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The excursions in Saint-Petersburg and suburbs

The Russian Museum

The State Russian Museum is the world's largest museum of Russian Art. Having undergone an extensive renovation program, the museum's main building, the Mikhailovsky Palace, has now been restored to its former glory and is open to visitors as usual.

The museum, originally called the "Russian Museum of Emperor Alexander III", was established in 1895 and opened its doors to the public on March 7 (19) 1898. The first few pictures that formed the original collection were donated by the Hermitage, the Academy of Fine Arts and the various royal palaces surrounding St. Petersburg.

The Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood

This marvelous Russian-style church was built on the spot where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated on March 1 1881. Constructed between 1883 and 1907, the church was designed in the spirit of sixteenth and seventeenth century Russian architecture, inspired particularly by St Basil's Cathedral on Red Square in Moscow.

The interior of the church, a memorial to the late Emperor Alexander II, was decorated with different shades of marble and several thousand square yards of mosaic.

This has to be one of the city's most beautiful sights and a great spot for taking pictures.

Orthodox Temles

This Excursion is devoted to the present and the past of the church history of Russia.

The guide will tell you about orthodox temples of St.-Petersburg, about their history, spiritual traditions and the righteous of our city.

First of all you will visit Alexander Nevsky Monastery, it was founded by Peter The Great.

Then you will take a ride through the Nevsky Prospert to Kazan Cathedral, the biggest orthodox temple of the city.

From this place you will go to St. Nicolas' Cathedral, one of the most beautiful cathedral of our city. The bell tower of the cathedral standing on Krjukov Channel embankment makes a very attractive view.

You will also visit Vasiljevsky Island. There you will see Andreevsky Cathadral? St. Katherine's Church, Smolenskoye Cemetery and St. Ksenia's Chapel, the traditional pilgrimage place of orthodox believers.

The Kunstkammer

The Kunstkammer (translating from German - "chambers of curiosities") was founded in 1718. It was intended for the library and collections of "monsters and rarities" gathered by Peter I.

In 1727 the collections of Peter the Great were transmitted from the house of the disgraced grandee Kikin to the Kunstkammer. Since then the first Russian museum was always full of visitors. Until the end of the 18th century the building of the Kunstkammer housed some departments of the Academy of Sciences founded by Peter the Great.

Nowadays the Kunstkammer contains the collections of the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography based on the gatherings of the founder of Saint Petersburg, Peter the Great.

Soon after the end of World War II the museum of M. Lomonosov was opened in the Kunskammer. The great Russian scientist worked in the building for over a quarter of the century.

The visitors to the museum can see original documents and objects of Lomonosov's time, including scientific tools, books, portraits, prints, some of which used to belong to Lomonosov himself.

One of the most famous exhibits of the Kunstkammer is the unique Globe-Planetarium of Gottorp. The diameter of the globe is 3,1 meters. Outside the Globe all known by that time continents, seas and rivers were pictured and inside there was the first planetarium in the world.

Menshikov Palace

The palace built for the associate of Peter the Great is a very immense construction. It combines elements of both Russian and Westerneuropean architecture. Some parts of the palace remind of Italian Renaissance palazzo, and the vaults decoration of the Menshikov Palace is typical for Russian architectonics.

The visitors of the palace can see original interiors, such as the hall, the gala staircase, the Dutch-style rooms with tiles covering the walls and the ceilings. The interiors of the palace are decorated with gold, silver, marble, precious kinds of wood, paintings, moldings, Antique Italian sculptures, large Venetian mirrors, crystal chandeliers, Chinese silk wallpaper, and tapestries. The palace features rich collections of applied art objects, sculpture, coins and canvases by Russian andeuropean artists.

When Alexander Menshikov and his family were exiled to Siberia, his magnificent palace was adjusted for the needs of the First Cadet Corps. Most of the interiors were changed. In the second half of the 20th century the palace was restored to its original look. The Menshikov Palace was opened to the public in 1981. Nowadays the palace houses part of the State Hermitage collection dedicated to Russian culture.

The Hermitage Museum

The Hermitage Museum is Russia's best gallery of world art, one of the most prominent art museums in the world and definitely the main tourist attraction of St. Petersburg.

The museum was founded in 1764 when Catherine the Great purchased a collection of 255 paintings from the German city of Berlin. Today, the Hermitage boasts over 2.7 million exhibits and displays a diverse range of art and artifacts from all over the world and from throughout history (from Ancient Egypt to the early 20th centuryeurope).

