Highlights of St. Petersburg by Escape Travel Ltd.
St. Petersburg which was the capital of Russian Empire for almost 200 years. Few cities can offer so many stunning attractions and intriguing moods as St. Petersburg – City of the Tsars.
Founded in 1703 by Peter the Great, St. Petersburg combines its fascinating Russian heritage with a distinctly European outlook. Considered the cultural heart of modern day Russia, St. Petersburg is rapidly regaining its reputation as one of the Great Cities of Europe.
Panoramic City Tour (3 hrs)
There is one museum in the city that is never closed – the city itself. Discover St. Petersburg – a city of infinite charm with its majestic palaces, churches and cathedrals, river embankments, beautiful parks and innumerous bridges – a city of imperial proportions and romantic vistas which has been a source of inspiration for the generations of artists.
Perceive the beauty of the city as the unique architectural whole which has been created within a relatively short period of time. The tour includes visiting main architectural ensembles such as the Palace Square and Alexander’s Column, the Senate Square and the Bronze Horseman, buildings of Senate and Synod, St. Isaac’s Square with St. Isaac’s Cathedral and monument to Nicholas I, Mariinsky Palace, the Spit of the Basil Island with Rostral Columns and imposing building of the former Stock-Exchange with a marvellous view of the Peter and Paul Fortress, and the Hermitage, the numerous bridges and granite-clad embankments criss-crossing the city in many directions. The tour continues to the Field of Mars, along the Summer Gardens and unsurpassed beauty of their wrought-iron fence. An unforgettable experience is a drive along the fantastic Nevsky Prospect, the main thoroughfare of the city, lined with innumerable historical buildings, palaces and cathedrals.
Private boat trip (60-90 min) – can be combined with panoramic city tour
Take a private boat trip along the powerful Neva River at night and you will see imposing palaces, bridges and austere granite embankments in the strange luminescence. In the end of the boat trip see how large bridges across the Neva river are being raised. The period from the end of May to mid-July is a truly magical time to visit St. Petersburg as the city is embraced by White Nights, when the sun disappears below the horizon for only a moment and the skies never darken.
Tour of Peter& Paul Fortress and the Cathedral (60-90 min) – can be combined with panoramic city tour
is the historical nucleus of the city as well as one of the most interesting and beautiful architectural landmarks. St. Peter & Paul Cathedral with its long gilded spire is the burial place of all Russian emperors from Peter the Great to the last of the Romanovs – Nicholas II.
Designed to protect newly acquired lands in the mouth of the Neva River, the fortress lost its military significance before it was completed. It was turned into the most dismal political prison of Russia for almost 200 years.
Tour of St. Isaac’s Cathedral (1 hour) – can be combined with panoramic city tour
return to the hotel you are taken for a brief visit to St. Isaac’s Cathedral. Fourth highest cupola cathedral in the world St. Isaac’s has a breathtaking interior design. The cathedral can accommodate 13000 worshippers in a time. The monolithic columns of the portico cut from red granite are seventeen meters high and weigh 114 tons each. The mosaic inside has twelve thousand shades and colors, the walls are five meters thick and the main cupola is coated with one hundred kilos of gold.
Tour of the Church on the Spilt Blood (45 min)
One of St. Petersburg highest buildings, it was built on the spot where Alexander II was fatally wounded by a terrorist, a member of People's Will revolutionary group in 1881. The construction of the memorial church began in 1883 and lasted 24 years. The enormous amount of more than 1½ million of silver rubles was allocated for the construction. Beautiful onion-shaped domes of the cathedral are covered with precious enamel. The facades of the church are adorned with more than 400 square meters of mosaic. The church has a breath-taking interior design with great variety of semi-precious stones, gold and mosaics covering the area of almost 7,000 square meters.
Tour the Hermitage (2-3 hrs)
Comprehensive guided visit to the famous Hermitage. The world-known Hermitage museum was the residence of the Russian Emperors in the past, nowadays it comprises 5 palaces and is one of the largest museums in the world. Admire the State Rooms of the Winter Palace. Continue to the Small Hermitage, then proceed to the priceless masterpieces exhibited in other Hermitage buildings.
