The imperial port city of St. Petersburg is an orthodox cultural paradise. From cultured museums and highly embellished churches, St. Petersburg is known far and wide for its magnificent palaces and fortresses.
St. Petersburg has maintained the royalty, culture, and art from its deeply enriched aristocratic society, from when Russia had been ruled over by the Tsars. Ever since then, St. Petersburg – partially due to the infamous, yet mysterious case of the royal granddaughter and last Tsar, Princess Anastasia – has been home to timeless adventures.
If you’re new to the port city of St. Petersburg, there are countless cool places which await you! Here we’ve curated a list of 5 incredible places which will not only quench your thirst for wanderlust, but increase your knowledge of ancient Russian history as well.
1. Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood
No visit to St. Petersburg is complete without visiting the Church of Saviour on Spilled Blood. The church’s name is haunting in a way, coming from the end of the 19th century. The church was built following the unruly assassination of Tsar Alexander II during the Crimean War in 1881, which led to the consequential defeat of Russia.
It took 24 years to commission the opening of the church, but due to vandalism by the Soviets in 1932, these plans took a harsh detour.
The church was reduced to a warehouse instead, partially for storage of vegetables but primarily as a landfill. It was believed that many used this church temporarily as a morgue as well.
What is most impressive is the fact the church was restored in 1997 when its gates were finally opened to the public. It took the authorities 27 years to retrieve the orthodox Russian art and culture, which to this date attracts thousands of tourists.
The church is also well known as the Cathedral of the Resurrection of the Christ. This church, with its elegant mosaic walls, is reminiscent of pure Russian history like no other in the continent.
If you’re planning on booking a tour to this magnificent church, always remember that it’s basically impossible to avoid the rush no matter what time you go.
2. Peter and Paul’s Fortress
Known as St. Petersburg’s birthplace, Peter and Paul’s Fortress was founded as a Citadel, primarily for defensive and military purposes by Peter the Great.
The fortress has relics of ancient Russian royalty, or more evidently the Imperial Family of Russia, buried within. The fortress is now a popular museum, but it wasn’t just a burial ground for the royals of Russia’s past.
Many believe the fortress was the place of secretive scientific experiments or where important state and governmental decisions took place in seclusion.
The Fortress consists of the Grand-Ducal Burial Vault where the Romanov Family lies in peace along with the Nevsky Curtain Wall, embraced by neoclassical gates. The fortress, however, is comprised of two additional places which draw the majority of tourists.
These are the Neva Gate, which is known for being the infamous passageway that led those accused of treason towards the guillotine for their execution, as well as the Naryshkin Bastion, home to the cannon that is fired every day at noon and the flagpole bearing the fortress’s flag.
3. The Neva River – Sightseeing and Cruise
Since the port city is hugged by the Neva River, no such trip to St. Petersburg is complete without taking a cruise for a sightseeing tour. You can book a cruise aboard a traditional boat or perhaps a two-story boat if you wish to enjoy the tour with lots of other tourists.
If you wish to join a boat where they provide you with a buffet, you can book a cruise with a restaurant onboard.
Usually, most cruises vary from 1.5 to 3 (or more if during nighttime) hours. They take you along the Nevsky Prospekt for a short, brisk walk and feature short yet traditional entertainment for your enjoyment as well.
You can see much of the city while you’re aboard one of these cruises, and with a couple of hours, you can stop by the attractions that you think warrant your attention the most!
4. Palace Embankment
As you’re cruising along the Neva River, you’ll come across the Palace Embankment. The Palace Embankment is made up of a stretch of museum buildings, all of which welcome tourists for visiting and wandering along. If you plan on visiting the museums, don’t miss the Winter Palace which is the most magnificent of all of the Hermitage Museum buildings.
If you are short on time, feast your eyes on the entire complex, as the Neva River is sure to highlight its glory — even from the bank.
5. St. Isaac’s Cathedral
St. Isaac’s Cathedral, known mainly as the largest church in St. Petersburg, holds the place of the 4th largest cathedral amongst orthodox churches in the whole world.
The cathedral houses up to 14,000 worshipers at a time. From walls of mosaics and embossed paintings, St. Isaac’s Cathedral comprises of architecture that’s not only impressive but also highly expensive.
There are 300 steps that take you towards the highest point of the church – the 43m high Dome. There’s no doubt that viewing the panoramic city of St. Petersburg from the dome is a bucket-list experience.