English Embankment (Quay)
The English Embankment is a street along the left bank of the Bolshaya Neva River in the city center of St Petersburg. Originally called the Galley Embankment, the street owed its name to the Galernaja shipyard located in the area at that time. In the early years of St. Petersburg, the embankment was built up of mostly unassuming houses of workers and employees, and wasn’t much to look at.
In later years, though, wealthy merchants and foreigners began to settle on the Galley Embankment. In the middle of the XVIII-th century the quay gets its present name - the English Embankment, since already by that time a lot of houses on the street belonged to the British. Soon an English (Anglican) Church (house number 56) was built on the embankment, and an English theater on the nearby Galley Street, with the actors invited from London.
When access to the city was still by boat from the Gulf of Finland, the landing at the English quay, with its view of all these colossal structures, golden domes and spires, must have created a powerful impression.
Ganz, Hugo. The land of riddles (Russia of to-day). 1904
In the second half of the XVIII century an English club was opened in St. Petersburg, and claimed many Russian aristocrats for its members. At the same time, the English Embankment was dressed in granite, and became one of the most beautiful streets in St. Petersburg.
In the middle of the XIX century, the English Embankment was completely built up with mansions, and became essentially a fashionable district of St. Petersburg. Foreigners arriving in the city by the sea, reported seeing the embankment as the first magnificent view opening to them on approaching the city. An amazing view of the expanse of the Neva was amazing and delighted visitors. Many buildings on the embankment are classified by Russian law as architectural monuments.
This magniﬁcent quay, constructed, like all the quays of St. Petersburg, of huge blocks of granite, runs along the Neva from the New to the Old Admiralty, and was built during the reign of the empress Catherine II., who caused the canals and rivers of her capital, to the length of not less than twenty-four miles, to be enclosed in granite. On the English quay may be seen daily the élite of the Russian empire wearing away the granite with their princely feet. The carriages usually stop at the New Admiralty, where their noble owners descend, and honor the quay by walking up and down it some two or three times. There are no shops; and as the English quay is not a convenient thoroughfare, the promenaders are seldom disturbed by the presence of any chance passengers.
Robert Sears, An Illustrated Description of Russia, 1852
Among the many interesting buildings on the English Embankment we must certainly mention such gems as the Sheremetev Palace (building number 12), the Naryshkins Palace(№ 14), the mansion of Baron Stieglitz (№ 66 - 68), and the Rumyantsev Palace (№ 44), but many other buildings are also of significant cultural, historical and architectural values.
Ascending the river, the ﬁrst object that appears upon this southern bank is the great naval dock-yard, and ships of war in progress of construction. The ships, when ﬁnished, are launched upon ﬂoating butts, or camels, and carried down to Cronstadt at enormous cost. Next after this appear the beautiful mansions of the great bankers and merchants, extending along the Quai Anglais to the palace of the Senate, where the Place of St. Isaac, and the immense cathedral of the same name, with its domes of burnished gold, its walls of polished granite, and columns of porphyry and jasper, and the incomparable statue of Peter, by Falconet—by far the ﬁnest of equestrian statues, both as it regards its magnitude and its merits as a work of art—open upon the viw of the delighted stranger.
John Maxwell, The Czar, His Court and People