It won’t be an exaggeration to say that Leningradskaya is to Samara what Las Ramblas are to Barcelona or Carnaby Street to London. This charming street is the heart of the city where both locals and tourists meet to stroll any time of the year and day among an eclectic array of shops, restaurants, fountains and an occasional souvenir stand. The pedestrian bit of Leningradskaya is just over 1km long and makes for a pleasant walk from the monument of Vladimir Vysotsky, the famous Russian poet, songwriter and actor, all the way down to Gorky’s street and the Volga embankment. After years of relative disarray, Leningradskaya was recently renovated and it’s one of a few places in Samara where visitors are able to admire buildings from the 19th and 20th century in their full glory.
A bit of history
Walking along present-day Leningradskaya Street it’s difficult to imagine that less than two hundred years ago this was still the very fringe of the city, with nothing much beyond this point. Instead of Leningradskaya there was a ravine extending from today’s Azimut hotel (Tanuki restaurant) all the way down to the Volga River where residents threw their rubbish and waste. During the times of Samara fortress (constructed in 1586) this ravine served as additional field fortifications around town. The street in those days held various names including Prolomnaya, translating loosely as Ditch Street, and Sennaya, i.e. Hay Street.
Only after 1856, when the local market was moved from today’s Revolution Square to what is now called Guberskiy Market, the ravine was filled up and local merchants started moving into the area and replaced the shabby wooden houses with their impressive mansions. As was common in those days, the upper floors of merchant houses served as residential area whereas the ground floor was reserved for luxury mercantile activity.
By the end of the 19th century the street was renamed Panskaya, which translates roughly as Grandiose Street, and became the main shopping street of the city. During Russian Revolution the street changed names another couple of times but on the 8th July 1926 it was finally called Leningradskaya and has been so ever since.
During the rest of the 20th century Leningradskaya remained the main shopping street of Samara but crucial maintenance works were neglected and the street fell into disrepair. Fortunately in 2002 a resolution was passed to eliminate a clothing market and restore the historical appearance of the street, which unsurprisingly met with resistance from the market sellers. This greatly slowed down the reconstruction works and only in 2011 the part of the street from Kuibyshev Street to Galationovskaya was opened.
No. 49 – Sidorov’s house, a well preserved three-storey merchant mansion designed in style art nouveau by the architect G. Moshkov.
No. 34 – the house of Konstantin Pavlovich Golovkin, a local merchant, artist, ethnographer, archaeologist, cultural activist and amateur photographer. He founded a Samara school of landscape painting and was an initiator of the Art Department by the Samara Public Museum. In 1918, fearing reprisals, he fled to Irkutsk with his family. During that year he travelled to Manchuria and Japan where he collected oriental archeological and ethnographic artwork, which he donated to the Samara Public Museum. The mansion was listed as the house of cultural heritage of local significance.
Hotel Azimut/Restauramt Tanuki – mansion of the millionaire merchant and landowner, Vasily Mikhailovich Suroshnikov.