A view of the Hermitage Lecture Centre from Palace Square.

14 reasons to lure you to St Petersburg, Russia

In Europe, Mini Breaks, Our Journeys, Russia, Trip-Types, Try-this by JanisLeave a Comment

Palaces, cathedrals and canals

So, you’re considering visiting the beautiful and intriguing city of Saint Petersburg for a mini break? Well you’re in for a treat.
The Neva River looking towards Peter and Paul Fortress & the Trinity bridge in Saint Petersburg, Russia

The River Neva in St Petersburg

This was a city that I had been drawn to for years; I think it was the Russian dolls I was given as a child that first sowed the seed of curiosity.

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Though, for some reason or another, it would always shuffle its way down our list of places to visit.
 
However, we made it, and I’m so pleased we did, the architecture is incredible. Don’t just take our word for it, go and visit for yourself.

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1 - Palace Square

The magnificent Palace Square in Saint Petersburg will be where you are instantly drawn to. There’s a very good reason why, it’s beautiful.

The view over Palace Square with the magnificent Winter Palace in the background that is home to the Hermitage Museum.

Palace Square with the Hermitage Museum, or Winter Palace, in the background

You’ll be surrounded by the striking blue and white ornate Winter Palace (home to the Hermitage Museum).
 
The gold and white General Staff Building and its magnificent Triumphal Arch.

Then the centrepiece of the square being the Alexander Column.

The Triumphal arch leads onto Palace Square in Saint Petersburg, Russia

The Triumphal arch in Palace Square

The sweeping span of the Hermitage Lecture Centre, with the Triumphal arch in the centre,  on one side of Palace Square in Saint Petersburg, Russia

The Hermitage Lecture Centre,

A useful guide

If you've yet to discover the incredible history and architecture in St. Petersburg, you're in for a treat. I found this DK Top 10 Pocket Travel Guide invaluable, they're extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.

We used a previous version of this book to plan our St. Petersburg adventure, now you can grab the revised copy.

DK St Petersburg cover

2 - Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

This church was one of my favourite sights in St Petersburg, with its incredibly intricate façade and the wonderful onion domes upon it. It sits on the edge of Griboyedov Canal, one of the many waterways in St Petersburg.

A view of the iconic Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, on the banks of the Griboedov Canal in Saint Petersburg, Russia.  The ornate five domes of different colours & styles dominate the skyline.

The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Don't just take our word for it!

If you're tempted by the intriguing city of Saint Petersburg and its beautiful architecture and waterways, take a look at the 'Visit Saint Petersburg' official website.

3 - The Neva River

Take a stroll along the wide embankments of the Neva River; there are so many historical and notable buildings that line this waterway. Museums, palaces, churches, monuments & gardens.

The Kunstkamera Museum in Saint Petersburg, by the edge of the River Neva.

The Kunstkammer or Kunstkamera  Museum

4 - Peter and Paul Fortress

Crossing the Neva River head to Peter & Paul fortress built on Zayachy Island in the shape of a star.

The golden spire of Saint Peter's and Saint Paul's Cathedral from behind the Fortress walls, St Petersburg, Russia

Saint Peter's and Saint Paul's Fortress

Prior to heading into the fortress, take a stroll along St Petersburg’s beach, yes, St Petersburg has a beach.

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5 - Peter and Paul Cathedral

On Zayachy Island you can also visit beautiful Peter and Paul Cathedral, which is the burial place to many Russian Tsars.
 
Prior to heading into the fortress, take a stroll along St Petersburg’s beach, yes, St Petersburg has a beach.

The mustard yellow Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral, topped with a narrow gold spire in Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saints Peter's and Paul's Cathedral

The side profile of the mustard yellow Cathedral, topped with a narrow gold spire, and shorter dome,  in Saint Petersburg, Russia

Another side of Saints Peter's and Paul's Cathedral

6 - St Isaac’s Cathedral & Square

Very prominent in St Petersburg’s skyline is the Russian Orthodox St Isaac’s Cathedral. Built by order of Tsar Alexander I, the incredible pure gold-plated dome stands over 100 meters high.

