Among the oldest parts of Vasilyevsky Island, this eastern tip is where Peter the Great wanted his new city’s administrative and intellectual centre to be. In fact, the Strelka became the focus of St Petersburg’s maritime trade, symbolised by the colonnaded Customs House (now the Pushkin House). The two Rostral Columns, archetypal St Petersburg landmarks, are studded with ships’ prows and four seated sculptures representing four of Russia’s great rivers: the Neva, the Volga, the Dnieper and the Volkhov.
These were oil-fired navigation beacons in the 1800s and their gas torches are still lit on some holidays, which makes for a breathtaking sight. The Strelka has one of the best views in the city, with the Peter and Paul Fortress to the left and the Hermitage, the Admiralty and St Isaac’s Cathedral to the right.