St. Petersburg's most famous street, the Russian Champs-Élysées, was laid out in 1710, beginning and ending at different bends of the Neva River and just short of 5 km (3 miles) long. The street starts at the foot of the Admiralty building and runs in a perfectly straight line to the Moscow station, where it curves slightly before ending a short distance farther at the Alexander Nevsky Lavra. Because St. Petersburg was once part of the larger lands of Novgorod, the road linking the city to the principality was known as Great Novgorod Road; it was an important route for trade and transportation. By the time Peter the Great built the first Admiralty, however, another major road was needed to connect the Admiralty directly to the shipping hub. Originally this new street was called the Great Perspective Road; later it was called the Nevskaya Perspektiva, and finally Nevsky prospekt.
On the last few blocks of Nevsky prospekt as you head toward the Neva are some buildings of historic
importance. No. 18, on the right-hand side, was once a private dwelling before becoming a café called Wulf and Beranger; it's now the Literary Café. It was reportedly here that Pushkin ate his last meal before setting off for his fatal duel. Chicherin's House, at No. 15, was one of Empress Elizabeth's palaces before it became the Nobles' Assembly and, in 1919, the House of Arts. Farther down, at No. 14, is one of the rare buildings on Nevsky prospekt built after the Bolshevik Revolution. The blue sign on the facade dates from World War II and the siege of Leningrad; it warns pedestrians that during air raids the other side of the street is safer. The city was once covered with similar warnings; this one was left in place as a memorial, and on Victory Day (May 9 in Russia) survivors of the siege lay flowers here.