New Holland Island


t is perhaps the best known island of the city, and the most mysterious one. Only few people have been there because it has always been closed to the public for a number of reasons. The name “New Holland” was given to the island by Tsar Peter I himself. New Holland is the only one of St. Petersburg’s 42 islands which is man-made. The island’s area is 7.8 thousand square meters.

The first military port of Russia was founded here in September 1721 at the order of Peter I. Wooden warehouses for drying and storing ship timber were built at the island in the 1730s. The wooden structures fell into disrepair over time and it was decided to replace them with stone ones.

The project of “stone barns” was prepared by the architect Savve Chevakinsky. According to his design, the warehouse buildings were to encircle most of the island perimeter and be very high to allow timber to dry in an upright position and avoid decomposition. The pond located in the centre of the island was deepened and widened and connected with the Moika River and the Krukov Canal by wide channels to allow barges laden with timber to pass. The task to design new facades for the warehouse buildings was given to the French architect J.B. Vallin de la Mothe in 1765. The originally depressed look of the warehouse complex was decorated by the architect-classicist in accordance with the tastes of the time; he added splendour to proportions, equipped buildings with elementary pieces and marked key parts with characteristic compositions.

The key role in creating an artistic image of this outstanding industrial architectural monument is played by the New Holland Arch which has no direct parallels in history allowing it to be called a true architectural masterpiece of Vallin de la Mothe. The Arch is edged with Tuscan columns and is distinguished by a combination of red brick and hewn granite. The arch’s height is 23 meters; the width of span is a little more than 8 meters. The beauty of the arch served practical purposes too: it functioned as a thrust for walls of warehouses where logs were positioned upright for long-term storage.

The most expressive part of New Holland is the arched portal from the Moika side which has been, and remains, one of the most favourite sights for painters of not only St. Petersburg but many other cities. During the Soviet era New Holland was a restricted area where the storage facilities of the naval base were located. From 2004 onwards, restoration work of this remarkable architectural ensemble of the 18th century has been ongoing. Travel to st Petersburg