Real-Life Creepy Place: The Suicide Canal in the Heart of Saint-Petersburg

The canal, early 20th century. Within a decade, nearly 100 people jumped from that bridge.

The canal, early 20th century. Within a decade, nearly 100 people jumped from that bridge.

Saint-Petersburg is a city with a unique and oftentimes macabre history. It’s one of the “younger” Russian cities, founded in the eighteenth century (compared to Moscow, for example, which is more than 800 years old). It was built to be the new capital, then stripped of the title and re-baptized after the October Revolution in the early 20th century. It was one of the cities to suffer the most under a long and grueling siege during World War II. These days, the city regained its original name (after its founder the Tsar Peter I), but legends still suggest the city is plagued by misfortunes because of an ancient curse.

One example is Obvodny Canal. Its name means “circular”, and it’s the largest canal in the city to this

day. In St-Petersburg’s early days, it was on the outskirts, a place where only the poorest workers lived, and already it had the reputation of a place where “bad things happen” without explanation.

Abandoned factories from before WWII. This used to be a poor industrial area.

Abandoned factories from before WWII. This used to be a poor industrial area.

As the canal was being built, strange things started to happen. Workers complained of debilitating headaches and other health problems; there were incidents of strange, unprecedented outbursts of violence where workers massacred each other for no apparent reason. Still, they were ordered to finish their work in spite of many casualties.

In the 1920’s, the government started building a road by the canal and workers uncovered mysterious granite plates that could have been tombs. The local archaeologists had not been permitted to study the tombs as it would slow down the construction, so all they could do was make a few quick sketches. The tombs were destroyed and construction went on. Shortly after, in 1923, began a vague of suicides concentrated around the Borovsky bridge, which to this day is known to the locals as the Suicide Bridge. People drowned themselves in the canal, and some even threw their infant children into the murky waters. Those who were saved seemed disoriented and couldn’t remember what exactly made them jump. Others simply said an invisible force pushed them into the water. Rumors said that if you got too close to the canal, it had a hypnotizing effect, as if something was pulling you in. Others looked down from the bridge to see the corpse of a woman in white floating face-up just beneath the surface—but as soon as they tried to call for help she would disappear without a trace…

Today, it's in the heart of a bustling metropolis. but suicides are still a touch more common than anywhere else in the city.

Today, it’s in the heart of a bustling metropolis. but suicides are still a touch more common than anywhere else in the city.

The story of the Obvodny Canal began way before St-Petersburg and Peter I. In the thirteenth century, Swedish knights ruthlessly massacred the women of a small tribe of karels, a people native to the region. The “shaman” of the tribe cursed the knights and was also killed. Subsequently, the women and the shaman were buried in the place that would later become Obvodny Canal. It’s more than likely that the granite plates were their tombstones.

To this day, there are clusters of suicides in the canal roughly every ten years. Parents forbid their children to come close to the canal and even the least superstitious among them avoid gazing down into the dark, dirty water longer than necessary. The neighborhood is now close to the trendy, touristy downtown St-Petersburg, and there’s a metro station nearby—but still, the eerie air of the place can be felt, especially at night when cars and passersby become sparse…

 

Sources:

Info and photos from http://lenarudenko.livejournal.com/79991.html and http://sapiski-oborotny.ru/creatures/

 

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