St. Petersburg

Introduction

One of the world’s most beautiful cities, St. Petersburg has all the ingredients for an unforgettable travel experience: high art, lavish architecture, wild nightlife, an extraordinary history and rich cultural traditions that have inspired and nurtured some of the modern world’s greatest literature, music, and visual art. From the mysterious twilight of the White Nights to world-beating opera and ballet productions on magical winter evenings, St. Petersburg charms and entices in every season. Saint-Petersburg.Com is here to help you navigate every aspect of this fascinating city, with all the information and travel resources necessary to plan your trip to St. Petersburg.

Major Sightseeing/Attractions:-

 

City tour

St. Petersburg, being the second largest city in Russia, has been called “The Northern Venice”, “Palmyra of the North” and “The Northern Capital”. For 200 years, since 1712, St. Petersburg was the capital of the Russian empire. It was built by the best Russian and European architects. All the trends in architecture of that time were used while building St. Petersburg. UNESCO included its historical centre in the list of monuments of the world’s cultural heritage.
St. Petersburg is a museum city under the open sky. The most prominent architectural monuments of the city include the Winter Palace (The emperor’s official residence, with the adjoining collection of buildings which today forms a part of the Hermitage), the Admiralty, St. Isaac and Kazansky Cathedrals, the building of the Academy of Arts and numerous magnificent palaces. The collections of St. Petersburg’s Museums are well known.

Peter and Paul Fortress  06.00-21:00- territory, 10:00- 19:00 museum

Peter and Paul Fortress is considered to be the birthplace of St. Petersburg. It was founded in May 1703 by Peter the Great on a small island in the delta of the Neva River as a military defence structure during the Northern War with Sweden. It lost its military significance even before it was completed. Never fired upon by any enemy the fortress was later converted into a political prison. One of its first prisoners was Alexis, Peter the Great’s son tortured to death under Peter’s supervision. Other famous people imprisoned here were Russian writer Dostoyevsky, participants of the 1825 Decembrist uprisings, political activists Leon Trotsky and Maxim Gorky.  The most valuable architectural monument on the territory of the Fortress is the Peter and Paul Cathedral – the burial place of many members of the Romanov family including Peter the Great and the family of the last tsar Nicolas II.  Its gilded spire topped with gold vessel stretching more than 197 feet into the sky is considered to be the symbol of our city.

St. Isaac Cathedral 11.00-19.00, day off- Wednesday

This contemporary Cathedral is the 4th St. Isaac church built on the same grounds. In the early 18th century, during the reign of Peter the Great, a small church was erected on the left bank of the Neva River in honour of St. Isaac — Peter the Great`s Patron Saint. It was in that church that Peter married his second wife Catherine I. But floods soon ruined the flimsy wooden building. The two subsequent churches were also ruined under different circumstances. In the beginning of the 19th century, Alexander I organized a competition for the best design of a new cathedral. A young French architect, Monferrant, won the competition. The construction of the cathedral began in 1818 and lasted for 40 years.

The Holy Trinity Alexander Nevsky Laura seven days a week, Nekropol museum 10:00 – 17:30

General: One of the first architectural achievements in St. Petersburg, for some centuries it was the main Russian abbey patronised by the Sovereigns. For centuries the cemetery on the Laura’s territory had been the family vault of Russian Sovereigns, grand generals and politicians. Today, it functions as a friary and museum.
Historical facts: construction of the Monastery began in 1712 by the order of Peter the Great in memory of Grand Prince Alexander Nevsky. The Father Superior of the monastery was appointed by the Emperors. It was closed from 1935 to 1996.
Structure: The abbey is comprised of 17 buildings and three cemeteries.
Collections: Through the centuries, the Laura has collected numerous manuscripts, relics, crosses, icons and other artefacts.

Church of the Saviour on Spilt Blood 11.00-19.00, day off -Wednesday

Built: The Church of the Saviour on Spilt Blood was built from 1883-1907 by the architect A. Parland on the place where Russian Emperor Alexander II was assassinated.
Historical Note: Alexander II was a very progressive Tsar. In 1861, he abolished serfdom thus earning him the name Alexander the Liberator. He wanted to make Russia a Constitutional Monarchy. But on the 1st of March, 1881, he was killed by I. Grinevitsky (a revolutionary and a member of The People`s Will organization). After his tragic death Alexander II was given the title Tsar the Martyr.
Style and Interior: The Church is richly decorated with mosaics outside and inside (7000 square meters). It is the only building built in a Russian (Pseudo Russian) style in St. Petersburg.

