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16 Jun, 2007 02:31

“Roofing” – new fad in St. Petersburg

A new “sport” has become very popular in St. Petersburg, which is climbing to the top of the city's roofs. There are several thousand people involved in this hobby in Russia's cultural capital.

They call themselves “roofers”, and like to spend time on a roof.

Igor has been a roof-climber for several years. He says the hobby is like going to a museum. Except you do not need to buy a ticket, and instead of showpieces you enjoy city views, an unusual silence, and the sky. “Down there everyone is in a hurry, and here it's silent, the sky is beautiful, he says. My dream is to go on top of the roof of the Hermitage, but there's no chance”.

Like any community, ‘roofers’ have their own a set of rules: no more than three people on a roof at the same time and walking only on junctions, so that there is no noise.

Sergey is not a roof-climber, but he spends every single day on top of a roof. He comes from a dynasty of chimney-sweepers, and says you can walk for miles on top of St.Petersburg's buildings. The professional is sceptical about the interest of the young: “I don't support this hobby. I would ban it. Use a helicopter if you want to get a view of the city. Climbing up here is dangerous”.

There are some places that are very hard to access, like the Winter Palace, which can only be climbed if you have permission from its administration.

The police are not against roof-climbing. However, the roofs are closed during the night for security reasons. So the romantics cannot sleep over or watch sunrises from up there.