- Hermitage Museum (Winter Palace)
- Church of our Saviour on the Spilled Blood
- St. Isaac’s Cathedral
- Peter & Paul Fortress and Cathedral
- Peterhof Fountain Park and Gardens
- Catherine’s Palace with Amber Room
- River and canal cruise
Hermitage Museum (Winter Palace) – Enjoy a guided tour of the museum’s most famous halls, including major highlights such as the Jordan Staircase, the Raphael Loggias, the Pavilion Hall with the famous Peacock clock, and many others, along with the world class collection of artworks. Our tour is designed to give you a thorough introduction to truly one of the greatest museums in the world.
Church of our Saviour on the Spilled Blood – The iconic Orthodox church where Alexander II was fatally wounded, the richly decorated exterior and the exquisite mosaic interior are a must-see for any visitor to St. Petersburg.
St. Isaac’s Cathedral – This is the largest cathedral in St. Petersburg, and the fourth largest in the world. This is an awe inspiring structure from outside and from inside.
Peter & Paul Fortress and Cathedral – First established in 1703, the original timber fortress was one of the first structures erected in the city. This area has since played an important role in the history of the city and the country, not only for its military significance but also as a political prison, as well as the burial site of the Russian Tzars.
Peterhof Fountain Park and Gardens – The summer residence of Peter the Great, this estate features meticulously maintained gardens and a collection of gold statued fountains that is unlike anywhere else in the world. The Grand Cascade (the park’s centrepiece) contains 64 fountains alone, with the Samson statue at its centre shooting a powerful jet 20 meters into the sky.
Catherine’s Palace with Amber Room – This Rococo palace was once the summer residence of the Russian Tzars and represents the peak of imperial opulence. A visit wouldn’t be complete without seeing the Amber Room, which has been completed reconstructed in great detail, some say even more exquisitely than the original.
“There are few visitors to the galleries—only me and the mice.”
From Catherine the Great letters – About Hermitage
The Hermitage was the Catherine the Great private place at her palace in Saint Petersburg where she opened up an art gallery for herself only. For around eighty years, only she and some supreme families could visit the gallery. Because of this and the fact that she would go there alone to rest and relax, she called it My Hermitage. If we want to rank all the museums in the world by their capacity and capability, The Hermitage would be at the top three, alongside the French Louvre museum and the British Madame Tussaud museum.
The Hermitage Museum which is the second-largest art museum in the world locates at the center of the Saint Petersburg near Neva River. This massive complex was built in 1764 by order of the Catherine the Great. It's over 230000 sq. meters now and still growing. It has even some abroad exhibition in Amsterdam, Las Vegas, and London. The complex includes six principals and several additional buildings which each one displays a part of the museum's enormous collection.
Catherine the great took her first steps to start up one of the greatest art museums in the world, by purchasing around 220 artworks from a German merchant in 1764. She chose a place within her residence to open a gallery for the artworks, and because visiting the gallery was prohibited for almost everyone, she called it my hermitage. Over times, her tendency to the artworks grew stronger, at the point that she gave missions to Russia ambassadors around the world to search for available collections of art and purchase them for her gallery. Later, her appetite for sculptures and pieces of jewelry combined with her former passion for paintings. The Hermitage gallery grew numerous during her lifetime as she appended more than 4000 paintings, over 38000 books, and around 60000 items, drawing, jewelry, and other artworks to her collection.
Over the years till the Russian October Revolution, Alexander I, Nikolas I, Alexander III, and other museum administrators added many artworks such as arsenal collections, ancient artifacts from all around the world, numerous paintings, and pieces of jewelry, sculptures, and many more to this amazing museum which made it the largest art museum in the world at some point in history.
After the October Revolution in 1917, The Hermitage and the Winter Palace both declared state museum and ultimately joined together. When the collection from other museums and private galleries which sent to the Hermitage nationalized, the museum itself nationalized. Unfortunately, the Soviet government didn't care much about arts belongs to the royals and upper classes, so Josep Stalin ordered to sell part of the Hermitage collection in overseas sales. Madonna di San Sisto by Italian Raphael Sanzo, Venus with a Mirror by Italian Titian, The Annunciation by Netherlandish Jan van Eyck were part of that sold items.
However, besides the items which turn out at Washington State Museum, thousands of the pieces transferred to other museums in Russia during that time. Sadly, some of the art pieces destroyed during the Second World War when people used the museum's building as a shelter. Though, the Hermitage underwent some unfortunate time during that period, after the war ended, the Red Army overtook some German's museum and private collections' art pieces and brought it back to the Hermitage which diminished a little bit of the loss it suffered.
The Hermitage Museum with over three million historical and art pieces which of course only a bit of it displayed permanently in the collections is the second-largest art museum in the world, and it's a six major and several minor buildings complex in a nutshell.
The Winter Palace which can identify as the Russian monarchy symbol was the Tsars' families’ residency for almost 150 years. The structure designed and built with the Baroque architectural style by Italian architect Francesco Rastrelli in 1754, but restored by Vasily Petrovich Stasov in 1837 after the enormous fire. The Egyptian, Babylonian, Assyrian, and Nimrod uncovered artifacts exhibitions at the east side, the passive history artifacts, the Paleolithic period and the Iron age at the west side, and the Caucasus jewelry, and the Sarmatian's golds at the southwest side of the palace are some of the permanent exhibitions in the Hermitage Museum.
