Places must to go in St. Petersburg
Peter and Paul Fortress (Petropavlovskaya Krepost), Petrogradskiy Rayon
Peter and Paul Fortress is one place in St Petersburg you really can’t miss seeing because it’s the original fortified area of St Petersburg that was built back in the 1700’s. The walled area of Peter and Paul Fortress also houses some great sights such as the Peter and Paul Cathedral, which houses the tombs of many Russian Tsars and Tsarinas, a mint building, a huge bell tower (tallest in St. Petersburg), and the prison cells down below the bastions, which you’re allowed to tour.
Besides these, Peter and Paul Fortress is also the home of St. Petersburg Museum of History, which is one amazing place to learn about Russia’s ancient history and see old artifacts on display such as maps, work tools, silverware and paintings.
Saint Isaac’s Square (Isaakiyevskaya Ploshchad)
Saint Isaac’s Square is home to two other famous places in St Petersburg Russia that you have to visit: St Isaac’s Cathedral and Mariinsky (Marie) Palace, which is easily recognizable because of its Pantheon-like columns and the famous Blue Bridge located right in front of the palace.
Having said this, Isaac’s Cathedral is definitely the star attraction on Saint Isaac’s Square because you’re allowed to climb to the roof of the cathedral and enjoy the best panoramic views of St. Petersburg ever!
Savior on Spilled Blood
Being a sample of Russian Orthodox Churches of 16 – 17 centuries the temple stands out due to its architectural design. This genuine Russian image of the Savior on Spilled Blood was built by the Russian Emperor Alexander III, who thus commemorated the tragic death of his father Emperor Alexander II. The architecture is in line with traditional Russian ecclesiastic design typical for Yaroslavl churches and St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow.
Winter palace and the Hermitage
The Hermitage is the largest in Russia and one of the biggest museums in the world. It is very often compared with the Louvre in Paris, although the number of exhibits at the Hermitage main and storage rooms is 10 times more than the Louvre has. During the last 150 years the Hermitage acquired one of the largest art collections in the world – over three million works of art and monuments of world culture dating from the Stone Age to the recent times.
Among the museum exhibits are works of world famous masters – Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Raphael, Goya, Van Gogh, Picasso, Gauguin, Matisse and many others.
The Hermitage occupies six grand buildings standing along the River Neva in the very center of the city. The most important of them is the Winter Palace. It is the former imperial palace. The current palace is the fifth building standing on approximately the same spot and was built in the middle of the 18th century. Since the time when it was finished in 1762 it served as the official winter residence of the Russian emperors.
The building contains 1080 rooms, 1945 windows and 117 different staircases and stairways. It is 22 meters high. In 1844 Emperor Nicholas the First released a special decree banning the construction of any civil buildings exceeding the height of the Winter Palace. You will see that today the palace is painted green and white. Interestingly enough, at different times in the past up to the Second World War the palace was painted different colors a few times. There was a period when it was red and purple.
When you tour the palace’s interiors you may notice that windows have different shades of color. During the Second World War many windows were broken by the artillery fire and bombardments. The original pink glass was later substituted by greenish glass for the visitors to see the destruction. The legend says that one of the windows still has words scratched by Nicholas the Second’s wife when she was watching her “Nicky” viewing the parade of hussars outside.
Nevskiy (Avenue) Prospect
Nevskiy Avenue is one of the most trafficked pedestrian streets in Russia and it’s definitely the most famous street in St Petersburg. Nevsky Avenue runs literary through the heart of St Petersburg and it’s bustling with bars, cafes, nightclubs and a ton of shops.
Nevskiy Street an ideal place to come for a bit of shopping, a night out in the town and do a lot of people watching. Besides shopping, Nevskiy Avenue is a popular sightseeing spot because of the Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood and Kazan Cathedral, which are two other popular tourist sights in St Petersburg.
Peterhof, Tsarskoye Selo and Pavlovsk
If you come to St. Petersburg you have to visit at least some of the famous suburbs of the city, especially the former summer residences of the royal family – Peterhof, Tsarskoye Selo and Pavlovsk. They are not too far from the city and the transfers there will not take a lot of your time. Peterhof stands on the shore of the Gulf of Finland which is a part of the Baltic Sea. You can get there by land or by water on a speedy hydrofoil running between the Winter Palace and the pier at this royal residence. This ride is an adventure just by itself, and you can enjoy the view of the city from the water.
What can you see at the summer residences? It is certainly palaces and parks. You can walk in the opulent palace interiors. It can be the Catherine’s Palace at Tsarskoye Selo with its world famous Amber Room. It can be the classical Pavlovsk or the harmonious Peterhof. You will see that the parks are great works of art too. And at the Peterhof Park you can’t miss over 150 fountains. It is pointless to describe the fountains – you must see them. Regrettably they work only during the warm season.
Mariinsky Theatre, Theatre Square
The Mariinsky Ballet (Kirov Ballet) company is based at the theatre and it’s famously known internationally for their atmospheric venues and talented dancers renowned for performances such as Rome and Juliet, The Fountain of Bakhchisaray, and The Nutcracker.
Bronze Horseman, Senatskaia (Square) Ploschad
The Bronze Horseman statue is without a doubt, one of the most famous places in St Petersburg Russia and a place for history buffs to the come and see the monument dedicated to the founder of St Petersburg – Peter the Great. This statue is beautifully crafted and depicts Peter the Great valiantly on a hind-legs horse.
For some people the Bronze Horseman may be just an statue but it’s worth visiting for the photo opportunity and because of its close location to another famous tourist sight in St Petersburg — St Isaac’s Cathedral.
Erarta Museum, Vasilyevsky Island
Erarta Museum is another great place in St Petersburg where you can learn about Russian way of life during the days of the Soviet Union and after the break up. This museum is one of the largest of its kind in Russia and the the impressive artworks on display range from death portraying of Russians who went to labor camps, to contemporary Russian satire such as elephants living in Russia, which can’t get more satirical than that!