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Why visit Staint Petersburg? Historic palaces that were once home to Russia’s ruling czars. Breathtaking architecture. A thriving arts and cultural scene. There are many reasons to visit this ancient world-class city in the far west of Russia at least once in your lifetime. You’ll be enthralled by the uniqueness of St. Petersburg as well as the people and nightlife. It’s truly one of the greatest cities in Europe.
The Winter Palace
The Winter Palace is one of the primary destinations on the itinerary of many tourists when they visit St. Petersburg. This was the imperial residence of the Tsars until 1917 when the Russian Revolution brought in the communist rule to the country. Onsite is the Hermitage Museum, which displays many artifacts that are several centuries old.
If you’ve ever had the opportunity to travel to Red Square in Moscow, you will find Palace Square (Dvortsovaya Ploshchad) just as interesting. While these days the open area is a peaceful gathering place for locals and tourists alike, it does have a dark past, having been the site of major events in Russian history including Red October and the Bloody Sunday Massacre. Political rallies and special government-sanctioned events still occur occasionally in Palace Square. The surrounding buildings – as well as the square itself – is made from a combination of baroque and neoclassical architectural styles.
Some travel writers have dubbed St. Petersburg to be the “Venice of the North.” While that may be a bit exaggerated, the city nonetheless has a network of old bridges and canals like the iconic Italian city. If you want to see these canals, the best way to do so is by walking around the city. A popular tourist attraction is a cruise along the Neva River that takes you underneath the stunning bridges and allows you to get up close and personal with many of the city’s most famous landmarks.
St. Isaac’s Cathedral
If old, historic churches are on your list of things to see, then you won’t be disappointed in St. Petersburg. St. Isaac’s Cathedral is the largest cathedral in the city and the fourth-largest in the entire world. This domed place of worship has a long history dating back to the Middle Ages. During the Soviet Period, St. Isaac’s was closed down by the government, instead of turning it into the Museum of History of Religion and Atheism. In 1990, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the right to religious freedom was restored. St. Isaac’s Cathedral has Gothic-style architecture and is shaped like a cake.
Peter and Paul Fortress
Peter and Paul Fortress were built by Peter the Great in the 18th Century as a defense against attacks on the city. Located on Hare’s Island, the fortress still contains many of the cannons and heavy walls from nearly three centuries ago. In recent years, it has been named “Museum of the History of the City.”
The Mariinsky Theatre
The Mariinsky Theatre epitomizes Russian culture with amazing performances of ballet plays including “The Nutcracker” and “Russian Seasons” as well as others. This fantastic place of entertainment was opened in 1860 and is one of the oldest of its kind in the entire world. If you visit the city at the right time, you’ll get to see plays from the Soviet era, which depict daily life then.
Inspired to explore the culture (and stunning nature) of Russia? See also:
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