5 day grand St.Petersburg tour

This is a comprehensive tour of St.Petersburg for intellectually curious, and though it is not a strict term for me, please do not ask me if you just like small talk, I might not have particular social graces, but if you are really interested in Russian history, I am your man. Of course it doesn't matter if you wanna go deep into it, or just do highlights and scratch the surface, each tour would be tailored to your particular demands even on the go, but you have to give me a little credit and need at least 5 days to do it justice. And the more time you give me, the more interesting and fascinating it becomes for you. We are not gonna rush around, cramming information, but take it gradually so by the end of it you would be able to familiarize yourself with Russian history and learn not just who, when and for how much but why. I am very flexible with no downtime, and unlike other guides offer itineraries that not set in stone, so you can choose to see things that amaze or educate.

Duration 5 days
Pickup Hotel pickup available
Voucher Mobile ticket
What's included :
  • All Fees and Taxes
  • Guaranteed to skip the lines
What's excluded :
  • Private transportation
  • Entry/Admission - Faberge Museum
  • Entry/Admission - Marble Palace
  • Entry/Admission - Mikhailovskiy Castle Historical Museum
  • Entry/Admission - Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
  • Entry/Admission - Peter and Paul Fortress
  • Entry/Admission - Peter I House
  • Entry/Admission - The State Museum of the Political History of Russia
  • Entry/Admission - Yusupov Palace on Moika River
  • Entry/Admission - The State Hermitage Museum
  • Entry/Admission - The State Museum St. Isaac’s Cathedral
  • Entry/Admission - Peterhof State Museum Preserve
  • Entry/Admission - Oranienbaum
  • Entry/Admission - Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve
  • Entry/Admission - Pavlovsk State Museum

Day 1: Day 1 out of 2 walking in downtown area

Stop At: Nevsky Prospekt, Nevsky Avenue, St. Petersburg 191025 Russia
Nevsky is the main thoroughfare of St. Petersburg, stretched like a string between two points on the bow of the Neva river — Admiralty and Alexandr Nevsky monastery, certainly one of the must see places in the city. We'll walk along Nevskii prospect, which is often compared to a spinal cord of the city, designed as a perspective road providing a perfect view ahead in newly built St.Petersburg, and which initially used to be just a supply road for the Admiralty shipyard, but gradually turned into the most fashionable St.Petersburg's avenue. We'll see how former wild boar and wolves hunting ground gradually became beautiful ensembles consisting of buildings of every European style, that were designed by chief architects of St.Petersburg during its 300 year long history. Observe how they developed from the first baroque mansions on the former outskirts of the city to classical ensembles of the Empire style capital, interspersed with eclectic, representing different historical trends and modern style buildings at the beginning of XX-th century. It was a street of "many faiths" where Russian Orthodox churches stand near Protestant, Catholic and Lutheran cathedrals. It was a street of commerce with its first shopping malls and headquarters of banks, credit and insurance organizations. Libraries, theaters, bookstores and concert halls made it a cultural capital of Russia.

We gonna see the ensembles surrounding Nevskyi, built by high classical style architect Rossi, such as Ostrovsky square with Catherine the Great monument in the middle, with all her trusted advisors surrounding pedestal under her feet, with the first drama theater at the background and street of perfect proportions behind it, where everything, including height, width and length is in relationships to everything else, consisting of just two buildings on each side, one of them being Royal academy of ballet, where all the famous ballerinas graduated from. Next ensemble, adjacent to Nevskyi, built by ubiquitous Rossi is an Art square with monument to Pushkin the most famous Russian poet, whose marriage to the foremost beauty in St.Petersburg lead to his death at the duel is one of the most dramatic pages in Russian history. We going to see Our Lady of Kazan cathedral, built by Russian architect as а Russian orthodox church, but in Roman style, because the tzar, who commissioned it, Paul I, wanted to become the next Pope himself. We will see art nouveau buildings of the turn of the 20th century, such as Eliseev food emporium, which started as a small market and grew into the whole complex with theater, concert hall and fashionable restaurants, beautifully decorated inside and outside. We will see Signer Sewing machines building, which were built as a headquarters of the company but not in American skype scraper style, because no building supposed to be higher, than Winter palace and that's why we have unique UNESCO protected by putting it on world heritage list St.Petersburg skyline. We gonna see the Wavelberg italian palazzo style building built by Swedish banker with stones he hauled all the way from Sweden, but was criticised for it, because natural stones of grey colour might be good for Italy where blue skies and sunshine are prevalent most of the time, but not for St.Petersburg, where they are a rear occasion. We travel back in time to see where enormous 2000 thousand room Winter palace made of wood for Elizabeth, while the present version made of stone was still under construction, stood and how chance meeting with one of the Orlov's brothers, who were one of the guards officers there, turned the fate of little known Grand Dutchess who eventually became Catherine the Great. We'll see a Stroganoff mansion, built by the family, which owned half of Siberia, and had an open house dinners there, prepared by chef from whom this slowly stewed beef recipe come from. We'll see a little cafe, which has to do with death or misfortune of the best Russian poet, writer and composer. Learn this and much more by taking a leisurely stroll along Nevskyi prospect and surrounding squares.

