Downtown St. Petersburg is full to bursting with splendid attractions - impressive historical monuments and memorials, archaic handsome palaces, orthodox cathedrals and churches and a hundred interesting and informative museums. Beautiful canals and bridges earning St. Petersburg the distinction as “Venice of the North” intersect these must-see places.
Here’s a quick recap of the city’s history - how it survived changes in Russian empire, the World War II and how its rich culture transcended all odds.
St. Petersburg was established by Peter the Great in the 18th century and was the capital of the Russian empire. Of recent, the capital was moved to Moscow, but St. Petersburg undeniably remains as a major cultural core of Europe. Tsar Peter had an elaborate plan to completely move the imperial capital to the city, thus the construction of buildings as the Kunstkamera, Menshikov Palace, and Peter and Paul Cathedral - few of the prominent 18th century architectural wonders that stood the test of time. The Tsar’s plan to modernize Russia was thwarted after his death and the proposed development of the city was stopped. However, this grand plan can still be discerned by the layout of the streets.
Even with St. Petersburg as the imperial center, noble families were still reluctant to move in to the city. With this, Tsar Peter ordered a ban on erecting stone building elsewhere in the Russia. This resulted to the construction of several grand palaces, which served as residences of nobilities. Many of the palaces suffered gravely due to several bouts with wars and revolutions, but were carefully reconstructed to restore magnificence and to continue sharing the city’s tales of victory and defeat. One of the most visited is the White Palace, which has been a mute witness to the lavish lives of the monarchs of the empires as well as the bloody crimes committed during their rule.
The city is home to a hundred different museums housing impressive art collections gathered across the world. Most galleries pay homage to the rich culture and history of the city, while others take on a more contemporary approach by showcasing scientific and technological wonders. The most famous museums in the place are the Hermitage Museum, the Russian Museum and the Kunstkammer. If you have the fascination for medieval militarism - arms, artillery and armors, prison, garrison and the like - it is a must that you visit Mikhailovsky Castle, as well as the Peter and Paul Fortress. Want a break from the overwhelming historical and ethnographic artifacts - take a detour and unwind the Beer Museum.
Art is not just found indoors for hundreds of amazing monuments and sculptures are scattered all over parks and even atop buildings in the city. One major landmark is the equestrian monument dedicated to the city’s founder. Another one is that of Catherine the Great, Russia’s magnificent empress as prominent people surround her in her reign.
The city is also divided and joined by a complex system of waterways and bridges. They do, however add to the overall aesthetic appeal of the city making it truly deserving of the name - Venice of the North. Of the few that you should miss are bridges of Neva River, Fontanka River, Griboedov Canal and Moika River.
The sights are not the only reasons why you should go visit the place. They also hold annual festivities, which showcase the avant-garde ballet performances of St. Petersburg - deemed as the world’s finest as well as musical and orchestral performances. Visit St. Petersburg and get ready for the ultimate aesthetic experience you will never see elsewhere.