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Saint Nicholas of the Sailors Church in St. Petersburg.St. Petersburg is a mecca for lovers of beauty. The imperial city of golden spires, golden domes, pastel palaces and picturesque canals. With its arrow-straight avenues, leafy parks and lovely architecture, Petersburg is as staggeringly impressive as New York or Paris.

St. Petersburg is in essence a museum under the open air that houses some of the world' s most famous museums, including the Hermitage museum, the architectural ensemble of Peterhof or the Kirov Ballet of the Mariinsky Theater. Officially proclaimed the "Cultural Capital of Russia" St. Petersburg is a place, where you need weeks just to see all its major landmarks.

The domes of the Church of the St. Samson. Built in 1709.

The domes of the Church of the St. Samson. Built in 1709.

St. Petersburg, Europe's fourth and Russia' s second largest city. It is also the most Western and certainly the most beautiful city of Russia.

White nights in St Petersburg.From the vibrant colours of spring, through the sunny summer days and endless twilights of the famous White Nights, the brilliant golden sun of autumn, and into the crisp and brittle brightness of a St. Petersburg winter, the City casts its own unique spell over visitors.

A street lamp in Saint-Petersburg.Built by Peter the Great in 1703 as a 'window to the West', St. Petersburg soon became the center of Russian cultural life. Designed by world renowned architects, St. Petersburg is a perfect combination of classicism, baroque and romanticism styles.

When it was nine years old it became the capital of Russia and retained this status till 1918. Even now it is referred to as the "Northern capital" of Russia. The year 2003 marks the 300th anniversary of the founding of St. Petersburg. With 300 years of its history St. Petersburg accumulated all the grandeur of the Russian Imperial Court and became one of the largest centers of culture, science and industry.

Hermitage Bridge, the sky walk from one building of the Winter Palace to another in Saint Petersburg.

Nevsky Prospect

Nevsky Prospect at night.Nevsky Prospect is one of best known streets in Russia and definitely the main avenue of St Petersburg.

Cutting through the most historical part of the city, it runs from the Admiralty to the Moscow Railway Station and then, after a slight turn, to the Alexander Nevsky Monastery.

In the very first days of St Petersburg it was the beginning of a road to Novgorod, but was soon decorated with some fine buildings, squares and bridges. Getting wider as it goes, Nevsky becomes most beautiful where it has Kazan Cathedral on one side and the "Dom Knigi" book store on the other, with a wonderful view down Kanal Griboedova to the picturesque Russian-style Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood.

Outside Gostiny Dvor. In addition to the many churches of different denominations there are many more attractions around.
Just a stone's throw from Nevsky, right by the Grand Hotel Europe, there are Arts Square and the Russian Museum. Further down the road, the largest department store in the city - "Gostiny Dvor", the National Library of Russia (second largest in the country), the monument to Catherine the Great, Anichkov Bridge with its beautiful statues and much more. Nevsky is a prime place for shopping, entertainment and nightlife.

Food store in St. Petersburg. Food store in St. Petersburg.

Kazan Cathedral

On Nevski Prospect there's a building that immediately attracts your attention.

Kazan Cathedral in Saint Petersburg.
Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg.

Kazan Cathedral encircles a small square with a double row of beautiful columns - an impressive colonnade. The architect Andre Voronikhin, who built this church in 1801-1811, was greatly inspired by Basilica of St Peter's in Rome. Kazan Cathedral was meant to be a Russian version of St Peter's and the main church of Russia. After the War of 1812 (during which Napoleon was defeated) the church became a monument to the Russian victory. The captured enemy banners were put in the cathedral and the famous Russian field marshal Mikhail Kutuzov, who won the most important campaign of 1812, was buried inside the church.

Archpriest  in Cazan Cathedral.After the October revolution of 1917 devastation of the Kazansky cathedral began. In September 1918 the cathedral's dean F. Ornatsky and his two sons were arrested by the CHK (Extraordinary Committee) and shot down.

In 1922 the VTZIK (All Russia Central Executive Committee) issued a decree for expropriation of almost all decorative objects and church utensils made of precious metals. The beautiful frame was ripped off the miraculous icon of Our Lady of Kazan, the main icon-stand destroyed.

Interior of the Kazan Cathedral.The clergyman, who worked in the cathedral, was subject to repressions. On December 26,1931, according to a Resolution issued by the Leningrad Regional Executive Committee the Kazansky cathedral was shut down and transferred to the management of the Academy of Sciences. A Museum of Atheism was created in the premises of the former cathedral.

Kazan Cathedral today.The date of November 4, 1990 can be considered the day of revival of the cathedral. On that day, after an interval of over sixty-years the directorate of the Museum of the History of Religion allowed a church service to be held inside the cathedral.

Since 1991, according to the agreement with the Museum's management, regular church services have been held in the cathedral on Sundays and Festivals.

Mariinsky Theater

Mariinsky Theater.
The world-renowned theater, known during Soviet times as the Kirov Opera and Ballet Theater, resumed its original name in 1992.

The present building dates back to 1859, when an earlier theater was remodeled and got its name - the Mariinsky.
During the pre-revolutionary years the theater was constantly under royal patronage.

Ballerina Anna Pavlova.Fiodor Shaliapin sang on its stage and among the most prominent dancers were Vatslav Nizhinsky, Matilda Kshesinskaya, Anna Pavlova and many others. The famous Rudolf Nureev danced here too.

Almost all of the Mariinsky's finest dancers were trained at St. Petersburg's Vaganova School of Choreography, still the world's premier ballet school in the classical tradition. It existed for over two hundred years.