Duration: 2 hours

Stop At: Kazan Cathedral, Kazanskaya Sq., 2 Metro Nevskiy Prospect, St. Petersburg 191186 Russia
We visit our lady of Kazan Cathedral, but which is also a memorial to the victory over Napoleon. Those who traveled a lot this cathedral may look familiar, because it was designed to look like St.Peter's basilica in Rome, being commissioned by Paul I, grand master of Maltese order, who wanted to unify Catholic and Orthodox churches and even was working on an ecumenical project with protestant pastors. And its impressive colonnade, which by the way is only a decoration of a side entry from Nevsky prospect, looks more open than the pincer-like one, designed by Bernini, inviting all of the denominations to come in. Plus it is a historical monument with two commanders in chief statures of the Russian Army, who defeated French troops during 1812 campaign. And it was not possible without miracle working icon of our Lady of Kazan for which it was built. It was first discovered after Ivan the Terrible captured Kazan, which event was commemorated by construction of St. Basil's cathedral in Moscow. After Kremlin was occupied by Polish invaders, the militia leaders from Yaroslavl, whose monument you also can see on the Red Square, brought this icon to defeat Pollacks. When Peter, who decided to capture these territories from Sweden, had this icon brought from Moscow and the special church dedicated to it latter was constructed on the spot, where Kazan Cathedral now stands. After Kutusov, the wise old man and General, described lovingly by Leo Tolstoy in War and Peace took this icon under his coat before marching to the front with Russian troops, that expelled French Napoleonic army, it was mounted in a special iconostasis inside of the newly built Cathedral. And Stallin had this icon flown over around the city, surrounded by German Army during WWII not to let the Hitler in.
Duration: 30 minutes

Stop At: Faberge Museum, Fontanka River Embankment 21 Shuvalov Palace, St. Petersburg 191011 Russia
We would see the world famous Easter eggs and enameled silverware items, produced by the imperial court suppliers for their royal patrons, which began with unique collection of Fabergé works owned by Malcolm Forbes. Starting from this moment, the collection of Russian decorative-applied and fine arts, was growing and as of today contains more than 4,000 works. In terms of its size and the superlative quality of its works it has become one of the best collections in the world. The most valuable items in the Fabergé Museum collection come from the 9 Easter Eggs created by Fabergé for the last two Russian Tsars. All of the eggs are masterpieces of jewelry art, and are also unique historical monuments connected with the rule and personal life of Alexander III and Nicholas II. The uniqueness of the Fabergé collection put together by the Link of Times Foundation also comes from the fact that this collection includes all the mediums in which the House of Fabergé worked, including objets de fantaisie, jewelry, silverware, and everyday household and cult objects, made from semi-precious stones. Besides pieces of art made by the House of Fabergé, the collection also includes works made by Fabergé’s contemporaries, including the most prominent Russian silversmiths such as Sazikov, Ovchinnikov, Khlebnikov, Rückert, and many others.
Duration: 1 hour

Stop At: Summer Garden, Dvortsovaya Emb., 2D, St. Petersburg 191028 Russia
First regular French style garden in Russia, which was to rival Versailles. We will enjoy a walk around shady alleys, lined with beautiful sculptures of the Summer and Michailovskyi garden, that was a part of the former. We'll see the place where Peter himself planted trees and designed the layout of his future garden, which was to rival Versailles and became a playing ground for future emperors.We 'll find out stories, connected with the House of Romanov dynasty, which ruled Russia till the XX-th century. We visit places surrounded by intrigue, mysteries, plots and even murder as it was too often during Russian history. Visit one of the most romantic places in St.Petersburg, St. Michael's castle, which was designed by Paul in order to protect himself from plotters, but still he could not escape his destiny and died a tragic death according to all the prophecies that predicted it.
Duration: 1 hour

Stop At: Field of Mars (Marsovo Pole), St. Petersburg 191186 Russia
Former drill ground for soldiers, turned into a desert since the grass didn't have a chance to grow on it because of all paradomania, and which eventually became a common burial ground for the victims of the revolution.
Duration: 30 minutes

Stop At: Marble Palace, Millionnaya St., 5/11, St. Petersburg 191186 Russia
Palace decorated with marble within and without as a parting gift from Catherine II to one of her lovers-Grigory Orlov, unfortunately finished only by the time when not only the affair was over, but he himself was dead. It is still glowing in the setting sun as an afterglow of the affair of Catherine the Great with one of the 5 Orlov brothers, who brought her to power and later may be even initiated the killing of her deposed husband, because he wanted to marry her, but couldn't do it while Peter III was still alive.
Duration: 45 minutes

Stop At: Mikhailovskiy Castle Historical Museum, Sadovaya St., 2, St. Petersburg 191011 Russia
We visit St. Michael castle, construction of which cost more than Winter Palace and Hermitage, surrounded by moats and guns built by paranoid Paul I who had every reason to be afraid of assassination and moved in quickly before it was finished only to be killed there by plotters and former associates of his mother. We learn the story of Paul I, "Russian Hamlet" Catherine's sociopathic son, who turned this way because, separated from his own mother at birth and living in constant fear under the shadow of his usurping throne mother, only could guess whether she gave an order to kill her husband and his father. We learn how Alexandr I, son of Paul, called “Russian sphinx” most controversial of Russian tzars, torn between his grandmother’s grooming him for the throne with the help of most progressive liberal thinkers of that age at big court and his father military obsessed Prussian sergeant style goose step drilling in the small court, and who became very religious at the end of his life and marched across whole Europe to liberate it from the menace of Antichrist personified as Napoleon, but failed to carry out reforms that he so enthusiastically started in his own country at the outset of his reign. How he from liberal reformer turned into conservative religious thinker and protector of thrones and altars in Europe who according to a legend, that became popular after his death, didn't even die but became a hermit monk in Siberia.
Duration: 1 hour

Stop At: Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, Griboyedova Kanala Emb., 2B/A, St. Petersburg 191186 Russia
We learn about Alexandr II, son of Nicolas I , who gave freedom to serfs, living in worse conditions and the number of whom were far superior to slaves liberated by the “annunciation of proclamation act”, and who was caring project of future constitution in his pocket the day he was killed by terrorist’s bomb. And how this assassination of Alexander II, changed the course of Russian history yet again from liberal reforms to slavophile ways, based on special bonding between the tzar and the people and not on democratic institutions. These pre-Petrine Moscovite ways adhered to by the successor of the killed tzar, Alexander III, the most typical Russian tzar, who could bent horseshoes with his bare hands and whose equestrian colossal representation we will see, found their embodiment in "The Saviour on Spilled Blood” built by him on the exact spot of his father assassination inside the church, which became his memorial.
Duration: 30 minutes

