Neva Project home
Project description
The Sites
About us
References and links
The New Directions Initiative
Cities and Rivers Workshop



Ecology and Cultural History in an Urban River

An interdisciplinary collaboration between the earth sciences and the humanities

In honor of St. Petersburg's Tricentennial, 1703-2003


THE NEVA RIVER, which flows through St. Petersburg, Russia, is the center of an important and fragile ecosystem. The river connects Lake Ladoga, the largest lake in Europe, to the Baltic Sea. It is only 74 km. long, but it is wide -- it reaches a width of 600 m. in the center of St. Petersburg -- and its current is very powerful. For nearly half its length, as it widens and diverges into the Neva Bay, the river is within the city limits of St. Petersburg, which makes it perhaps the most urban river in the world.

THE NEVA is also an important cultural focal point. Peter the Great's decision to build a European-style port city on the Neva in 1703 has had huge repercussions in Russian history. Peter's maritime city and its rivers and canals have also inspired some of the greatest works of Russian poetry and prose.



THIS PROJECT is a collaborative attempt to look at four sites on the Neva from both the ecological and cultural perspectives simultaneously. The collaborators are: Dr. Maria Ignatieva, botanist and landscape architect; Dr. Rachel May, specialist in Russian literature; and Dr. Nikolai Rolley, aquatic ecologist. The work was funded by a grant from the New Directions Initiative, which aims to promote collaboration between the humanites and earth sciences.


River and City




The Bronze Horseman


The Summer Garden






Shlisselburg/ Fort Oreshek