St Petersburg is an enthralling city for many reasons. Formerly shrouded in mystery as a result of the Cold War, it is an impressive city, remarkable for its spectacular onion domes and Tsarist imperial architecture, as well as its role as the cultural capital of Russia.
Many cruise ships stop overnight in St Petersburg, which allows visitors the chance to see more than just the obvious attractions and perhaps even venture outside of the city to see the opulent palaces of the countryside beyond. If you want to visit St Petersburg as part of your cruise, book your cruise with cruise.co.uk.
Naturally, any visitor to St Petersburg will be keen to see the features for which the city is famous. The city skyline is dominated by the golden dome of St Isaac’s Cathedral and a visit to this impressive building is a must, while another church worth a visit is that of ‘the Saviour on the Spilled Blood’, which is remarkable both for its onion domes and as the spot where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated.
For those with an interest in history, Palace Square was once a seat of power, dating back to the time when St Petersburg was capital of the vast Tsarist Russian Empire.
The River Neva wends its way through the city and the impressive battleship Aurora, which fired the blank shot that signalled the start of the Russian Revolution, is now berthed there as a permanent museum.
The counterpart of the Louvre in Paris or the National Gallery in London is the Hermitage in St Petersburg. It is one of the world’s oldest and largest museums, having been built by Catherine the Great and opened to the public in 1852. Its collections contain somewhere in the region of three million items.
The range on show is similarly impressive and stretches from classical antiquities through to modern art and includes pieces by Matisse, Picasso and Rembrandt, to name but a few.
St Petersburg Culture
As if the collected wonders of the Hermitage weren’t enough, the city is also the cultural capital of Russia and it is easy to see why. For a taste of authentic national folklore, an evening of traditional dance and song, complete with performances by Cossacks, at the Carnival Concert Hall should not be missed.
For a more refined evening, but one that is no less Russian in its roots, a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, accompanied by the State Governor’s Symphony Orchestra, at the Aurora Theatre is an unforgettable opportunity to see some of the greatest ballet in its spiritual home.
Escaping the City
If your cruise ship is stopping overnight at St Petersburg, you have a rare chance to explore the wonders beyond the city limits. One real highlight is the Peterhof Palace, a testament to true Tsarist splendour which was personally designed by Peter the Great himself.
It is set in 300 acres of parkland, which is dotted with a remarkable array of fountains, the high point of which is the Golden Cascade complete with its statue of Samson and a lion.
This visit can be topped off with a unique return to the city by hydrofoil, which takes around thirty minutes and allows you to see the Gulf of Finland, the shipyards and the Petrovsky Stadium.
Any cruise-ship stopover in St Petersburg offers passengers a rare glimpse of this marvellous Russian city in all its splendour, from the domes of its cathedrals to the artwork in its galleries and the palaces on its outskirts. St Petersburg is truly an unforgettable destination.