Stop At: Tauride Garden (Tavricheskiy Sad), Potemkinskaya st., 2-4, St. Petersburg 191123 Russia
We visit Starov’s Taurida palace and garden, seat of first Russian democratically elected parliament, which was built as a farewell present for prince Potemkin, a famous statesman and one of the favorites of Catherine the Great, who also came to power through coup d'etat, deposing and killing her husband. We'll see the whole ensemble consisting of the palace and the estate grounds, she commissioned and which is the best example of combination of classical architecture and English “Capability Brown” gardening style, that is possible only in St.Petersburg’s flat expanses. We see how the ancient history of Russia is intertwined with more recent one during 18-20th centuries. We look at the history of struggle for democracy in Russia in the beautiful surroundings of baroque and classical ensembles of the Smolnyii monastery and institute, which became the headquarters of Bolshevik’s revolution and Taurida palace, which was a seat of first Russian democratically elected parliament- Duma and the first Soviet of soldiers, sailors and workers deputies, that resided in its opposite wings, during the period of so called conflict of dual power, which latter was to be resolved only by violence on part of revolutionary sailors, ordered by Trotsky to march there from Kronshtadt. We learn about other events that started with plots to take power through murder and coup d'etat from the very foundation of the city to its Soviet past, the ones that shook the world and changed its history.
Duration: 1 hour

Stop At: Smolny Cathedral, Rastrelli Sq., 1, St. Petersburg 191124 Russia
We would walk around St.Petersburg’s area connected with the most infamous murderess from Russia's bloody history. We learn about appearance of the first Soviets, which is just a russian word for a council, a grass root movement, which started during strikes, when workers sent their representatives on the eve of the first Russian revolution of 1905. We start from Smolny monastery iconic baroque building designed for Elizabeth by Rasstrelly who built or remodeled 20 palaces, including Winter Palace and Catherine's palace, during the 20 years of her reign. Elisabeth, who was Peter the Great's daughter born out of wedlock and who could not inherit the throne, but only succeed through a coup d'etat. We’ll look at the grounds, where Peter moved his family from Moscow, including his only son prince Alexy whom he later tortured and killed because of his desire to move back to old Muscovite ways of running Russia. And this conflict of old and new, of eastern and western ways was the main question of Russian history for almost 3 century.
Duration: 30 minutes

No meals included on this day.
No accommodation included on this day.

Day 2: Day 2 out of 2 walking downtown area

Stop At: Peter and Paul Fortress, Petropavlovskaya Fortress, 3, St. Petersburg 197022 Russia
After we cross the Neva river we get to the historical nucleus of the city and visit the main spots connected with its foundation such as Peter and Paul fortress and cathedral.

Find out about the history of Peter's creation. Was he right when he willed into existence his "Window on the West", counting the cost of thousands of human lives in the process of his reforms? These reforms were intended to socialize a barbaric Russian population and train them in new European ways. Starting from Trinity square, under protection of the Peter and Paul Fortress, place of public executions and bacchanalian procession of Peter's "all drunken all jesting" unholy council of court dwarfs, the official center of the city moved first to Basil island and Admiralty side after that.

We proceed to places connected with more recent Russian history. We'll learn the story of love affair between the young girl, who just graduated from Imperial ballet academy and a future tzar of all Russias, when they met at the graduation ceremony and became lovers, before Nicolas happily married his wife. Though Matilda Kshessinskaya, who became prima ballerina and continued her affair with two of the Grand Dukes, living in a mansion, built for her by the tzar's family, stuffed with jewelry made by Faberge, eventually lost everything, when Lenin, arriving from Switzerland, send by German government in a sealed train as plague bacillus to destroy the whole Russia, made his way on an armored car to her mansion to turn it into headquarters of military revolutionary committee of the Bolshevik party, organization that took power in October 1917.

We'll see the Peter and Paul fortress maximum security political prison, where the brother of Vladimir Lenin along with former comrades, predecessors and democratic writes including utopian socialist Cherniyshevskyi, the one, who wrote the book while sitting there, which according to Lenin's own words, "plowed him up" were incarcerated. Many of those people who belonged to different socialist parties moved after revolution to more comfortable, though also sinister looking barebones constructivist building constructed in the 1930s just opposite the fortress intended for the community of former political prisoners who were actively involved in revolutionary events, but were purged there by Stalin, who executed from 70 to 90 percent of its dwellers, trying to revise history and erase from it all other parties except Bolsheviks.

And we'll visit Peter and Paul Cathedral with its bell tower, rising into the air to the height of 122 miters, which was higher than Ivan the Great tower in Moscow, and intended by Peter I as a statement that this territory belongs to Russia once and for all times, and under which, the first political prisoner was buried, Peter I own son, prince Alexei, whom Peter had tortured and killed in the prison for the political expediency sake, as he might have been a rallying point for the opposition, same as the last heir to the throne young boy Alexei, buried on the other side of the church with his whole family, which was executed by Bolsheviks in Ekaterinburg along with doctor and servants, just because he might have been the rallying point for white opposition to communist's regime.
Duration: 2 hours

Stop At: Peter I House, Petrovskaya Emb., 6 metro Gorkovskaya, St. Petersburg 197046 Russia
Walk around Peter and Paul fortress and surrounding area, where the nucleus of the city was situated starting from Peter the Great's cottage, built by soldiers in three days out of wooden logs and painted to look like small one storey Dutch house made of bricks, and now completely overshadowed by Stalin's Empire huge monstrosity style buildings, designed to show the power and the might of the Soviet State. Visit Kshessinskaya prima ballerina and lover of the last tzar Nicolas II mansion, which was taken over by Bolshevick's revolutionary committee, where from its balcony Lenin proclaimed his "All power to the Soviets" speech. Walk with me along the river Neva embankments, where every stone remembers the past.
Duration: 40 minutes

