In the winding streets and tucked-away courtyards of St. Petersburg, we went on a quest to uncover hidden gems that you won’t find in your typical guidebooks. This article offers a glimpse into the heart of this enchanting city, revealing its lesser-known treasures. To make the most of your time, take advantage of public transport, scooters, and bicycles to swiftly navigate your way through the city streets.
Oldest rock shop in St. Petersburg
Ligovsky Avenue, 47 (m. Rebellion Square)
St. Petersburg has long been known for its thriving Russian rock scene. A symbolic starting point for exploring this aspect of the city is the legendary Castle Rock shop, which has been operating opposite Moscow Station for 19 years. Once a gathering place for the city’s alternative youth, Castle Rock now offers a more peaceful atmosphere after its owner promised locals some peace and quiet. The shop has served famous musicians such as Yuri Shevchuk, Boris Grebenshchikov, Sergey “Chizh” Chigrakov, Oleg Garkusha, and more. Besides offering a variety of rock-related merchandise, Castle Rock also houses genuine artifacts, including palm prints, autographs, and personal belongings of rock stars. Notable items on display include the cloak of Mikhail Gorshenev from the group “King and Shute” and the concert costume of Ilya Damn from “Pilot.”
Buck’s Income House
Kirk Street, 24 (M. Chernyshevskaya)
Just a short distance from the Chernyshevskaya Station pavilion, you’ll find a striking house with a fascinating history. Constructed between 1904 and 1905, this architectural gem was built for Juliana Baca, the publisher of the newspaper “The Speech.” The building itself features an eclectic mix of styles and boasts a richly adorned facade, open balconies, labyrinthine stairways, and air galleries that connect the outbuildings to the main structure on the second and fifth floors.
Navigating the building is an adventure in itself, as the numbering of apartments is enough to baffle even the most experienced couriers. For instance, you might be searching for apartment number 9, only to find it listed as number 34. This unusual arrangement is the result of countless redevelopments over the years, as the original bar apartments were transformed into communal compartments and then back into separate living spaces.
To truly appreciate this hidden treasure in St. Petersburg, simply step through the entrance on one street and try to make your way to another. As you explore the building’s intricate layout, you’ll be transported back in time to a bygone era of Russian history.
Music store where the film “Brother” was filmed
Kirk Street, 8 (M. Chernyshevskaya)
Amazingly, the music store where Danila Bagrov sought to purchase Nautilus still stands in St. Petersburg. Although credited with multiple locations, the filming took place in this courtyard on Kirk. As you descend the stairs and approach the record counter, try asking the seller, “Do you have ‘Wings’ by Nautilus?” If you catch them in a good mood, they might cheekily respond, “No, they sold out quickly. But do come back again.” This hidden gem is just one of the many treasures awaiting you in St. Petersburg.
Income House of three Benoit
Stone Island Avenue, 26-28 (Petrogradskaya)
Among the three most renowned revenue-generating residential buildings in St. Petersburg, the 1912 Benoit brothers’ project stands out as a fascinating metaphor for the city itself. This colossal structure houses elite suites in one wing, classic communal apartments in another, and a third wing that has been sadly ravaged by looters. Visitors can navigate a labyrinth of twelve well enclosures that interconnect the entire complex. In the early 20th century, this building exemplified the prosperity of apartment living, boasting innovative amenities such as built-in elevators, a steam heating system, an in-house power plant, laundry facilities, a garbage incinerator, a snow-sink, and even telephones. The residence has been home to illustrious party figures, singers, artists, and composers, including the likes of Dmitri Shostakovich, making it a true hidden treasure in St. Petersburg.
Kamchatka Boiler Room (Kino Group Club-Museum)
Blokhin Street, 15 (m. Athletic)
During the Soviet era, being a creative individual was often discouraged, as it was seen as parasitic and ungrateful, particularly if the artist lacked a formal education in their craft. As a result, many talented individuals were urged to find more traditional employment. One such person was the iconic musician Victor Tsoi, who decided to take up a job as a coal stoker in a boiler room on the Petrograd side of St. Petersburg. For Tsoi, this work was not too taxing, allowing him to continue performing at concerts and writing music. This boiler room soon gained the nickname “Kamchatka” among the locals.
Today, Kamchatka has transformed into a memorial courtyard, complete with a functioning bar and interactive museum. It serves as a unique pitstop for travelers looking to retrace the steps of a bygone era, transporting them back 30 years to a time when young people eagerly awaited change. This hidden treasure in St. Petersburg allows visitors to immerse themselves in the life and times of the much-admired musician Victor Tsoi, while also providing a fascinating insight into the city’s rich history and culture.