Enjoying the panoramic view of Vasilyevsky Island that has preserved its unique architectural legacy of the three centuries, one can hardly imagine that elks abounded in this locality and so the island was called Elk Island (“Hirvisaari in Finnish”) In the fifteenth century the Novgorod governor Vasily Selezen had his estate here. Having founded the citadel-city, Peter the Great placed an artillery battery under the command of Vasily Kormchin at the edge of the island and the Tsar used to begin his letters “To Vasily on the island.” It is unknown today,
to which of the two Vasilys the island owes its name. In the 1710s Peter the Great took a decision to make Vasilyevsky Island the centre of the developing capital and to arrange governmental establishments called collegia on it.
Panoramic view of Vasilyevsky Island
The construction of the Twelve Collegia, the longest building in Russia (its corridor runs for about 500 m) began in 1722 to a project by Trezzini and lasted for twenty years, although the officials began to settle in it in the 1720s. The building became the focus in the layout of Vasilyevsky Island, the design of which was created by Trezzini together
with Peter the Great, who dreamed of creating the Russian Amsterdam here. The austere geometric lines of avenues and streets on the island remind us about the Tsar’s unrealized dream. The Bolshaya and Malaya Nevka Rivers, seemingly embracing the Spit of Vasilyevsky Island, are spanned by bridges connecting it with the left bank of the Neva and the Petrograd Side. The Bolshoi Prospekt leads to Pribaltiyskaya Hotel and the Sea Terminal.