Updated: Nov 8, 2019
Tsarskoye Selo State Museum
Catherine The Great Palace, former imperial palace of the summer residence of the Tsars. It was also here that the Romanov was captured during the Red October Revolution that lead the fall to Imperial Russia. This palace also houses the magnificent AMBER ROOM, 180 square feet, glowed with six tons of amber and worth $142 million in todays value!
As the name suggests, this is a summer palace, and I presume, best visited in summer when the weather is warmer, and brighter. Therefore at this window of time, the crowds that hoard to this palace can be quite overwhelming! But there is a hack, just like every Disneyland you ever visited, a fast pass can save time and effort in visiting these gems.
In this case hire a guide to queue for you while you go frolicking in the gardens of the palace or have a coffee break while someone stand in the long queue for you!
The amber room was built in 1701, a gift from the King of Prussia at that time Frederick William 1 to cement the Prussia-Russia alliance against Sweden. This original room suffered great lost during the WORLD WAR 2 was heavily looted by the Nazi and perhaps vanished from the face of the earth and till today it is a mystery as to where is it!!
This replica was made in 2003, although I can't compare it to the original, but it is pretty magnificent. As you enter the gold and amber dazzles you, the amount of gems in this room is seriously quite overwhelming. Heavily guarded and only a limited time is allowed in this room. The palace is literally bursting at it's seams! It is hard to find a quiet space to feel or wonder about the moment when it was all pomp and pageantry.
Peterhof Palace and Gardens
The spectacular garden park was completed around 1724 order of Peter the Great. The garden has many water features and playful fountains to keep young children occupied too. It is great in summer and better if the suns shines for you! They are snowed as the "Russian Versailles" and are an UNESCO World heritage site. The gardens look out to the Gulf of Finland and on a clear day you can see as far to Finland.
the park is divided into
upper park, at the entrance and you can visit for free
lower park, the gems are all here and there is an entrance fee of 700 rb. Everday in summer, the Great Cascade is launch at 11am which extends from the north facade of the Grade Palace to the marina channel! It comprises 64 different fountains and over 200 bronze statues, the sight , the water, the smell, is truly spectacular and I wouldn't miss coming here!!
Things to know
Winter and early spring might not be the best time to come as it will be in deep freeze! There won't be any fountain shows
like most of the popular sights in St.Petersburg, the is always a long queue, by buying it on-line saves tremendous amount of time! The Peterhof tickets are rather complicated, I would recommend a guide otherwise do double check on their official website
But how could you live and have no story to tell....Fyodor Dostoevsky
THE STATE HERMITAGE MUSEUM
You don't need to be an arty or cultured person to appreciate the treasure of this museum. The 2nd largest art in the world you it was founded in 1764. The collection includes Egyptian antiquities, Classical antiquities, Prehistoric art, Jewelry, Italian renaissance, Dutch and flemish Baroque, Russian art and my favorite French Neoclassical, impressionist and post impressionist art.
It is rather amazing to see such a wealth of collection of French Impressionist art in Russia, and there is a genius to this reason, Sergei Shchukin So inspiring to have an eye for good thing in life and the wealth to back it up!
Depending on which season you visit the museum, there will be a queue, just a matter of how long it is. So, major advise is to purchase your tickets on-line or e-ticketing, get a guide to walk you through the history of art through 5000 years , you will come out a different person, richer in heart!!
Allocate the whole day appreciating these collections or if you are a history buff, you will need 2 if not 3 days. I kept it short and sweet, one day my cup was full!!
Churches in St. Petersburg
There are so many churches in St.Petersburg, during the soviet times, the Communist political party was against any freedom of worship, most of them were destroyed and stripped to fuel the industrialization during the Russian Revolution. Today, thanks to the on-going plan to reconstruct and renovate the churches they are experiencing a rebirth and you won't be far from one any one!
Unless you are a religious Orthodox Christian or have a keen interest in church architecture, I wouldn't spend all my time going church hunting, but if you have to, here are a few that you should not miss......
Church of the Spilled Blood
St Issac Cathedral
This is an outstanding example of the mid-19th century Russian neo-classical architectural style and biggest Orthodox cathedral in St. Petersburg. You could clim up to the dome of the cathedral and have a panoramic look around the city! Truly beautiful St. Petersburg.
Peter and Paul Cathedral/Fortress
It is a landmark of St.Petersburg, was used as a military base, marks the birthplace of the city. The Peter and Paul Cathedral symbolizes imperial Russia since the cathedral once served as a burial site for the imperial family. There is also a secret escape passageway around the fortress for the Tsar. Just walking around the fort and absorbing the vibes in this area is so pleasurable and relaxing! Somehow there were not so many crowds and tourist here.
Canal Tour on the Fontana River
There are a huge number of historical buildings on the Fontana river that was once a southern boundary of the city. A boat ride on this river is definitely a must, passing through bridges, famous buildings and apartments is truly extraordinary.
There is a myriad of things to do in St. Petersburg, I wished i had more time there. Here are the other places that you should visit if you have time.......
General Staff Building, Yusupov Palace (Dark history of Raspuitein death), catch a ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre, Catherine Park, walk on Nevsky Prospect, some of the most beautiful buildings you will find there, I have a favorite on that street, Eliseyev Emporium, pretend you are doing your groceries there, Admiralty Buildings, explore the many bridges in St. Petersburg, the are few suspension bridges that draws up to allow the ships through during certain times.
Beware, just like always when you are in a foreign land, always hold on to your wallet. Keep it somewhere safe where preys find it hard to reach. They modus operandi of these thieves are walking really close to you while their partner blocks your path, and they pick your pocket!
St. Petersburg is truly magnificent and once is never enough!
If you look for perfection, you'll never be content........Leo Tolstoy
Date of visit: Summer 2016