Rebuilding Russia

Shaun Walker

In the heart of St Petersburg lies an island which has been left to decay. Why is Roman Abramovich coming to its rescue?

The semi-derelict state of New Holland’s once majestic redbrick warehouses has become a symbol of urban decay across Russia

It is a mysterious island, closed off from the world, located in the centre of a bustling city. For a dozen generations, residents have walked past it every day, denied access to its striking redbrick buildings by the waterways that form a moat around its three sides. It sounds like something from the pages of Gabriel García Márquez or Salman Rushdie. Instead, it is New Holland, a triangular island in the heart of St Petersburg. Hidden in plain view for nearly three centuries and serving as a storage space for the navy, it has never been open to the public. In recent years, the semi-derelict state of its once majestic warehouses has become a symbol of urban decay across Russia.

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