There are literally a billion things to see in the Hermitage and it is well worth making more than one visit. The overwhelming richness of the museum is all the more enhanced by the incredible splendor of the buildings, inside and out: ornate and regal facades, huge frescoed halls; marble, wood and mosaic floors; and statuettes, figurines, and antique furniture all on such a grand scale that it fascinates the mind.
The General Staff Building of the Hermitage (2-3 hrs)
This spectacular, crescent-shaped neoclassical building, most famous for its central triumphal arch, which brings pedestrians out on to Palace Square from Nevsky Prospekt, was designed by renowned St. Petersburg architect Carlo Rossi and completed in 1827. Before the Revolution it housed not only the offices of the General Staff, in the East Wing, but also the Tsarist Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Finance in the West Wing.
Since 1993, the Hermitage has had control over both wings of the building, and uses them to display a variety of permanent exhibitions of applied art connected to the history of the building, completed at the height of the Russian Empire, soon after Russia's victory against Napoleon. An exhibition entitled 'Realms of the Eagle' compares French and Russian decorative art and costume in the Imperial Age, contrasting the cultural influences of Napoleon and Alexander I. H
The Hermitage's superb collection of Modern European Art, the bulk of which is made up of French impressionist and post-impressionist paintings, is displayed on the museum's third floor, and include some of the world's largest collections of works by Picasso and Matisse.
Impressionist masterpieces in the collection include several major works by Monet, street scenes by Pissarro, and significant collections of work by Cezanne, Van Gogh, Gaugin and Renoir. Further treasures of the period are displayed on the second floor of the museum in an exhibition of trophy art that was first put on display in 1993 under the title "Hidden Treasure Revealed".
Tour of Pushkin: Catherine’s Palace and Amber Room, Catherine’s Park (3-4 hrs)
The palace, a combination of white and gold, looks magnificent; a huge ballroom called the Grand Hall, ornately decorated drawing rooms, studies and dining rooms. The most famous room here is the Amber Room, looted by the Nazis during World War II and completely restored in 2003. Surrounding the palace is a park covering more than 570 hectares with bridges, terraces, fountains and small galleries.
Russian lunch in Podvorie with folklore show (90 min) – located in between Pushkin and Pavlovsk
Enjoy delicious Russian appetizers and famous “borsch” (beet-root soup) accompanied by Cossack’s folklore singing and, of course, free flowing Russian vodka! The restaurant is a typical Russian huge wooden log-house reminding of a fortress. It is located in the picturesque countryside in the small town of Pavlovsk, close to the town of Pushkin.
Tour of Peterhof (4 hrs including travel time)
It is the most famous summer residence of Russian Emperors, located 25 km west on the Gulf of Finland. It history begins in 1704 when Peter I built a wooden house on the Gulf. In 1723 the enlarged palace became official summer residence, later it was expanded by Empress Elizabeth and called Grand Summer Palace.
The palace is beautiful but quite similar to Catherine’s Palace in Pushkin. The main attraction of the place is the Lower Park with Grand Cascade decorated with more than 150 fountains built in 1722 to rival gardens of Versailles. All fountains of the Grand Cascade are solemnly launched every day sharp at 11:00. The intricate system of pipes stretches for nearly 22 km. The water flows downhill by force of gravity while the fountains operate according to the principle of communicating vessels. In both artistry and engineering the fountains of Peterhof are truly unique.
There are several smaller pavilions in the Lower Park which can be visited, for example - the Tsar’s Bath House where one can learn more about everyday life of Russian Tsars.
Hydrofoil to/from Peterhof (30 min)
hydrofoil is the best and most convenient connection between St. Petersburg centre and Peterhof located on the opposite side of the Gulf of Finland.
The journey takes only 30 minutes. Hydrofoils depart every ½ hour from the Hermitage embankment and in reverse direction from the pier in Peterhof’s Lower park. The navigation period starts in the beginning of May to mid-October.
