St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg is one of the world’s largest domed cathedrals, holding 14,000 people. This massive church and its golden dome can be seen from many locations in St. Petersburg.St. Isaac’s was commissioned in 1818 by Tsar Alexander I to celebrate the victory over Napoleon, and the French architect Auguste de Montferrand was the designer. St. Isaac’s took 40 years to build, and Montferrand died the year it opened. It sits on a marshy bank of the Neva River, and thousands of huge wooden pilings were sunk into the mud to support the church. The exterior of St. Isaac’s is of Renaissance and Baroque design, and the interior is spectacular because of the mosaics and many precious stones and minerals used. The golden dome is covered with 220 pounds of gold. During the Soviet era, the Orthodox Church was closed to worshipers and became a museum of atheism. Fortunately, many of the wonderful 19th century works of art were retained and decorate today’s St. Isaac’s.
The Winter Palace is undoubtedly the most famous building of imperial St. Petersburg, not only as the residence of the Tsars and the backdrop for the 1905 and 1917 Revolutions, but also as the home of the Hermitage, the world’s largest museum of art.
The present structure, completed in 1762 and designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli, was commissioned by the Empress Elizabeth. Its opulent baroque facade, stretching two hundred meters, is a veritable cornucopia of pilasters, bays, and statuary.The palace served as the winter residence for every ruler of Russia since Peter III, who installed himself there along with his mistress, the Countess Vorontsova.
After his wife Catherine the Great seized the throne, she redecorated and appropriated her husband’s old quarters. While her son Nicholas I lived in a modest apartment there, his wife Alexandra commissioned the famously luxurious Malachite Room, later to be used as the meeting place for Kerensky’s Provisional Government. Nicholas II had his quarters immediately above this room until 1904, when he moved from the increasingly discontented capital to Tsarskoe Selo.
In July of 1917, the Provisional Government took up residence here, thus setting the stage for the October Revolution. After consolidating its power, the Bolshevik government transferred its capital to Moscow, and since that time the Winter Palace has been associated primarily with its role as the Hermitage Museum
Peterhof is the greatest of all of St. Petersburg’s suburban estates. The best time to visit is during the summer (June through October) when all the varied buildings are open to visitors and the beautiful fountains are operating.Peterhof - which means Peter’s Court – is one St. Petersburg’s most popular and famous visitor attractions.
V. I. Lenin, one of the organizers of the October Revolution of 1917, and the founder of the Soviet State, died on January 21, 1924. Professor Alexei Ivanovich Abrikosov, a prominent Russian pathologist and anatomist at the time, embalmed the body so that it could be displayed to the public. It is still being displayed to this day.
A wooden tomb was designed and built by architect Aleksey Shchusev, and the tomb was placed in Red Square by the Kremlin Wall on January 27 so that the Russian people could visit the tomb. The architect Konstatin Melnikov designed the first sarcophagus.
In 1929 the wooden mausoleum was changed to one made of stone. A new sarcophagus was designed in 1973 by sculptor Nikolai Tomsky.
Tens of millions of people have visited Lenin’s tomb since 1924. It is still a major attraction in Moscow and visitors wait in long lines to view Lenin’s body. Photos and videos are forbidden, as is talking in the tomb.
St. Basil’s Cathedral is a magnificent piece of architecture that appeals to everyone.
The Cathedral is a uniquely Russian structure. The towers and domes lack symmetry and consistency, yet the effect of each structure taken together is a wonderful sight.
There are nine separate chapels, one under each of the domes. The central tower unifies the structure into a whole.
The Cathedral was built 1555-1561 to commemorate Ivan’s the Terrible’s defeat of the Tatar City of Kazan. The statue in front of St. Basil’s dates from 1818, and portrays Minim and Pozharsky who drove Polish invaders out of Moscow in the early 1600′s.
It was moved from the middle of Red Square in 1936 because it impeded the many parades that marched through the Square.
The Cathedral was named after Basil, one of Russia’s barefoot “holy fools” (the most famous one being Rasputin). Basil died while Kazan was still under siege.
