St. Petersburg is a Russian port city on the Baltic Sea. It was the imperial capital for 2 centuries, having been founded in 1703 by Peter the Great, subject of the city's iconic “Bronze Horseman” statue. It remains Russia's cultural center, with venues such as the Mariinsky Theatre hosting opera and ballet, and the State Russian Museum showcasing Russian art, from Orthodox icon paintings to Kandinsky works.
St. Petersburg's most popular visitor attraction, and one of the world's largest and most prestigious museums, the Hermitage is a must-see for all first-time travellers to the city. With over 3 million items in its collection, it also definitely rewards repeat visits, and new-comers can only hope to get a brief taste of the riches on offer here, from Impressionist masterpieces to fascinating Oriental treasures. One estimate has it that you would need eleven years to view each exhibit on display for just one minute, so many visitors prefer to organize a guided tour to ensure they have time to catch all the collection's highlights. Art aficionados, however, may find it more rewarding to seek out for themselves the works that they are particularly interested in.
St. Petersburg attractions map
Church of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is known to Petersburgers as the Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood - or even just the Church on the Blood - as it marks the spot where Alexander II was fatally wounded in an assassination attempt on March 1, 1881. Designed by Alfred Parland in the style of 16th and 17th-century Russian churches, the Church of the Resurrection provides a stark (some would say jarring) contrast to its surroundings of Baroque, Classical and Modernist architecture.
The elegant, monumental palace is a striking monument of the Baroque style in mid-18th-century Russian art. The palace is a brilliant example of the synthesis of architecture and decorative plastic art. All the facades are embellished by a two-tier colonnade. Forming a complex rhythm of verticals, the columns soar upwards, and this motion embraces the numerous statues and vases on the roof. The abundance of moulded decoration - fanciful cornices and window architraves, mascarons, cartouches, rocailles, and a variety of pediments - creates an extremely rich play of light and shade that invest the building's appearance with magnificence.
St. Petersburg Cathedral
Versailles was, however, the inspiration for Peter the Great's desire to build an imperial palace in the suburbs of his new city and, after an aborted attempt at Strelna, Peterhof - which means "Peter's Court" in German - became the site for the Tsar's Monplaisir Palace, and then of the original Grand Palace. The estate was equally popular with Peter's daughter, Empress Elizabeth, who ordered the expansion of the Grand Palace and greatly extended the park and the famous system of fountains, including the truly spectacular Grand Cascade.