Saint Petersburg

Saint Petersburg Travel Guide

Saint Petersburg, Russia Travel Guide by CC user fruitsofkarma on Flickr

Saint Petersburg, Russia Travel Guide by CC user fruitsofkarma on Flickr

Introduction

Once serving as the capital of the Russian Federation during the time of the Tsars, the glory of those days is preserved in the magnificent structures that it granted this city.

Don’t forget your camera at the hostel/hotel for any of the days that you are here, as the sights will make you immediately curse your spotty memory.

Cultural Experiences

Saint Isaac's Cathedral by CC user archer10 on Flickr
There is much to see and do in Saint Petersberg, so get started early by heading to the Hermitage Museum first thing in the morning on your first day here.

Founded in 1764 and ranking as one of the largest museums in the world by volume, this institution is home to the world’s largest collection of paintings, in addition to hosting artifacts from the Egyptian, Greek and Roman eras.

All told, the Hermitage holds over three million pieces on its floor or in its vaults, making it a must for lovers of history and the arts.

Saint Petersberg is also home to a number of notable churches, of which the most significant is Saint Isaac’s Cathedral.

Home to the world’s largest Orthodox church, and the fourth largest Christian church, the cupola dome atop this grandiose piece of work will draw comparisons to the Capitol Building in the United States.

Topped by a dome made of pure gold (not gold leaf, PURE gold), this beautiful piece of architecture was painted slate gray during the Second World War to hide it from the Luftwaffe, but its skylight was also retrofitted with geodesical lines to help Russian forces to work out the location of German artillery positions outside the gates of Saint Petersberg.

Another cathedral well worth seeing is the Church of the Savior on Blood. Built to honor the assassinated Tsar Charles II, this striking Russian Orthodox church is filled with rich mosaics in its interior.

Despite being restored from its degraded state following the Russian Revolution, it has not been restored to a state where services can be held, but its appearance makes it well worth a visit nonetheless.

There are a number of palaces worth seeing in Saint Petersberg, but none are quite as prominent as the Winter Palace.

Completed for Peter II, the grandson of Peter the Great, this immense royal compound became home to the holders of the world’s largest sovereign state (1/6 of the earth’s surface at that time). Breathtaking in its opulence and its square footage, lovers of the good life will want to take their time touring this behemoth.

Other Attractions

Summer Garden by CC user dougtone on Flickr

The Peter and Paul Fortress stood as the strongest line of defense for the people of Saint Petersberg through the centuries, and in the modern age, it still serves as a popular gathering place for its residents.

It has a number of attractions housed within and just outside its walls, which range from the Peter and Paul Cathedral, which is the places where almost all Russian Tsars were buried, and has a bell tower that is the tallest in the city at a height of 402 feet high, to a sandy beach, which draws tons of locals during the hottest days of the summer months.

While the Summer Palace is a great place for fans of those kids of structures to visit, the Summer Garden, which graces its exterior, is easily one of this city’s top attractions for those that love green spaces.

Decked out with statues, fountains and pavilions that are shaded by massive trees in the warmer months of the year, it is the perfect day to cap off a gorgeous day in July or August in Russia’s second city.

Finally, those with a taste for cultural relics that are uniquely Russian will enjoy a trip to the Fabergé Museum. With over 4,000 items in its collection that range from gold and silver pieces to exquisite paintings, the luxury lover in you with be ecstatic.

The piece de resistance in this place though is its collection of Fabergé eggs, which feature fifteen of these bejeweled beauties. Look, but don’t touch – the security here has a less than charitable attitude towards those that are tempted to sneak one of these national treasures home in their backpack.