The Griboyedov Canal starts from the Moyka River near the Field of Mars. It flows into the Fontanka River. Its length is 5 kilometres (3 mi), with a width of 32 metres (105 ft).
Before 1923, it was called the Catherine Canal, after the Empress Catherine the Great, during whose rule it was deepened. The Communist authorities renamed it after the Russian playwright and diplomat, Alexandr Griboyedov.
The streets or embankments running along the canal are known as Naberezhnaya Kanala Griboyedova.
The canal is a key location in Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel, Crime and Punishment. Like most locations in the novel, the canal is rarely identified by its proper name; in fact, on most occasions Dostoyevsky refers to it as a kanava, a word which in English is closer to the word “ditch.” In a footnote to the Penguin Deluxe Classics edition of the book, translator Oliver Ready describes the canal as a “filthy and polluted place” which is nevertheless “the topographical center of the book.” The novel’s protagonist, Raskolnikov, repeatedly crosses over the canal, and tentatively plans on disposing of stolen property there. The apartment building where he commits his crimes “faced the Ditch on one side and [Srednyaya Podyacheskay]a Street on the other.”