The Hermitage's collections include works by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and Titian, a unique collection of Rembrandts and Rubens, many French Impressionist works by Renoir, Cezanne, Manet, Monet and Pissarro, numerous canvasses by Van Gogh, Matisse, Gaugin and several sculptures by Rodin. The collection is both enormous and diverse and is an essential stop for all those interested in art and history.

The experts say that if you were to spend a minute looking at each exhibit on display in the Hermitage, you would need 11 years before you'd seen them all. We suggest you opt for a guided tour instead!

St Isaac's Cathedral

St. Isaac's Cathedral was originally the city's main church and the largest cathedral in Russia.

It was built between 1818 and 1858, by the French-born architect Auguste Montferrand, to be one of the most impressive landmarks of the Russian Imperial capital. One hundred and eighty years later the gilded dome of St. Isaac's still dominates the skyline of St. Petersburg.

The cathedral's facades are decorated with sculptures and massive granite columns (made of single pieces of red granite), while the interior is adorned with incredibly detailed mosaic icons, paintings and columns made of malachite and lapis lazuli.

City tour + Peter and Paul Fortress

The tour will take the visitor throughout the historical center of St. Petersburg and includes spectacular views of the Neva river, Canal Griboyedova, Moika canal, the many bridges connecting the city islands, the Old Holland area of the city and trips to the 2 main islands of Petrogradsky and Vasilevsky.

The tour will introduce the visitor to Nevsky Prospect – the city's famous boulevard, the Winter Palace, other palaces and churches and to the areas of the city formerly inhabited by Dostoyevsky, Rasputin and numerous Russian princes and counts.

You will then visit the Peter and Paul Fortress.

The fortress was founded by Peter the Great in 1703. Besides the ancient fortifications, the fortress includes the Peter and Paul Cathedral, built in the early XVIII century. The bell-tower makes the Peter and Paul Cathedral the tallest building in St. Petersburg (122.5 meters or 404 feet 3 inches high).

The cathedral includes the burial vault of Peter the Great and other Russian Tsars, the museum of Trubetskoy Bastion prison and the expositions: The History of St. Petersburg, History of the Imperial Mint as well as a printing workshop and the museum of space exploration and missilery. It is also possible to walk along the walls of the fortress and observe the fabulous architecture of the surrounding areas.

Today the fortress is one of St. Petersburg's major tourist attractions and has become the emblem of the city.

The Yusupov Palace

On a quiet stretch of the Moika River stands a long yellow building, which was once the residence of the wealthy and respected Yusupov family and which saw one of the most dramatic episodes in Russia's history - the murder of Grigory Rasputin.

In 1916 a group of the city's noble elite, including one of the Grand Dukes and led by the prominent anglophile Prince Felix Yusupov, conspired to kill the one man who they felt threatened the stability of an already war-torn Russian Empire.

Rasputin was murdered at the Yusupov Palace on the night of December 16-17 1916, and his death proved to be an almost greater mystery than his life had been.

As excellent tour-guides lead you through the beautifully recreated interiors of the palace.

Alexander Nevsky Monastery

The Alexander Nevsky Monastery complex is home to some of the oldest buildings in the city, as well as to cemeteries which contain the graves of some of the giants of Russian culture, including Tchaikovsky, Dostoevsky, and Glinka.

The monastery was founded in July 1710 - seven years after the foundation of Petersburg - by Peter the Great near to the spot where contemporary Swedish maps showed the Swedish fort Landskrona had stood.

By the beginning of the 20th century the territory of the monastery complex was home to an impressive 16 churches. Today, only five survive: the Holy Trinity Cathedral, the Church of the Annunciation, the Church of St. Lazarus, the Church of St. Nicholas, and the Church of the Holy Mother of God, the Joy of All Those who Mourn, which is over the monastery gates.

Suburbs

St. Petersburg's suburbs provide the perfect day trip opportunity to escape the crowds and noise of the big city for the fresh air, green parks and romantic palaces of the countryside.

Peterhof

Peterhof is perhaps St. Petersburg's most famous and spectacular Imperial estate. Nestled on the shore of the Gulf of Finland (part of the Baltic Sea), the palace was built by Peter the Great initially as a resting place en route to the Imperial naval base at Kronshtadt. But the Tzar was quick to recognize the attractiveness of the area and masterminded a vast estate intended to rival the famous gardens of Versailles.

The Grand Palace, filled with fascinating and elaborate interiors, sits on top of a high seashore ridge overlooking the vast Lower Park. The original palace was built between 1714 and 1725 by the architects Braunstein, Zemtsov and Leblond. Later that century the palace was extended to its present size and redesigned by the court architect Francesco Bartholomeo Rastrelli.

