The city of Saint Petersburg in Russia is located on the banks of Neva River, at the head of Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. The city was founded by Tsar Peter The Great in 1703 and hence the name Petersburg. Saint Petersburg served as the imperial capital of Russia until 1918 when the government bodies shifted to Moscow and then Moscow became the capital. It is the second largest city in Russia and attracts thousands of tourists every year who come to explore the cultural magnificence of the city. The city is home to world heritage sites such as The Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Group of Monument. The Hermitage, one of the largest art museums in the world is also a proud property of the city.
The city is connected internationally by a major airport called the Pulkovo International Airport and three smaller commercial and cargo airport. There is a 24/7 bus-service that will take you the city centre. The city is also the final destination for a network of intercity and urban railways and has five railway terminals namely Baltiysky, Finlyandsky, Ladozhsky, Moskovsky and Vitebsky as well as a number of various railway stations. Saint Petersburg’s railway network goes international connecting to Helsinki, Finland, Berlin, Germany and all the earlier republics of U.S.S.R. The city is also connected by waterways via a number of cargo seaports. There is also an efficient network of buses running all across the city. There also used to be an efficient tram service but it has been dismantled now. However there is an underground metro service providing quick and efficient transportation.
The city attracts tourists who have a huge interest in discovering the history of the Soviet Union and to also explore the architecture, arts, culture and music. The city is an ideal place for youngsters looking to travel and explore the world as well as newlywed love birds who want to spend some time in a prime cultural city of Europe. The significant architectural and cultural heritage of the city has made it an active tourist spot.
The architecture of the city built during the 18th and 19th century is still unchanged and well-preserved. Some of the must see places in the city are:
The State Hermitage
The State Hermitage houses around three million pieces of art. The main museum is a square complex consisting of 365 rooms in Winter Palace, a Small Hermitage, Old Hermitage and New Hermitage all built around the same time. One could feast their eyes for long hours in the imperial state rooms, Raphael Loggias which is a copy of the Vatican Gallery and the War Gallery among various others such as the Treasury Gallery rooms where you will find gold and silver coins as old as 2nd century B.C.
The imperial estate of Peterhof makes for a wonderful daytrip. The Grand Palace sparkles of extravagance while The Grand Cascade, a series of over 140 fountains and canals. You can lose an entire day discovering the beauty of the place.
St. Isaac’s Cathedral
The cathedral has a gold plated dome that rises over 300 feet. It is one of the tallest orthodox churches in the world. It is enormous with giant bronze doors and richly decorated interiors.
Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood
The church is modelled after St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. It is coloured of a rainbow and has onion shaped domes. It is built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was killed and hence the name Spilled Blood.
Saint Petersburg is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List with 36 historical architectural complexes and various other monuments. The city has a vast number of museums, libraries, galleries, theatres and exhibition halls. The city has never let its culture bow down to economic intricacies, not a single theatre or museum was closed during the period of economic stability.
Saint Petersburg has a rich musical culture and is diverse in various facets. The city plays host to a number of annual carnivals. Ballet has been imbibed into the very culture of Russia and ballet performances have a very strong place in the culture of Saint Petersburg. The Petersburg School of Ballet is deservedly the best institute for learning ballet and their performances are to die for. If you are lucky may be you will get to enjoy one.
No doubt that you will want to leave Russia without having a bite of their culinary culture. The Russian cuisine is diverse and ancient. Some of the best Russian restaurant is “At Gorchakov’s” which offers a very hospitable ambience in addition to authentic Russian food. When you visit the imperial palaces you can see huge table laid out for around 30 or more people in a classy European style. Some of the best dishes to try are Borsch which is a popular Russian soup, Pelemni are like big pieces of meat stuffed with rice and spices and wrapped in cabbage and finally the very special Bilni which is how the Russians make pancakes.
Saint Petersburg is often referred to as the Russia’s window to the west and has a lot of western culture imbibed in it. Surely you want to explore and savour a part of this culture.