Right next to the Winter Palace, there's a successful fusion of Baroque architecture and early Neoclassicist style building, designed and built by Yury Velten and ordered by the Catherine the great in 1764. Between 1767 till 1769, De la Mothe built a pavilion which designed whit the same pattern as the Winter Palace near the Neva River and an orangery next to it for the Empress to rest there. The Whole complex called the Small Hermitage. An exhibition of paintings and handmade artifacts from Western Europe took place there and is part of the permanent collection which displayed in the Hermitage Museum. You can also find the famous Peacock Clock in the Small Hermitage exhibit as well.
The Great Hermitage which originally meant to use as a library and gallery for the Hermitage's art, designed and built during 1771-1787 by Yury Velten by the orders of the Catherine the Great herself. Because of the point that the building was larger than the Small Hermitage it was named the Great Hermitage. Classical artifacts from ancient Greek and ancient Rome, plus some West European jewelry are parts of the permanent exhibition in the Great Hermitage.
Catherine the Great ordered to design a structure to use it as a theater hall for the Hermitage in 1783 and hired Italian architect, Giacomo Quarenghi to construct it. He designed the structure with Russian neoclassical style and completed it in 1787. Since even now its stage witnessed astonishing performances as before, exhibitions are taking place in the lobby of the building.
The New Hermitage might be the first structure in Russia which its only intention was to use as a museum and built that way. The building constructed by Leo von Klenze in 1842 to 1851 via Nicholas I's order. He wanted to bring the European museum design to Russia and took Nikolay Yefimov and Vasily Stasov assistance to blend the structure with The Hermitage design. The entrance to the museum decorated with colossal Atlantes statues, works of famous Alexander Terebenev. Each floor of the building designed to display specific works of art. Likewise The Old Hermitage, The New Hermitage permanently display the Italian Renaissance and classical antiques from Greek and ancient Rome to the public.
The Menshikov Palace's name has been written in history for it's one of the first stone buildings in Saint Petersburg. The structure built by Italian Giovanni Fontana and German architect Schädel and the assistant of some other colleagues in years of 1710 to 1727. The interior designed with marble, paintings, sculptures, and luxurious decorations.
The General Staff Building which is one of the famous structures in Saint Petersburg was constructed “between 1820 to 1830” by the Italian architect Carlo Rossi. The west and east wing of the building connected by a triumphal arch which celebrated the victory over Napoleon army. The building always hosted the government and their offices, and also in 1917, the Soviet government occupied the building to place their army supplies unit inside it. The structure went through restoration from 2008 to 2014, then after it completed, the exhibition of 18-19 century arts displayed to the public included the works of Picasso and Matisse.
Among thousands and thousands of historical items and pieces of art in the Hermitage, there are some items that you should check them out. For instance, the enormous Peacock Clock which is designed and built by English company James Cox in the eighteenth century presenting a peacock, an owl, and a rooster which each of them does automatic mechanical movement in the certain time of the day to announce the clock. The Peacock Clock purchased by the Catherine the Great, in 1781, but, it damaged during the transfer, though, Russian engineers reconstruct it in the Hermitage. The clock is working fine up to now, but, because of the complicated and vulnerable mechanism, it only announces the clock once a week. This clock is well kept at the Treasure Gallery. One of the favorite parts of the Hermitage Museum is the Treasure Gallery at the Small Hermitage which because of the important pieces and treasures in there such as the Peacock Clock, the security is at its highest level possible. The entrance tickets are also separated from the other parts.
The Madonna Lita which we don't have enough information about its painter but by the look of the technique and style, we could point at Leonardo Da Vinci as master of this painting portrays Virgin Mary breastfeeding her newborn child. This painting which belonged to the Lita House in the past and got its name from that time donated to the Hermitage as a gift from a member of that family.
The Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss sculpture by the Italian master, Antonio Canova has perfectly displayed the pureness of these two fictitious creatures by just altering the form and style of the rock that they're on so that us as the audience would acknowledge the genius mind of this Italian master by his touch.
The Sarcophagus of Alexander Nevsky, one of the Russian monarchs, and national hero of the war between the Swedish Empire, in the 17th century, brought to Saint Petersburg after it declared as the capital. As he was a highly critical person in the history of Russia, The Alexander Nevsky Lavra established to host this silver tomb. However, the 1.5 Ton silver tomb taken apart and brought to the Hermitage for us to witnessed its greatness as closely as possible.
This incomplete marble sculpture of a naked boy crouching is the only piece of work by Michelangelo in the Hermitage museum.
The entrance of the new Hermitage is guarded by ten colossal Atlantes figures which each of them is representing an artist, philosopher, or scientist in history.
When you travel to Russia, lots of spots recommended to you for visiting, But the Hermitage museum complex is one unique reason to visit Russia in the first place. With over three million pieces of art including paintings from famous artists, sculptures, drawings, items, symbols, pieces of jewelry, and many more things that found in Egypt, ancient Rome, Russia, the Middle East, the Far East, and many more places which together are one gigantic temptation to flight to Russia and visiting its Hermitage right now. However, only part of the collections is presenting permanently, for observing the rest of it, you should check the museum schedule before your visit. Of course, you can arrange your visit yourself with some help and asking, but it's better to take Russia tour or the Hermitage own tour programs to have an assured enjoyable visit to the museum. But the common thing which everyone can agree on is that traveling to Russia and not visiting its Hermitage Museum might be a pointless trip.
