St Petersburg is the second largest city in Russia and one of the world's major cities. It has more to offer than just the Hermitage Museum and the Kirov Ballet. It is one of the biggest cultural centres in the world, a city with an exceptionally rich history, centuries-old traditions and a promising future.
The city has changed its name three times: St Petersburg (1703-1914), Petrograd (1914-1924), Leningrad (1924-1991) and St Petersburg again from 1991. The world's most fascinating city is built on more than 45 islands, modelled in the French style by some of the world's greatest architects.
The islands are connected by more than 342 bridges, of which 21 are raised at night. This gives the city its other name, «The Venice of the North». It is therefore little wonder that the city is also known as a «Museum in the Open Air». Among the majestic memorials, you can feel the breath of intellectual life, which was brought into St Petersburg by Peter the Great. The most famous professors – people such as Leibnitz from Germany – worked on a project for the creation of the Science Academy and other institutes.
Today, St Petersburg is ranked alongside Paris and Rome as one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Must visit places
Nevsky prospect is St Petersburg’s main avenue and one of the best-known streets in Russia. Cutting through the historical centre of the city, it runs from the Admiralty, symbol of Russian power, to the Alexander Nevsky Monastery. It is very beautiful to walk along this street in the evening when all illuminations on. You can see everything here: the most stunning architecture, magnificent palaces, world-famous museums; sparkling five-star hotels and small bed and breakfasts; all manner of restaurants, cafes and nightclubs; people of all ages, walks of life and countries.
State Hermitage Museum, Winter Palace exhibits close to 3 million items and visited by several million people annually. The main architectural ensemble of the Hermitage (which is one of the world’s oldest and largest museums) is situated in the centre of St Petersburg and consists of the Winter Palace, once the former state residence of the Russian emperors, the buildings of the Small, Old (Great) and New Hermitages, the Hermitage Theatre and the Auxiliary House.
Catherine Palace, Park and Amber room - The Palace is an astonishing example of baroque architecture with its striking interiors that are more than spectacular. The Catherine's Palace is known for its legendary truly unique Amber Room that was destroyed during World War II and completely recreated only in 2003, a process that took over 20 years and cost more than $12 million.
St. Isaac Cathedral was originally the city's main church and the largest cathedral in Russia. It was built between 1818 and 1858, by the French-born architect Auguste Montferrand, to be one of the most impressive landmarks of the Russian Imperial capital. One hundred and eighty years later the gilded dome of St. Isaac's still dominates the skyline of St. Petersburg. We also recommend you to climb the 300 steps up to the cathedral's colonnade, and enjoy the magnificent views over the city. Watch web-cam online (will open in a new window).
Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood the world renowned ornately decorated onion domes and stunning breathtaking mosaics on the inside. This marvellous Russian-style church was built on the spot where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated in March 1881.
Peter and Paul Fortress is the very first building of St Petersburg. The fortress was founded on a small island in the Neva delta on May 27, 1703 and that day became the birthday of the city of St Petersburg. It is immediately recognisable from its extraordinary golden spire, visible all over the city centre at an incredible 122m high. A visit to this large complex is a must: you will see the tombs of the Russian tsars – Romanovs, visit an excellent history museum and even be able to relax on the beach with Hermitage views.
Russian Museum - the world's largest museum of Russian art – the State Russian Museum. You can see there over 400,000 exhibits, which reflects the history of Russian fine art from the ancient icons to the 20th century avant-garde.
Smolny Cathedral was designed by Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli, who came to Russia as a boy with his father, who was invited to the country by Peter the Great and who constructed the Winter Palace and the palace at Tsarskoe Selo. Smolny Cathedral was one of Rastrelli Jr.'s last projects. His inspiration was to combine baroque details forest of towers and onion domes of an old Russian monastery. It is definitely worth to climb the 277 steps to one of the two 63m-high bell tower for stupendous view over the city.