From St. Isaac’s Square the Moika Embankment leads to a small island - New Holland - which was used for Admiralty storehouses even in Peter’s days. It was nicknamed Little Holland in memory of the country where the tsar studied shipbuilding. In 1732 some storehouses for ship’s timber were built around the perimeter. In 1763 it was decided to rebuild them in stone. The design, drawn up by Savva Chevakinsky, was faulty. Vallin de le Mothe was then asked to correct the errors. He prepared a new design with an impressive archway over a canal that crossed the island.
Dignified and majestic, like a Roman victory arch, it never fails to impress. As a historian once remarked, it was through this archway that classicism entered Russia.
This is probably the most famous among all the Islands of Saint Petersburg. And the most mysterious. Few people had a chance visit it. Access to the island has always been restricted. However, reasons for that varied.
New Holland is a Man-Made Island
Looking at the map of St. Petersburg, your attention is immediately drawn to the islet of a triangular form, clearly standing out among its neighbors. However, there is an easy explanation for the shape of the island. In the early 18th century, in the times of Peter the Great, the whole territory of the Admiralty downstream the the Neva River was one huge shipbuilding yard. But the Admiralty shipyard was so overcrowded that another shipyard (called the galley) was built nearby, which was to satisfy the growing needs of the State to expand the fleet. The shipyard joined the channel, later named Admiralty. At the same time, a channel was dug out connecting the Fontanka and the Neva.
When both channels (future Admiralty and Kruykov Channels) and the Moika crossed, New Holland remained cut off on all sides from land. Thus, New Holland was the only one of the 42 islands of St. Petersburg, created by humans. The area of the island is 7.8 thousand square meters. In 1738, the channels were named Admiralty and Kryukov correspondingly. Initially the Admiralty Canal along the route of the current Boulevard Konnogvardejskogo reached the building of the Admiralty. In 1842, the section from Admiralty to Kryukov Canal was filled up.
Kryukov Canal Legend
There is a legend explaining the name of the Kryukov Canal. One day Peter the Great visited the studio of the painter Pyotr Nikitin. He complained to the tsar that his paintings didn’t sell well "due to lack of buyers". Peter ordered the artist to come to his palace and bring his painting along, and arranged an auction. One painting was sold for two hundred rubles, the other for three hundred. "But this picture," said Peter: “is to be bought by the one who loves me the most. "Five hundred", "shouted Menshikov. "Eight hundred", shouted Golovin. "One thousand", answered the count. «Two», added Menshikov. "Three thousand", yelled the contractor Kryukov. The tsar kissed him on the forehead and said that the channel, which he was building, was to be named after him.
In the 1820's Alexander Staubert built a narrow building to be used as a marine prison. The architect called it the Prisoners’ Tower, but it became widely known colloquially as “the bottle”.
In 1893, a pool was built in the northern part of the for shipbuilding experiments by the outstanding shipbuilder Aleksey Nikolaevich Krylov.
Maritime Radio Station in WWI
New Holland had the most powerful Russian maritime radio station in World War I.
Military Zone in Soviet Times
In Soviet times, New Holland was an off-limits area, housing warehouses of the Leningrad naval base. So, for many years, access to one of the most beautiful and mysterious corners of the city, New Holland, was denied to mere mortals.
Now Under Jurisdiction of City Authorities
In 2004, the military handed over the island to the city authorities. Restoration works are currently underway.