Most Popular Touristic Places In St.Petersburg

Saint Petersburg

It is natural for newcomers, who find themselves plunged into the atmosphere of St Petersburg, to be at a loss for which of the majestic historical buildings or other destinations to visit first. Below you will find what has been being frequently chosen for years. Surely, this is very far from the complete list of St. Petersburg’s most magnificent attractions, but the very places of interest given below are known worldwide – each of them has had an evident impact on Russian history and culture.

The State Hermitage Museum

the state Hermitage Museum saint petersburg russia

The Hermitage is located in the heart of St Petersburg. It includes one of the most magnificent buildings in the Northern Capital of Russia: the Winter Palace. Created by Rastrelli between 1754 and 1762 for Empress Elisabeth (daughter of Peter the Great), the green-and-white palace served as the state residence of the Russian emperors. Three stories high, the palace in the lavish Rococo style with its columns, pilasters, and statuary has 1,945 windows, 1,057 rooms and 1,987 doors. Other parts of the museum are the buildings of the Small, Old (Great) and New Hermitages, the Hermitage Theatre and the Auxiliary House.

The State Hermitage Museum

The collection of the State Hermitage includes more than three million works of art and artefacts of the world culture. Among them are paintings, graphic works, sculptures and works of applied art, archaeological finds and numismatic material. Moreover, you come to the Hermitage and there is always a temporary exhibition well worth visiting.

The majority of those who truly appreciate art say that the Hermitage’s exploration itself requires more time than an average person spends on one holiday. However, this is not at all the reason to be discouraged from trying to embrace the variety of masterpieces and artefacts presented there.

Alexander Column and Saint Petersburg’s Palace Square

Palace Square in St. Petersburg is one of the world’s largest public squares: it is almost twice as large as Red Square in Moscow.

Alexander Column and Saint Petersburg’s Palace Square

And here towers Alexander Column, the tallest free-standing monument in the world. The monument is 155 feet 8 inches tall and is topped with a statue of an angel holding a cross (the face of the angel is said to be modeled on the face of Emperor Alexander I). The body of the column is made of a monolith of red granite, which stands 83 feet 6 inches high and about 11 feet 5 inches in diameter.

The monument, erected in commemoration of the victory of Russia over Napoleon’s troops, was opened on August 30, 1834. Naturally, no modern cranes and machines existed. It is also a striking fact that the column is not dug into the ground. It rests only at the expense of its own force of gravity.

Church of the Savior on Blood

Officially titled the ‘Church of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ’ this visually stunning building has a history beyond its construction: Emperor Alexander II was assassinated here in 1881. The section of the street where the assassination took place was enclosed within the walls of the church, and a part of the Griboedov Canal filled to allow the street to pass around the building. An elaborate shrine was constructed on the exact place of Alexander’s death, garnished with topaz, lazurite and other semi-precious stones.

Church of the Savior on Blood

The church is a combination of Neoclassical and Baroque styles, which is not typical for the architecture of St Petersburg; it intentionally resembles the famous St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow.

The interior of the church was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day – including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel. It contains over 7,500 square meters of mosaics – according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The intricately detailed mosaics depict the Biblical scenes and figures, with fine patterned borders setting off each picture.

After the Revolution (in 1932) the church was closed and essentially turned into a garbage dump; After World War II it was used as a warehouse for the Small Opera Theatre. The decades of deterioration and then restoration culminated in the dramatic re-opening in August 1997, when thousands of eager visitors swamped the church.

Kazan Cathedral

Kazan Cathedral in Saint Petersburg

Kazan Cathedral, constructed between 1801 and 1811 by the architect Andrei Voronikhin, boasts an impressive stone colonnade and seems to be more than noticeable for those walking along Nevsky Prospect. The new cathedral replaced the wooden church that had been built in 1733-1737 and treasured the miracle-working icon of Our Lady of Kazan. This icon was a family relic of the Romanovs and was thought to be the patroness of not only the ruling royal family but of all Russia.

After the war of 1812 (during which Napoleon was defeated) the church became a monument to Russian victory. The temple constructed to house the miracle-power icon of Lady of Kazan was turned into the treasury of the victory relics and became a sort of museum of Russian war glory. The famous Russian Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov was buried inside the church in 1813, and there are two monuments to him and another celebrated Field Marshal, Barclay de Tolli, placed in front of the cathedral.