Stop At: The State Museum of the Political History of Russia, Kuibysheva st., 2/4 Metro: Gorkovskaya, St. Petersburg 198218 Russia
You would be able to enjoy a breathtaking view from the bridges and solid granite embankments that doesn't exist anywhere else in the world. You will be able to see the Admiralty, Palace, English, Peter's, University embankments and much more. A visit of Peter and Paul fortress is included or another museum of your choice, such as political history museum or Aurora cruiser's museum, with the gun, that signaled the beginning of Bolshevik revolution with a its blank shot across the bow. We can visit city history museum inside the fortress. As an extra bonus we would be able to visit miniature version of St.Petersburg with all the replicas of iconic buildings presented on scale.
Duration: 2 hours

Stop At: Memorial Sign Strelka Of Vasilievskiy Island, Birzhevaya Square, St. Petersburg 199034 Russia
The arrowhead shaped part, protruding into the water, on the eastern end of Vasilyevsky Island, is called the Spit. It is the brightest architectural ensemble, fascinating even for the most sophisticated connoisseurs of the beautiful, because here the city architecture and the unique landscapes of the Neva banks are intertwined in amazing harmony. The island has the narrowest Repin street (its width is about six meters) and also 6th and 7th lines run here, forming the most beautiful street of Northern Palmyra.

The Exchange building is central to the entire architectural ensemble. It was built in 1805-1810 according to the project of Toma de Thomon, who being a noble had to escape from revolutionary France, but found another Empire, which were to utilise his expertise. Commodity exchange roughly divided empty area on which it was situated, into two parts, which became separate squares - the Exchange and Kollezhskaya (Collegia). Its construction fully answered the needs of the booming economy of Russia then. The building is remarkable by itself: it was made as an imitation of an ancient Doric temple. Rostral columns, located just in front of the Exchange derive from ancient Rome and have bows of the enemy's ships sticking out of them and stylized in an old Etruscan custom.

Duration: 30 minutes

Stop At: Twelve Colleges, Universitetskaja nab., 7 metro Vasileostrovskaya, St. Petersburg 199034 Russia
You'll see the building consisting from 12 separate sections under one roof is a longest corridor running through it is now St.Petersber Big University, but it used to be the Twelve ‘Collegia’ (Dvenádtsat kollégiy), started by Trezzini between 1722 and 1734 and finished by Schwertfeger and Zemtsov, who went on working there until 1742. It is odd that it should now be the main building of a university because originally it had nothing to do with things academic.As part of his fundamental reform of the old Muscovite institutions of government, Peter abolished the old prikázy (offices of state) which had grown haphazardly over the centuries. (By 1700, there were fifty of them.) And he replaced them by nine (subsequently twelve) ‘Collegia’ or boards, each with a chancellery, a president, a secretary and ten other members including, often, a foreigner. The model was largely Swedish, the theory that it assured greater variety and interplay of opinion, the perceived advantage (by Peter, at any rate) that, since he did not have enough trustworthy collaborators to be placed in full charge, it would be safer to rely on boards the members of which would keep a check on each other.
Duration: 30 minutes

Stop At: Egyptian Sphinxes, Universiteskaya Emb. next to the Academy of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg Russia
The quay in front of the Academy of three major arts was, dates from over forty years later of the building and was designed by the man who built the Moscow Station, K. A. Thon. The Sphinxes, brought with great labour to St Petersburg in 1832, were found at Thebes and are said to date from the thirteenth century BC.he Academy building was designed for Catherine the Great at almost the same time (1764) as the Small Hermitage and by the same architect (J.-B. Vallin de la Mothe). It was executed, over more than twenty years, under the supervision of A.Kokorinov. It's an impressive classical structure and has the court yard of the same size and dimensions as Pantheon in Rome.
Duration: 30 minutes

Stop At: New Holland Island, Admiralteyskiy Canal Embankment, 2, St. Petersburg 190000 Russia
Called Nóvaya Gollándiya (New Holland) for luck and because it reminded Peter I his trip to the biggest shipyards of the East-Indian company in Holland, the island became an invaluable and relatively safe place for storing timber. Now in the process of restoration it is becoming a cultural and entertainment spot in the city. Built of brick, tall as a tall ship’s mast, and surrounded by water, it was entered through a cavernous arch, straight out of Piranesi, which was done by the same Valen de la Moth.
Duration: 40 minutes

Stop At: Opera and Ballet Theater of The St. Petersburg State Conservatory, Teatralnaya Sq., 3, St. Petersburg 190000 Russia
The present building stands on the spot, where the Big (Bolshoy) Theater used to be before it migrated to Moscow. Still earlier during Catherine the Great's time it was a place for carousels horse riding outdoor entertainments and the circuses. They kept playing this game of musical chairs, when it burnt down. Then the Kámenny/Bolshóy was condemned as unsafe. Perhaps also it was needed for other purposes. And Cavos’ Mariinskiy Theatre, which by that time was flourishing on the west side of the square, was ready to take over. At all events, the Bolshoy was more or less demolished and the foundations of what had been a rather elegant, temple-like structure were forced to carry the heavy four-storey bulk of the Conservatoire (plans by V. Nicole, built 1891–6) which had been founded in 1862 by Anton Rubinstein and which could now be properly accommodated in a purpose-built home. The Conservatoire (since 1944, the Konservatóriya im. N.A. Rímskovo-Kórsakova) still possesses two great concert halls – one with exceptional acoustics – which are in constant use by its own students and by Russian and visiting ensembles. With seven faculties – from Theory and Composition to Opera and Ballet Production, and from vocal to instrumental tuition – it remains the premier music school in Russia, as it was under the Empire and under the Soviet Union. So the ballet had to move across the square where the outdoor world of the fairground had given way to another building, the Imperial Circus (A. Cavos, 1847–8). In 1860, this had been rebuilt as a theatre (by Cavos again) and named after the Empress Maria Aleksandrovna, wife of Alexander II. The Imperial Mariinskiy Theatre was completed in time to greet the return of Russian opera to St Petersburg from Moscow and to capture the outflow of Russian operatic composition (Moussorgsky: Borís Godunóv (1874); Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin (1879); Borodin: Prince Igor (completed by Rimsky-Korsakov and first performed, posthumously, in 1890). It became hugely popular.
Duration: 30 minutes

