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Neva River
Country Russia, Finland, Belarus
Physical characteristics
River mouth Neva Bay
Length 74 km (46 mi)
Sankt-Petěrburg, řeka Něva
View from the Trinity Bridge

The Neva River is a river in northwestern Russia. It is 74 kilometres (46 mi) long. It flows into the Gulf of Finland. The city of Saint Petersburg is on its delta.


History of the delta

In the Paleozoic, 300–400 million years ago, the entire territory of the modern delta of the Neva River was covered by a sea. Modern relief was formed as a result of glacier activity. Its retreat formed the Littorina Sea, the water level of which was some 7 to 9 metres (23 to 30 ft) higher than the present level of the Baltic Sea. Then, the Tosna River was flowing in the modern bed of the Neva, from east to west into the Litorinal Sea. In the north of the Karelian Isthmus, the Littorina Sea united by a wide strait with Lake Ladoga. The Mga River then flowed to the east, into Lake Ladoga, near the modern source of the Neva River; the Mga then was separated from the basin of the Tosna.

Near the modern Lake Ladoga, land rose faster, and a closed reservoir was formed. Its water level began to rise, eventually flooded the valley of Mga and broke into the valley of the river Tosna. The Ivanovo rapids of the modern Neva were created in the breakthrough area. So about 2000 BC the Neva was created with its tributaries Tosna and Mga. According to some newer data, it happened at 1410–1250 BC making the Neva a rather young river. The valley of Neva is formed by glacial and post-glacial sediments and it did not change much over the past 2500 years. The delta of Neva was formed at that time, which is actually pseudodelta, as it was formed not by accumulation of river material but by plunging into the past sediments.

Topography and hydrography

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View of the mouth of the Ladoga Canal and the Neva The Neva at the mouth of the Izhora River The Neva near the Peter the Great Bridge

Flora and fauna

Betula pendula Finland
Birch forest.

There is almost no aquatic vegetation in Neva. The river banks mostly consist of sand, podsol, gleysols, peat and boggy peat soils. Several centuries ago, the whole territory of the Neva lowland was covered by pine and spruce mossy forests. They were gradually reduced by the fires and cutting for technical needs. Extensive damage was caused during World War II: in St. Petersburg, the forests were reduced completely, and in the upper reaches down to 40 to 50 percent. Forest were replanted after the war with spruce, pine, cedar, Siberian larch, oak, Norway maple, elm, America, ash, apple tree, mountain ash and other species. The shrubs include barberry, lilac, jasmine, hazel, honeysuckle, hawthorn, rose hip, viburnum, juniper, elder, shadbush and many others.

Nowadays, the upper regions of the river are dominated by birch and pine-birch grass-shrub forests and in the middle regions there are swampy pine forests. In St. Petersburg, along the Neva, there are many gardens and parks, including the Summer Garden, Field of Mars, Rumyantsev, Smolny, Alexander Gardens, Garden of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra and many others.

Because of the rapid flow, cold water and lack of quiet pools and aquatic vegetation the diversity of fish species in Neva is small. Permanent residents include such undemanding to environment species as perch, ruffe and roaches. Many fish species are transitory, of which commercial value have smelt, vendace and partly salmon.


Floods in St. Petersburg
7 ноября 1824 года на площади у Большого театра.jpg
The Flood in St.Petersburg in 1824. 1820-ies.jpg
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7 November 1824, in front of Bolshoi Theatre 7 November 1824 Sadovaya Street near the former Nikolsky Market, 15 November 1903 Bolshaya Podyacheskaya Street, 25 November 1903
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Boat transportation over Vasilievsky Island during the flood of 23 September 1924 Vladimirsky Avenue after the flood of 1924 A pier during the flood of 18 October 1967 Near the Mining Institute on 18 October 1967


Before 1700

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Victory of Alexander Nevsky over the Swedes by B. Chorikov Assault on the Oreshek fortress on 11 October 1702 by Alexander Kotzebue Map of the Peter the Great Canal (1742) Map of St. Petersburg (1720)

Russian period

Makhayev, Kachalov - View of Neva Downstream between Winter Palace and Academy of Sciences 1753 (right).jpg
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View down the Neva River between the Winter Palace and St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. Engraving of 1753. Palace Embankment (1826) View on the Smolny Convent from Bolshaya Ohta (1851) Tramways on the frozen Neva (more images)


Leningrad Oblast:

  • Ladozhsky Bridge – built in 1981 as a movable multi-span metal bridge on stone piers.
  • Kuzminskii railway bridge – built in 1940 as a movable three-segment railway bridge.

St. Petersburg:

  • Big Obukhovsky Bridge – built in 2004 as cable-stayed bridge connecting Obukhovsky Defense avenue with Oktyabrskaya Embankment.
  • Volodarsky Bridge – built in 1936 as a movable concrete bridge connecting Narodnaya and Ivanovo streets.
  • Finland Railway Bridge – built in 1912 as a movable, metallic, double-segment railway bridge.

St. Petersburg, Neva delta

  • Alexander Nevsky Bridge – built in 1965 as a movable concrete bridge connecting Alexander Nevsky Square and Zanevsky Avenue.
  • Peter the Great Bridge – built in 1911 as a movable, three-segment, metal bridge connecting the historic center of St. Petersburg with the Malaya Ohta district.
  • Liteyny Bridge (formerly the bridge of Alexander II) – built in 1879 as a movable, six-segment, arch bridge connecting Liteyny Prospekt with Academician Lebedev Str. and Vyborg.
  • Trinity Bridge (formerly the Kirov bridge) – built in 1903 as a five-segment movable metal bridge connecting Suvorov Square, Trinity Square and Kamennoostrovsky Prospekt.
  • Palace Bridge – built in 1916 as a movable, five-segment, iron bridge. Its opened central span is one the city symbols. Connects Nevsky Prospekt with the Exchange Square and Vasilievsky Island.
  • Blagoveshchensky Bridge (formerly the Lieutenant Schmidt Bridge) – built in 1850 as movable seven-segment iron bridge connecting Labour Square with the 7th Line of Vasilievsky Island.
Kuzminsky bridge via neva.jpg
Big Obukhovsky Bridge.jpg
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Kuzminskii railway bridge Big Obukhovsky Bridge Liteyny Bridge Blagoveshchensky Bridge

Construction of the Novo-Admiralteisky Bridge, a movable drawbridge across the river, has been approved, but will not commence before 2011.


Bolshaya Neva
Neva River in a nineteenth-century painting
Magic Winter Impressions - Sankt Petersburg - Neva Rim 2
Neva in a frozen state

Whereas most tourist attractions of Neva are located within St. Petersburg, there are several historical places upstream, in the Leningrad Oblast. They include the fortress Oreshek, which was built in 1323 on the Orekhovy Island at the source of Neva River, south-west of the Petrokrepost Bay, near the city of Shlisselburg. The waterfront of Schlisselburg has a monument of Peter I. In the city, there are Blagoveshchensky Cathedral (1764–95) and a still functioning Orthodox church of St. Nicholas, built in 1739. On the river bank stands the Church of the Intercession. Raised in 2007, it is a wooden replica of a historical church which stood on the southern shore of Lake Onega. That church was constructed in 1708 and it burned down in 1963. It is believed to be the forerunner of the famous Kizhi Pogost.

Old Ladoga Canal, built in the first half of the 18th century, is a water transport route along the shore of Lake Ladoga which is connecting the River Volkhov and Neva. Some of its historical structures are preserved, such as a four-chamber granite sluice (1836) and a bridge (1832).

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