The State Hermitage Museum occupies five magnificent buildings along the Neva River Embankment in the very center of Saint Petersburg. They are the Winter Palace, the Small Hermitage, the Large Hermitage, the New Hermitage, and the Hermitage Theater. The Winter Palace, the official residence of Russian emperors, designed by architect B. Rastrelli in 1754-1762, occupies the leading place in the whole ensemble. The State Hermitage features one of the largest art collections in the world. It numbers about 3 million items, including masterpieces by outstanding artists. The Hermitage collection includes culture objects embracing the period from the Stone Age to modern times. In 1762 Catherine II became the Empress of Russia and the owner of the palace. It was her who started the Hermitage collection by purchasing in 1764 the first collection of paintings that used to belong to Prussian merchant Gantsovsky. Collecting works of arts became very important for Catherine the Great. Such art experts as Diderot, Voltaire and other connoisseurs of European painting helped Catherine to acquire the best works for her collection. A very narrow circle of people could admire the paintings kept by the Empress in her palace. Catherine the Great called it the Hermitage, the French word that means "hermit's dwelling". After the Great Russian Socialist Revolution of 1917 the Hermitage was turned into museum, and its treasures were open to the general public.

Standing on a small island at the centre of the Neva delta, Peter and Paul Fortress was founded in 1703 by Peter the Great and is the oldest building in St Petersburg. The ensemble of the Peter and Paul Fortress includes Commandant's House, the Engineers House, the Artillery armory, the Mint, the Treasury, the Guardhouse and other historical constructions. The heart of the fortress is the Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul, where all of Russia's pre-Revolutionary leaders were buried, apart from Peter, Ivan IV and Nicholas II. Its belfry with a gilt 40 metre spire is an architectural dominant of the city.

St. Isaac's Cathedral - the main church of the city. Commissioned in 1818 by Alexander I, this imperial cathedral with its opulent interior and huge gold dome by its height occupies the 4th place in the world among domed cathedrals. The massive granite columns had to be transported from Finland on purpose built ships and rail and the dome is covered in nearly 100kg of gold; inside, there are 10 malachite columns and a beautiful iconastasis. For visitors with energy to spare, it is possible to climb the several hundred steps of the spiral staircase to the colonnade for a fabulous view of the city.

The Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady 1801-1811 architect A.N. Voronikhin The Cathedral is a sample of High Classicism. In the Cathedral there was (and since 2001 it has been there again) the wonder-working icon of Our Lady of Kazan. Hence is the name of the Cathedral. The building has the form of the "Latin" cross. Its northern faсade faces Nevsky Avenue. The facade is surrounded by a huge semicircular colonnade with 92 columns. Its length is over 100 meters. In the middle of the colonnade there is a portico with six columns. Different materials were used for the construction of the Cathedral: Limestone, granite, marble from various stone quarry of Russia.

The Church of Spilled Blood , commissioned by Alexander III in 1882 to honour the memory of his father Alexander who was assassinated the previous year; the altar was built on the very place where his blood stained the cobblestones. It was built to resemble St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow – hence it’s stunning exterior.

The Yusupov Palace is arguably the most interesting and beautifully preserved palace in the city. Built in the 1740s and then bought by Catherine the Great for one of her ladies in waiting, it was eventually purchased by Prince Nikolai Yusupov in 1830 for 250,000 roubles. A fortune at the time. Subsequently it was here that Prince Felix Yusupov planned and carried out the murder of Rasputin. All the rooms are beautifully restored and full of art, while the highlight must surely be the exquisite private theatre, built for Zineida Yusupov, where such renowned artists as Anna Pavlova and Shaliapin have performed.

Russian museum possesses nowadays one of the largest collections of Russian fine arts, as well as applied and popular art ranging from ancient Kievian Rus through to the present time. The collection developed following the nationalisation of private collections after the revolution, and the “acquisition” of 40,000 icons from churches which were closed during the Soviet era. The collection of Russian paintings found here is equalled only by that at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.

Pushkin is one of the former summer residences of the Russian tsars – Tsars Village. Situated in the suburbs of Saint Petersburg the Tsar Village is a unique ensemble comprising several pavilions, beautiful lakes and gardens and a wonderful Catherine Palace. The summer palace was originally given by Peter the Great to his wife Catherine, and was rebuilt by Italian architect Rastrelli in 1756. The palace is a huge, elegant building with white and hold Baroque mouldings set against a blue background, set in a beautiful park with elaborate gardens, canals and pavilions. Catherine the Great loved living here. Some of the more beautiful rooms include the Great Hall, the State Dining Room, the Blue Drawing Room, the bedroom of Alexander I’s wife Elisabeth and the Palace Churcр and of corse famous Amber Room, major part of which disappeared after the WWII. In 1979 it was decided to reconstruct the Amber Room. It took about a quarter of a century to create new amber panels that would precisely depict the lost ones. The official ceremony of opening of the restored Amber room took place on May, 31, 2003, in honor of 300th anniversary of Saint Petersburg. The clients visit Catherine palace and promenade in the beautiful park afterwards. Special fast track or early or late opening of the palace is offered to the guests.