St. Petersburg has lots of other museums and attractions which you can find more about them in our blog including this outline guide about the city of St. Petersburg.
There are several rich historical places in Russia and the world with a religious background. One of those places which might be the most important one of them in Russia is Saint Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg.
At northwestern of the St. Petersburg, under the bank of Neva river, right in the north of Saint Isaac's square, there's a giant structure with the same name. Saint Isaac's Cathedral is the largest cathedral under Orthodox church rules with the capacity of fourteen thousand worshipers at once. This enormous structure is the fourth largest cathedral in the world.
At first, the church was made out of wood and constructed by the orders of Peter the Great in 1707, in which the emperor sometimes went there and gave his praises. Since the building was slowly decaying Paul I who wanted to restore the church, assigned Antonio Rinaldi to rebuild the church out of stone and bricks. Later, Saint Michael, who didn't approve the church's design and thought it didn't relate enough to the city, reconstruct the church and change most of its design.
However, the origin of the Saint Isaac's Cathedral began in 1812, during the Alexander I's reign. At the time, The Emperor ordered to build a majestic Cathedral upon the old church's place. Therefore, several artists sent their designs to the committee to become the new cathedral's architect, Auguste De Montferrand's design was amongst them. Though, the committee ruled out his idea, because they believed that his neoclassical design wasn't impressive, even boring at some points. They also considered that with this large volume of a building, it didn't look majestic enough. However, the Emperor who was an admirer of neoclassical architecture stepped in and ruled the results in favor of Montferrand.
The construction took almost forty years to be complete, and Montferrand was observing the operation the entire time as the designer. He even foretold that he would be dead by the end of constructing which interesting enough, did happen and he died around 1858. The Finns even took the forty years of construction of the Saint Isaac's Cathedral in their language and use it as an idiom when something needs to take a long time to be ready. Montferrand used huge columns to strengthen the structure, its materials exported from Finland to Russia and cost one million gold Rubles which was a massive price for the cathedral to pay. During the construction, from beginning to the end, it provided around five hundred thousand jobs for the people. The Cathedral took its name after Saint Isaac, the patron of Peter the Great.
During the Soviet Russia era, The Cathedral was abandoned until 1931 and turned into the "Religious and Atheist" museum afterward. Its Dove figure which represents the Holy Spirit in Christianity replaced by a Foucault pendulum which is a device for explaining the Earth's rotation. The Religious and Atheist museum changed into The Cathedral museum in 1937 and its previous belongings sent to The Kazan Cathedral museum.
During the second world war, the giant golden domes of the cathedral covered in gray to be hidden from the enemy’s air force view. After the fall of the Soviet Union, The Cathedral changed back to be a religious place once again and begin to do the daily religious traditions. However, the grand hall of the cathedral exclusively used for the feast days and everyday routines taken in the small chapel of the cathedral.
The neoclassical architecture of the place with one giant dome in the middle and four sub-domes around it formed the surface of the structure. The whole building, in general, and the dome, in particular, had a massive influence on "Wisconsin Capitol" and "United State Capitol" domes. The pink and gray exterior of the building includes 112 red granite Corinthian columns in total. The great dome of the building which is 101 meters high and made with pure gold, decorated with twelve angel sculptures around it by the artist Josef Herman. Other than these sculptures around the dome, there are much more sculptures, stone carving, and fascinating arts around the building which make it even more majestic, But the exterior is not the only charm of this structure, the interior has an extraordinary design as well.
The door of the Saint Isaac's Cathedral covered in Reliefs and meant to be a remembrance of the Baptistery of Saint John in Florence. A Dove statue installed right under the dome representing the Holy Spirit. The interior material of the place including the columns, the pilasters, the floor, and even the monument of Montferrand are made out of granites. The interior formerly covered with works of famous Russian artists such as Karl Bryullov, but because of the cold weather outside and humid inside the building, the paintings were decaying so Montferrand ordered to rebuild the painting with mosaic, the project has never ended.
One of the fascinating views over the city of St. Petersburg is from the top of the St. Isaac's Cathedral, and it's only accessible by the colonnade of the cathedral. Saint Isaac's Cathedral is only 8 minutes away from the beginning of the Nevsky street, and only 13 minutes away from the Hermitage Museum. Since the cathedral is located near the Neva river, you can also witness the beauty of this magnificent structure from the river by signing in one of the several daylight boat tour or the night cruises.
The Saint Isaac Cathedral is one of the traditional symbols of Saint Petersburg and one of the religious symbols of Russia and probably the world. The cathedral with its extraordinary design, paintings, Reliefs, icons, and also its religious ceremonies, brings lots of worshipers and tourists into the place. Agencies will surely include the Saint Isaac's Cathedral in their Russia tour programs, but if it happens for you to travel to Russia on your own, you must include The Saint Isaac's Cathedral in your journey because it's certainly worth the visit.
There are many things you should know before you Travel to Russia, such as "How to get a Russia visa?" or "What are the most famous attractions that everyone should see when they Visit St. Petersburg?" which you can find your answers in our blog at the Star Travel Group site.
The first structure that constructed in Saint Petersburg was the Peter and Paul fortress. Thus, we can assume that even if the fortress isn't older than the city, they positively share the same birth date. The defending plans of the fortress never questioned, however, it was a military base, government office, Tzars' burial ground, illegal prison, the research center for Russian specialist, and of course, an exceptional tourist’s attraction since the beginning.