Mariinsky Theater, P.  Warner photograph, 2001.

he building and its marvelous 1625-seat hall were severely damaged during the 900-day Siege of Leningrad and restored in 1944. Since then the theater has maintained its excellent reputation particularly for classical ballet.

The present-day repertoire of the Mariinsky Ballet Company includes, along with Petipa's legacy - Swan Lake, Le Corsaire, La Bayadere, The Sleeping Beauty (reconstruction of the 1890 production) - ballets staged by George Balanchine and John Neumeier.
The Neva River and the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography in St. Petersburg.
The Neva River and the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography in St. Petersburg.

St. Isaac's Cathedral

The dome of this cathedral dominates the skyline of St. Petersburg. On a clear sunny day one can see the gilded cupola of St Isaac's from miles away from its downtown site. You can climb up the stairs to the observation point at the dome and get a breathtaking view of the fascinating St Petersburg. (There were no elevators in the mid-19th century, so you will have to climb 300 stairs).

St.Isaac's Cathedral at night.
St.Isaac's Cathedral at night.

The church itself is a real marvel. It is a remarkable memorial of the XIX century architecture, built for 40 years (1818-1858) to the design of French architect August Monferrand in Russian classical style.

Interior of St.Isaac's Cathedral .The cathedral is decorated with 43 types of minerals, among them 14 arts of marble. St.Isaac's is often called a museum of minerals. The interiors are decorated with 150 paintings, 62 mosaics, and works of Russian and Italian sculptors. columns are made of single pieces of red granite and weight 80 tons each. The observation platform on the colonnade provides a magnificent view of the city.

Inside the church many of the icons are the most exquisite mosaics. The Cathedral's largest mural (its area is more than 8,500 square feet) appears on the ceiling of the main dome.

St.Isaac's Cathedral. Main Dome painting by Karl Brullov.
St.Isaac's Cathedral. Main Dome painting by Karl Brullov.

The cathedral, which can accommodate 14 thousand worshipers, now serves as a museum and services are held only on major occasions.

Church of the Spilled Blood

Church of the Spilled Blood.This marvelous Russian-style church was built on the spot where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated in March 1881. After assuming power in 1855 in the wake of the disastrous defeat of Russia in the Crimean war against Britain, France and Turkey, Alexander II initiated a number of reforms. In 1861 he freed the Russian serfs (peasants, who were almost slaves). Within the first half of his reign military, judicial and urban reforms were undertaken and Russia became truly a capitalist country. After a series of attempts on his life, including an explosion in the Winter Palace and the derailment of a train, revolutionaries, who threw a bomb at his royal carriage, assassinated Alexander II.

Double-Headed Eagle is the symbol of Tsars' Russia. The church was built in 1883-1907 and was officially called the Resurrection of Christ Church (a.k.a. Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood). The royal family and thousands of private donors donated most of the money for the church. Both inside and outside, the church is decorated with unique mosaics, designed by the most prominent Russian artists of the time (V.M. Vasnetsov, M.V. Nesterov, M.A. Vrubel, etc.) and created in 1895-1907. For all the "Russian look" of the church, its main architect A. Parland was not even a Russian by origin.

Interior of the Church of the Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg.The altars in the church are carved from precious gemstones. Craftspeople knew they had produced a masterpiece when the stones appeared wet.

The church was closed for services in the 1930s, when Bolsheviks were destroying churches nationwide. times it was suggested that the church be torn down, for it stood as an "inappropriate" symbol of Christianity amidst the largely atheistic country. It is by a true miracle that the church was saved. A long careful restoration began in 1970s, which has lasted for over 25 years.The official opening took place in August, 1997 and now you can see this jewel in the crown of St. Petersburg in its stunning beauty.

Yusupov Palace

Yusupov Palace was the home to Russia's richest and most influential family "The Yusupovskys", also the place where Rasputin was murdered.

Prince Felix Yusupov.Yusupov palace in St. Petersburg was the staging place of the Assassination of the Infamous Rasputin.
In 1916 a group of men of high standing, including one of Grand Dukes Dmitri Pavlovich (a cousin of Nicholas II), led by the prominent prince Felix Yusupov, had conspired to kill a man who was to them a real threat to the future of the already war-torn Russian Empire. Grigory Rasputin, a peasant who had gained control over the tsar's family through his alleged supernatural powers, was murdered at the Yusupov Palace on the night of December 16-17, 1916, and his death was as mysterious as his life.

Princess Yusupov's Study.
Princess Yusupov's Study.

The Grand staircase of The Yusupov Palace.The Grand staircase of The Yusupov Palace is a masterpiece of craftsmanship and design. From the columns, sculptures, balusters, vases and walls, which are carved from white Carrara marble is truly a sight to see and experience.

Mosaic in the Moresque room.

The Moresque room walls are created from intricately fine detail works of mosaics. This Room was Prince Felix Yusupov favorite room. In his memoirs he wrote: "I loved the tender oriental luxury of this room. Here I used to dream about being on a magic carpet and traveling to many exotic places. This room has a very intoxicating aura that affects everybody's senses."

The Oak Room.
The Oak Room.

The private theater of The Yusupov Palace of is an outstanding work of art and merits special attention.
Yusupov palace - Theater .The small golden theater is deliberately imposing and a remarkable sight to see. Words cannot describe the beauty and elegant design of the theater. The Yusupov Theater is known to be one the world's most impressive theaters with gilded gold ornaments throughout the theater.
Being one the richest families in Europe this theater was designed to impress the Tsar of Russia and also all the kings and queens of Europe.

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For more information about St. Petersburg please visit their official site or,, St. Petersburg in architecture. To learn about State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, the world's largest museum of Russian art click here. To learn more about churches and museums of St. Petersburg click here.

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