In summer time enjoy an unforgettable tour to Peterhof! Peterhof, or "Peter's Court", dates back to 1715 and is a former summer residence of the Russian Tsars. Most famous for its stunning golden fountains, the palace grounds house several buildings and parks - the Grand Palace ( "the Russian Versailles", now a vast museum of lavish rooms and galleries), Monplaisir (Peter's outwardly more humble villa), the Grand Cascade (the center piece of the palace grounds with over 140 fountains), the Lower Park (parkland along the Gulf with more fountains and pavillions), Marly Palace and Alexandria Park. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the population of St Petersburg was invited to dine here at a great summer fete held every year.

Situated about 26 km from St Petersburg and only 5 km from Pushkin. The Palace of Pavlovsk was a present from Catherine the Great to her son Paul, later Paul 1st. Originally designed by Charles Cameron, it was partially redesigned at Paul’s request by several famous European architects including Quarenghi and Rossi. Severely damaged in World War II, it has been meticulously and lavishly restored and is set amidst extensive parkland which, when created, was the largest landscaped area in the world. The building of the Palace is an example of the Russian Classical architecture. Collections of the museum are rich in unique pieces of Russian and West European porcelain, furniture, canvases of XVII – XVIII c.c. of western artists, carpets, bronze items, ivory and precious stones objects. Antique sculpture collection is the second after collections of Hermitage.

In 1783 Catherine the Great presented Gatchina palace to her son Paul, the future Russian emperor. The architect Vincenzo Brenna reconstructed the palace and made it look like a medieval fortified castle with bastions, moat and draw bridge. The meadow in front of the palace was turned into a parade-ground where troops of Gatchina dressed and trained in Prussian style marched from morning till late into the night. In 1851 on the parade-ground in front of the palace the bronze monument to Paul I designed by sculptor Vitali was erected. The park in Gatchina was laid out in English style according to the latest fashion and became the first landscape park in Russia.

The palace and its annexes were built over the period 1710-1727 in baroque style. Architects such as Rastrelli, Rinaldi, Shtakensheinder were involved in this project . Sitting on a hill and overlooking the sea gulf, the main palace looks impressive. The vast park is dotted with smaller palaces and pavillons that can be visited. The most beautiful sight of Oranienbaum is the Chinese Palace in the south-west of the park. Work on the palace and park ensemble of Oranienbaum began under Alexander Menshikov (who owned these lands in the early 18th century) and took almost a century to complete. In 1727 Oranienbaum was passed to the State and served as the summer residence of the imperial family. The palaces were nationalized after the 1917 revolution and were gradually turned into museums. Today, the Oranienbaum estate comprises three ensembles: the Great Palace, Peterstadt and the "Personal Dacha". The highlight of the estate, the Chinese Palace - is a splendid monument of Rococo architecture. Its interiors are striking for the wealth and variety of their decor. The state rooms are adorned with stylized Chinese motifs, hence the name. The palace houses collections of paintings by artists of the Venetian School, Russian and Western European porcelain, furniture and works of Oriental decorative and applied art, which were very highly rated in the 18th century. The halls of the Sliding Hill Pavilion (the hill itself has not survived) contain a display of porcelain statuettes from Meissen.

Strelna, one of the oldest suburbs of Saint Petersburg, is situated 19 km from the town, on the south shore of the Finnish Gulf. Under Peter the Great the former Sweden mansion of the so-called Strelina Myza was used as the royal resting palace. There the tsar used to stay on the way from Saint Petersburg to the fortress Kronstadt and Oranienbaum. In 1847 Strelna became a summer residence of another Grand Prince Konstantin, the son of Nicholas I, and since then the palace and the park were officially called Konstantinovsky. During World War II the palace and park ensemble of Strelna was terrifically damaged. The reconstruction of the palace began in November 2001, and by the celebrations of the 300th anniversary of Saint Petersburg foundation the ensemble was totally restored and appeared before the public in all its glory. The former tsar's residence obtained the status of the State Complex "Palace of Congresses" that is used as a State residence, museum and business center at the same time.


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