, your wish will come true. If you didn’t just try again.  Actually there are two cats on this street, Vasilisa and her neighbor Elisey.

Supposedly the cats appeared there as a memorial for the cats which helped to clean the city from rats, during the Siege in the Great Patriotic war. It is true that the city has very special relations with cats; they became a symbol, ambassadors of the city.

Elisseeff Emporium building

 

This establishment is probably the most important and famous sight on this tiny street. It is included in most of the city guides as a stunning example of early art-nouveau style. Today the building, that was erected in 1904, hosts Comedy theatre of Akimov (one of the most popular classic drama and comedy theatres in the city), and the Elisseeff shop, which are frequented by tourists.  It is definitely worth seeing from the inside with your own eyes. If there were no crowds of tourists inside and no lines for entering and exist, the experience would be truly noble (or at least bourgeois).

The shop was meant to attract customers, not only with goods but with the shop’s atmosphere as well. The interior has been carefully restored and the store opened its doors not so long time ago. It still impresses you today as it did as some 120 years ago, with all the bizarre, decadent decorations and gold. A cup of coffee, with a truffle, under big palm tree is like traveling in a time machine.

Sculpture of a photographer

Since 2001 this bronze photographer is photographed by other street photographers. Actually, the great St Petersburg photographer of XIX-XX, Karl Karlovich Bulla, was an inspiration for this monument. Karl Karlovich Bulla, is often referred to as the father of Russian photo-reporting. By the way, the photo centre of Karl Bulla is located a stone’s throw away from here, on Nevskiy Prospect.

Fountain Vrashchayushchiysya Shar

This is how complicated Google maps named a simple fountain: Evolving globe. This fountain is usually frequented in summer, and is especially adored by children. The construction itself doesn’t impress with its look but it’s particularly pleasant to freshen up your hands and arms in its waters on a hot summer day. Just touch the globe and it will start rotating on the water!

Street style apparel shop “Yunost”

This is not just a shop; it is a symbol of the time. The oldest one in the city, it opened the doors before the invasion of mass marketers like H&M and Pull’n’Bear.

Russian street-style was born here and is still evolving. If you want to bring a quality souvenir from St Petersburg, but you don’t want Matreshkas or tees with a Putin portrait, peak inside. They have a rather extensive variety of clothing and accessories from high quality Russian brands, at reasonable prices. Cozy hoodies with unconventional patterns, sweat shirts, windbreakers and knitted hats by Siberian designers. These items will also save your trip in case the weather forecast was wrong and you need a pair of gloves and a hat. Plus, water-proof backpacks (you have to pack all your souvenirs somewhere, at the end of the day), hipsters’ socks, bowties and tons of other accessories that will say something about your Russian trip. Address: 2 Malaya Sadovaya st.

 

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