Hello Beautiful People!
“St. Petersburg is a gem of world culture and Russia’s most European city” -Valentina Matviyenko
Have you ever wanted to go to Russia but don’t want to deal with the horrendous visa process? You can get a 72 hour visa-free to St Petersburg but the catch is you have to catch a ferry to from Helsinki, Finland to St Petersburg and back. 72 hours in St Petersburg doesn’t sound like much but I assure you there are a lot of things to see and do, that will make you plan another trip back to Russia! So, St Petersburg may not be a true representation of Russia as the city’s architecture was influence from different parts of Europe. However, the city itself has a very grand and elegant impression, giving it a unique culture. Here are my suggestions for St Petersburg!
You may think “boring” but I would say this is a smart idea. A place like St Petersburg is filled with history, culture and beauty. Get yourself educated about this magnificent city but it is also a way to meet people, get your bearings and if you are pressed for time, this is the best way to see the top sights of St Petersburg. Check out the free walking tours and all you need to do give is a tip at the end!
Church of Savior on Spilled Blood
When we think of Russia we think of the orthodox Russian style church. I like to say “candy” looking church. The Church of Saviour on Spilled Blood is not an active church anymore but now it’s turned into a museum. The exterior is unique and colourful architecture design. However, the interior is equally as stunning made up of mosaic artwork along the walls.
Winter Palace and the Hermitage
Another equally stunning piece building is the Winter Palace. The Hermitage is arguably one of the most famous art museums in the world with of the largest collections to die for! Unfortunately, I did not have time to check the Hermitage out and I’m still kicking myself for it!
*Architect: Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli (Italian)
The Palace Square
Just behind the Winter Palace is the Palace Square. It is the city’s main square and it is also a great place to observe the different contrasting architecture in one area. From the square, you can see the Winter Palace, the former Imperial Army General Staff Building, former Royal Guards’ General Staff, Admiralty, Guard Corps Headquarters and the Alexander Column in the middle of the square.
-One of the world’s largest public square, it’s twice the size of the Red Square in Moscow.
-Alexander Column is the largest free-standing monument in the world and it symbolises Russia’s victory over Napoleon in the War of 1812.
General Staff Building: Carlo Rossi (Italian)
Admiralty: Adrian Zakharov
Alexander Column: Auguste Montferrand (French)
Guard Corps Headquarter: Alexander Briullov
St Isacc’s Cathedral
The most noticeable part of the Cathedral is the golden dome that dominates the skyline. Hence it is a great place to get breathtaking views of the city but prepare to walk 300 steps, perfect for leg day right? The Russian Orthodox Cathedral is decorated in the most elaborate way both exterior and interior. So make sure you take your time to observe the lavish interior of the Cathedral which is open as a museum.
*Fun Fact: More than 100kg of gold leaf was used to cover the 21.8-meter dome!
*Architect: Auguste Montferrand (French)
Watching the ballet
Treat yourself to a night out at the ballet! The best way to buy tickets is to go to the theatre company during the day and purchase your tickets. They will definitely be cheaper than buying it online!
If you love food this is the place for you! The food hall is divided into different sections with a restaurant, cafe and a marketplace to buy some goodies. If you are looking for a break, check out the cafe on the ground floor where the palm trees are. The cafe has a great selection of coffee, tea and sweets.
Architect: Gabriel Baranovskii, influence by St. Petersburg Art Nouveau
After checking out Church of Savior on Spilled Blood, take a stroll along the Nevsky Prospect. It is probably the most famous boulevard stretching around 4 kilometres and the heart of St Petersburg. You can find the Gostiny Dvor which is one of the world’s first outdoor shopping centre and Don Knigi, one of best and largest bookshop in the city. Nevertheless, you can always find a large variety of cafes, restaurants, bars and shops along the street.
At first, I was confused when people were hyping up about the bridge opening at night. St Petersburg is a city of bridges hence at night around 1:30am the bridges would open for big cargo ships to pass through. It seems odd to watch a crowd gathered around the river banks to watch the bridge opening. It is a like an odd novelty event where crowds gathering around the river bank to watch the bridge goes up. However, it is a show not to miss but the lights around the bridge and the atmosphere are worth coming down for. Make sure you are on the right side of the river otherwise you will have to wait until they close the bridge back and open them to traffic. This is usually around 3am, so make sure you plan your night out properly.
Peter and Paul Fortress
The Fortress was built in 1703 and it was the first structure that Peter the Great built in St. Peterburg. The island of the fortress was surprisingly used as a political prison (Trubetskoy Bastion Prison) for centuries and the tombs in the cathedral belong to most of the Russian Russian’s Tsar. If you feel like climbing the bell tower, it has a wonderful 360-degree view around St Petersburg or go for a walk along the fortress walls for panoramic views of the Neva River.
Things I wish I have seen:
Kunstkamera “Museum of Curiosity”
Peterhof Palace “Versailles of St. Petersburg”
Time to pack your bags for St. Petersburg?
Till next time, -M