Stop At: Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall, Pisareva st., 20 Entrance from Dekabristov Street, 37, St. Petersburg 190121 Russia
It was not until nearly the end of the nineteenth century that Russian opera and ballet came under one roof and the Mariinskiy became, what it still is, the (Imperial) Theatre of Opera and Ballet. In 1917, of course, it ceased to be Imperial; and after the murder of Kirov in 1934 it swapped ‘Mariinskiy’ for ‘Kirov’, which name was also acquired by its resident opera and ballet companies. Now, though Kirov has gone again and the House has had Mariinskiy restored to it, the Companies continue to be known as Kirov abroad.To complete the architectural design, additions were made in the 1880s to Cavos’ restrained and fairly Classical operahouse exterior which, itself, would not have been out of place anywhere from Frankfurt to Prague. But the interior, and especially the ravishing auditorium, has so far survived in its essentials, decorative and acoustic. The audience still sits in arm chairs which still have peacock blue velvet seats; the Royal Box – and the four Grand Ducal boxes at the sides – are still heavily hung with pale blue silk, while the drop curtain is still painted with layer upon layer of succulent drapery.
Duration: 30 minutes

Stop At: Nicholas Naval Cathedral of The Epiphany, Nikolskaya Sq., 1/3, St. Petersburg 190068 Russia
Many of the dancers, musicians and artists who worked at the Mariinskiy and the Conservatoire used to live in the streets surrounding Theatre Square. So, like everyone else in St Petersburg, they made much use of their local church. And here they were fortunate for their local church – more gorgeous than St Paul’s, Covent Garden but somewhat similar in function – was Nikólskiy Morskóy sobór (the Maritime Cathedral of St Nicholas) which stands in its own green square leading off the eastern embankment of the Kryukov Canal just south of the theatre. Built (Chevakinskiy 1753–62) as the church of sailors, seafarers, shipwrights and all their associates who inhabited the areasouth-west of the Admiralty, it later became the theatrical church, which may explain how it managed to keep open as a place of worship throughout the Soviet period. It is approached down a little avenue, past its own, freestanding, four-tiered, Russian-style belfry, turquoise blue and white with triple-angled corners, a multitude of Corinthian pilasters, Rococo window surrounds and the traditional five golden domes, one in the centre and the others set wide on each corner, which is a masterpiece of Russian baroque style.
Duration: 30 minutes

Stop At: Yusupov Palace on Moika River, Emb. Reki Moiki, 94 Entrance for individual visitors and small groups from Dekabristov Street, 21, St. Petersburg 190000 Russia
It is mostly known for infamous killing of Gregory Rasputin revealed to us from memoirs of its owner Felix Yusupov. Finally, we know that the plan was to tempt Rasputin to the Yusupov family house at náberezhnaya rekí Móiki No. 94 (the Yusupov Palace on the Moika Embankment) by the prospect of meeting Princess Irina (who was in fact in the Crimea). There he was to be taken by a side door into a basement room, exotically redecorated for the purpose with a bearskin rug, a Persian carpet and a seventeenth-century Italian crucifix. He was to be told that the Princess was entertaining her friends upstairs where the gramophone was to be playing but, in due course,would come down. While he was waiting, Felix was to poison him with cakes and wine into which potassium cyanide had been introduced by the doctor; his body was to be driven by the doctor in one of Purishkevich’s hospital cars to the bridge between Petrovskiy and Krestovskiy Islands on the outskirts of town and dumped in the river through a hole in the ice.

But this version contradicts all the evidences and the latest one, that appeared in 2004 and involves plots and secret British agents, one of whom wrote, that something went wrong, but they managed to get rid of the "dark force".

You would be able to visit a palace, and see interior decoration, which is mostly preserved from the time of its owners and who being richer than the Romanovs, really didn't care much about the money to get it right.
Duration: 2 hours

No meals included on this day.
No accommodation included on this day.

Day 3: Hermitage with General Staff building and surrounding area

Stop At: Palace Square, St. Petersburg 191055 Russia
By the first quarter of 19th century St. Petersburg became a city of truly imperial proportions especially within the complex of buildings, which developed around Winter palace and Admiralty. We'll start our excursion by going through the set of three arches leading to the Palace Square from Nevskyi, and the view from underneath of those Triumphal archers, which were supposed to commemorate victory over Napoleon, proves how successfully Rossi could create huge, but strictly controlled spatial perspectives the length of which comprises more than 1300 feet.

Palace square the beautiful example of high Empire classical style ensemble, created by Carlo Rossi, an architect who managed to tie up the whole area into a single whole, when you can not add or subtract anything to or from it without ruining the singularity of purpose, which was to glorify the seat of Russian autocracy- Winter Palace with all the surrounding ministries, such as military- General Staff and Horse-guards buildings, foreign affairs and ministry of finance-which are now part of the Hermitage museum complex.

