The State Hermitage is one of the world’s largest art and history museums. It boasts a huge collection of approximately three million objets d’art and cultural artefacts from around the world, including paintings, graphic art, sculptures, applied art, archaeological finds, coins, and medals.
Founded in 1703, the Peter and Paul Fortress is the place from which the city of St. Petersburg grew. Unparalleled in terms of Russian architecture, the Peter and Paul Cathedral – the central building of the fortress – contains the tombs of the Romanov Dynasty. This is where all Russian Tsars from Peter I to Nicholas II are buried.
Built in the early eighteenth century for the Academy of Sciences, the Kunstkamera building houses the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The Kunstkamera was Russia’s first natural history museum, and is famous for its rich collection of natural and anatomical curiosities dating back to the eighteenth century.
The Russian Museum is the largest of its kind, spread across a magnificent and unique architectural complex in the historic centre of St. Petersburg. Founded in 1898, it was the first state museum of Russian fine art.
The Russian Museum features a unique collection of Russian art, including exemplary paintings dating back to the time of ancient Rus, applied arts, and collections of paintings, drawings, watercolours, and engravings from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It also displays a selection of Russian sculptures, coins, medals, and decorative arts.
The Summer Garden was planted in 1704 by decree of Peter the Great. It is St. Petersburg’s first monument to landscape design. The Summer Garden contains Peter the Great’s Summer Palace, exact replicas of some of the rarest examples of park and garden sculpture, beautiful fencing, and reconstructed fountains from the early eighteenth century, as well as tea and coffee houses and a monument to fabulist Ivan Krylov.
St. Michael’s (Mikhailovsky or Engineers’) Castle is an exceptional architectural ensemble unlike anything else in St. Petersburg. Built at the turn of the nineteenth century as a residence for Emperor Paul I, it is now a branch of the Russian Museum.
Built in 1785 to a design by architect Antonio Rinaldi for Catherine the Great’s favourite Grigory Orlov, the Marble Palace is now also a branch of the Russian Museum. It was the first building in St. Petersburg to be clad in natural stone. Its halls now house the permanent display Foreign Artists in Russia in the Eighteenth and First Half of the Nineteenth Century. It also accommodates regular temporary exhibitions by contemporary foreign and Russian masters.
The palace commissioned by the first Governor of St. Petersburg, Alexander Menshikov, is one of the oldest buildings in the city. Founded in 1710, it is a unique heritage asset. Its interior has been recreated using items from the State Hermitage Museum collections.
The Fabergé Museum is the first private museum in modern Russia in possession of a collection of international significance. It opened its doors in November 2013 in one of St. Petersburg’s most beautiful buildings, the Shuvalov Palace. In addition to housing the world-famous Imperial Easter Eggs collection, which has been returned to Russia, the Museum’s permanent exhibition also displays other unique works of decorative and applied arts created in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by Carl Fabergé’s firm and his contemporaries.
Built in 1756, the Alexandrinsky Theatre is one of Russia’s oldest drama theatres, with both classical and modern plays in its repertoire. The theatre is led by Artistic Director Valery Fokin, renowned as a People’s Artist of Russia.
The New Stage of the Alexandrinsky Theatre forms part of the modern theatre complex which was opened for the Alexandrinsky Theatre in 2013, and is within walking distance of the theatre’s historical building.
Founded in 1783 as an imperial theatre, the Mariinsky Theatre is now one of the world’s most prominent opera and ballet theatres. Its company boasts such celebrated performers as Anna Netrebko, Olga Borodina, Diana Vishneva, Ekaterina Kondaurova, and Ulyana Lopatkina, led by Artistic Director Valery Gergiev. In early summer, the Mariinsky Theatre stages the annual Stars of the White Nights music festival.
Founded in 1833, the Mikhailovsky Theatre was originally one of the imperial theatres. The outstanding personalities who, at various times in history, have performed on its stage include the Johann Strauss Orchestra, Mathilde Kschessinska, Feodor Chaliapin, and the Sarah Bernhardt Company. Its recent history is primarily associated with Elena Obraztsova and Farukh Ruzimatov.
Founded in 1919, the Georgy Tovstonogov State Academic Bolshoi Drama Theatre was one of the first theatres to be opened after the 1917 revolution. In the 1960s–1980s, the theatre was headed by Georgy Tovstonogov. Andrei Moguchy has been the theatre’s Artistic Director since 2013.
The State Academic Capella is Russia’s oldest professional musical institution. It incorporates a choir initially founded in 1476 in Moscow as the Tsar’s Singing Deacons choir, and a symphony orchestra, with its own concert hall dating back to 1889.
St. Petersburg’s largest Orthodox cathedral, St. Isaac’s is a unique heritage asset erected in 1858 by architect Auguste de Montferrand. The cathedral is 101.5 metres high. The walkway encircling the cathedral’s dome is open to the public, offering a panoramic view of the historic centre of St. Petersburg.
