10 Must-See Places in Saint Petersburg
St Petersburg is in the TripAdvisor’s TOP 20 most popular tourist destinations in the world and in TOP 10 cheapest cities to visit in Europe.
We picked 10 must sees from St Petersburg tours that are always hits among our tourists.
2015 is the year you were waiting for to visit St Pete and other parts of Russia. Why? Check these 15 reasons to visit Russia in 2015.
Saint Petersburg is often called the City-Museum. And Hermitage can be called the Museum of Russia.
The State Hermitage Museum is the pride of Russia, Russia’s largest and one of the world’s largest cultural-historical museum, which occupies six historic buildings. Today the Hermitage collected nearly 3 million items, including paintings, drawings, sculpture, applied art, a collection of numismatic and archaeological sites.
It is worth noting the main building of the Hermitage — Winter Palace. Its facade, appearance and incredible architectural style are no less impressive than the treasures stored within the walls of this former imperial residence.
2. Catherine Palace
Catherine Palace is one of the most charming sights of St. Petersburg. It is located in the center of Tsarskoye Selo, 25 km from St. Petersburg (now the city of Pushkin). The building was laid in 1717 by order of Empress Catherine I herself. White Blue residence, situated among beautiful gardens and decorated with numerous statues and pilasters, is an example of the late Baroque.
Summer palace interiors convey the exciting atmosphere of the 18th century. Gold jewelry, ceilings and massive windows, murals and artwork create a pleasant, exciting environment. Ballroom and the Great Hall with numerous baroque elements, gold ornaments, massive windows, ceilings, frescoes, art masterpieces are so mesmerizing!
3. The Summer Garden and Palace of Peter I
If you want more authentic tours in St Petersburg, then Peter I’s Summer Palace is your choice. The Palace is considered to be one of the oldest buildings in St. Petersburg. The house is located in a very beautiful place called the Summer Garden. This park was laid out in the early 18th century, when the northern capital was just beginning to build up. White statues and sculptural groups bordering the aisles are decorated with numerous alleys and lanes.
4. Smolny Cathedral
Smolny Cathedral is one of 10 most beautiful places in St. Petersburg due to its combination of lush Elizabethan Baroque with Neoclassicism. Facades of the building are painted in bright, soft, blue tone, the scenic dome is decorated with golden elements. It’s also one of the most peaceful areas with a concert venue of classical music in it.
5. St. Isaac’s Cathedral
St. Isaac’s Cathedral is second tallest Orthodox church in the world. The history of the cathedral began in 1710 with a wooden church in honor of Isaac of Dalmatia — Byzantine saint.
101.5 m is the height of the temple, 12,000 people can be in the cathedral at the same time. The interior is decorated with malachite, lapis lazuli, porphyry, marble, bronze and gilt. After the consecration of May 30, 1858 St. Isaac’s Cathedral was the main cathedral church of Russia and remained so for 70 years until 1928.
Unique architectural construction is a model of late classicism. The building is decorated with various statues and bas-reliefs, as well as 112 granite columns, forming a very distinctive memorable facade on all four sides. The cathedral is famous for its huge ornamented gilded dome. Once inside the temple, you can enjoy the mosaics, stained glass, granite and marble carvings, altars and works of Orthodox art. A small picturesque park in front of the park adds up to the picturesque view.
For architecture and height lovers, here is our story about rooftop tours in Saint Petersburg.
6. Vasilevsky Island
Originally Vasilevsky Island was designed as a center of St. Petersburg, where were placed all the most important state facilities. And although with time the island lost its political function, it did not stop famous architects and sculptors to turn the island into one of the most beautiful places in St. Petersburg.
World-known Kunstkamera museum, located on the island, was built here by accident. Walking on the not yet fully built-up Vasilevsky Island, Peter I, who have already hatched plans to build a “museum of curiosities”, noticed a pine of extremely bizarre shape. Emperor immediately titled the pine “the monster” and decided that there’s no better place for the Kunstkamera.
Great examples of Russian art and architecture on the island are Menshikov Palace, Stock Exchange building and the Rostral Columns, University Embankment and the Academy of Sciences, St. Andrew’s Cathedral and the Church of the Three Hierarchs, museums and houses of noble families. The island is connected to the mainland by two picturesque bridges — Palace Bridge and Annunciation Bridge, which complement the incredible appearance of the historic architectural ensemble.
Located on Vasilevsky Island Grand Avenue was supposed to be a cross-cutting highway along which ships would go from Strelka to the Gulf of Finland, but ended up being just one of the widest streets streets in the city, 85 meters wide. The narrowest street of St. Petersburg is located here as well — Repin street with the width of only 6 meters.
Russian Germans living on the island were brought here by Peter and have been living here for several centuries.
Back in XVIII century Peter I needed a places to relax on his way from St. Petersburg to Kronstadt. Who knew that eventually the “rest place” would grow into an entire city — the emperor wanted his summer residence to be nothing less than French Versailles or even better. Peterhof received its final name from Germans in 1944, just after the bombing of the city by fascist troops. The Germans did not capture the city but left a mark in the history of Peterhof.
The magnificent Grand Peterhof Palace is part of the stunning palace and park ensemble in the city of Peterhof. Peterhof Palace is a magical fusion of green parks, colorful gardens, magnificent palaces and gorgeous fountains. Indulge in impressive views of the facade of the Grand Palace in summer. Cascade flowing fountains and many statues of gold will make any photo a magazine cover. The interiors of the palace are decorated in style: stucco, wrought metal, gilded wood carving, oil painting and painting walls, various sculptures, reliefs, vases and statues.
Don’t even think of skipping it when in St Pete!
Pavlovsk is the last summer residence built by the Romanovs, but according to many, the most harmonious. Palace and park ensemble of Pavlovsk are certainly worth a visit. Why? At least, because Pavlovsk Park is recognized as one of the most beautiful landscape parks in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Green meadows and woods, lakes and trails for walking, bridges and monuments, gazebos, dozens of buildings and structures of amazing architecture. A total of 600 hectares of land can be divided into nine thematic areas. Half a million tourists visit Pavlovsky park each year.
9. Peter and Paul Fortress
Peter and Paul Fortress is the historic core of St. Petersburg, military engineering and architectural monument. You can hear a gun shot here daily from Naryshkin bastion, and every year on May 27 Peter and Paul Fortress becomes a place of solemn celebration devoted to City Day.
The Fortress is located on Hare Island at the mouth of Neva river. It was built in the early 18th century to protect the city. Peter and Paul Cathedral occupies a central place here: the height of the tower is 123 meters. Other impressive buildings on the island are History Museum, Grand Ducal Burial Vault, the Mint and the prison of Trubetskoy bastion (now a museum). In addition to the historic buildings on the island, there is a lot green areas, perfect for walks.
10. Church on Spilled Blood
Church on spilled blood is one of the most colorful museums in Saint Petersburg. The church was built in 1883–1907 years. at the place where Tsar Alexander II was mortally wounded on March 1, 1881.
Among the elements of luxury decoration are elegant cathedral chapter, huge multicolored domes, complex mosaics and carvings. This original masterpiece of ancient architecture is a strong reminiscent of Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral. Take a walk to the Field of Mars and the Mikhailovsky Garden nearby.