Saint Petersburg is one the most beautiful cities in Europe. If you haven’t been, you must go! The bridges, the parks and the pastel palaces. Visiting this city felt like a warm bath. Unfortunately I only was there for three days, but it was alright. I was sold!
Saint Petersburg is the second city of Russia, but it’s not your ordinary Russian city. This city feels more European than Russian. This has probably something to do with the water, the broad avenues and the over-decorated buildings. It feels like you’re in Vienna, Venice or Amsterdam. Which was also the vision of the founder of this city, tsar Peter the Great. After a couple of trips through Europa Peter decided that the old medieval Russia needed a wake-up call. Things had to change, starting with a new capital: Saint Petersburg. Everything had to be built according to the European style. This city became the window to the West, but also the door for better relations with the West. The fact that this city was built on a swamp didn’t matter. There was no doubt in the mind of Peter, this city had to be built. The result is amazing: a gracious and royal city.
Saint Petersburg is the perfect city to spend a long summer weekend. There’s so much to see, to do and to experience. Architecture, people, atmosphere, Saint Petersburg has it all! Take a seat and read my top 4 must do’s in Saint Petersburg.
# 1 Visit one the many islands: Peter and Paul Fortress
The Peter and Paul Fortress was the first structure to be built in Saint Petersburg. Peter the Great designed the fortress and named it after the disciples Peter and Paul. The fortress had a defensive function against the raids of Sweden. But by the time the fortress was finished, the war against Sweden was already over. Instead the structure was used as a jail for political enemies. In fact the first prisoner to be held in the fortress was Peter’s own son, who he accused of treason. The cathedral inside the walls was used for the coronation as well as the burial of the Russian imperial family.
# 2 Get lost in the Hermitage
The Hermitage is the mother of all museums. It has one of the largest collections of art in the world (3 million pieces). It would take you years to view it in its entirety. If you visited the Hermitage every single day for the coming seven years, you still would not see it all. You can spend hours in the Hermitage looking at the pieces of Rembrandt, Da Vinci and Monet or you could admire the Egyptian or Greek collections. But what you really should do, is taking a look at the museum itself. The ceilings, the walls and the floors of the rooms are breathtaking beautiful. Everytime you walk into a new room you’ll be amazed by the amount of details.
# 3 Take a boat trip on the river Neva
Saint Petersburg is a city filled with canals. So it would be a shame not take a look at the city from the water. Take a boat, which isn’t as expensive as it sounds. For only 500 rubles you’re on a boat. Pay attention to the tide as the water of the Neva rises at the end of the day. The boats will not be able to pass the bridges.
# 4 Take a stroll over the Nevsky Prospekt
Be sure to visit the main street of Saint Petersburg, the Nevksy Prospekt. A four kilometer long boulevard with shops, restaurants, churches and monumental sights. Real eye-catchers are the pink Stroganov Palace (where the well-known Beef Stroganov comes from) and the green food hall Eliseyev. But the boulevard is also the home to some major sights. Take for instance the Church on the Savior on Blood. Yes, that’s quite a name to remember. But if you look at the picture below, you’ll recognize it. This church is one the most well known sights of Saint Petersburg. It really catches your eye with its blue-yellow rainbow domes. The church is built on the site where in 1881 an attack took place: the assassination of tsar Alexander II. Hence the last part of the name of the church: ‘on Blood’. Another majestic sight is the Kazan cathedral. You should recognize the design as it is based on a well-known Italian example: the Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The facade with its numerous columns in a semicircle makes the building bigger than it actually is. But still it’s pretty impressive.
Which must do’s would you like to add?