Unexplored St. Petersburg: Icebreaker Krassin

Our city is indeed Russia’s “cultural capital”, with its many palaces, theatres, art galleries and such, to the point where you just can’t help but get tired of all that glamorous bustle. Just for a change, you’d want something different, something to help you appreciate reality rather than fantasy, and show that our world is a wonder by itself. Luckily for those who know what I’m talking about, there are several places in St. Petersburg that offer this kind of experience, and today we’ll be writing about one of them.

Krassin is an icebreaker ship that has recently celebrated its hundredth anniversary and is now docked at the Lieutenant Schmidt Embankment on the further side of Vasilievsky Island. Despite being fully operational and having a professional crew, she currently acts as a museum commemorating research expeditions and Soviet cargo convoys through the polar region.

Krassin, 1928. Credit: krassin.ru
Krassin, 1928. Credit: krassin.ru

In a sense, this humongous vessel reflects yet another aspect of St. Petersburg: its importance as a port and its historical role as an industrial center. Even as you approach Krassin, you already start to feel a different kind of an atmosphere: the simpler, utilitarian architecture, the port’s container cranes that seem to claw at the sky, the long piers cutting Neva’s surface and smaller utility ships that are often stationed along the shore. Even if maritime museums are not your kind of thing and you’re not planning to get a tour of the icebreaker, you should definitely get a walk in these parts to just appreciate their solemn, impersonal beauty.

Still, missing out on Krassin would be a total waste. Though her outer appearance is maybe not as impressive as that of military ships, it’s the insides that matter. Having participated in several polar expeditions and rescue missions, as well as convoys of the Second World War, the ship has many stories to tell.

Bridge. Credit: krassin.ru
Bridge. Credit: krassin.ru

Apart from temporary exhibitions (for one, they will soon be doing a project on living in polar night conditions in collaboration with Norwegian scientists), Krassin offers two regular tours. The first covers the icebreaker’s history and operation; you get to see the ship’s decks and the many exhibits in its collection. In my opinion, this tour is especially great in winter, when the cold and snow on the open deck sort of give you the idea of what being in the Northern seas is like. In the end, it’s best to tour an icebreaker when there’s ice around, is it not?

Credit: fleetphoto.ru
Credit: fleetphoto.ru

The other is called “The vessel’s heart” and focuses on the ship’s engine and life support systems. Though this may sound not too entertaining to the lay public, I really recommend this tour: even if you’re not interested in learning about such things, all this machinery in the cramped spaces of the ship’s lower deck is quite impressive, and it’s always great to peek at something you won’t see in your regular life.

Credit: petrospb.ru
Credit: petrospb.ru

As for planning your visit, there’s some advice I think you’ll find useful. First things first, you should note that you can only see the ship as part of a guided tour, so you either have to join one or book in advance. As there are tours available in English, choosing the latter option and coming in a group is the wiser choice. Secondly, be sure to check the museum’s website, as there can be additional exhibitions available, and some parts of the vessel are occasionally closed for maintenance. Lastly, dress accordingly: it’s way more cold and windy near the port, also, it’s best to be comfortably warm when you’re appreciating the scenery from the icebreaker’s open deck.

To sum up, visiting Krassin offers a great opportunity to get a different impression of our city, get new experiences, and make some great photos. See you next time! Yours, ITMO.NEWS.

 

 

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