St Petersburg is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. That might sound like a surprising statement to make to the uninformed but if you’ve been there before or you’ve done any research you’ll know that it’s not as wild a claim as it may seem. It’s the jewel of any Baltics cruise itinerary, which is why you’ll find many packages that stay in the port for more than the usual one day. That’s just because there’s simply so much to see and do that you’ll want to take your time absorbing every last inch of the city.
In this blog I’ll take you through some of the amazing highlights that you can find, really getting you into the heart of the biggest attractions that the city is perhaps most famous for. Before that though it’s important to cover the general atmosphere and ambience since it’s a truly delightful destination to simply walk around.
The whole city is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with something to see on every street. The criss-cross of canals helps create a scenic aura throughout the whole city and plays a part in the rich tapestry that makes up the whole feel of this, the second largest city in Russia and rated as one of the top 10 destinations across the entire planet.
Undoubtedly one of the greatest museums that you’ll find anywhere in the world, the Hermitage Museum is one attraction that you simply cannot miss. It’s been open to the public for over 160 years and is made up of six buildings, although only four of these are open to the public. What makes it such an amazing attraction is that it has a huge collection of over three million items, including the largest collection of paintings that you could find anywhere in the world.
Only a small part of this collection is on permanent display as there’s simply too much to be constantly on show, but even then you’ll be astounded by the artistic and historic collections that you’ll be able to see. See art throughout the ages including Prehistoric items through to much more recent collections, covering all different artistic styles. There are also antiquities from various ages including Ancient Egypt, and various jewellery items to see. This just scratches the surface and you’ll be astounded if you visit.
Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
Even without knowing the history of the church this is a sight that you’ll be drawn to simply on account of its beautiful exterior. The traditional architecture of the country is presented in this magnificent church which was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881. It’s not currently a consecrated church, following its restoration, but is more of a museum.
The most astounding feature of the church is the design of the interior, with over 7,000 square meters of mosaics covering all the inside walls and depicting various scenes. This was once the most mosaics in any church in the world.
The Catherine Palace is one of the most beautiful buildings the world over. Situated in Pushkin, just outside St Petersburg, it is built on the site of the original summer palace commissioned by Catherine I. Her daughter, Empress Elizabeth, wasn’t impressed and had it replaced with the stunning Rococo design that stands today.
Originally over 100kg of gold was used in decorating the exterior while the gardens themselves are also a sight to behold. The interior has since been destroyed by the German forces during World War II with restoration still continuing to this day. It makes for a marvellous tour with breath-taking buildings to explore.
Beyond these three attractions there’s still so much that you could see in and around the city. There’s the Peterhof Palace, the Peter & Paul Fortress, St Isaac’s Cathedral, the Ethnographic Museum, the Admiralty and so much more. Take in a traditional ballet or opera performance, and make sure you give Russian crepes a go.
It’s a magnificent city with a real sense of embedded history and culture, meaning it is always a highlight of any Baltic cruise line that includes the city.
By Ian Lewis