Article by: Hazafa Hasan
We know what you are thinking. Russia is not the very first place that pops up in mind when one is thinking of having a relaxing summer vacation. Even if you did go to Russia, you might be tempted to explore Moscow, but we are here to make a case for Saint Petersburg. Intense, right? What can we say the history buff inside us demands that we explore this historic city that is majestic in its beauty and leaves you spellbound. Also, May to August are the peak months to visit the place, as it gets very cold in the rest of the months. But maybe you’d love to see the snow-covered Saint Petersburg which we have heard is quite a sight.
Our love for Saint Petersburg first dates back to the day when we watched the animated version of Anastasia. It is a tale rooted in sorrow and mystery. The actual Anastasia was the youngest daughter of Russian Romanov Tsar, Nicholas II, the last sovereign of Imperial Russia, whose whole family was assassinated amidst the Russian Revolution by militia 1918.
A portrait of the Romanovs. (Photo: Smithsonian Magazine)
The animated version plays on the legend that Anastasia escaped this tragic fate and is reunited years later, with her grandmother in Paris as a young woman. The animated version was set in the Saint Petersburg as well. We can still recall Once Upon a December by heart.
(Video: Movie Predictor)
Now for the city itself…
It is ideal for the people who love their vacation spots to have history, beauty and character. All of which are in abundance in Saint Petersburg. You can enjoy a new culture, magnificent architecture and classic artistic traditions that flow through the vibrant streets of this city. You will never run out of places to visit here in the legendary city of Russia.
If you aren’t the kind to laze around beaches and prefer to walk and explore. This is the best place for you. You have to visit the Winter Palace, the imperial residence of the Tsars and the site of Hermitage Museum. You can actually visit the rooms that were styled to give you a peek into the royal lifestyle. There is also Mikhailovsky Palace or the Russian Museum is where you can look at the paintings, fabrics and other artifacts from the Imperial Russian era. The Yelagin Palace is where sits the Museum of Glass Art – where all the important musical events, gatherings and tulip festival is held. The Marble Palace boasts of an architecture that used over thirty types of marble. Yusupov Palace is where diplomatic meetings are held and hosts many notable people from all over the world.
You will find the favorite residence of the Nicholas II, the iconic Alexander Palace in Pushkin. On the other hand, is the Catherine Place; famous for its gold décor, Great Hall, Golden Enfilade and Amber Room. A hundred kilograms of solid gold is gracing the place interior.
A still of the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo: Visit Petersburg)
The Hermitage Museum. (Photo: GetYourGuide)
The Mikhailovsky Palace. (Photo: SaintPetersburg)
The Yelagin Palace. (Photo: Haoss Forum)
The Yusupov Palace. (Photo: Air France)
The Alexander Palace (Photo: Russia Beyond)
This Palace Square or as known as Dvortsovaya Ploshchad is a public area that’s both famous and notorious. The historic events like the Red October and the Bloody Sunday happened here. Now the festivals and concerts are held here. It attracts lots of architect enthusiasts as it combines baroque, neoclassical architectural styles. One can also visit the nearby Admiralty Garden and be mesmerized by the beauty of it!
Dvortsovaya Ploshchad (Photo: Palace Square)
Dvortsovaya Ploshchad (Photo: Saint-Petersburg.com)
This is the second largest museum in the world that houses over 3 million items. It would take 11 years for anyone to check out all the displays for one minute. You will find the works of all famous masters here like Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Monet and other collector’s items of the Tsars. This museum is Russia’s ode to its love of art and culture. A major part of the museum is in the Winter Palace so you can’t miss it. For contemporary art enthusiasts, you can visit the Erarta Museum of Contemporary Art, Anna Nova Art Gallery and Art re. Flex Gallery and Novy Muzei.
The Hermitage Museum. (Photo: Tinggly)
A network of canals and bridges run through Saint Petersburg, making it look like Venice in Italy. This area of the city boasts of extravagant palaces, museums and theatres. You can cruise through these canals and view the city from a fresh perceptive. Iconic places like Mariinsky Theatre, New Holland and Bell Tower of St. Nicholas Cathedral sit on the banks. You should not miss out on the opening of the Neva Bridge as that’s a site in itself.
River Channels across St. Petersburg (Photo: Remiro Travel)
If you are in Saint Petersburg from September to June, you should check out the world renowned live dramas, musicals and ballet performances in the theatres. Many art lovers visit St. Petersburg for the sole reasons of the watching these performances. The Mariinsky Theatre is the oldest one in town, as it opened in 1860. There are also Mikhalovsky, Nikolaevsky and Hermitage Theatre in the city to cater to you.
(Photo: Product Hunt)
All of us are familiar with the St. Basil Cathedral in the Moscow, but Saint Petersburg boasts of the Church of the Savior of the Spilled Blood. It is built in Medieval Russian architecture and is where the Alexander II was murdered (hence the name). Other notable cathedrals are; Kazan Cathedral, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, Chesme Church, Smolny Cathedral, Church of Vladimir, etc.
Church of the Savior of the Spilled Blood. (Photo: 4usky.com)
St. Isaac’s Cathedral. (Photo: Saint-Petersburg.com)
Kazan Cathedral. (Photo: Saint-Petersburg.com)
Church of Vlad. (Photo: Saint-Petersburg.com)
Not exactly a place but the arctic sun eventually never sets during the polar nights (late May to early July). The lack of night imbued life into the veins of the city and it doesn’t really sleep. You can stroll the city round the clock or cruise up and down the river. Have fun exploring New Holland Island, Summer Garden, Lake Ladoga and Komarovo Beach.
Around 15th to 25th June every year, the Scarlett Sails Festival attracts over 3 million people. Based on a fairy tale by Alexander Green, this festival celebrates youth, young graduates, love, hopes and dreams. It starts with a concert at Dvortsovaya Square for school graduates. Then comes the orchestra, water show lights, pyrotechnics and a display of ships sailing in the river.
(Photo: The Moscow Times)
Where to eat in the City of Tsars?
St. Petersburg is the second largest city in Russia and consequently offers a variety of culinary delights. You can dine at Tsar-worthy fine dining establishments to cozy and humble pancakes and soup outlets. You can enjoy traditional Russian cuisines surrounding by the palatial serenity or eat out at modern rooftop terraces that serve international fusion menus. Stroganoff Steak House is famous for its quality imported meat selection. Literary Café is notable because this was where Pushkin had his last meal in 1837. You can enjoy many Russian fish recipes at the Russkaya Rybalka. For American food, you can visit Erivan. To curb your Italian craving you can visit Francesco. Beau Rivage serves delicious French cuisines and enjoys Japanese or Italian food at the trendiest Ginza.
We understand that this might not be your typical vacation spot, but we are sure history buffs like us will find it hard to contain their joy at this fantasia of a city.