There are three major cascades and over 120 fountains in the park. The most impressive is the Grand Cascade, located directly below the Grand Palace and featuring an impressive golden statue of Samson grasping the mighty jaws of the lion.The Grand Cascade flows spectacularly from beneath the palace towards the Baltic Sea and is one of the largest fountain ensembles in the world.

Pushkin (Tsarskoye Selo)

Tsarskoye Selo (formerly known as Pushkin) is one of St. Petersburg's numerous Imperial estates. Located just 25 kilometers south of the city, the estate boasts a large landscape park, dotted with architectural follies, and centered on the magnificent blue, white and gold Catherine Palace. Named after its creator, Empress Catherine, the second wife of Peter the Great.

The Catherine Palace houses some beautiful Baroque interiors, including the luxurious Grand Hall, a long, gold, mirrored ballroom. The Palace also boasts a unique Amber Room, whose priceless amber panels were stolen by Nazi troops during WWII, but which are now being painstakingly recreated by Russian craftsmen.

Another of Tsarskoye Selo's major attractions is the Lyceum, located on the edge of the estate. Founded at the beginning of the 19th century and remarkably well-preserved, the Lyceum was a boarding school that once taught the most celebrated of all Russian poets, Alexander Pushkin. The Lyceum was created specifically to educate members of the Russian ruling elite and prepare them for careers in government service. Visitors to the Lyceum are allowed access to its well-preserved classrooms, library, student bedrooms and much more.

Pavlovsk

Just a few miles away from Pushkin lies the Imperial Estate of Pavlovsk, the residence of Emperor Paul I, the son of Catherine the Great. The estate's magnificent palace sits on hill overlooking an English-style landscaped park, with a beautiful river running through it.

The Grand Palace was built by the Scottish architect Charles Cameron between 1782 and 1786 in the general style of an Italian villa. Initially meant as a private home for Paul and his wife Maria Fedorovna, the estate was later given an Imperial facelift when Paul ascended the throne after the death of Catherine the Great in 1796.

The Palace's interiors reveal a multitude of artistic and architectural influences and include an Egyptian Vestibule, the Italian Hall under the main Palace dome, featuring classical Roman sculptures, a Greek Hall filled with luxurious French furnishings and Paul's War Hall, demonstrating his fascination with all things military.

Gatchina

Visit the favorite of Catherine the Great's, Grigory Orlov's, early classical styled former residence, stroll through the wonderful park and marvel at its lakes complete with an island of love.

The Gatchina Palace and Park ensemble is located 45 kilometers southwest of St.Petersburg being the most faraway estate of all suburbs.

In 1712-1717 the Gatchina farm was owned by Peter the Great's sister, Natalie. After her death the owners changed several times till Catherine II acquired the estate and gave it to Count Orlov, her favorite.

It was A. Rinaldi, the famous architect. Who was in charge of the construction works in the Orlov's country estate. The picturesque Palace park of 170 hectares with the lake and ponds was laid out to his design, and the most romantic Hunter's Palace with 600 rooms was built on a high terrace on the west of large Silver Lake.

In 1783 Catherine II bought the estate from the Orlovs and gave it to her son.

After his accession to the trone, Pavel I made Gatchina the Emperor's Residence.

Kronshtadt

Kronshtadt (Cronstadt) is a small city, NWeuropean Russia, on the small island of Kotlin in the Gulf of Finland, c.15 mi (20 km) from Saint Petersburg.

It is one of the chief naval bases for the Russian Baltic fleet. The harbor is icebound for several months each year. It was founded (1703) by Peter I as a port and a fortress to protect the site of St.Petersburg, and it was the commercial harbor of St.Petersburg until the 1880s.

The port lost its commercial value after the development of St.Petersburg. The visit (1891) of a French naval squadron to Kronshtadt was followed by a Franco-Russian military agreement heralding the formation of the Triple Entente of France, England, and Russia.

The Sea Cathedral built in 1913 is truly known to be the symbol of Kronshtadt. The Cathedral with the height of 70,6 meters and the diameter of the dome of 27 meters can be easily seen from the coasts of the Gulf. Inside there is a marble memorial to the died sailors.

The monument to Admiral Makarov in the Anchor Square near the Sea Cathedral is the most famous monument in Kronshtadt. The Admiral Makarov is famous for his contribution to military shipbuilding, bravery in battles, and the first torpedo attacks against enemy ships.