In the time that Saint Petersburg began to form in 1703, Peter the Great ordered to build a wooden fort on the north bank of the Neva River to prevent the Swedish Empire from a counter-attack for getting its lands back. However, that plans never challenged due to the Swedish Empire lack of interest of counter-attacking, but the wooden fort slowly turned into a stone fortress, from 1706 to 1740, and made the Peter and Paul Fortress that we now recognize. The Italian architecture Domenico Trezzini co-worked with military engineer Kristof Minikh to design the fortress with 12 meter high walls and hexagonal structure. The fortress shifted into the city police state and a temporary prison for high-ranked convicts, in 1720. The Trubetskoy Bastion rebuilt in 1870, to become the new prison in the fortress. This fortress which practically was state prison was very similar to the Bastille Fortress in France.
After the February Revolution in 1917, the fortress and its prison completely went under the Soviet control, and they used it as a prison for the high-rank tsarist officials. The Tsar himself threatened to be imprisoned in the fortress if he comes back to the Tsarskoye Selo. However, he came back but went under house arrest in Alexander Palace instead of the Peter and Paul fortress. Between 1918 and 1921, at least 112 person including four high-class dukes executed in the fortress. The fortress shifted into a state museum, in 1924. Regrettably, in the Second World War, during Nazi's assault of Saint Petersburg, the fortress suffered grave damages, but, repaired in the post-war campaign and became one of the top Saint Petersburg tourists' spot as of today.
The Mint at the Peter and Paul Fortress is one of the greatest of its kind in the world which Peter the Great himself established it in 1724, so it was one of the oldest industrial places in Saint Petersburg as well. This Mint still works till this day and produce coins, medals, and official's items.
The City History Museum of Saint Petersburg's headquarter placed in the fortress, and from 1938, took city museum and old museum place in Saint Petersburg. The museum called Leningrad during the Soviet rules, from 1955 to 1991. This museum which held the city history and documents from birth till the modern date includes maps, books, structure plans, and documents on all the buildings inside the Nevsky street which of course a part of it is accessible for tourist to observe. The first full exhibition of the museum held in 1957, in celebrating of Leningrad 250th anniversary. More than 1 million documents such as architectural plans, photos, old maps of the area from 18th to 20th centuries maintained in the museum, till 2002.
Aside from the Hermitage and the Mariinsky rep and popularity, The Peter and Paul Fortress doesn't have less place in Saint Petersburg as tourists' attraction than the others. This historical and recreational place with its mostly overcrowded sand beach during summer which is a relaxing place for the walruses and of course when the sand festival took place in there, brings lots of tourists to the area.
The Peter and Paul Fortress history museum which is at the west side of the Nevsky Curtain Wall provides the complete information about all the buildings in the fortress and the technology that used to build them, and of course the defending mechanism of the fortress for the visitants. In a part of this museum, there are several pictures, images, maps, and documents about the fortress and the surrounding area from the 18th century till today.
One of the most popular things in the fortress is the cannons midday shots which take place in the Naryshkin Bastion at noon. All the tourists in the area usually seek to be there to see the cannon works.
Today, Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral and the Trubetskoy Bastion are quite popular among Peter and Paul Fortress’ visitors. Both of these places require additional tickets. We’ve covered the information about these two places in other posts, so be sure to check them since both of them are quite important in Saint Petersburg’s history book.
Generally, touring this fortress when you visit Russia would be recommended from Russia Tour agencies to tourists just like the Hermitage and Mariinsky. Undoubtedly, assigning a full day to enjoy the fortress and the beach completely wouldn't be an odd thing to do especially if the sand festivals season with their colossal sandy statues starts during the time. By the way, while you are there, be sure to check out the Military-Historical Museum of Artillery, Engineer and Signal Corps which locates right across the canal.
Peter and Paul's fortress is one of the main attractions of the city which you should visit when you travel to St. Petersburg. There are lots of information you should get before you can visit Russia if you want to have the best tour plans for your travel, which you can discover in our blog at the Star Travel Group, or you can ask Russian travel agencies to help you with preparation.
Saint Petersburg is heaven for tourists in Russia. From traditional attractions like palaces, gardens, and museums to modern entertainment. But one of the most attractive and popular of all is the grand "Peterhof." The Peterhof has included a series of palaces, fountains, and impressive cascades.
The Peterhof is in 30 kilometers west of Saint Petersburg with excellent weather on the coast of Finland Gulf. The complete area of the Peterhof is around 4000 hectares. The Peterhof is both included in Russia 7 Wonders and registered as UNESCO world heritage sites. These two explain the reason behind its popularity in Russia.
The area which now Peterhof exist, in eighteen century, was only a holiday residence on Finland Gulf shore at first for Peter I. In those years, Russia was in a fight for accessing the Baltic sea with Swedish Empire. After winning the war as a victory sign, Peter the Great which was fascinated with Versailles Palace in France commanded to build a look-alike palace in Peterhof. Peter I, who planned to make Russia modern more specifically Western, put lots of efforts to expand and more glorious as much as possible, even after his death, these efforts resumed by successors. Several architects, artists, and caretakers help The Peterhof became a majestic royal palace for Tsar to rule till 1917. The only exception was Catherine I's reign as she moved the royal residence to The Catherine Palace, but after her death, his son and successor Paul I went back to Peterhof.
