The cultural capital of Russia, northern Venice, the brainchild of Peter – this is how St. Petersburg is often called, the second largest city in our vast country with a population of 4.8 million people. Few cities in the world can boast of so many attractions, museum collections, opera and drama theatres, estates and palaces, parks and monuments. The literary and musical heritage of St. Petersburg is no less outstanding – the number of writers, poets and composers who created inspiration on its foggy shoresdazzles even the wildest imagination. Along with Paris, Rome and Venice, St. Petersburg is included in the UNESCO List as a city in which the entire historical center is taken under patronage. Among other things, there are temples of 42 confessions, including an amazing mosque with a porcelain dome, a Buddhist monastery and one of the most beautiful chapels of the Order of Malta.
According to Clothesbliss, St. Petersburg is also a “ city of bridges ”. 68 rivers, canals and channels cross the city in different directions, forming 42 islands on its territory.
Hotels in St. Petersburg
The choice of places to stay in St. Petersburg is huge. Of course, during the white nights season (May-June), the best options are snapped up, and the worst ones become more expensive. But for the rest of the year, finding a decent hotel in St. Petersburg is not a problem. Moreover, the local conditions, including the level of service, cleanliness, comfort and location, are much better than in the same Moscow.
In recent decades, many mini-hotels, youth and apart-hotels have opened in St. Petersburg. For most tourists, these are almost ideal accommodation options: mini-hotels are not only economical, but also located mainly in the historical center, very atmospheric, cozy and well serviced. For about 2000 RUB per night you will get a separate room, an interesting view from the window, Wi-Fi and a hot breakfast with porridge and pancakes. In one of the central (and quite comfortable) hostels, the same will cost about 800 RUB, only, of course, without a room, but with a bed in a dormitory.
There are also enough top-class hotels in the city. In addition to the historical Astoria and Grand Hotel Europe, St. Petersburg has such hotel chains as Radisson, Corinthia, W, Sokos, Domina – a room in such a hotel can cost an average of 8000-9000 RUB. What is worse is with good “middle peasants”: there are not so many of them, and they are usually located quite far from the center.
What to bring from St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg’s range of souvenirs designed for foreign guests does not differ much from Moscow’s. The same key chains, magnets, postcards, household items and clothing of the Soviet era, knives, watches and various handicrafts: nesting dolls, caskets, trays, etc. What is recommended to be purchased in St. Petersburg is the products of the Imperial (Lomonosov) a porcelain factory and northern bone and wood carving, since the production centers are located in close proximity to the city.
Fans of military style will be happy to find in St. Petersburg a large number of specialized stores of ammunition and other military goods. Particularly noteworthy are the “naval” departments – the equipment of the glorious sailors of the Baltic Fleet, ship interesting things and a bunch of albums and books on the naval history of Russia.
In addition, you should definitely go to the art and antique salons of St. Petersburg. The choice of paintings is as great as anywhere else, and those who want to decorate their home with a painting are guaranteed not to leave without a purchase. Fans of antiquities will appreciate the antiques with a touch of imperial history.
The main places to buy mass-market souvenirs are open stalls and special shops in the historical center of the city, especially in the area of St. Isaac’s Cathedral, the Savior on Spilled Blood, the Winter Palace and the Hermitage. St. Petersburg museums always have mini-boutiques with art albums and other souvenirs.
- What to buy in St. Petersburg
Cafes and restaurants in St. Petersburg
Russian folk catering establishments in St. Petersburg are represented primarily by pancakes. The most popular of the specialized chain eateries of this kind are Chaynaya Lozhka and Teremok: the former are only in the format of a full-fledged dining room, and the latter are also street (stall). Also, among fans of fast and inexpensive food, the chain establishments Dining Room No. 1 and Pirogovy Dvorik are popular. A more stylish format is provided by the network Market place: here the cuisine is no longer exclusively Russian, and visitors themselves choose whether to confine themselves to a glass of kefir or to be tempted by a portion of wok with chicken.