Duration: 30 minutes

Stop At: The State Hermitage Museum, Palace Emb., 30-38, St. Petersburg 191055 Russia
we are going to walk around the surrounding area of the Palace Square to see all of the Hermitage comlex, which incudes 5 buildings, from the outside. In the Hermitage the tour usually starts from main staircase and state rooms of the Winter Palace and follow the route of the tsar's ceremonial procession toward the church. As you go through the grand rooms you can compare changes of style from original baroque, typical to Empress Elisabeth's court architect Rastrelli, to classical which was Catherine's favorite style. Along the route I'll tell you about main highlights of the collection and the history of its creation, acquisition and authentication. We'll see the Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Flemish, British and French sections and you'll learn about socio-economic progress of each country in conjunction with the development of their art along with relevant information about the history of rooms and their former royal owners.
Duration: 4 hours

Stop At: The Building Of The Admiralty, Admiralteyskiy Drive, 1 metro Nevskiy Prospekt, St. Petersburg Russia
It is hardly surprising that present Admiralty building, which occupies the foot print of former fortified wharf, the word for which came from Dutch, along with other nautical terms, such as matros- ship's hand, skipper-helmsman, gavan-harbour, farvater-fairway and even flot-fleet was first mentioned in Peter's personal diary on November 5, 1704, shortly after city's foundation. Though rebuilt several times in 18th and 19th centuries, the original design was sketched by Peter himself, who had seen great number of wharves in Netherlands and understood them well. Built in Palladian grandiose Empire style and having the length of the facade extended for 400 meters by Adrian Zacharov, European trained architect, who managed it to look not so monotonous in spite of its length, using perfect proportions of protruding parts and central tower with soaring golden spire tipped with the model of the first ship, built in Russia, which also serves as weathervane, designed by Dutchman Harman de Boles, is still one of the most recognizable symbols of St.Petersburg.
Duration: 30 minutes

Stop At: Senate Square, St. Petersburg 190000 Russia
The Senate and Synod buildings, connected by the arch, which symbolizes the unity of religious and secular powers were the last among architect Rossi projects constructed in official high classical style, which became his trademark and without which St. Petersburg would loose its distinct look. The Senate and Synod were governmental bodies introduced by Peter the Great. Synod replaced Patriarchate as the supreme governing body of the Orthodox Church, a kind of ministry, presided over by a secular Procurator, reporting to the Tzar directly thus putting Church under the State control, a new system, which replaced Patriarchy and abolished equality of power of Tzar and Patriarch, which existed in Moscow.
Duration: 30 minutes

Stop At: Saint Isaac's Square, Isaakiyevskaya Sq., St. Petersburg Russia
You will not only see all major official buildings, such as Hermitage and Winter palace at the Palace square, Admiralty and St.Isaac cathedral at St.Isaac square, Senate and Synod building at Senate square, but also will be able to hear the stories of their construction, including their earlier previous versions. By "peeling off" different layers of each historical building you see how they were gradually constructed to play their unique part in perfect harmony of a complete ensemble. We stop at each landmark monument, such as huge 700 tons solid piece of granite Alexandr's column in the middle of Palace square, dedicated to victory over Napoleon, world famous «bronze horseman» equestrian sculpture of Peter the Great on Senate square and speak of «Peter's creation» across the river Neva, which he overlooks so proudly, from monolith pedestal, weighing 1500 tons and monument to Nicolas I sitting on a horse, standing on its two hind legs, with his wife and three daughters surrounding postament and representing different virtues. We look at bar reliefs on monuments and buildings depicting different events from lives of those who rulled Russia and speak of values and ideas, that they tried to convey, such as orthodoxy, autocracy and nationality. After we find out who built those spectacular ensembles, along with for whom it was built and under what circumstances, and only then you'd be able not only look at them, but really see them. And if that's not enough we take a boat ride along the channels to see it all from the vantage point of water level or climb up to the colonnade of the third biggest cathedral in Europe, St.Isaac's, to have a bird's eye view.
Duration: 30 minutes

Stop At: Gorokhovaya Street, St. Petersburg Russia
The name of the central of three trident streets radiating from the Admiralty means "green pea street" in Russian, but actually derives from the name of successful foreign merchant, who russified his name to make it more palatable for the Russian ear. Anyhow being initially just a glade from the Admiralty to the old Novgorodian road, this cutting through the forest became the most prestigious street in St.Petersburg, with many famous writes, composers, artists and statesmen moving into the area around the palace. We'll wind up at the Big and Small Maritime streets that originally were the first two streets in St.Petersburg for shipyard workers and later became populated with all the yacht and English clubs, hotels and shopping malls. A lot of banks, insurance agencies and jewelry shops (Faberge was one of them) appeared there in the end of the 19-th century.

On our walk along the different canals we'll spot the mansions of the richest Russian families of the Yusupovs, the Stroganovs, the Sheremetievs and the Demidovs families. Each of them owned a land compared to any kingdom in Europe. You'll find out how their fortunes and their famous representatives influenced the history of Russia.
Duration: 30 minutes

Stop At: The State Museum St. Isaac’s Cathedral, St Isaac_s Square, 4 Nevskiy Prospekt metro station, St. Petersburg 190000 Russia
Forty years passed between the foundation stone of the fourth and last church of St Isaac’s7 being laid (1818) and the present St Isaac’s Cathedral (Isaákiyevskiy sobór) being open for worship (1858). There have been few years since when repairs have not been in progress. Petersburgers will sometimes tell you that the work was needlessly prolonged because of a belief that the Romanov dynasty would fall when work on the church of St Isaac’s ceased. But there are plenty of better explanations: Auguste de Montferrand, the architect chosen for the project, was young and inexperienced; the exquisite drawings that won him the competition turned out to contain so many mistakes and miscalculations that he was required to make another set which were not ready until1825;the ground,even at the south end of the square,was too marshy to support the massive structure (the cathedral can hold fourteen thousand people and is believed to weigh three thousand tons.The forty-eight columns which support the porticoes weigh a hundred and thirty tons each.Montferrand eventually resolved the problem by sinking thousands of piles,variously estimated as eleven and twenty-four thousand);Nicholas I was a fidgety and difficult employer;and there were too many fingers in the pie.
Duration: 40 minutes

No meals included on this day.
No accommodation included on this day.

