Mini guide to Vladivostok city
It is better to start exploring Vladivostok from the historical part of the city, the Korabelnaya Embankment, which stretches from the dock, established by the then-future Emperor of Russia Nicholas II, along the picturesque Zolotoy Rog (Golden Horn) Bay. It is believed that it was here, on the shore of the Zolotoy Rog Bay, that the founders of Vladivostok, headed by a warrant officer Nikolai Komarov, landed in 1860. In memory of this event, in 1985 a stele was erected on the Korabelnaya Embankment, opposite to the headquarters of the Pacific Fleet, which was devoted to the pioneer constructors of the city. A little bit further, the “Military Glory of the Pacific Feet” memorial complex is located, which includes the Eternal Flame, a sculptural composition, a motor gunboat turret, a naval gun, and the S-56 submarine, which was awarded a guard title during the Second World War, and Krasniy Vympel (Red Pennant) – the first ship of the Pacific Fleet, which used to hold a Soviet flag. Upstreet the “Military Glory of the Pacific Feet” memorial is the Admiral Square.
Near the Korabelnaya Embankment, on Petra Velikogo (Peter the Great) Street the Triumphal Arc is located, which is constructed in Russian-Byzantine style. The Triumphal gates were constructed especially for the visit of Tsesarevich Nicholay, and were designed by military engineer Nikolai Konovalov, notably, both at the expense of state funds and private donations. The arch was a quadripartite structure, decorated with a variety of ornamental and symbolic elements. The original arc (it was called Nicholaevskiy or Triumphal Gates) was destroyed in the 30s of the past century, and restored in 2003 based on photos. Then-future and the last Emperor of Russia Nicholas Alexandrovich visited Vladivostok in 1891 as part of his world tour. He arrived in the seaside city, a new naval and merchant harbor of Russia on the Pacific Ocean, from Japan.
Upstreet in the Teatralny Skver (Theatrical Square) the Vladimir Vysotsky monument was opened in 2013. A poet, singer and artist visited Vladivostok in 1971. He is still remembered and loved here. The poet is depicted sitting with a guitar. There is an inscription on the granite quoting a line from the “Moscow-Odessa” song: “The closed Vladivostok port is open”.
Turning from the Korabelnaya Embankment to the main and the oldest street of the city – Svetlanskaya, you can admire the facades of old buildings erected at the end of the 19th – the beginning of the 20th centuries. The street was initially called American – in honor of “America” steamboat-corvette, on which Count Muravyov-Amursky chose the place for starting Vladivostok in 1859. In 1873 it was renamed as Svetlanskaya after the “Svetlana” frigate, on which the Grand Duke Aleksei Alexandrovich visited Vladivostok.
Svetlanskaya Street crosses the city from the West to the East in parallel to the Northern coast of the Zolotoy Rog Bay and has almost the same function as Nevsky Prospekt in Saint Petersburg. Many famous buildings of Vladivostok are located here, including the Versailles Hotel, Arsenyev Museum, Primorsky Krai Administration, Zelyonye Kirpichiki Trade Center, Ussuri Cinema, GUM (department store) of Vladivostok, Headquarters of Siberian Flotilla (later – Territory Committee of the CPSU), Gorky Theater, Presidium of the Far-Eastern Department of the RAS, Circus of Vladivostok. Nevelsky monuments, monuments to merchant seamen, various museums, multiple restaurants and cafes are also located here.
If you take right from Svetlanskaya Street or Muravyov-Amursky Square, you will reach Pushkinskaya Street. Here is St. Paul Lutheran Kirche, the oldest surviving construction in the city, which is also designed in Gothic style, unusual for this latitude. Founded by immigrants, Vladivostok has served as a place of interaction for representatives of various faiths since the first decades of its existence. Famous Vladivostok architect Georg Junghandel embodied a classical view of a temple in the style of the late Gothic architecture of the Northern Europe in the St. Paul Church. The building is constructed of German bricks imported by the sea; even today on some of them it is possible to read the inscription: “Ziegelwerk Hans Mueller Saargemuend” (Hans Mueller Brick Factory Sarreguemines).
If you move right from the Kirche in the direction from the center, you can reach Volodarskogo Street, where a Roman Catholic church is located. Further, on Makhalina Street, building 30, the Saint Nicolas Cathedral – the oldest surviving orthodox temple in Vladivostok is located. The temple was founded in 1907 and was hallowed already at the end of the same year.
After observing this part of the city, take the funicular (its lowest station is located right here, the uppermost one – on Sukhanova Street). The funicular appeared in Vladivostok in 1962 as a distant “relative” of the famous American cable cars – the trolley-cars moving up the steep slopes of San Francisco, driven by cables under the pavement.
From the window, there is a beautiful view of the bridge through the Zolotoy Rog Bay.
This bridge is one of the five biggest cable bridges in the world. Its length is 2.1 km, and transport capacity is 6 lanes of traffic. The construction was initiated in June 2008 and completed in 2012.
A little higher above the upper station of the funicular, on Orlinoye Gnezdo slope is located the city’s main observation deck, which has long become one of the sightseeing places of Vladivostok. The opening breathtaking panorama makes it clear that Vladivostok, which carpets the Southern ends of the Muravyov-Amursky Peninsula, is surrounded by the sea from three sides – except for internal city Zolotoy Rog Bay laying far down underfoot, Ussuri Bay and Amur Bay, as well as Eastern Bosphorus Bay, separating Russky Island from the mainland, are observed perfectly. To the left there is a panorama of the city, belting the bay around which it was erected, docks and workshops of ship repair facilities, small cars hurrying along the branchy streets. Straight ahead we see one of the best perspectives of the bridge through he Bay of Zolotoy Rog. A bit to the right, the warships of the Pacific Fleet are anchored at the docks. Further to the right you can see the panorama of the historical center, seaport and railway station curving along with the coastline berths of the trade port. Finally, at the far right, Amur Bay can be seen with knolls on its western shore, and somewhere far, but clearly visible, is China, where the sunset sun falls. Even experienced photographers and cameramen get dazzled by the abundance of the astonishing views and shooting angles.
If you prefer to go back to Svetlanskaya Street, then you can easily get to the Central Square of the city from there. The Central Square is the real ‘solar plexus’ of Vladivostok. At this point Svetlanskaya Street and Okeansky Prospekt intersect, and the sea, the ships of the Pacific Fleet, the railway station and the seaport are seen from here. The Square is named after the Fighters for Revolution. An impressive monument to the Fighters for the Soviet Regime in the Far East was erected in the middle of the Square in 1961, which then became a symbol of Vladivostok. The bronze figures on the granite base remind of the events of the revolutionary year of 1917 and of the fight against the interventionists and White Guardists from 1918–1922.
From the Central Square go to Admiral Fokin Street, also known as the Arbat. It is relatively short (less than a kilometer), but one of the oldest streets in Vladivostok, its main embellishment being, of course, the sea.
Walking along the cafes and shops, admiring the fountains, sitting on the benches, a pedestrian will never lose sight of it. At the last intersection (with Pogranichnaya Street), Admiral Fokin Street joins with Sportivnaya Gavan` (Sport Harbor), another favorite place of rest for city dwellers. There are many restaurants and cafes, from where the most marvelous sunsets can be observed.