Among the cold wind and the fallen snow, Saint Petersburg displays a show of blues, greens, and golds within elegant and fun shapes through its diverse architectural styles, also hinting at the history the city has been through. You can imagine the old Russian royal family coming to the Winter Palace looking for entertainment during the long winter months among their opulence and the coats of ice on the windows. For as long as your stay lasts, you’ll be looking at the same landscape Catherine the Great once observed.
St Petersburg is Russia’s cultural capital and second largest city after Moscow. It also holds Russia’s biggest and most important port on the Baltic Sea. The Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments are considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Besides from it multiple museum and theaters, including the worldwide known Hermitage Museum, you can find many international businesses and foreign consulates too.
Saint Petersburg was founded in 1703 by Peter the Great, and the magnificent Winter Palace was finished in 1762. Since the city was built in a European style on the western outskirts of the country and it also replaced the “Asian” Moscow in the east as the new capital city, the establishment of St Petersburg was considered the Europeanization of Russia. The Winter Palace is the most remarkable creation within the city.
This city has witnessed and been a big part of the history of both its country and Europe. This was the place where revolution developed, leading to 70 long years of Communism in Russia. It also changed names – St Petersburg became Leningrad by the new administration and it was an important defense that held up against the expanse of Nazism during World War II, also experiencing the end of the old Soviet Union and Russia’s re-development.
One of the places that have persevered through all this history is the Winter Palace. A large regal building, covering about 200 meters along the riverfront. This palace holds different buildings, such as the Hermitage Museum and Theater, built by Catherine the Great. An empress that encouraged the revolution and end of the dynasty through her love for power and wealth.
Whenever you stand in front or step inside the Winter Palace you perceive an undeniable sense of history. You can easily picture the Russian royal family enjoying their luxurious lifestyle, protected from the tough realities of their subject’s daily lives.
What to do in the city?
The Hermitage is a destination you can’t miss. This lavish museum stores one of the best art collections in the world. If you arrive early enough, you could have work by Monet or Picasso all to yourself among the 2.8 million displays the museum offers.
This is not the only museum you’ll find in the city. St Petersburg holds a rich collection of diverse museums where you’ll find world-famous places such as the Russian Museum and others unique ones such as the Museum of Musical Instruments, Museum of professional orientation, the museum of puppets and the Dostoevsky museum.
As we mentioned before, Saint Petersburg is Russia’s cultural capital, and you won’t be disappointed. The city has over 200 museums, 80 theaters, 2000 libraries, 62 cinemas, 45 galleries and 100 concert organizations, among many other cultural institutions. In addition, the city hosts about 100 various cultural competitions and festivals, half of which are international ones.
The Petersburg School of Ballet is considered one of the best and its traditions and prominent dancers are admired all throughout the world, so watching at least one ballet performance is an experience you cannot miss.
If you’re interested in architecture, St Petersburg gathers three centuries of different European architectural styles, thanks to the loss of capital city status. All the major modern projects were built in Moscow and this helped the historic city center to maintain pre-revolutionary buildings and its original architectural appearance.
How to get there?
Saint Petersburg maintains the feeling of imperial Russia. Even though it may sound counterintuitive because of how cold Russian cities get during the winter, it is still the best season to visit St Petersburg in order to get the full experience. You can protect yourself from the cold within the glowy and beautiful walls of the Winter Palace, in true tsar style.
Although the communist period is long gone, the process to get a visa hasn’t changed much and it’s still considerable tedious, especially due to the all the paperwork needed. However, a visa agency can help you throughout the procedure.
Many European airlines travel to St Petersburg, but you could also take the train through Europe if you want to. Because of how large the city is, the best idea is to book a central hotel. This will give you a lot more time to tour if you don’t have to spend too much of it going back to your lodge. The subway is a great mean of transport, but you have to be very careful since the station signs are hard to read and you can miss your stop.