A historic city located in Russia, Saint Petersburg was founded in 1703 by Czar Peter the Great. For many years it was known as the capitol city of Russia and has also gone by the names Petrograd and Leningrad at different points in history. These are just a few of the places to visit in Saint Petersburg.
Peter and Paul Fortress
The Peter and Paul Fortress is considered to be the most important part of the State Museum of Saint Petersburg History. Construction of the Fortress was started in 1703 by Peter the Great to protect the then-capitol from a potential Swedish attack and was completed within a year. However, since the first fortress was built with wood, reconstruction from stone began in 1706. Later, it served as a prison for high-ranking prisoners. During the Russian revolution, the Fortress was attacked and all of the prisoners were released and later officials of the government of the Czar were held there instead. In the 1920s, much of the fortress was turned into a museum, but it suffered serious damage during World War II. It was later restored and is now a popular tourist attraction.
The Peter and Paul Fortress is home to the Peter and Paul Catherdral, which has the burial place of all of the Russian Czars but one. The Grand Ducal Mausoleum is also located there which holds the remains of members of various members of the Romanov family who never held the throne. There are prison cells still located on the fortress property as well as popular beaches, which are often quite busy during the summer.
Mariinsky Theatre and Mariinsky Ballet
Opened in 1860, the Mariinsky Theatre is home to the beauty of opera and ballet. Some of the great composers, such as Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov, have premiered their masterpieces here. The Mariinsky Theatre has gone through several name changes throughout its history, including the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre and the Leningrad State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet, among others. Its official title has been the State Academic Mariinsky Theatre since 1992.
The Mariinsky Ballet is based in the Mariinsky Theatre and is considered to be one of the world’s best ballet companies. It was created in 1740s and was originally known as the Imperial Theatre School, but went through several name changes. The Mariinsky Ballet, then known as the Imperial Russian Ballet, was temporarily closed following the Russian Revolution because the government at the time believed that it was an unwanted symbol of the former government under the Czar. It was later re-established and has flourished, currently employing over 200 dancers. The Mariinsky Ballet has been home to some of the most noted ballet dancers in history, including Mikhail Baryshnikov and Anna Pavlova.
State Hermitage Museum
Founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great, the State Hermitage Museum is one the biggest and oldest museums in the world. It has been open to the public since 1852 and has a collection of almost 3 million items, including the largest collection of paintings in the world. However, only a small part of the collection is on display permanently. Catherine the Great acquired over 4,000 paintings, 38,000 books, and much more for the museum during her lifetime alone. During the German Invasion in 1941, much of the Museum’s collection was evacuated and the Museum was hit by two bombs and multiple shells. The collections were eventually returned the museum and it was eventually re-opened in 1945. The Museum’s collection includes works by such notable artists as Rembrandt, Raphael, da Vinci, Monet, Van Gogh, Matisse, and Picasso.
Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood was built as a memorial to Czar Alexander II who was assassinated after being hit by a bomb on the site where the church was eventually built. Alexander III order construction in 1883 and it was completed in 1907. The Church contains over 7500 square meters of mosaics, the most of any church in the world. The Church was badly damaged during the Russian Revolution and was closed in the 1930s. It was further damaged during World War II during the German Invasion. Later, the Church was used for storage for vegetables, leading some to mockingly call it the “Saviour on Potatoes.” In 1970, restoration of the church began and was completed in 1997. It is currently a museum and does not serve as a place of worship on a full-time basis.
The Peterhof Palace is actually a set of palaces and gadens whose creation began under the direction of Peter the Great. Construction began in 1714 and the parts that Peter the Great contributed to were completed around 1725, but each Czar afterward added on to Peterhof. It is home to extensive gardens, fountains, and palaces. The Grand Cascade is one set of fountains found on the grounds and the water from them flows into the pool of the Samson Fountain, which is a monument to the Russian vistory over Sweden in the Great Northern War. The Lower Gardens are home to a many fountains including some of which will douse unsuspecting visitors. The Grand Palace is the largest of the palaces at Peterhof and contains the Chesma Hall which is home to several paintings of the Battle of Chema dating back to the 1770s.
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