Day 4: Seaside czars residences of Peterhof, Oranienbaum and the Island of Kronshtadt

Stop At: Peterhof State Museum Preserve, Razvodnaya ul., d. 2, Peterhof, St. Petersburg 198516 Russia
We would visit places, that are closely connected with Russian maritime history from the time of Peter I, who laid the foundation of the Russian navy base on the Kronshtadt island, which played significant part during WWII, when the Baltic Fleet was fighting Nazi Germany.

We'll start from Peterhof, which was conceived by Peter the Great not only as sea front official imperial residence but as a gigantic monument, not only commemorating the victory over the Swedish empire but the triumph over nature itself. And we will continue our tour along the coast line of the Gulf of Finland to Oranienbaum and Kronshtadt island by a dam.

We would be arriving from St.Petersburg by hydrofoil boat to catch the view of the palaces and fountains complexes from the water, as it was intended by Peter himself. After going through upper garden we continue on land to the next former royal residences, built in Oranienbaum. And we finish our tour in Kronshtadt, where we will be visiting Big Navy Cathedral, see the forts, first city port area, Peter I's dry dock and the lighthouse.

Peter I who started the Northern campaign in 1700 against Sweden that had occupied this territory for the last 100 years and in spite of being defeated initially by Charles XII who was almost alter ego for Peter, being of the same age and character, found himself in marshy lands of the former Great Novgorod city principality. His resilience and ability to learn the lesson and get up after being knocked down gave Peter I the opportunity not only to create from scratches the most advanced Army and the Navy, but also build practically on an empty spot a new capital surrounded by fortresses and sea forts defending all approaches from enemy side.

Upon arrival we can start from visiting imperial yacht museum. We continue through the lower park, which Peter I called his paradise and which with all the constantly flowing cascades and running fountains supposed to outshine Versailles. Along the way we see the Big Palace, Marly, Hermitage and Monplesir palaces. After visiting grand palace and going through upper garden we continue on land to the next imperial residence, built in Oranienbaum.

Duration: 4 hours

Stop At: Oranienbaum, Dvortsovy Ave, 46, Lomonosov, St. Petersburg 198412 Russia
We will visit Menshikov palace, Rollercoaster Pavilion and Chinese palace, which was built by Catherine the Great and is the only one, that was not destroyed during WWII, because it was in a pocket of resistances, that the Germans failed to capture. The origin of this place dates back as usual to Peter I time when he presented this plot of land to his trusted advisor and childhood friend Menshikov, who was briefly running Russia after Peter's death. But was accused of embezzlement and exiled into Siberia. Next hapless owner was grand Duke Peter III, who became a czar according to the wishes of his aunt Elizabeth, but was in his turn dethroned and killed by his wife, Catherine the Great. For about twelve years after Peter III’s abdication and death, Catherine and Rinaldi worked together on Oranienbaum with wonderful effect. Like Peter, they did not significantly alter the Great Palace (though Rinaldi could not resist leaving his own mark on the grand staircase and on the interiors of the two pavilion wings). But in the Upper Park, to the north of the Great Palace, they joined in creating what has been described as ‘the most miraculous palace of eighteenth-century Russia’. It must certainly be one of the most unapologetically self-indulgent. In the Chinese Palace (Kitáyskiy dvoréts) they seem to have dared each other to greater and greater visual extravagances – the farewell, for both, to Baroque and the beginning of their Classical period. There is not much that is Chinese about this palace except the excuse for it which was to house a fashionable collection of Chinese artefacts. The ceilings were purchased in Italy and originally included a Tiepolo in the Light Blue Hall, which was taken for safety to Peterhof at the beginning of the war whence it was stolen by the Germans. (It was replaced, in 1980, by one painted by Torelli.) The walls are covered sometimes in chinoiserie, sometimes in sheer Rococo, sometimes (as in the Steklyárusny Kabinét) with pale silk velvet embroidered with bugle beads. The floors Rinaldi’s designs – have to be seen to be believed. In the great Dining Room (Bolshóy zal) are some rare bas reliefs in marble of Peter the Great and the Empress Elisabeth.
Duration: 2 hours

Stop At: Kronstadt, St. Petersburg Russia
We continue our trip to the other side of the Gulf of Finland, but this time not by the boat, but by land transportation, because we will use the road to the former Kronshtadt island running on top of the protective barrier, which is now connected by it to the mainland on both sides of the Gulf of Finland. We would be able to see the first Russian Navy base located in the city of Kronshtadt, which was closed until recently, and now is opened for visitors.

We'll see remnants of the first little manmade island, which appeared during winter, when Peter had wooden logs dragged on ice to make crates filled with stones and after they sunk in spring he had artificial fortification built on top of them, named Kronshlot. And by this structure designed and strategically placed off Kronshtadt island no enemy ship was able to pass since then, because of the forward thinking of Peter the Great, who waded through freezing water, sometimes chest deep to measure navigable depth of the Gulf of Finland and calculated gun range coverage to prevent unobstructed passage of Swedish ships.

We would be able to see city harbor, dry dock and fortifications, that were designed and personally supervised while under construction by Peter the Great and his closest associates. And after that we visit recently restored Main Navy Cathedral with its distinct sea-world theme decoration such as dolphins and sea creatures, that was built to commemorate Russian maritime glory. Also we visit navy memorials of WWII heroes, such as of Russian submarine captain Marinesku, who was proclaimed Hitler’s enemy number one after the so called attack of the century, when he managed to sink the biggest transport carrying the elite of German Navy officers.