A frontal view of the gold dome topped Saint Issac's Cathedral in Saint Petersburg, Russia

St Issac's Cathedral

Helpful hint

If you are anything like us you will be walking a lot, make sure you take comfy shoes.

7 - Canals, canals & canals

St Petersburg is sometimes referred to ‘Venice of the North’ (along with other cities), and it’s easy to see why. Take a stroll along its many canals, and you’ll discover some quieter spots of the city.

A view along the Winter canal from the Neva River, Saint Petersburg, Russia

The Winter canal

{Why not check out our post 'Bridges and Waterways of St Petersburg, Russia'?}

8 - Field of Mars

St Petersburg has quite a few parks where you rest those weary feet.
 
However, the Field of Mars park is particularly special, as it has Russia’s first Eternal Flame flickering inside.

A wreath, decorated with red & white flowers, stands before the Eternal Flame in the Field of Mars, St Petersburg, Russia.

The Eternal Flame in the Field of Mars

9 - So many bridges

As St Petersburg has its fair share of canals and rivers, it also means there are plenty of bridges too.
Floating under the centre span of the green, cast-iron, Trinity Bridge over the Neva River, Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Trinity Bridge over the Neva River

The ten arched Trinity Bridge which spans the Neva is very impressive. Then there’s the Anichkov Bridge across the Fontanka River with its four Horse Tamers. There are just so many, you’ll be criss-crossing the rivers all day.
However, it’s the smaller ones I like along the Griboyedov Canal, along this canal there are 21 to choose from. Take a look at ‘Bank Bridge’ & the ‘Bridge of four Lions’.
One of the stone lion statues at the end of the Lion Bridge in Saint Petersburg, Russia

The Lions Bridge

The Golden-Winged Griffins that flank either end of the Bank Bridge over the Moyka River, Saint Petersburg, Russia

The Bank Bridge over the Moyka River

10 - Boat tour

Not quite finished with the waterways yet, I would urge you to take a boat tour. This is a fantastic way to see the magnificent palaces that line the embankments, it puts a different perspective on the city and also give your feet a rest for a while.

The Old Stock Exchange & both Rostrum Pillars as seen from the River Neva in Saint Petersburg, Russia

The Old Stock Exchange & both Rostrum Pillars

Point to Note

Ensure you check the language of your boat tour, depending on your language of choice will dictate the time of the tour.

11 - Nevsky Prospect

Nevsky Prospect is the main avenue that runs through St Petersburg and has plenty of impressive buildings to distract you along the way.

Looking across the lawn in front of the Kazan Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan, in Saint Petersburg, Russia.  With its outstretched curved colonnades, it is said to resemble St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Kazan Cathedral, (Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan)

Not only will you be able to pick up your souvenirs along here. You’ll also spot the Neoclassical Kazan Cathedral and the eye-catching Art Nouveau Singer House (also known as House of Books).

The wonderfully ornate House of Books, (also known as Singer House), on Nevsky Prospect, Saint Petersburg, Russia

The House of Books (Singer House)

12 - Churches

I thought there were a lot of bridges in St Petersburg; however, the number of churches and cathedrals is incredible. One church that we thought was really worth seeking out. was the St Nicholas Naval Cathedral. It was startling and so immaculately kept.

The front of the Saint Nicholas Naval Cathedral in Saint Petersburg, Russia.  The church is predominately powder blue, with white columns and is crowned by five gilded domes.

The St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral

13 - Mariinsky Theatre

The Mariinsky Theatre is home to the world famous Mariinsky Ballet company which was founded around 1740. Performances can still be watched today.

The world famous Ballet & Opera Mariinsky Theatre., Saint Petersburg, Russia

The Mariinsky Theatre

14 - The Rostral Columns

Last but certainly by no means least are the Rostral Columns built in 1811 and sit proudly in front of the Stock Exchange. They were originally designed as lighthouses and the figures at the bottom represent Russia’s four biggest rivers (Volga, Dnieper, Neva and Volkhov).

Image

The two Rostrum Pillars as seen from the River Neva

There really is so much to see and do in St Petersburg, you won’t get bored.

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Inspired to visit Saint Petersburg?

What tempts you to visit Russia's gateway to the west?

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