What comes first on your mind when you think of Russia? Well, to me I would say freezing cold, snowy weather, vodka (!) and of course the Tsars (the Russian Monarchs). Let me take you to a quick, but beautiful trip to St. Petersburg- former known as Leningrad- located at the North Western part of this massive country which spreads between Europe and Asia!
There are plenty of things to do in St Petersburg. Let me highlight some of the must see and do around the city!
- Winter Palace /Hermitage Museum
- Saint Petersburg /Palace Square
- Church of the Savior on Blood
- Mikhailovsky Gardens /Russian Museum
- Peter and Paul Fortress
These are only a small part of what you must see when you are around the city.
The Winter Palace
The Winter Palace in St Petersburg, Russia, was from 1732 to 1917 the official residence of the Russian Monarchs (Tsars). Today, the restored Palace forms part of a complex of buildings housing the Hermitage Museum. Situated between the Palace Embankment and the Palace Square, adjacent to the site of Peter the Great‘s original Winter Palace, the present and fourth Palace was built and altered almost continuously between the late 1730’s and 183, when it was severely damaged by fire and immediately rebuilt. The storming of the Palace in 1917 as depicted in Soviet paintings and Eisenstein’s 1927 film October became an iconic symbol of the Russian Revolution.
One of the most beautiful and harmonious ensembles of architecture in the world, Palace Square remains the main public space of the city after nearly three centuries. Like Red Square in Moscow, Palace Square in St Petersburg has been the setting of many major events in Russian history.In the centre of the square stands the Alexander Column (1830–34), designed by Auguste de Montferrand. This red granite column (the tallest of its kind in the world) is 47.5 metres high and weighs some 500 tons. It is set so well that it requires no attachment to the base.
Walking around the Winter Palace and the great Hermitage Area is free of admission. However, if you wish to visit the Museum, and admire the extremely impressive internal architecture of it, make sure to book your tickets online prior your visit in order to avoid the massive queues. Important info! Hermitage Museum opens its doors to the public not earlier than 10.30 am- which sounds quite late to me!
The Hermitage Theater is located in the greater area of the former Palace! It is a small theater in baroque style following the museum’s architecture! Great classical shows are taking place in the theater such as ballet shows, operas as well as theatrical and folklore musical plays. Another Alert: in case you wish to attend a night at the theater make sure that you have booked your tickets online at least a day before your attendance as the theater does not have a box office to collect your tickets.
Church of the Savior on Blood
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg, Russia. Other names include the Church on Spilled Blood, the Temple of the Savior on Spilled Blood, and the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ. This church was built on the site where Emperor Alexander II was fatally wounded by political nihilists in March 1881.The church was built between 1883 and 1907. The construction was funded by the imperial family.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg’s other structures. The city’s architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow.
Mikhailovsky Gardens and Russian Museum
As for the end I left two of the places that extremely impressed me! The Mikhailovsky Gardens is a Park adjacent to the Church of the Savior on Blood. It took its name from the Michael Palace adjacent to the building of the Russian Museum. It was built in 1819-1825 by Carlo Rossi for Grand Duke Michael, brother of the emperors Alexander I and Nicholas I.
Peter and Paul Fortress
The Peter and Paul Fortress is the original citadel of St Petersburg, Russia, founded by Peter the Great in 1703 and built to Domenico Trezzini’s designs from 1706 to 1740. In the early 1920s, it was still used as a prison and execution ground by the Bolshevik government.
Today it has been adapted as the central and most important part of the State Museum of Saint Petersburg History. The museum has gradually become virtually the sole owner of the fortress building, except the structure occupied by the Saint Petersburg Mint
In Russian folklore, Peter and Paul Fortress was portrayed as a hellish, torturous place, where thousands of prisoners suffered endlessly in filthy, cramped, and grossly overcrowded dungeons amid frequent torture and malnutrition. Such legends had the effect of turning the prison into a symbol of government oppression in the minds of the common folk. In reality, conditions in the fortress were far less brutal than believed; no more than one hundred prisoners were ever kept in the prison at a time, and most prisoners had access to such luxuries as tobacco, writing paper, and literature.When the fortress was liberated during the early stages of the revolution in February 1917, the prison was holding only nineteen recently incarcerated prisoners: The ringleaders of a mutinous army regiment that had sided with the revolutionaries during the mass protests on the 26th.
St Petersburg, it was a blast! I had an amazing stay, learned a lot about this part of Russia and found out that I am a huge fan of the Baroque Architecture! I wish I had the time to explore more! I greatly look forward to coming back!
See you on my next post….