Unfortunately, during the second world war, after the short-time invasion of Russia by Nazi's army, The Peterhof complex and its possessions were almost ruined or gravely damaged. After the war ended, the government with the help of volunteers and the army, most of the Peterhof restored. This restoration which is still going on played an influential role in Russia restoration. During and after the war some anti-Nazi propaganda changed Peterhof which is a German phrase to "Petrodvorets" The Russian term for Peter's Palace, but in 1997 switched to its original name. The resemblance of the Palace of Versailles results in tourists to nickname Peterhof as "Russian Versailles."
Besides the variable past of Peterhof, today this place is one of the main fragments of St. Petersburg and Russia tourism. Its series of palaces became a great museum and galleries. The Upper Garden and Lower park other than its natural charm and decoration, are full of old sculptures and masterpieces. The Cascades and fountains are the most popular section of the Peterhof. So, assigning less than a day for this magical place is impolite. However, regarding the time and the places you should visit in your journey, it's understandable for agencies to consider a minor time for Peterhof in their tour of Russia. So it's good to know at least some of the main Peterhof sections for making a valuable plan for your trip.
The Peterhof divided into four main sections: The Grand Palace, The Grand Cascade, The Upper Garden, and The Lower Park.
The Grand Palace was the summer residence for the royals and Tsars, might be the most exciting part of your tour. This gorgeous structure with its majestic design has thirty rooms. The Grand Palace which is a comprehensive gallery of golden decorates, paintings, Tsars' properties, and masterpieces, is the link between the Upper Garden and The Lower Park. The design and form combined with arts and sculptures turn the palace into an astonishing museum to explore.
The Upper Garden which is the result of royal family’s years of efforts locates at the southern part of the palace. The place which had loads of extraordinary features was The Peter I's design that changed only slightly over time. Before 1730, The Upper Garden used as cultivation filed for fruits, vegetables, and medicinal plants, and the big pool utilized as water storage, also breeding fishes. But then, there was a massive change at the palace. The area expanded a little, figures and decorative plants replace the farming lands, and breeding fish suspended to give the garden a royal look instead.
The upper garden has some beautiful landscapes and quite pleasant, but the real wonder of the Peterhof would be the lower park or as locals call it the Nizhny Park which required additional entering ticket, and we cover the information about it in another post. But one thing for sure, you can ask anyone who visit the Nizhny Park for confirmation, the additional ticket is completely worth the amazing scenes the park provides. So, don’t forget to check with your Russia tour administrators to add the Nizhny Park into your Peterhof’s tour program.
Peterhof is one of the main suburb attractions of St. Petersburg. While Oranienbaum is only 10 km away from Peterhof, most tourists have plans to visit only Peterhof, and most of them might have not even heard of the Lomonosov. Naturally, because of the distance and the time limits, it's only fair if someone wants to see the Peterhof completely rather than half of each place. There are also several ways to go to Peterhof, including buses, personal car, and Hydrofoils.
There are also tons of other things such as buildings, galleries, small museums, fountains, and monuments that you should explore while visiting the place. All these things combined wrote the "Peterhof" at the top of any Russia tour’s list, but, if you're traveling to Russia by yourself, don't miss the chance to visit the Peterhof, you'll have a great time in there without a doubt.
To find more about Peterhof, Nizhny Park, and other St. Petersburg attractions, you can visit our blog at Star Travel Group, including this Visit St. Petersburg short guide and other posts.
Saint Petersburg is one of the famous tourist destination cities in the world which attracts lots of tourists to itself. However, when you look on the map, you'll see that there are more cities rather than Saint Petersburg in that area which are huge tourist destinations in Russia, and if they're not as important as Saint Petersburg itself, they're not much less. One of those cities called Pushkin.
In twenty-four kilometer south of Saint Petersburg, sleeps in the Neva River plain, there is Pushkin. The city which is in the great climate by the way with an average temperature of ten degrees centigrade in total was an excellent summer residence for Tsars and their families. This small city with a population of only a hundred thousand as of today, at first was a royal property, in 1710, and was stated as a city, in 1808.
The current location of the Catherine Palace was actually in the Swedish Empire's reign from 1609 to 1702. Though back then there was just a bunch of little wooden building there and it called Sari Village. After Peter the Great took control of the Empire, he dominated the area and listed it under the Russian Empire reign. Before he gave the field to his second wife, Catherine I as a gift, he appointed Alexander Menishkov as the administrator of the area. Catherine I who will be Empress of Russia shortly hired Johann Braunstein, famous German architect to build a two-story palace, in 1717 to 1724, at the center of the state which later named Catherine Palace. At the end of Catherine Palace construction and adding a magnificent garden with two ponds in it, plus building a new village for the palace servants near there, the name of the area changed to Tsarskoye Selo.
After that Elizabeth, the daughter of Catherine succeed to the power in 1741, she assigned Italian architect Francesco Rastrelli to renovate the palace with a new luxurious appearance. Rastrelli who designed his constructions with Baroque style, formed nearly the current looks of the palace, in 1756. During these restorations, Elizabeth relocated the Amber Room from the Winter Palace to the Catherine Palace. Also, some new structures built in the expanded gardens around the palace. In the Catherine the Great era, she ordered to separate the palace from the urban area and relocate the palace servants to the nearby city Sofia.
