Saint Petersburg

HIGHLIGHTS

Founded by Peter I the Great in 1703 as Russia’s new imperial capital, Saint Petersburg is the ultimate embodiment of artistic talent. Europe’s best architects and Russia’s foremost creative talents, including Alexander Pushkin, Nikolay Gogol, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Dmitry Shostakovich and Joseph Brodsky, left their indelible imprints on this remarkable city.

From architecture and city planning to the performing talents of the Mariinsky Opera and Ballet to the masterpieces of the magnificent Hermitage Museum, everything in this delightful city is focused on beauty and elegance. The city’s legendary drawbridges over the grand Neva River and the famous “White Nights” in June draw tens of thousands of tourists every year.

Saint Petersburg city center is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Tourism is one of the key sectors of the city’s economy. Saint Petersburg welcomes up to five million tourists each year, more than any other city in Russia.

TOURS:

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MAJOR ATTRACTIONS

Palace Square  connecting Nevsky Prospekt with Palace Bridge leading to Vasilievsky Island, is the central city square of St Petersburg and of the former Russian Empire. Many significant events took place there, including the Bloody Sunday massacre and parts of the October Revolution of 1917. Between 1918 and 1944, it was known as Uritsky Square (Russian: площадь Урицкого), in memory of the assassinated leader of the city’s Cheka branch, Moisei Uritsky.

The earliest and most celebrated building on the square, the baroque white-and-azure Winter Palace (as re-built between 1754 and 1762) of the Russian tsars, gives the square its name.

In the centre of the square stands the Alexander Column (1830–34), designed by Auguste de Montferrand. This red granite column (the tallest of its kind in the world) is 47.5 metres high and weighs some 500 tons. It is set so well that it requires no attachment to the base.

The eastern side of the square comprises Alessandro Brullov’s building of the Guards Corps Headquarters (1837–43). The western side, however, opens towards Admiralty Square, thus making the Palace Square a vital part of the grand suite of St Petersburg squares.

The collection of the State Hermitage includes over 3 million works of art and world culture artefacts. It contains paintings, graphic works, sculptures, works of applied art, archaeological artefacts and numismatic objects.

The Hermitage is considered to have been founded in 1764, when Empress Catherine the Great acquired an impressive collection of works from the Berlin merchant Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky. The museum celebrates the anniversary of its founding each year on 7 December, St. Catherine’s Day.

The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood  is one of the main sights of Saint Petersburg, Russia. Other names include the Church on Spilled Blood, the Temple of the Savior on Spilled Blood, and the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ.

This church was built on the site where Emperor Alexander II was fatally wounded by political nihilists in March 1881. The church was built between 1883 and 1907. The construction was funded by the imperial family.

In July 1970, management of the church passed to Saint Isaac’s Cathedral and it was used as a museum. The proceeds from the Cathedral funded the restoration of the church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship. The Church of the Saviour on Blood is a museum of mosaics. In the pre-Revolution period it was not used as a public place of worship. The church was dedicated to the memory of the assassinated tsar and only panikhidas (memorial services) took place. The church is now one of the main tourist attractions in Saint Petersburg.

Whatever deep the emotional sensations at the Russian folklore may be, they are certainly emphasized by a magnificent interior of the Palace. It is a fine specimen of architecture of the 19th century built to the design of the famous German born Russian architect Andrey Stakenshneider for Emperor Nikolay I’st son, Grand Duke Nikolay. Due to this fact, the current name of the former Grand Duke’s residence is the Nikolayevsky Palace.

Saint Isaac’s Cathedral or Isaakievskiy Sobor  is a cathedral that currently functions as a museum. It is dedicated to Saint Isaac of Dalmatia, a patron saint of Peter the Great, who had been born on the feast day of that saint. It was originally built as a cathedral but was turned into a museum by the Soviet government in 1931 and has remained a museum ever since. In 2017, the Governor of Saint Petersburg offered to transfer the cathedral back to the Russian Orthodox Church, but the church has not exercised this offer.

 

After 200 years of serving as a grand summer residence of the emperors, Peterhof is inextricably connected with the Russian history. The seaside paradise was built, as a grandiose triumphal memorial glorifying the grandeur of Russia, in conquering the much needed and desired access to the Baltic Sea, during the Great Northern War.

Peterhof is legitimately considered to be the creature of Peter the Great – more than ten of his handmade drawings in reference to Peterhof, and even more sketches with his rectifications and notes, were preserved. Even after the emperor’s death, during the next century and a half, the architects were not only maintaining but also, continuing to implement the chief plan of the Tsar-Reformer.

The construction of the residence, that was as beautiful and splendid as the best residences of European monarchy, including the French Versailles, commenced in 1714.

The grand opening of Peterhof took place on the 15th of August 1723. By that time, all the principal elements of the ensemble composition were formed: the Lower park had been already laid out, the Sea Channel had been excavated and some of the fountains had been in progress. The Upper Chamber as well as the Monplaisir and Marly palaces had been erected.

In 1917 after the Russian revolution, Peterhof became a large educational center. During World War II, the German occupiers barbarously destroyed the palaces and the park. The reconstruction began from the first days of the liberation. And today, this nature and man-made masterpiece welcomes the guests, impressing and surprising them, just like before.

In 1990, the architecture and park ensemble “Peterhof” was included in the world’s list of intangible cultural heritage of UNESCO, and was recognized in 2008, as one of the seven wonders of Russia.