Tour of Pavlovsk: Paul’s Palace & park (3-4 hrs) – located near Pushkin
Named after Paul 1, Pavlovsk was founded in 1777 when a small palace was built. A large horse-shaped Pau’s palace was completed in 1786 for the Grand Duke Paul who was the Emperor of Russia between 1796 and 1801. He remained overshadowed by his mother Catherine the great for much of his life. Paul's reign lasted for only five years, ending with his assassination by conspirators. After Paul’s death the palace was renovated again in 1803 for his son - the new Emperor Alexander 1.
This palace is often called a pearl of the classical style as many famous architects of the time took part in designing its beautiful interiors which are synthesis of architecture, decorative painting and sculpture. A beautiful landscape park, the largest in Europe, surrounds the palace.
Tour of the Yusupov Palace (90 min)
The richest of non-imperial palaces of St. Petersburg, this palace was the home of the noble and powerful Yusupov family, relatives to the Russian Tsars. The Yusupovs were great collectors of art, and their collection was known well beyond Russia. After the revolution most of the collection was moved to the Hermitage, though traces of the incredible wealth that once kept this palace pulsating with life still remain: the various sitting rooms, the intricate chandeliers and candelabras that adorn every room and corridor. The beautiful home theater of the palace looks like a cozy version of the famous Mariinsky theatre.
It was in this palace where the assassination of Rasputin, one of the most scandalous figures in Russian history, took place. One can feel the drama of the moment seeing wax figures of the conspirators waiting in a small room on the ground floor. In the cellar where it happened there are two more wax figures: Rasputin and young Felix Yusupov talking over the set table minutes before the assassination.
Tour of Russian Museum (2 hrs)
The museum is located in the former Mikhailovsky Palace. Built for Paul’s youngest son by Carlo Rossi who devoted his life and work to St. Petersburg, the palace was turned into a museum in 1898 by Nicholas II. The palace has preserved an impressive suite of beautifully decorated gala rooms on the main floor. The largest rooms hold some of the collection's most famous works: Ivan Aivazovsky's huge seascapes The Ninth Wave and The Wave, and Karl Bryullov's acclaimed The Last Daysof Pompei. The collection of Russian and Soviet art spans medieval icons to grandiose socialist realism and avante guard paintings and encompasses more than 370,000 items dating from 11th century to the present.
Tour of the new Faberge Museum in the Shuvalov Palace (1 hour)
The official opening ceremony of the first privately owned Fabergé Museum in Russia took place on November 19, 2013, in the Shuvalov Palace in St. Petersburg. The founding organization of the museum is the Link of Times cultural and historical foundation, which was established in 2004 by Viktor Vekselberg with the aim of repatriating items of cultural significance to Russia.
In 2004 Viktor Vekselberg purchased a one-of-a-kind collection of Fabergé works which had been collected by Malcolm Forbes. Since then, the foundation has been collecting Russian works of decorative and fine art and has amassed more than 4,000 items today. In terms of its size, diversity, and the quality of its pieces, many of which belonged to the royal family and other members of the royal courts of Europe, the collection is without a doubt one of the best in the world. Today, the restored Shuvalov Palace, with an area of about 4,700 square meters, is again one of the most beautiful palaces in St. Petersburg, a historical monument, and tourist attraction.
High-speed train “SAPSAN” between Moscow and St. Petersburg:
There are 7 to 10 departures between Moscow and St. Petersburg by “SAPSAN” fast train, the newest addition to Russian train produced by Siemens within multi-million contract. The cars have open seating, the distance to Moscow is 700 km, the travel time is approximately 4 hrs. Economy 2nd class does not include any meal. Business class ticket includes a meal served at your seat. The train travels from city centre to city centre which saves a lot of time if compared to flights.
St. Petersburg-Helsinki or back by Allegro train
Allegro has four departures per day between Helsinki and St. Petersburg. Passport and customs controls are conducted aboard the moving train. The train is by far the easiest way to travel between Finland and Russia. No additional waiting at stations or for customs or border formalities. When travelling by train you can make good use of your travel time by working or relaxing by socializing and enjoying good food.
First class is a six person group compartment, adjacent seats for four persons with a table, separate spaces for using a mobile phone and power sockets at each seat at your disposal. Second class is one car without compartments.