Around 1770, another garden constructed at the west side of the Catherine Palace, and at the northeast part of this garden, Giacomo Quarenghi built another palace, this time for Alexander the first, future ruler of Russia and named it the same. Alexander I, in 1808, merged the two Tsarskoye Selo and Sofia city to form a new larger city. In the 1820 massive fire, The Catherine Palace suffered enormous damages, therefore Vasily Stasov assigned to restore the palace. He also added some new neoclassical constructions to the complex. Between 1811 to 1843, The Catherine Palace hosted the Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum at the end of one of its wings which raised and developed remarkable Russian major figures such as Alexander Pushkin, Russia famous poet. In 1905, the Alexander Palace was Nicholas II's prime residence and was one of the most advanced cities in Russia at the time.
After the October Revolution, The Palaces and parks complex declared as national assets and changed to a museum. At first, the city name changed to Detskoye Selo which means Children Village, but then in honor of the 100th annual of Alexander Pushkin, Russian great poet death, it replaced to Pushkin.
During the Second World War, the Palaces and the Parks invaded by the Nazi Army and many valuables of the Pushkin either destroyed or grabbed by the German troops, for instance, one of the most major theft was the Amber Room which its decoration and materials completely vanished.
The Tsarskoye Selo with its two magnificent palaces, enormous parks and gardens, and all of its valuables were the representation of ambitious and luxury living in Russian reign. The primary palace of the Pushkin is the Catherine Palace which was the Catherine I's residence, the second wife of Peter the Great and Empress of Russia.
The Catherine Palace with its impressive and luxury interior which can fascinate any eyes included a bunch of rooms with specific usage with their particular layout. The 300m opening hall which designed with magnificent mirroring and golden look called The Great Hall which many believed that the ceiling of it, with its remarkable paintings of wars, is made entirely from gold. During the day the sunlight which glows inside the hall reflects in its mirroring and make an enjoyable show which is why some people call it The Light Room.
Another famous room of the palace would be The Portrait Room which included pictures or statues of the former rulers of Russia such as Peter I, Catherine, Elizabeth, and Alexander. However, the most popular room in the palace would be the Amber room which is the principal goal for tourists and visitors. Its walls, the floor, the ceiling, and the entire decoration of the room made out of Amber. Because of the vulnerability of this material, someone always looks after it all day long. Of course, as we told, the entire room of Amber disappeared during the second world war, but after years of restoration and recreation, the Amber room reopened for the public, in 2003, looks like its original interior. The Cameron hall, the White diner room, the green room which built specifically for Empress' son, Pavel and his wife are another part of this majestic palace.
There's a magnificent 107-hectare garden around the Catherine Palace with the same name. Vasily Nilov who was the chief designer of the Catherine Park used French Formal Gardening and British Traditional Gardening style in the park's layout. There are several ancient figures and sculptures as decorations all around the park. The remains of the Catherine Cathedral, The Small Hermitage, several Majestic Pavilion are parts of its design. At the center of the park, there's a huge pond which is a memorial of Russia’s victory over the Ottoman Empire in sea battles, in 1770.
Giacomo Quarenghi designed the two-story Alexander Palace with a neoclassical style, unlike the Catherine palace which was in Baroque architecture style and was Tsars and their families summer residence for years. This palace, unlike other palaces, didn't get too much damage during the second world war, only parts of its interior and the reading room damaged. After that Germans forced to leave, the Alexander Palace become Tsars' personal belongings public museum.
The Alexander Palace just like the Catherine Palace owns a 200-Hectare park which is at the west entrance of it. The park decorated with lots of sculptures, ponds, bridges, and beautiful structures. We can point at the remains of the Chinese Theater which was once a great hall for performing operas and musicals and destroyed by Nazis during the Second World War.
Antonio Rinaldi, the architect of the Chinese Theater, had visions to create a complete Chinese Village around that building but left it midway through, until Vasily Stasov execute that idea. Today, the village is restored and complete. The White Pavilion, The Arsenal Pavilion, and The Chapelle Pavilion are other fascinating structures in the park. At the far north of the park, you can also find the Feodorovsky Gorodok and the Cathedral of St. Fyodor.
Other than these four complexes of attraction in Tsarskoye Selo, there are even more tourist spots in Pushkin such as the Prince Olga's Palace, Alexander Pushkin memorial museum, Pavel Chistyakov's home studio, Fermsky Park, Olenins and Kitaev's houses which all are part of the national heritage of Russia.
Pushkin is one of the most loaded cities in Russia when you want to talk about deep history and culture. Every year lots of tourists either by booking a tour to Russia or on an individual journey take their time and visit this spectacular city and its attractions. The Pushkin railway directly connected to the main railway. With all of these museums, great weather, natural and manufactured parks, and the rich history that the city occupied, all are an excellent reason for visitants to reach and observe the grace themselves. So, alongside the Saint Petersburg attractions and Russia in general, visiting the Pushkin might be an exciting trip too. As we told before, Pushkin is only 24 kilometers far from Saint Petersburg and if you have a plan to book a flight to Russia and touring Saint Petersburg, reaching Pushkin is going to be simple for you.
Pushkin is one of the suburb palaces of the city of St. Petersburg which is quite famous and popular among people who travel to St. Petersburg. We at the Star Travel Group suggest our clients or people who visit St. Petersburg to go and see Pushkin and Peterhof, top two St. Petersburg suburb palaces both because of history and sceneries.
Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is a memorial of one of the significant figures in Russia imperial history, Alexander II who in his era, Russia had numerous improvements in social situations, politics, economic, and military.
Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood located precisely on the spot that Alexander II's terror happened years ago, alongside Griboyedov canal, near the Winter Palace.
An anarchist decided to assassinate Tsar Alexander II, in 1881. A member of a revolutionary group called People's Will which ordered Tsar Alexander II's execution and attempt a bunch of assassinations towards the Tsar life before threw a handmade bomb at the Tsar and his companions which only shocked them at first, the second bomb which led to both the attacker, Ignaty Grinevitsky's death, and wounding the Tsar terribly. Several hours later, The Tsar Alexander the Second died because of the wounds in Winter Palace.
The State Duma signed an appeal to build a chapel in memories of the Alexander II at the terror spot the next day, Alexander III, the successor of the emperor and the Tsar's son agreed to build a monument, however, he commanded to build a church instead of the chapel.
While the interior of the church designed by various famous artists of the time such as Mikhail Nesterov, Mikhail Vrubel, and Viktor Vasnetsov, the chief architect of the church was non-famous at the time, Alfred Parland who born in an English family at St. Petersburg. Unlike all the other structure in St. Petersburg which follows the Baroque or Neoclassical architecture style, the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood was in Romantic-nationalism style which represented the Saint Basil Cathedral in Moscow and the 17th-century churches in Yaroslav. Just like the exterior, the church interior with more than 7000 pieces of Mosaic and amazing artworks is quite extraordinary and exclusive.
In the Soviet era, the church penetrated and looted several times, and its interior damaged gravely, and finally, the government closed the church, in 1932. During the Second World War, the church shifted into a temporary morgue for the people who died in the combats or hunger during the siege of Petrograd. Even after the war, the church turned into a warehouse for vegetables which led to the sarcastic nickname, The Savior on potatoes.
The Church of Savior on Spilled Blood authority was given to the Saint Isaac Cathedral for them to turn it to the museum, in 1970. The Cathedral with its funding constructed a restoration site for the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood which gravely damaged over the years, and finally, reopened the church for the public after 27 years as the Mosaic Museum, in 1997. Even before the revolution, the church never used for daily worships and religious ceremonies, and today as before, it's only a monument and memorial for Alexander the Second, and only serves memorial services.
Today, the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is a favorite target for tourists and visitors. With over 7000 pieces of mosaic artworks and Iconography on the ceiling and walls of the church attract lots of people to itself. The ceiling painted the biblical scenes, and you can recognize the art of brilliant artists at that time in each corner of the place.
The inside of the Dome of the church is a Mosaic of Christ Pantocrator's face. The walls all covered in 200 icons of the church supporter and follower whom all seem to be praying in silence and watching over the church from the top. Both the east and the west wing of the church are important as mosaic artworks since in the east side there is a beautiful work of Christ portray, and at the west side precisely on the location of the attack, there's a memorial work of a dramatic scene related to the terror of Alexander II.
Between 1980 and 1994, Vitaly Andrew Shershinov led a professional restoration group to fully clean and restore the interior mosaic design, and in some case entirely rebuild them which let us witness its beauty today as it was from the start.
Besides the marvelous mosaic arts in this church, there are much more in this place to attract tourists such as its excellent interior stonework. The stonework around the windows, the decorative on the walls, and the artworks around the main dome are all from marble which shines its art even more. The marble floor, pieces of granite decorative, and other features in the church make it one of the popular sites in St. Petersburg.
As we said before, the Church of Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main tourists' spots in St. Petersburg and Russia tours' lists of visits with its marvelous history, and of course, the museum of mosaic. If you are a fan of mosaic art or love to see some iconography and artworks from famous artists from the 18th and the 19th centuries, you should make a plan to travel to Russia and head over the Church of Savior on Spilled Blood, and enjoy every second of your visit there.
If you think that you would enjoy visiting the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, you can find more places like this church in our guide pages such as Travel to Saint Petersburg.
The rapid transfer system was introduced to the world in the mid-18th century, and until the 19th century, many large cities in the world utilized this system for their inside city’s transportation. St. Petersburg as the imperial capital of Russia in Tsarism era required reliable transportation because of its population and traffic. However, the metro transfer system was not established in St. Petersburg, not until the mid-20th century.
The St. Petersburg Metro is the 19th busiest metro system in the world, but unlike the current capital of Russia which developed quickly, the St. Petersburg metro grew quite slowly. Currently, the city metro system which established its first station in 1955 includes 69 stations, 188-kilometer length, and transporting over 2 million people daily. The St. Petersburg Metro is one of the deepest metro systems in the world because of the city’s bizarre Geology and historical structures around the city. The deepest station in St. Petersburg is the Admiralteyskaya station which is 86 meters below the ground, and on average, the city’s metro is the deepest system in the world.
The first thoughts about building an underground transporting system were brought up by a self-taught engineer named Torgovanov who wanted to build a tunnel under the Neva River. The plan was instantly rejected by the Tsar, Alexander I who ordered Torgovanov to sign an agreement in which he never thinks about these kinds of plans again. Until the late 19th century, many plans were rejected for various reasons such as threatening the city historical structures foundation, disrespecting the city religious sites, destroying the city historical order, and conflicting the daily trade markets.
In the late 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, St. Petersburg turned into one of the biggest commercial cities in Russia and got quite crowded. The city administrators decided to find a good plan for decreasing the traffic, and the best option they’ve found was elevated railway within the city; however, after many arguments around the subject, this plan was also rejected by Nicholas I, in 1903.
