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10 Must-See Places in Sankt Petersburg

May, 31 || No Comments | Tags: , , ,

Before the October Revolution, St. Petersburg was the capital of Russia. Evidence of glorious past is seen everywhere in this huge city. The city is home to nearly 5 million people, making it the second-biggest city in Russia. St. Petersburg spreads across dozens of islands and most of the buildings in the city are a few centuries old. Here are 10 sights you should visit when in Sankt Petersburg.

Nevsky Prospekt

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Since the 18th century, the Nevsky Prospect has been the main street in St. Petersburg. Planned, by the city’s namesake himself – Peter the Great, was the main road to Moscow in the past. Nowadays, it stands as the biggest tourist attraction in the whole Russia and is known around the globe as one of the most extravagant shopping areas.

The buildings in the street are built with the purpose to demonstrate the power of the Russian Empire and their tsar, Peter. Almost every church, hall, or monument located in the Nevsky Prospect was made during his lifetime. The examples include the Kazan Cathedral, the Stroganov Palace, Elisseeff Emporium, etc.

For those with a deep pocket, this street offers dozens of luxury boutiques and shops.  The Great Gostiny Dvor is one of the oldest shopping malls in the world. Built in the 19th century, this vast complex of shops offers the tourists a massive offer of products, ranging from world-known brands to national Russian souvenirs.

Hermitage

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The Hermitage is the biggest art museum in Russia and is one of the must-visit places in St. Petersburg. The reasons for don’t lie only in the vast collection of the works of art of Da Vinci, Rafaelo, Van Gogh, Rembrant, and others, but also in the history of the museum building itself.

The main museum hall, the Winter Palace was built in the 18th century as a residence of the Russian emperor, Tsar Peter the Great, but it also was the place where Russian monarchy came to an end. This was the place where the royal family were held prisoners during the October Revolution. After that, the building became the part of the Hermitage museum.

Palace Square

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The Palace Square has been the central point of St. Petersburg since the city was built. On this place, many significant events happened, including the October Revolution that changed the modern world. It’s located between the Hermitage and the Nevsky Prospect, near the river Neva. On the central part of the square is the Alexander Column, a magnificent monument to the Russian victory over Napoleon’s forces.

In the modern days, the square serves as the central point of both tourists and the citizens of St. Petersburg. The Palace Square hosted many cultural exhibitions, most importantly the concert of the Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Madona, Andrea Bocelli, etc.

Peterhof Palace

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The royal court of the emperor Peter the Great, Peterhof, is often called the Russian Versailles. It is the huge complex of palaces and surrounding parks, located some 30 kilometers from the St. Petersburg center. During the Siege of Leningrad in the WWII, Peterhof was ravished by Germans. However, after the war, the palace was repaired and turned into a museum, which is today one of the most famous sights in St. Petersburg.

Covering the area of 500 hectares, Peterhof is famous for its sparkling fountains, romantic parks, and elegant buildings. Its beauty earned Peterhof a place in the UNESCO World’s Heritage list and is included in the list of Seven Wonders of Russia.

Peter and Paul Fortress

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The Peter and Paul Fortress was made with one purpose – to protect the city of St. Petersburg. It is one of the first built structures in the area, by the order of the city’s namesake himself, Peter the Great.  This fortress is basically the center of St. Petersburg, because the city grew around it trough the history.

The fortress’ main purpose was to protect the new Russian capital from the enemies during the war with Sweden. However, it never used to its purpose, but was instead used as a prison. Many historical figures were held here, the last being the ministers of the Russian Empire during the October Revolution.

Nowadays, the Peter and Paul Fortress is amongst the biggest touristic attraction and due to its architectural wealth it is protected by the UNESCO as the World’s Heritage site. The Peter and Paul cathedral with 120-meters tall bell-tower stands in the middle of the fortification complex. This place of worship is one of the tallest Orthodox churches in the world.

Catherine Palace

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Also known as Tsarskoye Selo (the Emperors village), the Catherine Palace is a magnificent complex of gardens, baroque-styled summerhouses, and colorful palaces. It was the place where Russian royal families have lived since the 18th century.

It is located outside the city limits, some 25 kilometers from the center of St. Petersburg. Parks around the area give an impression of a romantic and quiet place, but the interior of the royal buildings gives evidence of extravagance.

St Isaac’s Cathedral

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Saint Isaac’s Cathedral is the largest Orthodox cathedral in the world. As almost every monumental building in St. Petersburg, this church too, was built in the honor of the city’s founder and namesake, Peter the great. The emperor was born on the feast day of St. Isaak, who later became the patron saint of the royal family.

The style of cathedral resembles the Byzantine architecture, which was the main inspiration of many Orthodox churches around the Europe. However, the Saint Isaac’s Cathedral differs from the rest with its massive neoclassical dome. The interior corresponds to the mighty appearance of the church from the outside. The iconostasis made of gold and bronze is the thing the visitors find the most inspiring inside of the cathedral.

The Church on Spilled Blood

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Built in a traditional Russian style, the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the top attractions of St. Petersburg. The walls of the church are covered in more than 7,500 square meters of mosaics, which makes it the unique in the world.

The church owes its greatness to the Emperor Alexander II, in whose honor it was erected. The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is called that because on that very spot, the tzar was shot to death in the second half of the 18th century.

Before the 1930’s, the churched served as one of the most significant religious places in Russia, but since, it has become secularized. In modern days, the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is a national museum and is crowded with tourists.

Mariinsky Theatre

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The Mariinsky Theatre was the center of cultural life of the 19th-century St. Petersburg. Since it was opened in 1860 it has become the prestigious venue for opera and ballet fans. This place helped the Russian classical music thrive. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Modest Mussorgsky are just some whose works premiered here, making them popular, instantly.

The Mariinsky Theatre kept its glory and purpose even in the modern days. There are opera or ballet events almost every day, attracting hundreds of visitors. But concerts aren’t the only thing making this theater live. Lots of tourists came here to get the idea of the luxurious lifestyle during the Russian Empire period.

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