Beautiful and elegant St Petersburg is one of the many architectural gems of Europe which should be visited by all tourists and arts’ lovers at least once in a lifetime. Adopted as capital of Russia by Peter the Great in the early 18th Century, this northern Baltic city is a true treasure. The city has also been known as Petrograd and as the tinder box and hub of the Russian Revolution was renamed Leningrad by Stalin.
Places to Visit on a Tour of St Petersburg, Russia
St Petersburg is home to the fantastic Hermitage Museum, housing one of the world’s greatest art collections and also including the colourful splendour of the Tsarist Winter Palace and Marble Palace. With almost 3million exhibits, artefacts and displays, including artwork from the greatest and most influential artists in the world, a visit to the Hermitage Museum will prove of interest to all age groups and tastes.
With over 200 museums, palaces and cathedrals, visitors to St Petersburg are spoilt for choice. Some of the most visited sites include the Church of the Resurrection, the Peter and Paul Fortress, the Peterhof, Tsarkoe Selo, Kazan Cathedral, the Palaces of the Tsars, the beautiful Pavlovsk Palace and Parks and the Mariinsky Palace and Mariinsky Theatre.
St Petersburg – The Little Venice of the North
One of the most beautiful aspects of St Petersburg though is its criss-cross network of waterways. The amazing skylines of the city are breathtaking when viewed across the River Neva at sunset. Whilst the network of canals intersecting the inner city have given St Petersburg the nickname the “Little Venice of the North”. The likeness to Venice is particularly apparent when viewing the homes and buildings surrounding the Griboyedov Canal in the inner city.
Culture of Petrograd, from Mariinsky to Dostoyevsky
Cultural enthusiasts and historians will delight in visiting St Petersburg with its amazing cultural legacy. From the Mariinsky Theatre, former home to Nijinsky, Pavlova and Nuryev, to aspects of the city portrayed by such literary giants as Dostoyevsky and Pushkin and also links back to the Russian Revolution. This visit will enthrall and enchant, casting a spell over visitors to ensure they return.
The White Nights of Russia
The best time to visit St Petersburg has to be during June and July though for the famous White Nights. This phenomena of the northern lights means darkness does not fall and the city is shrouded in a pale and ghostly twilight, until the dawn of a new day banishes dusk of the previous. The summer climate in St Petersburg is generally mild to warm too, with the average daily temperature ranging from 70F to 75F.
A word of caution: since the collapse of the Soviet Union foreign tourists are once more flocking to the former city of Leningrad although group tours are still recommended as some areas of Russia are still forbidden to tourists and the Russian bureaucracy are allegedly a little cranky at times.