Following the October 1917 Revolution, Moscow chose to be the country capital, and the hopes of building the St. Petersburg Metro system has died alongside. Building the St. Petersburg Metro was discussed again in the Soviet government in 1938, and Ivan Zubkov assigned to organize the project. The process of building the metro system interrupted during the Second World War and did not start again until 1947, three years after the death of Ivan Zubkov. Ivan Novikov, the new head of the project established the first St. Petersburg station in 1955 so that St. Petersburg finally got its rapid transportation system.
Until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1992, there were 14 active metro stations in St. Petersburg. However that the government planned to triple the metro capacity by the end of 1997, the plan was achieved in 2012. Currently, the St. Petersburg metro is one of the deepest underground transportation systems in the world. Unlike the usual underground transportation system in which trains goes above the ground in some points, the St. Petersburg Metro is completely under the ground and never reach the surface. Right now, the St. Petersburg metro includes 5 lines and 69 Stations that transfer over 2 million people daily.
Besides the transporting purposes, the St. Petersburg metro has other attractions for tourists. There are many Soviet symbols and art elements used for designing these stations. The architecture of these stations somehow looks like majestic palaces which made them free, accessible urban museums in the city of St. Petersburg. Many art elements and work is done for decorating these stations such as the mosaic artworks, relief works, and sculptures.
One of the significant things about these stations are the usually large structures on the surface which is easily recognizable in the streets.
The thing that makes the St. Petersburg Metro stations somehow unique is the beauty of them that fascinate any visitors every time. One of those beautiful stations would be the Avtovo station on line 1 which established in 1955 is one of the most beautiful stations in the world.
There are many artworks and sculptures in each metro station in St. Petersburg which made its atmosphere more like a small museum rather than a station.
These stations became one of the popular tourist’s attractions of St. Petersburg because of their solemnity and beauty which many tour agencies offer their customers to visit these stations during their St. Petersburg tour plan. We recommend you to check some of these stations out during your visit of St. Petersburg even if you don’t have the plan to use the rapid transporting system in Saint Petersburg.
The Neva River without its branches is around 74-kilometer long and considered to be the fourth-longest river in all Europe. The river starts from Ladoga Lake and after passing several small cities and the middle of the famous St. Petersburg, ends in Finland Gulf. The river played a crucial part in the area since it was the place that ancient people lived around it to the present day as a primary commercial line which connects the Baltic Sea and the Lake Ladoga.
Since the city covered with the river and its branches, many of St. Petersburg attractions are near the canals and river. There are also several historical bridges and newly constructed ones all over these canals. These bridges are making these canals impossible to cross for the huge commercial ships. This case might be the best news for the tourists and people who love to float around the river. Celebrating the beauty of Saint Petersburg with all of its structures under the daylight, and sailing around the river without distribution of the commercial ships will lead to making a good memory out of Saint Petersburg’s finest hours.
People who love to have this kind of memory from the city have the option to choose their suitable boat tours from many choices, and enjoy a lovely afternoon on the Neva River in St. Petersburg.
30 kilometers, south of Saint Petersburg, there's a significant, fascinating palace that caught tourists' eyes.
In 1777, Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia at the time, decided to give a palace to his son as a gift for him to live there. Since then, the palace and its territory are known as Pavlovsk. The Pavlovsk Palace, with its charming nature and fresh weather, was an amazing place for Tsars and their family to relax and hunt.
This golden Palace has seen lots of suffering and restoration in the past. The main architects of the palace were Scottish architect, Charles Cameron and Vincenzo Brenna from Italy, but Russia architect and painter, Andrey Voronikhin name was also mentioned as restoration architect. Fun fact about the palace form, from an aerial view, it looks like a horseshoe. The interior design of the palace, including offices, dining rooms, dance hall, and music hall, unlike its exterior, is noisy and antic. You would recognize Egyptian, Greek, or Romanian design in different rooms.
Without The Palace itself, there's an enormous park which attracts lots of tourists for its own in Saint Petersburg. The 600 hectares Pavlovsk Park is one of the largest public parks in the world. It splits into seven different segments with a different design on each one. You might notice a touch of Russian, Italian, British, or French design within the sections with the presence of ancient symbols and mythological figures everywhere.
Today, The Pavlovsk Palace which recognizes as one of the UNESCO's World Heritage Site has a quite differing usage from its history, like holding major classical performances or greeting tourists from all around the globe. The majority of these Classics are so high that some Russians define the Pavlovsk, the capital of classical music in Russia.
Sure Saint Petersburg has lots of attractions in it, but, The Pavlovsk Palace and the Park alone should be enough motivation for any tourist who had personal plans for traveling to Russia or desires to sign for a Russia tour to check out this marvelous place.
Pavlovsk just like Pushkin which is less than 10 kilometers away from the Pavlovsk complex is a suburb imperial state of St. Peterburg. Both of these places have their attractions for tourists and considered to be two of the three top St. Petersburg's suburb attractions. St. Petersburg has five of these suburb attractions including Gatchina, and the closest thing to a suburb imperial state you can find in Moscow would be the Kuskovo Palace which locates 20 kilometers away from the center of the city.
Unfortunately, many people don't know the Pavlovsk and its history and never visited it in their travel to St. Petersburg, but we at the Star Travel Group encourage people to visit more less-known places in their travel because the real joy in discovery is in the unknown. You can find more about places less famous than others in our blog.