If there’s one port city in the whole world that I just cannot get bored of writing about, it’s St Petersburg. The jewel of Russia and one of the major highlights of a Baltics cruise itinerary, St Petersburg is packed with exciting landmarks and attractions, with a real mix giving that feel of being the kind of city anyone can enjoy.
St Petersburg has an intricate canal network that gives the city an air of tranquillity and beauty, leading to it earning the nickname as the ‘Venice of the North’. There are also plenty of museums, churches and palaces to see, so here’s a quick list of my own personal top five for you to enjoy:
#1 Hermitage Museum
One of the most famous museums in the whole world, the Hermitage Museums consists of six buildings on the banks of the Neva River including the Winter Palace, where emperors used to reside. The museum is home to some three million artefacts and pieces of art, although obviously not all can be on show at any one time. It remains one of the most –visited museums in the whole world.
#2 Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood
This is simply a stunning example of lavish architectural design at its best. With colourful domed towers and internal, intricate mosaics – over 7,500 square meters and more than any other church in the world – decorating the walls, the whole church is a thing of beauty, and a must-see attraction for your visit to the city.
#3 Peter and Paul Fortress
The Peter and Paul Fortress is a large complex of museum buildings that includes the Peter and Paul Cathedral with a high-reaching bell tower. There are numerous exhibits dedicated to the history of the city, while the fortress itself has been faithfully rebuilt since being damaged during German attacks in the Second World War.
#4 Mariinsky Theater
Russian ballet is a thing of true beauty, and there is nowhere more fitting to take in a performance of this incredible art than the Mariinsky Theater, itself a historic and impressive structure. You can also see amazing opera performances if that’s more to your taste.
#5 Catherine Palace
OK, technically the Catherine Palace isn’t in St Petersburg, but it is close enough to count. Especially as it’s sometimes included on cruise excursions. Built in the 18th century it’s a truly awe-inspiring stately home adorned with amazing golden décor. It suffered heavily during the Second World War with a lot of internal damage, but reconstructions are still taking place.
By Ian Lewis