The majestic jewel of Russia
Saint Petersburg (Russian: Санкт-Петерб́ург) is one of the world’s most majestic and picturesque cities. Founded by Peter the Great in 1703, Saint Petersburg was the imperial capital of Russian throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, up until the capital was moved inland to Moscow. Home today to around 5 million people, the city was renamed Petrograd (Петрогр́ад) in 1918, and Leningrad (Ленингр́ад) in 1924, before reverting back to Saint Petersburg in 1991.
The city’s palatial and colourful baroque and neo-classical architectural is intersected by the Neva River and a handful of canals, creating an enchanting setting for visitors. No wonder the city’s historical center, housing 36 historical architectural complexes and around 4,000 monuments of cultural and historic significance make the UNESCO World Heritage List. The endless list of attractions call upon the visitor to set aside at least a couple of days in this magical city.
Saint Petersburg is smaller than Moscow, and allows visitors to cover many of the main attractions on foot; even so, three days in Saint Petersburg is better than two, and the extra time will open up the opportunity for an excursion outside the city, to Peterhof (Peter the Great’s summer Palace), where visitors enjoy wandering among the lovely fountains and gardens resting on the shore of the Gulf of Helsinki, or to the town of Pushkin (Tsarskoe Selo) to be enchanting by the exquisite Catherine’s Palace.
The Winter Palace (housing the Hermitage Museum), Peter and Paul Fortress, St. Isaac Cathedral and Menshikov Palace, make the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Saint Petersburg guided city walking tour (3 hrs)
All our guides have their own personal touch, while of course, visiting the main sites and introducing you to this fabulous city. On the tour you will walk along Nevsky Prospect, see the Palace Square, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, the Winter Palace, and the Admiralty. You will also visit the Peter and Paul Fortress, and if you get there before 12:00 noon you will hear the traditional daily cannon-shot.
Hermitage Museum (3 hrs)
As one of the world largest art museums, the Hermitage has a collection of more than 3,000,000 objects exhibited in 4 adjoined buildings. One of the buildings is the Winter Palace – the former Czars’ residence. They say, “if you haven’t been to the Hermitage – you haven’t been to Saint Petersburg”. This picture gallery is as famous as Louvre, Prado and the National Gallery. Our guide will help you to find the paintings or artifacts that you are interested in, tell you the history of the Hermitage and mysterious stories of the Winter Palace and its former inhabitants, and show you the main highlights of the collection.
Peter and Paul Fortress: (2 hrs – walking / metro)
The Peter and Paul Fortress was built in 1703 during the Great Northern War against Sweden. It has had a rich, hugely varied, and sometimes sinister history as a military base, a home of government departments, the burial ground of the Russian imperial family, the site of ground-breaking scientific experiments, and a forbidding jail that held some of Russia’s most prominent political prisoners. The list of famous residents include Dostoyevsky, Gorkiy and Trotsky.
Peter and Paul Cathedral is the oldest church in Saint Petersburg, and the final resting place of nearly all of Russia’s imperial rulers. Depending on the time of your tour you may witness the daily firing of the cannon from the Naryshkin Bastion at noon. Your guide will explain the history of the site during your tour.
Pushkin and Pavlovsk (5 hrs)
The excursion begins with a walk in the Pavlovsk Park – the former Czarist lands. In winter, the trees are covered with snow, which gives an unforgettable experience of the Russian winter wonderland. After the walk you take a tour around Big Pavlovsk Palace (yellow classical building), the former mansion of Catherine the Great’s son Paul. During the tour the guide tells you about the palace, describes interiors of the rooms and answers your questions. After that you can take a snack at a cafe situated in the wing of the Palace and leave for Pushkin by bus (approx. 20 mins).
In Pushkin you arrive in another park, quite distinct from Pavlovsk Estate. On your walk to Catherine Palace (blue and white baroque building) you pass a pond, several canals, and the tsars’ private pavilions. The guide will conduct an excursion around the magnificent Catherine Palace, former summer residence of Catherine the Great, including the famous Amber room and numerous golden chambers.
St. Catherine’s Palace at Pushkin (Tsarskoe Selo) (5 hrs)
Travelling from the city by metro and bus, on arrival in Pushkin, you will walk to Catherine’s Palace (blue and white baroque building) through the gardens, passing a pond, several canals, and the tsars’ private pavilions. The guide will conduct an excursion around the magnificent Catherine Palace, former summer residence of Catherine the Great, including the famous Amber room and numerous golden chambers.
Peterhof (Petroverts) (5 hrs)
Grand Palace closed Mondays
Peterhof is a jewel of Russian art, a town of parks, palaces and fountains. In the past it functioned as the exquisite summer residence of the Russian tsars. From the Grand Palace of Peterhof three monumental cascading fountains (one of them comprising the famous Samson) lead to the Lower park, the real masterpiece in itself, consisting of 173 fountains. Your guide will conduct a tour of the impressive fountains before a one-hour tour of the Grand Palace. Travel to Peterhof is by hydrofoil (30 minutes ride) or the cheaper mini-bus option.
Yusupov Palace (2 1/2 hrs)
For those interested in Russian architecture and interior design, the Yusupov Palace is not to be missed. It showcases architectural trends from the 18th through to the 20th centuries. The palace and surrounding estate dates back to the epoch of Peter the Great, who founded Saint Petersburg and took nearly 200 years to acquire its present shape with contributions from the best architectural talent of the time: J.-B. Vallain de la Motte, A.M. Mikhailov 2nd, B. Simone, H. Monigetti, W. Kennel, A. Stepanov, A, Vaitens, and A. Beloborodov.