Duration: 2 hours

No meals included on this day.
No accommodation included on this day.

Day 5: Pushkin and Pavlovsk state preserve

Stop At: Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve, Sadovaya St., 7, Pushkin, St. Petersburg 196601 Russia
Pushkinsky district became famous because of its attractions - museums-preserves "Tsarskoye Selo" and "Pavlovsk". It is located just a couple of tens of kilometers from St. Petersburg. In spite of the new name, this locality, previously referred to as Tsarskoye Selo, has retained all the charm of the golden age of Russia. Moreover it is noteworthy, that the name "Tsarskoe" did not appear at all due to the fact that the territory used to belong to the royal family. Earlier, this territory was part of Sweden and was called Saarii manor. Because of its beauty, this place was chosen by Peter the Great, who latter presented the whole huge area to his wife, future Empress Catherine I. Since then the area became known as Sarsky village. And later, Tsarsky (Czar's) village. The creation of the city dates back to 1710. The construction of palace buildings and establishment of parks began from that moment. During the period from 18th and to the early 20th centuries, Tsarskoye Selo was the grand imperial summer residence. From 1811 to 1843 the Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum was located here, where A.S. Pushkin was a student. Only at the beginning of the XIX century Tsarskoye Selo was officially recognized as a city. In 1937, the year of the centenary of the death of the poet A.S. Pushkin, Tsarskoye Selo got a new name - Pushkin- the city, that became a historical and architectural preserve. Magnificent Catherine Palace and majestic Alexander Palace are the most remarkable buildings of Pushkin.

Catherine Palace

The outstanding palace of the first mistress of Tsarskoye Selo - Empress Catherine I - was created in the style of Russian baroque, that stand out for its luxury. The previous version of the palace was much more modest, compared to the current one, that appeared in the second half of the XVIII century.

The facade of the palace attracts attention with its bright expressive colour, against which a multitude of stucco decorations, sculptures and ornaments stand out. However, no matter how beautiful the outer shell of the palace is, that's what on the inside of it, really causes one to gasp in awe.

The interiors of the palace are truly royal. Each room is decorated with authentic antique items. The collection of the palace has many unique samples of decorative and applied art, such as furniture, porcelain, statues, paintings and so on, including the personal belongings of the Russian emperors and their families. Speaking about the interior of the palace, one cannot but mention the world famous Amber Room. The story of its disappearance is one of the most intriguing mysteries of the century. For your information: The Amber Room, presented to Peter I by the King of Prussia, was lost in Germany, where it was taken out during World War II for personal Hitter's museum. All the searches for the masterpiece were in vain, forcing Russian masters to do the restoration of the room using old photographs and other documents. The work was carried out for 25 years. The official opening ceremony of the restored Amber Room was held on May 31, 2003 and was timed to the celebration of the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg. Amber panels, made from hand-polished pieces of different colours and sizes, include frames, garlands, emblems, wreaths, monograms, and even whole Bible scenes.

The magnificent palace is surrounded by the picturesque Catherine Park. On the territory of 1,482.63 acres there are three parks. In the parks of Pushkin there are more than 100 architectural structures - palaces, pavilions, bridges, marble monuments, imitating Gothic, Turkish, Chinese architecture. Small pavilions and bridges across the canals stand side by side with solemn palaces.

Duration: 5 hours

Stop At: Pavlovsk State Museum, Sadovaya St 20, Pavlovsk, St. Petersburg 196621 Russia
The summer residence of Emperor Paul I and his family is an outstanding palace and park ensemble of the end of the XVIII - beginning of the XIX centuries. It's one of the largest landscape parks in Europe - its area is 600 hectares. The ensemble of the Palace and Park in Pavlovsk was created during the period of fifty years on the banks of the meandering Slavyanka River, with the participation of architects Charles Cameron, Vincenzo Brenna, Giacomo Quarenghi, Andrei Voronikhin, Karl Rossi, sculptors M. Kozlovsky, I. Martos, I. Prokofiev, F. Gordeev, G. Demuth-Malinovsky.

Astonishingly beautiful and harmonious living rooms of Empress Maria Feodorovna, that were designed by architects Kvarengi and Voronikhin at the beginning of the 19th century, reopened after many years of restoration.

Pavlovsky Park is an outstanding work of landscape design of the end of the XVIII - the first quarter of the XIX century. In place of regular parks with their clear geometric layout and architectural cutting of trees and shrubs came new gardens. In the process of their planning, the park creators tried to come as close as possible to the natural environment. Pavlovsk’s peculiar character is determined by its owner- Empress Maria Feodorovna, who took care of it for almost half a century.

Pavlovsky Park is not only a work of landscape art, but also a rich natural complex that unites cultural, historical, aesthetic and ecological functions.

Duration: 3 hours

No meals included on this day.
No accommodation included on this day.
Departure Point :
Traveler pickup is offered
Will pick up from any centrally located hotel or an apartment Airports
  • Pulkovo Airport, St. Petersburg Russia
  • Marine facade or river port
Departure Time :
9:00 AM
Return Detail :
Hotel Pickup :
  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • Near public transportation
  • Infant seats available
  • No heart problems or other serious medical conditions
  • Travelers should have a moderate physical fitness level
  • This is a private tour/activity. Only your group will participate
  • We choose unbeaten routes and walks around vast open spaces of St. Petersburg, avoiding crowded attractions as much as possible. It is possible due to restrictions for international travels, you would have the whole city to yourself.
You can present either a paper or an electronic voucher for this activity.For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience.



Age Req.


Fitness Req.


Group Size


Organised by St. Pete walking tours in English by Ribin Igor

Activity ID: V-100654P10

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