The word “kremlin” means fortification, and there are many across Russia. However, “The Kremlin” always refers to the Kremlin in Moscow.
The history of The Kremlin goes back to the reign of the Great Prince Yuri of Kiev, considered to be the founder of Moscow. There is an equestrian statue, erected in 1954, on Tverskaya St. honoring the Great Prince. The white stone walls and towers of the Kremlin were erected in 1367 by Dmitry Donskoy. The Kremlin was totally rebuilt between 1485 and 1495. It was after the rebuilding that it acquired its present appearance and dimensions.
At the beginning of the 18th century, Peter I moved the capital of Russia to St. Petersburg, but the coronation of Russian tzars continued to be held in within the Kremlin walls in the Cathedral of the Dormition. There you will see the actual chair in which Ivan IV (Terrible) sat during the ceremony.
The Soviet government moved the capital back to Moscow in 1917, and the Kremlin became the seat of the highest state bodies, known as the “preserve,” where only those who lived or worked there were admitted.
Only since 1955 have the unique museums of the Kremlin become accessible to the public. The old cathedrals resumed religious services and the Kremlin bells, which had been silent for over 70 years, ring joyously throughout the area.
Also inside the Kremlin walls is the Kremlin Armoury Museum. The Kremlin Armoury requires a separate admission ticket. It is well worth the price ! Inside the Kremlin Armoury you will find the Crown Jewels, various other gifts given to the Russian state, some Faberge eggs and even the gown worn by Catherine the Great at her coronation.
The Moscow Kremlin has been the residence of Russian tzars and hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church. Since 1992 it has been the residence of the President of the Russian Federation and his administration.
The Kremlin remains a unique monument of Russian culture and will always be a symbol of Russian statehood.
The Hermitage Museum is Russia’s best gallery of world art, one of the most prominent art museums in the world and definitely the main tourist attraction of St. Petersburg. The museum was founded in 1764 when Catherine the Great purchased a collection of 255 paintings from the German city of Berlin.
Today, the Hermitage boasts over 2.7 million exhibits and displays a diverse range of art and artifacts from all over the world and from throughout history (from Ancient Egypt to the early 20th century Europe).
The Hermitage’s collections include works by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and Titian, unique collection of Rembrandts and Rubens, many French Impressionist works by Renoir, Cezanne, Manet, Monet and Pissarro, numerous canvasses by Van Gogh, Matisse, Gaugin and several sculptures by Rodin. The collection is both enormous and diverse and is an essential stop for all those interested in art and history.
The main building of the Hermitage Museum is the Winter Palace, which was once the main residence of the Russian Tsars. Magnificently located on the bank of the Neva River, this green-and-white three-storey palace is a marvel of Baroque architecture and boasts 1,786 doors, 1,945 windows and 1,057 elegantly and lavishly decorated halls and rooms, many of which are open to the public.
The Baroque Winter Palace was built between 1754 and 1762 and its first resident was none other than the celebrated Catherine the Great. Many of the palace’s impressive interiors were remodeled after the huge fire that partly destroyed the building in 1837.
Some of the best Russian and most famous foreign architects worked exhaustively to ensure that this Imperial residence was one of the finest and most luxurious palaces in the world.
The collections at the Hermitage are displayed in adjoining buildings along the Neva embankment, together form an enormous museum complex: the Winter Palace, the Small Hermitage, the Old Hermitage and lastly the New Hermitage. The Hermitage Theater, the private theater of the Tsars, is a beautifully decorated amphitheater and still hosts regular lectures, concerts, opera and Russian ballet performances.
The experts say that if you were to spend a minute looking at each exhibit on display in the Hermitage, you would need 11 years before you’d seen them all. We suggest you opt for one of our tour guides.
Open: Tuesday to Saturday 10:30am to 6pm Sundays and national holidays 10:30am to 5pm The Hermitage Museum is closed on Mondays. Ticket offices close one hour before the museum closes