The palace still serves as a Palace of Culture for educators. The palace’s magnificent interior decorations, restored through the hard work of St. Petersburg’s best restoration artists, welcome Russian and international fans of history, art, music and theatre. In addition, the palace is the site where one of the Romanov’ family’s advisors, Rasputin, was killed. The historical interior, documents & pictures helps capture the tragedy of the times and a guide will share some of the different theories regarding this fascinating and mysterious murder.
St. Isaac’s Cathedral: (2 hrs)
The St. Isaac’s Cathedral is one of the city’s architectural landmarks and the second tallest structure after the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral. The first St Isaac’s temple was erected in 1707 on the orders of Peter I to honor the venerable St. Isaac the Dalmation, the tsar‘s patron saint. The church was remodeled out of the drawing barn adjacent to the Admiralty. In this temple, the wedding ceremony of Emperor Peter I and Empress Ekaterina Alexeevna took place. Since the grand structure (The Fourth St. Isaac’s Cathedral), as conceived by Montferrand, required reliable solid foundations, pine piles were driven into the foundation site before granite slabs and quarry stones were placed on top.
St Isaac’s Cathedral is the only structure in the Russian Neo-Classical style that incorporates polished granite columns and marble in its exterior decoration. The dark red portico columns, the colonnade around the main dome, the cathedral base with grey marble veneers and the gilded domes make a dramatic blend to give a stately appearance to the entire structure.
The Church of the Resurrection of Christ (Savior on the Spilled Blood): (4 hrs)
The Church of the Resurrection of Christ (The Savior on Blood) was erected on the site where Emperor Alexander II was mortally wounded. The Church was jointly designed by the architect A.A. Parland (1842-1920) and the archimandrite Ignaty (secular name Malyshev, 1811-1897), a rector of the Troitse-Sergievsky Monastery. To fulfill Alexander III’s wish, the cathedral was erected in “the true Russian style”, enclosing the actual assassination site within the walls of the church.
The Church of the Resurrection is one of the most extraordinary churches in Saint Petersburg. Its vibrant, painterly composition and varicolored decor make it a bright, distinctive landmark in the surrounding architecture of the city’s center. On August 19, 1907, the Metropolitan Antony of Saint Petersburg and Ladoga consecrated the church, and a new temple emerged at the Catherine Canal (now called Griboedov) to perpetuate the memory of Emperor Alexander II.
The Russian Museum (3 hrs)
The Russian Museum was established, in 1895, as the first state museum of Russian fine arts in the country. It was established by a decree of the Emperor Nicholas II and is today a unique depository of artistic treasures, a famous restoration centre, an authoritative institute of academic research, one of the major cultural and educational centers in Russia, and a research and instructional center of art museums of the Russian Federation, overseeing activities of 260 art museums in Russia.
Museum of Political History (2.5 hrs)
Closed Thursday and last Monday of every month
The only Saint Petersburg museum that reflects the country’s history as regards the upheavals in society in the 19th and 20th centuries. Located in two unique old mansions of the ballerina Matilda Kseshinskaya and of Baron V. Brant, the Museum collection counts over 460,000 items. Among the most remarkable exhibits are documents concerning the legislative activities of Catherine the Great and S. Vitte’s and P. Stolypin’s reforming activities, items referring to the epoch of the Great Reforms carried out by Alexander II and objects telling about three Russian revolutions. A large volume of unique materials reveals the activities of supreme state organs of the Russian Empire, the USSR, and the Russian Federation. Documents also remind us of the role of central state, legislative and executive branches of power: the State Dumas of all 7 convocations, State and Supreme Councils and Soviets, local governments.
Canal and river boat cruise (3 hrs)
Canal cruises usually start from one of the moorings on the Moika or the Fontanka rivers. After embarking the cruise heads for the St-Isaac’s Square passing under Narodny (Peoples) bridge across the Nevsky Prospect, Red bridge across Gorokhovaya street and Blue bridge, the widest bridge of the city and enclosed into St-Isaac’s Square. Having passed under Pochtamtsky (Post), Potseluev (Kissing) and Krasnoflotsky Bridges you’l find yourself in the waters of Krukov Channel and enjoy the view on the Mariinsky Theatre, the Conservatory, the Nicolsky Square and the St-Nicolas Cathedral. Entering the Fontanka river between Egyptian and Smezhny bridges not far from hotel Sovetskaya and heading in the direction of the Nevsky Prospect under Izmailovsky bridge you’ll pass the Izmailovsky Gardens and the University of Railway Transportation, between Obukhovsky and Semenovsky bridges you’ll see houses of the 19th and the 1st quarter of the 20 century designed in different architectural styles: Renaissance, Pseudo Russian.
Guest will see the famous Tovstonogov Drama Theatre between Semenovsky and Lomonosovsky bridges on the left bank of the river and at Anitchkov bridge, the Palace of Beloselsky-Belozersky, the Anitchkov Palace, the classic Shuvalovsky Palace, and the Sheremetievsky Palace; at Belinsky bridge, the building of the Circus to the left and the Semenovsky Cathedral to the right. After passing the monumental building of the Mikhailovsky Castle and the Summer Gardens, the cruise boat enters the Neva, making a large circle and passing under Troitsky bridge before returning into the Fontanka. From the Fontanka the boat goes into the Moika passing under Pantelejmonovsky Bridge, the Mikhailovsky Garden and the Champ du Mars and returning to the mooring at Pevchesky Bridge.