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Travelling to Russia St. Petersburg is a “must” place to visit.
St. Petersburg is the second largest city of the Russian Federation after Moscow. It counts over five million inhabitants and is an important port of the Baltic Sea. The city was founded in 1703 on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland by the tsar Peter the Great. In 1914 the name of the city was changed from St. Petersburg to Petrograd, then in 1924 to Leningrad, till 1991 when the city has got its original name of St. Petersburg. From the very beginning St. Petersburg was conceived to be the imperial capital of Russia, and it maintained its status till 1918, when after the Great Revolution the state government bodies moved to Moscow.
Saint Petersburg is the most Westernized city of Russia, as well as its cultural capital. The Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments constitute a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Saint Petersburg is home to The Hermitage, one of the largest art museums in the world. A large number of foreign consulates, international corporations, banks, and businesses have offices in Saint Petersburg.
Unlike in Moscow, Saint Petersburg has a linear layout, crossed by the River Neva and other smaller rivers and canals, and the historic architecture of the city centre, mostly consisting of Baroque and neoclassical buildings of the 18th and 19th centuries, has been largely preserved. Since 1991 the Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments in Saint Petersburg and surrounding Leningrad Oblast have been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
The dominant monument and one of the city symbols is the ensemble of Peter and Paul Fortress with the tall Peter and Paul Cathedral on Zayachy Island along the right bank of the River Neva. Every day at noon a cannon fires a blank shot from the fortress wall. Nearby in the same district there is the Saint Petersburg Mosque, that used to be the largest mosque in Europe. Another characteristic place is the Spit of Vasilievsky Island, which splits the river into two largest armlets, the Bolshaya Neva and Malaya Neva, with the dominant building of the Former Saint Petersburg Stock Exchange (now hosting the Naval museum) and Rostral Columns, on tops of which on festive occasions thereare flames lit. Across the bridge, on the left bank of the Neva there are the Admiralty building with a weathercock shaped like a small ship on top of its golden spire, the famous equestrian monument “the Bronze horseman” dedicated to Peter the Great. The vast Hermitage museum complex is lined along the Palace Embankment, the most famous among the Hermitage buildings is the Winter Palace – former official residence of Russian tsars, which faces on the other side the huge Palace Square, the city’s main square with Alexander’s Column on it.
Walking along the main avenue of the city, called Nevsky prospect, also situated on the left bank of the Neva, it is possible to admire marvellous historic palaces, churches and bridges, among them the Kazan Cathedral, styled in a similar way to St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome, and the colourful Church of the Savior on Blood. St. Petersburg is the city able to delight you at any time, in every corner of its central part and even at any season and weather conditions.
Besides the city itself, its suburbs are also worth of being visited. Among them the most notable are the summer residences of Russian emperors Petergof with majestic parks full of unique fountains, Tsarskoe Selo, with the baroque Catherine’s Palace and the neoclassical Alexander Palace, and Pavlovsk, which contains a domed palace of Emperor Paul and one of the largest English-style parks in Europe. Some other residences situated nearby and making part of the world heritage site, including a castle and park in Gatchina, actually belong to Leningrad Oblastrather than Saint Petersburg. Another notable suburb is Kronstadt with its 19th-century fortifications and naval monuments, occupying the Kotlin Island in the Gulf of Finland.
As for the cultural life, Saint Petersburg is home to more than two hundred museums. The largest one is the Hermitage Museum, featuring interiors of the former imperial residence and a vast collection of art. The Russian Museum is a large museum devoted specifically to Russian fine art. The city features lots of theatres (among them the world-famous Mariinsky opera and ballet theatre), concert halls, a permanent circus, many sports and entertainment facilities.
If you come once on tour to St. Petersburg, you’ll leave your heart among these granite embankments, iron cast railings and magnificent palaces!
Also you can go to Moscow to see the Capital of Russia and walk along the world-known streets and visit the famous museums. We combined some tours to St.Petersburg and Moscow for you to learn both cities in one trip