Hermitage Museum in Winter Palace Tuesday, Thursday, Friday-Sunday: 0.30-18.00, Wednesday 10.30-21.00, day off- Monday

It is one of the world biggest art and culture museums. Founded in 1764, the Hermitage comprises eight departments: the Primitive Culture of Antiquity, the Culture of the East, the History of Russian Culture, the Numismatics, the West European Culture, the Department of Science and Education, and the Restoration Department.
Hermitage consist of five interlinked buildings – the Winter Palace (previously the residence of the Imperial family), the Small Hermitage, the Old Hermitage, the New Hermitage and the Hermitage Theatre. There are over 350 halls in Hermitage. The museum keeps 15 thousand paintings, 12 thousand sculptures, 600 thousands drawings, over 600 thousand monuments of archeology, over one million coins and medals, and 4224 thousand items of applied arts. Empress Catherine II initiated the collection of the Hermitage. In the end of the 19th century the museum was opened to public.
Paintings of such great masters as Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, Raphael, Rembrandt, Poussain, Manet, Renoir are in the ownership of the Hermitage. The Hermitage is famous through its collection of Scythian golden articles.
The incredible beauty of the buildings, inside and outside, all the more enhances the splendor of the museum: ornate and regal facades; huge frescoed halls; marble, wood, and mosaic floors; statues, figurines, antique furniture.
General: The Hermitage is one of the largest museums in the world. It houses a huge collection of Western European Art, Oriental Art, Applied Art, Ancient Roman, Greek, and Egyptian Art. The collection of the Hermitage consists of 3 million items.
Structure: The museum occupies 6 buildings situated along the embankment of the River Neva, right in the heart of St. Petersburg.
Note: Some say, if you wanted to see everything in this museum, and stand in front of each object for a minute, it would take you about 6 months!

Yussupov Palace 10.45-17.00 seven days a week

General: The most luxurious non-imperial palace in St. Petersburg was the home of the rich and powerful Yussupovs family, which was in the most influential circles in Russia from the mid-18th century until the Revolution.
Built: The palace was built in 1760.
Interior: The interior presents an oak dinning room, major parlor, sitting-room with oriel, white marble pool, winter garden and a beautiful private theatre that looks like a cozy version of the Mariinsky (still functioning) and numerous reception halls and ballrooms.
Collection of Arts: The Yussupovs were great art collectors and their collection was known well beyond Russia.  After the Revolution, most of the collection was moved to the Hermitage.
Historical Facts: In 1916, the notorious Grigory Rasputin was assassinated in the Yussupov Palace.
Note: The Yussupov Palace is on the United Nations list of the best preserved family homes in Europe. Queen Elizabeth II of England made a special request to visit the Palace during her visit to St. Petersburg in October 1994.

Russian museum Monday 10:00-17:00, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday –10:00-18:00, Thursday 13.00 -21.00, day off -Tuesday

It is located in the Mikhailovsky Palace and the Benoir building. The Palace was built in 1895 for Paul I’s youngest son and turned to a museum in 1898 by Alexander III. Since then it became the center of art and history and was named after its founder “The Emperor Museum of the Russian Art named after Alexander III”. Since 1917 it is called  “The Russian Museum”. The museum owns the Russia biggest collection of paintings, sculptures, drawings, items of applied and folk arts. The exhibition shows Russian pictorial art from the time of medieval icons to the great achievements of the turn of the 20th century and the art of Soviet period. Also on display is the extensive collection of ceramics, ironwork, porcelain, wood carving and lace.

Mini-cruise along the canals

St. Petersburg, called the ‘Northern Venice’, stands at the mouth of the Neva River, one of the youngest rivers in Europe. The city architecture is built in harmony with the watery elements.
The time between May and August is the best for cruising along the Neva River and some of the 66 other rivers and channels intersecting the city.  Such tours are the main attractions of the ‘Northern Venice’.
A boat will take you through the city`s historical center. The trip enables you to admire majestic St. Petersburg appearing “on its granite pedestal”; with its parade of palaces, elegant bridges, gardens, lacy banisters, granite embankments and churches and cathedrals visible from a long way off.

Pushkin (park and Catherine’s palace) 10:00-18:00, day off -Tuesday and last Monday of the month