Kazan Cathedral

Soon after the Revolution of 1917 the Soviet Government adjusted the unique building to the Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism. Kazan Cathedral was revived on the 4th of November, 1990. Then for the first time after more than a 70-years break the divine service was held in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan.

Alexander Nevsky Lavra and Necropolis

Alexander Nevsky Lavra ensemble is located at the end of Nevsky Prospekt. One of the oldest architectural ensembles of Saint Petersburg, it was founded in 1710 on that very place where, according to the legend, Alexander Nevsky defeated Swedish troops. In 1790 the silver shrine with the remains of Alexander Nevsky were transferred to the Holy Trinity Cathedral, constructed by architect Starov.

Alexander Nevsky Lavra

Tourists who come to Alexander Nevsky Lavra invariably ask to be shown to the tombs of M. Lomonosov and F. Dostoyevsky right away.

From the very beginning the Alexander Nevsky Lavra got the status of the most prestigious burial place in Imperial Russia.

In the Lavra there are three cemeteries which were named after the churches erected there. Started in 1717 with the burial of Peter the Great’s beloved sister Natalya, the St Lazarus Cemetery (the Necropolis of the 18th century) is the oldest one not only in the Monastery but in St Petersburg. It was intended as a burial ground for members of the Imperial Family and outstanding personalities. Their graves are marked with the impressive carved tombstones and monuments of marble, bronze and granite.

The Tikhvinskoye Cemetery (Necropolis of the Men of Art) was founded in 1823. Here were interred Pushkin’s contemporaries – the writer M. Karamzin, the poets V. Zhukovsky and E. Baratynsky and the fabulist I. Krylov. Later here were buried M. Glinka, F. Dostoyevsky, the actress V. Komissarzhevskaya and others.

The Bronze Horseman

The equestrian statue of Peter the Great, which construction was ordered by Catherine the Great, shines in the Senate Square. An inscription on the monument reads in Latin and Russian: Petro Primo Catharina Secunda – To Peter the First from Catherine the Second.

The Bronze Horseman - Peter the Great

For the pedestal, an enormous boulder known as the Thunder Stone was found at Lakhta, 6 km inland from the Gulf of Finland in 1768. The Thunder Stone gained its name from a local legend saying that thunder split a piece off it. The Russians had to develop new methods to dig up and transport the colossal stone.

The statue portrays Peter the Great on the rearing horse, his bearing majestic, his firm arm pointing towards the River Neva in the west. His horse can be seen trampling a serpent, the allegory of Peter’s enemies.

A 19th-century legend states that as long as the Bronze Horseman stands in the middle of Saint Petersburg, enemy forces cannot conquer the city. When the 900-day Siege of the city began, the local people risked their lives to cover the statue with sandbags and a wooden shelter. The protection served so well that the Bronze Horseman survived the 900 days of bombing and artillery virtually untouched. True to legend, Leningrad was never taken.

Peter and Paul Fortress

The Peter and Paul Fortress was founded by Peter the Great on a small island in the Neva delta on May 27, 1703; that date became the birthday of St. Petersburg.

Peter and Paul Fortress, Saint Petersburg

The fort was intended to be a first-class military building. Comprised of heavy brick walls and prominent bastions up to 12 meters in heights and 20 meters in width, it was built to protect the area from possible attack by the Swedish army and navy. The fortress had not yet been finished when the Swedes were defeated. Therefore, the fortress housed part of the city’s garrison and also served as a high security political jail from 1721. The list of famous residents included Dostoyevsky, Gorky, Trotsky and Lenin’s older brother, Alexander.

Several former prison cells are now open to the public. Creepy grey walls, abundance of ice-cold stone and light fog in the air make some of us shiver and hurry towards the entrance.

In the middle of the fortress stands the impressive Peter and Paul Cathedral, the burial place of all the Russian Emperors and Empresses from Peter the Great to Alexander III. The Cathedral was the first church in the city to be built of stone (between 1712-33). Its design is rather peculiar, not an entirely typical Russian Orthodox Church.

Peter and Paul Fortress

On top of the cathedrals’ gilded spire stands a weathercock – a beautiful golden angel holding a cross. Once this angel’s predecessor was repaired by a Russian citizen of outstanding keenness of wit, courage and physical strength, who performed a miracle, using only one rope to climb the cathedral. At 404 feet tall, the cathedral is the highest building in the city.

The fortress also includes the City History Museum and the Mint, the latter being one of the two places in Russia where coins and medals are minted.

Welcome to Saint Petersburg!
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