The other side of the coin is high-level a la carte restaurants, which are also plentiful in the city. The most popular are establishments with Italian cuisine and sushi, as well as cuisines of the former Soviet republics and current neighbors – Uzbek, Georgian, etc.
There are quite a few popular chain coffee shops in St. Petersburg such as Starbucks, Coffeshop company and Coffee House. But cafes from the local production “Sever” / “Metropol” enjoy a special fame that has not faded since Soviet times among the guests of the city and native St. Petersburg.
Entertainment and attractions of St. Petersburg
Architectural sights of St. Petersburg
Russian rulers invited the most outstanding architects of their time to work in the former capital. It is not surprising that the city has such a mind-boggling number of outstanding architectural masterpieces of different styles. First of all, these are palaces – Winter, Marble, Stroganov, Menshikovsky, Anichkov, Sheremetevsky, Mikhailovsky Castle. Also, target architectural ensembles and complexes of buildings stand out in the urban landscape – the Peter and Paul Fortress, the Admiralty, New Holland. Other buildings of the most famous are the Singer House on the Griboyedov Canal (the famous Dom Knigi store is located here), the building of the Passage department store on Nevsky Prospekt and the Gostiny Dvor opposite it.
Temples of St. Petersburg
The city’s cathedrals and churches are incredibly numerous and just as beautiful. The three main ones are known to everyone – this is St. Isaac’s Cathedral, the second tallest Orthodox church in the world, Kazan Cathedral with a magnificent arc colonnade and the bright Savior on Spilled Blood (officially – the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ), reminiscent of Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral.
Other cathedrals of St. Petersburg are the airy white and turquoise Smolny, the symmetrically impressive Trinity-Izmailovsky, the slender Vladimirsky, the restrained Spaso-Preobrazhensky, the snow-white Prince Vladimirsky. Also noteworthy are the complex of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra, the majestic Assumption Church on Vasilyevsky Island, the Ioannovsky Monastery on the Karpovka embankment.
St. Petersburg Cathedral Mosque, built at the beginning of the 20th century, claims to be the most beautiful in the country: the dome, the upper part of the minarets and the main portal are decorated with stunning blue-tone mosaics.
Almost simultaneously with the mosque, the construction of a large Buddhist temple, a datsan, began in the city. This is the northernmost Buddhist temple in the world after the Yakut datsan and is very interesting from an architectural point of view.
Monuments and outstanding buildings of St. Petersburg
The most famous St. Petersburg monuments are dedicated to the tsars and emperors of Russia. The famous Bronze Horseman near the Alexander Garden was installed in honor of Peter I by Empress Catherine the Great. The monument to Catherine herself can be seen in Ekaterininsky Square, which overlooks Nevsky Prospekt. The monument to Nicholas I near St. Isaac’s Square is also widely known: its uniqueness lies in the fact that the equestrian statue of the emperor stands on only two points of support.
There are several famous lions and sphinxes in St. Petersburg. The most interesting are the Egyptian granite sphinxes on the embankment opposite the building of the Academy of Arts: by the way, they are three millennia older than the city itself.
One of the first associations that comes to mind at the mention of St. Petersburg is, of course, the Rostral columns on the spit of Vasilevsky Island. With a height of 32 m, at one time they served as beacons for ships going to the port. Previously, pitch was poured into the bowls at the top of the columns and set on fire, in 1957 gas was brought here. Once here, it is worth going down to the water to appreciate the giant granite balls that adorn the embankment: they are not fixed by anything and are held solely by their own weight. Another must-see monumental structure is the Alexandria Pillar on Palace Square, crowned with the figure of an angel.
In order not to get confused in the abundance of local idols, we have compiled a special mini-guide on the topic: ” What and where to rub in St. Petersburg to make it feel good.”
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- What cruises are from St. Petersburg
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