Catherine Palace in Poushkine ranks as one of the masterpieces of world art. It is located in the town of Pushkin, formerly called Tsarskoye Selo or the Tsar’s village. This town, founded at the beginning of the 18th century, is located approximately 25 kilometres south of St. Petersburg. In 1710, Peter the Great gave this estate to his wife Catherine, and on it a small palace was built by Braunstein. From this time until the time of the last Russian tsar, it was used as the summer home of the Imperial family. In 1756, the Catherine Palace was expanded in an exquisite baroque style by Bartolomeo Rastrelli. Its grandiose turquoise, white, and gold facade stretches 978 feet. During World War II, the palace was severely damaged but since then has been restored and stands now in its original glory. The palace contains a series of magnificent rooms, including the famous Picture Gallery and, of course, the Great Hall. The Great Hall is the most spacious room in the palace with an area of 860 square meters. During the many official balls and receptions held here, 700 candles would burn in front of the mirrors ornamented in gold. The numerous mirrors reflect the gilded wood carvings of fiery Cupids and graceful female figures. The parks of the estate add to the splendour of the palace, and several are embellished with a number of charming pavilions.  Among them are the Grotto Pavilion, the Hermitage, and the Chinese Pagoda. Directly in front of the Catherine Palace lies the vast Landscape Park. On the symmetrical layout of this park, the Evening Hall, or Hunter’s Cottage, can be found. It was built in 1809 by I. Neelov and is ornamented simply, with a four column ionic portico and caryatids between the window frames. The town of Pushkin is famous not only for its remarkable palace and parks, but for the man it is named after. Since 1937, it has bared the name of Pushkin – the most celebrated poet in the country. Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin lived in this town at the beginning of the 19th century, and connected to the palace by an arch is the lyceum where he studied.

Pavlovsk Palace and Park 10.00-18.00, day off -Friday and first Monday of month

General: Pavlovsk Palace and Park is the former country residence of Russian Emperor Paul I, son of Catherine II. The complex is considered to be an outstanding landmark of Russian culture from the late 18th-early 19th century.
Located: Pavlovsk is 30 km from St Petersburg and 3 km away from Pushkin.
Palace
General: Erected on a hill, the palace takes in the first and the last rays of the sun. The rising sun is reflected in the mirrors of the halls and the palace seems to be lit from within like a precious stone.
Built: The palace was built in the late 18th century on the royal hunting grounds on the banks of the Slavianka River. Its architects were amongst the greatest of the period: Cameron, Brenna, Quarenghi, Voronikhin and Rossi.
Interior: The suites of the Pavlovsk Palace are among the finest achievements of Russian architecture. The round, oval, octagonal, rectangular and square halls and rooms of the palace are decorated with artificial marble or colored stucco and covered with paintings or molded ornaments. The color play is enhanced by the thoughtful illumination scheme of the palace.
Collections and Exhibitions: The palace contains a collection of Western European and English porcelain, bronze, antiques. The palace also exhibits Western European and Russian sculpture, colored stones, decorative fabrics, jewelry, steelwork, ivory and amber articles, paintings and Royal costumes and accessories.
Modern History: Soon after the Revolution, the Palace was converted into an art and history museum. During WWII, Pavlovsk was occupied by the Nazis who plundered the palace, destroyed many pavilions and felled nearly 70,000 trees. Before retreating they burnt the palace down. Restoration and reconstruction work was begun immediately after the war.
Park
General: The landscape park, one of the largest in Europe, covers an area of 600 hectares. One historian wrote, “No matter how beautiful Pavlovsk Palace is, no matter how precious its collections, it cannot be compared to Pavlovsk Park.”
Structure: The park is divided into 10 sections containing different plants, 14 pavilions, a number of statues, bridges, miniature waterfalls and gates.
Cultural Background: Many well-known poets, writers and artists tied their fates in some way with Pavlovsk justly calling it “An Abode of Muses and Graces”. Of special importance was the Music Vauxhall in which concerts and recitals were started in the 1840s as regular summer-time entertainments. In 1856-1870 it was a realm of Vienna composers and conductors, the King of Waltz Johan Strauss enjoying special success.

Peterhoff (park and palace) Park 9:00-20:00 seven days a week, Palace 10:30-19:00, day off- Monday and last Tuesday of month

Peter’s Palace in Petrodvorets  is situated on the coast of the Gulf of Finland nineteen miles west of St. Petersburg. Founded by Peter the Great, Petrodvorets, or Peterhof, became known as the most brilliant of all the summer residences of the Russian tsars. It was Peter the Great’s wish to have a palace and garden better than that at Versailles. His magnificent estate held the name of Peterhof, meaning ‘Peter’s Court’ in German, until 1944, when it was renamed Petrodvorets due to anti-German sentiment. The construction of the estate spanned two centuries, and at its completion, the estate encompassed seven parks and more than 20 palaces and pavilions. The grand palace commands a breathtaking view of the lower park and of the Great Cascade, which is often considered the chief delight of the grounds, consisting of three waterfalls, an avenue of 64 fountains, and 37 gilded statues. Samson, constructed in 1734-1735, is the largest fountain of Petrodvorets and is located at the base of the Great Cascade. The scene of this fountain depicts Samson holding open the jaws of a lion, representing Russia’s victory over the Swedes in 1709 in the Great Northern War. From the lion’s mouth, a jet of water can be seen shooting high into the air. During World War II, the estate was occupied, and all of the buildings and fountains were destroyed. Since then, nearly all of the damage has been repaired, and the palace fountains have been restored to their original splendour.

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