THE VENICE OF THE NORTH, ST. PETERSBURG CITY GUIDE
Known as the Venice of the North, St. Petersburg has a beautiful Labyrinth of rivers (Neva, Fontanka, Moika) and numerous canals across the city giving it a distinct character. Given the iconic classical architecture here, the water is actually one of the best places to get the best views of all these magnificent structures which is why we took Canal tour in the city.
Our two day visit to St. Petersburg was a full schedule of sightseeing the cities finest palaces, museums and cathedrals all pre-booked with early entry through ALLA TOURS, I cannot recommend them enough for making our whole trip marvellous. They even arranged for our 72 hour visa... saving us a visit to the embassy. Not only did they arrange for all the museum and palace visits, but they even squeezed in the boar ride and a subway ride as well!
Here are our favourite stops during the two days:
THE STATE HERMITAGE MUSEUM
This was our first pitstop in St. Petersburg and it had set the pace and visuals of what were going to see in the rest of the city. Make note as this is one of the five largest art museums in the world. It comprises five buildings filled with the finest collections of all mean European art schools. The collection had originally been started by Catherine the great and only grew larger over the generations. Today, the museum contains around 3 million exhibits and has 3 separate departments located in different parts of the city. Be prepared to get amazed by the amount of art and gold you will see here. Our jaws literally dropped!
Photograph by Alexander Demianchuk, Reuters
ST. PETER AND PAUL's FORTRESS
This is the birthplace of St. Petersburg. It was originally constructed in timber over 3 summer months during the Great Northern War with the Swedish Empire (1700 - 1721). The fortress was rebuilt in stone after the 1730's to act as a military fortification, but has never actually been used for this purpose. The site later became a political prison.
The Catherdral of St. Peter and Paul situated on the grounds of the Fortress is the burial place of many Russian Emperors starting with Peter the Great (1689-1725) and ending with Nicholas II (1894-1917). The remains of the last Russian Tsar and his family were buried beneath the cathedra on July 17th, 1998.
THE CHURCH OF THE SAVIOR ON SPILLED BLOOD
This church was built on the site of the March 1881 muser of Emperor Alexander II. The church was built in the fashion of the 16th century Moscow region churches (which was considered for a long time out of style when compared to the other European churches of the time) in accordance with the designs of architect Alfred Parland. It is notable for its massive yet intricate mosaic panels created by some of the leading artists at the time: Vasnetsov, Nesterov, Vrubel.
This is the former private residence of one of the richest families in Russia. It is notable for the beautiful artistic designs of the interiors, its palatial theatre as well as the wax exhibition depicting the murder of Gregory Rasputin, which took place in the palace in 1916.
They had their own theatre that fits 400+
Rasputin in the Wax museum (yup he's the guy with the long beard)
This is the top room where the rest of the group was awaiting killing him.
Rasputin's picture of him murdered
THE PETERHOF SUMMER ESTATE
This is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built by Peter the Great in the 18th Century and rebuilt after the ravages of WWII, this complex of palaces, gardens, fountains and waterfalls is one of Russia's most famous tourist attractions, I had wished I lived their era ... what a lavish life they led! You get to stroll in the beautiful Palace garden, the kids can play in the surprise water fountains and you even get to dress in the fashion of the times for a memorable picture.
THE ROYAL SUMMER ESTATE OF CATHERINE PALACE
Located in the Tsar's village, around an hour and half away from St. Petersburg, the palace was originally presented by Peter the Great to his second wife, Catherine I, in early 18th century (A Chamber maid who made her way up becoming the Queen). A few decades later the palace was rebuilt to its present appearance following the orders of the royal daughter, Elizabeth I. The new Late Baroque structure was designed by Francesco Bartolomeo Rasrelli and its home to some of Europe's most extravagant interiors, including the world-famous Amber Room. Again you will see so much gold in the rooms you will never look at your own spaces in the same way. What's more amazing is how great the restoration was after it was immensely destroyed during WWII.