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Explore the Top Attractions of St. Petersburg

Explore the Top Attractions of St. Petersburg

Saint Petersburg has gone by many names, from Petrograd to Leningrad and back again to St. Petersburg. The city was founded in 1703 and served as the imperial capital for many years until the capital was moved to Moscow in 1918. St. Petersburg is the second largest city in Russia after Moscow and is known as the cultural capital of the country. The Historic Center of St. Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

1. Hermitage Museum

The museum was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great. The museum was opened to the public in 1852 and contains 6 buildings filled with almost 3 million items, including the world’s largest collection of paintings. The museum is hosted in the Winter Palace, the home of the tsars for 200 years. Nearby is the General Staff building built to commemorate the Russian victory over Napoleon in the War of 1812. A boat from the Winter Palace will take you to the Grand Peterhof Palace and Grand Cascade built in 1725.

2. Peter and Paul Fortress

The cathedral and fortress are located on Hare Island and contain the sarcophagi and remains of many of Russia’s tsars. A prison, a mint, and a few museums are also located on the grounds.

3. St. Isaac’s Cathedral

Perhaps the most striking image in the St. Petersburg skyline is the 333-foot tall dome of St. Isaac’s Cathedral made of 100 kilos of pure gold. The cathedral was completed in 1858 and inside are a collection of semi-precious stones, marble floors, and decorative arts.  

4. Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

This memorial church was built on the very spot where the assassination of Tsar Alexander II took place in 1881. The outside of the church has ornately decorated domes and inside are elaborate mosaics and stonework.

5. Palace Square

The site of the 1905 Bloody Sunday massacre is now a main tourist attraction, which can be explored via carriage ride. Demonstrators were attempting to march to the Winter Palace when the massacre occurred. Also, see the Alexander Column in the square.

6. Summer Garden

The classical gardens filled with Italian statues and fountains are a great place to relax and soak up the scenery. You can also find Peter the Great’s Summer Palace and the Coffee and Teahouses on the grounds of the garden.

7. Russian Museum

The museum is a massive complex including the Marble Palace, the Mikhailovsky Castle, the House of Peter the Great, among other buildings and houses the world’s largest collection of Russian art dating from the 10th century to the 21st. There are 400,000 exhibits, the most popular of which can be found in the Benois Wing.

8. Neva Embankments

A great way to see the city is to talk a boat tour along the River Neva. You will see the city’s 350 bridges as well as elaborately designed sculptures built to control the flood of water into the city.

9. The Strelka

The sites here are the Stock Exchange building and the two red rostral columns built in the nineteenth century meant to serve as lighthouses for ships on the Baltic Sea. The columns evoke ancient Rome and feature depictions of mythical gods intended to represent four of Russia’s major rivers.

10. Nevsky Prospekt

This three-mile stretch is the most famous street in Saint Petersburg, filled with upscale shops and eateries. It also hosts the Baroque-style Stroganov Palace and the Kazan Cathedral. Four bridges, the most famous of which is the Anichkov, lead you to the street.

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