Kazan Cathedral is St. Petersburg’s main cathedral, and is consecrated to the miracle-working copy of the venerable Our Lady of Kazan icon. Erected by Andrei Voronikhin in 1811, it is a unique example of Russian architecture.
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Smolny Cathedral is a functioning Orthodox church, as well as a concert hall and museum. Designed by Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli, it is rightly considered a gem of the St. Petersburg baroque style. The cathedral is part of the Smolny Monastery ensemble, which housed Russia’s first educational institution for girls.
A unique monument to Alexander II The Liberator, the Church of the Saviour on Blood (Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ) dominates the architectural ensemble in the centre of St. Petersburg. The cathedral features Russia’s biggest collection of mosaics (covering a total area of over 7,000 square metres), slabs of varicoloured Italian marble, ornamental stones from the Urals and the Altai, as well as a collection of Russian heraldic mosaics.
Founded in 1713, the Holy Trinity Alexander Nevsky Lavra (Monastery) is a unique architectural monument, the first and largest friary in St. Petersburg. Its main ensemble dates back to the eighteenth century. In addition to monastic buildings, the grounds of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra also accommodate various church workshops and the Museum of Urban Sculpture, which includes the world-famous Necropolis of Masters of the Arts.
The Tsarskoe Selo State Museum and Heritage Site, located in St. Petersburg’s nearest suburb, is a system of gardens and parks incorporating two palaces and adjoining grounds. The Catherine Palace houses the famous Amber Room, reopened following reconstruction in 2003.
The Catherine Palace forms the historic and compositional centrepiece of the palace and park complex at Tsarskoe Selo, a splendid example of the Russian baroque architectural style. The Tsarskoe Selo imperial residence was one of the Russian monarchs’ most beloved places. The gem of the Catherine Palace, which has been justifiably called one of the wonders of the world, is the Amber Room, which was reconstructed in 2003.
The Catherine Park consists of two parts – the regular Old Garden and the Landscape (English) Park. The park reflects a host of artistic styles – elegant baroque and strict classicism, chinoiserie and orientalism, and the architectural fantasies of the European gothic style. From Peter the Great to Nicholas II, the most daring ideas and whims of the park’s owners came to life here through the efforts of leading masters from Russia and Europe.
The Alexander Park is a masterpiece of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century park design. It is home to the Alexander Palace, Chinese-style constructions (Chinese Village, Chinese Bridges, Chinese Theatre), as well as structures in the gothic architectural style (White Tower, Arsenal, Chapelle, Imperial Farm). Today, the Alexander Palace, a brilliant example of classical architecture, is undergoing restoration.
The first museum in modern Russia dedicated to World War I is located in the Sovereign’s Martial Chamber, conceived by Emperor Nicholas II as a pantheon of military glory. Among its exhibits are weapons, uniforms from different countries, decorations, personal items of soldiers who fought in the Great War, an exact replica of the Nieuport 17 French fighter plane used during World War I, and an authentic Ford automobile from the 1910s.
In 1949, on the eve of the 150th anniversary of Alexander Pushkin’s birth, the memorial Lyceum Museum was opened in Tsarskoe Selo, in the building of the former Imperial Tsarskoe Selo Lyceum. In the first quarter of the nineteenth century, the Lyceum was one of the best educational establishments in Russia for noble boys. Pushkin studied there between 1811 and 1817. There, the future poet found devoted friends who remained faithful to the sacred Lyceum fraternity until the end of their days. The museum recreates the atmosphere in which the first pupils to graduate lived and studied.
The Pavlovsk State Museum is an ensemble of late eighteenth–early nineteenth-century palaces and parks situated in the suburbs of St. Petersburg. The park covers an area of roughly 600 hectares and surrounds the summer palace of Emperor Paul I. The Pavlovsk park is one of the largest landscaped gardens in Europe.
The Konstantin Palace is a resurrected monument to the history and architecture of the eighteenth century. It is the former residence of the Romanov grand princes and the dominating structure of the National Congress Palace State Complex. The reconstructed ensemble serves as both a state residence and a modern business, historical, and cultural centre. It has hosted a Russia–EU Summit, a meeting of G8 heads of state, and an unprecedented G20 leaders’ summit.
The magnificent ensemble of parks and palaces at Peterhof was founded as a country retreat for Peter I. The Versailles-inspired fountain system of the Lower Park and the Grand Palace are a unique testament to the engineering achievements of the first half of the eighteenth century. In addition to the traditional expositions, guests are also welcome to visit the Museum of Imperial Bicycles, the Museum of Playing Cards, the Benois Family Museum, and the Museum of Collections.
The Gatchina Palace and Estate Museum incorporates the Grand Palace, which was formerly the residence of the royal family, a park, and the unique Priory Palace built for the Knights of Malta. The museum housed in the Grand Gatchina Palace displays an extensive collection of household items, china, glass, textiles and costumes, weapons dating back to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and paintings and drawings. The museum hosts themed costume events.