Andersengrad: the Russian Wonderland

(Photo credit: Darya Koshkina)

Discover Andersengrad – a children playground shaped as a European medieval castle which seems to have come out of a fairy tale

Today, 2 April is the 212th birthday of the renowned Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen, famous for his numerous fairy tales such as The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Little Mermaid, The Nightingale, The Snow Queen, The Ugly Duckling, Thumbelina and many others. Although almost everyone is familiar with his stories, not many have heard of the Russian town dedicated to him—which besides sharing his name also shares his birthday—Andersengrad (the town of Andersen).

The magical place is located in the city of Sosnovy Bor in the Leningrad region, only 100 kilometres from St Petersburg. The designer of the playground is the Russian architect Yuri Savchenko. Close to 40 years ago, he came up with the idea of building a town made of stones exclusively for children. Its construction started in 1975 and was subsequently stopped for almost five years. On the first of June 1980, in occasion of Children’s Day the town was eventually opened to the public for the first time.

The year of its construction also coincided with the 175th birthday of the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, influencing the decision to name the town in honour of the writer.

What to do there

Andersengrad is the perfect place to visit with children who will be happy to play on the playground shaped as a medieval castle. During the summer, the town also hosts various events and activities. Many concerts and performances take place at the Dyuimovochka (Thumbelina) amphitheatre. You can also find the children café Belosnezhka (Snow White) in the area, where you can have a snack and drink a cup of tea or coffee.

The architectural appearance of the town is reminiscent of medieval European cities, with decorations rich with mosaics, stained glass, tapestry, bright red bricks, and red tiled roofs.

The playground itself can be visited in the span of one day, during which you can appreciate the fairy surroundings, decorated by characters from Andersen’s tales like the Steadfast Tin Soldier’s tower, Ole Lukoje’s house, the Little Mermaid, as well as Andersen himself, who is represented by a sculpture.

Despite the fact that Andersengrad is a children’s playground, adults will have many reasons to enjoy the little town too: the fresh air, wonderful architecture, and fairy environment help to escape into a fairytale childhood and are delightful amusements for a day-off.

How to get there

1. By train

The journey from St Petersburg to Andersengrad takes approximately two hours. Your trip will start from Baltiysky train station in St Petersburg, where you can take an elektrichka to Kalische. The train ticket costs 184 roubles (2,97 euro). Once at Kalische, you can continue your journey either by taxi for 100 roubles (1,61 euro) or by bus for 24 roubles (0,40 euro). If the weather is nice, you can easily reach your final destination, Solnechnaya ulitsa, in a 30 minute walk.

Sosnovy Bor is a border city, so it is necessary to take your passport with you. Foreign citizens have to request a special permit from the Federal Security Service on 4 Liteyny Prospekt.

The entrance to Andersengrad is free of charge.

2. By bus

If you would rather avoid the many transfers, going by bus offers a slightly cheaper option. The intercity bus numbered 401 runs to Sosnovy Bor every 30-minutes from Avtovo metro station. The price of the ticket is 190 roubles ( 3,10 euro) and it also takes approximately 2 hours. Once at the Glavpochtampt bus station, you can walk to Andersengrad, located only 250 meters from the bus stop.

Go through the main gate and welcome to Wonderland!

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