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Three centuries of Saint Petersburg, Golden, Silver and Soviet ages of the city

St.Petersburg apeared a little bit more than 300 years ago. And from its humble wooden beginning it played an important part in Russian history. I want you to take a closer look with me at places deeply connected with the three ages of St.Petersburg; Golden Age of being Imperial capital of privileged nobles and royalties, Silver Age of last days of Empire with decadent representatives of bohemian elite of art, literature, music and ballet that ended in three revolutions, led by the men of steel, willing to die and kill for their utopian ideas. I prepared a short description of the main highlights, which I strongly advise you to read to do the city justice. Let us start our journey together, so you would be able not just look, but really see the city in all its splendor.

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3 days


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  • What's included :
    • 1x Lunch
    • Accommodation included: 1 night
    What's excluded :
    • Entry/Admission - Nevsky Prospekt
    • Entry/Admission - Faberge Museum
    • Entry/Admission - Field of Mars (Marsovo Pole)
    • Entry/Admission - Mikhailovskiy Castle Historical Museum
    • Entry/Admission - Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
    • Entry/Admission - Peter and Paul Fortress
    • Entry/Admission - The State Museum of the Political History of Russia
    • Entry/Admission - Peter I House
    • Entry/Admission - Memorial Sign Strelka Of Vasilievskiy Island
    • Entry/Admission - Yusupov Palace on Moika River
    • Entry/Admission - Isaakiyevskiy Sobor
    • Entry/Admission - Senate Square
    • Entry/Admission - The State Hermitage Museum
    • Entry/Admission - Bolshaya Morskaya Street
    • Entry/Admission - Saint Isaac's Square

  • Day 1: Unravel the Royal mysteries of the House of Romanov's dynasty

    Stop At: Nevsky Prospekt, Nevsky Avenue, St. Petersburg 191025 Russia
    • Start the tour from Nevsky with your Saint Petersburg tour guide. it is the main thoroughfare of St.petersburg, stretched like a string between two points on the bow of the river Neva- Admiralty being one and Alexandr Nevsky monastery the is certainly, one of the must-see places in the city.
    • You'll walk on 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, though it initially used to be just a supply road for the Admiralty shipyard, but gradually turned into the most fashionable St.petersburg's avenue.
    • 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 threehundred year long history.
    • Observe how Nevsky prospect and the area around it 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.
    • Find out how at the beginning of xx-th century it became a street of "many faiths" where Russian orthodox churches stand side by side with protestant, catholic and lutheran cathedrals.
    • You would be able to understand the changes brought by capitalism to Russia, when it became the street of commerce with its first shopping malls and headquarters of banks, credit and insurance organizations.
    • Sill with all the libraries, theatres, bookstores and concert halls it was a perfect representation of the cultural capital of Russia.
    • You going to see «the golden age ensembles» comple with monuments, surrounding Nevsky, built by high classical style architect Rossi, such as Ostrovsky square with the first drama theater at the background and Catherine the Great monument in the middle, surrounded by all her trusted advisors on the pedestal under her feet.
    • Enjoy the view of the 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 is Royal academy of ballet, where all the famous ballerinas graduated from.
    • Prepare to be amazed by the next ensemble, adjacent to Nevsky, built by ubiquitous Rossi situated at Art square with Russian museum at the background and a monument to Pushkin the most famous Russian poet, whose marriage to the foremost beauty of St.Petersburg lead to his tragic death at the duel, and still is one of the most dramatic pages in Russian history.
    • You will be able to see art nouveau buildings of the turn of the twentieth century, the so-called «silver age» time , such as Eliseev brothers food emporium, which started as a small market and grew into the whole complex with the theatre, concert hall and fashionable restaurants, beautifully decorated inside and outside.
    • You will see «Signer sewing machines» building, complete with famous world's domination tower on top, which was built as headquarters of the company but not in an «American skyscraper style», because no building supposed to be higher, than Winter palace and that's why there still exists unique UNESCO protected, (by putting it on world heritage list), St.Petersburg skyline.
    • You gonna see the Wavelberg italian palazzo style building, built by swedish banker with stones he hdwas hauled all the way from Sweden, but nonetheless was criticized 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.
    • You travel back in time to see where enormous one thousand room wooden Winter palace 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, serving as guards officers there, turned the fate of a little known grand dutchess who eventually became known as Catherine the Great.
    • You'll see a Stroganoff mansion, built by the family, which owned half of Siberia, and had an open house dinner there, prepared by a chef from whom this famous slowly stewed beef recipe comes from.
    • You'll see a little cafe, which has to do with death or misfortune of the best Russian poet, writer and composer.

    Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes

    Stop At: Kazan Cathedral, Kazanskaya Sq., 2 Metro Nevskiy Prospect, St. Petersburg 191186 Russia
    • You visit our Lady of Kazan Cathedral, the one which is also a memorial to the victory over Napoleon. Granted that to those who travelled 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, a grandmaster of maltese order, who wanted to unify catholic and orthodox churches and even was working on an ecumenical project with protestant pastors.
    • Be surprised to find out that its impressive colonnade, is just decoration of a side entry from Nevsky prospect, but which looks more open than the pincer-like one, designed by Bernini, so it would be more inviting forall the representatives of all denominations to come in.
    • Plus find out out historical background of this monument with two commanders in chief of the Russian army statures on each side of it, the ones who defeated French troops during Napoleonic campaign.
    • Learn about divine help in all the Russian victorious campains without which it would not have been possible apart from intervention of a miracle-working icon of our Lady of Kazan for which the Cathedral was built.
    • Get familiar with the origin and the fate of this holy relic starting from the time it was first discovered after Ivan the Terrible captured Kazan, which event was commemorated by construction of St.Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
    • Learn that after Kremlin was occupied by Polish invaders, the militia leaders from Yaroslavl, whose monument you also can see on Red square, brought this icon to defeat their ancient nemesis.
    • Find out that it was transfered from Moscow by Peter, who decided to capture these territories from Sweden, had the special church dedicated to it latter constructed on the spot, where Kazan cathedral now stands.
    • Learn how 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 at the head of Russian troops, that expelled French Napoleonic army, it was mounted in a special iconostasis inside of the newly built cathedral only to be used by Stalin, who had this icon flown over around the city, surrounded by the German Natzy army during WWII thus preventing the Hitler troops advance.

    Duration: 45 minutes

    Stop At: Faberge Museum, Fontanka River Embankment 21 Shuvalov Palace, St. Petersburg 191011 Russia
    • Visit one of the biggest Faberge museum collection in splendor interiors of Shuvalov palace.
    • You would see the world-famous easter eggs and enamelled silverware items, produced by the imperial court suppliers for their royal patrons, which began with a unique collection of Fabergé works owned by Malcolm Forbes
    • Learn how from initial moment of its acquisitions, the collection of Russian decorative-applied and fine arts was growing and as of today contains more than four thousans works.
    • See why in terms of its size and the superlative quality of its works, it has become one of the best collections in the world.
    • Make sure not to miss the most valuable items in the Fabergé museum collection that come from the nine easter eggs created by Fabergé for the last two Russian tsars.
    • Spend enough time to have a perfect view at all of the eggs which are not only masterpieces of jewellery art but are also unique historical monuments connected with the rule and personal life of Alexander III and Nicholas II.
    • Observe the uniqueness of the Fabergé collection put together by the link of times foundation which comes from the fact that it includes all the mediums in which the House of Fabergé worked, including objects de fantaisie, jewellery, silverware, and everyday household and cult objects, made from semi-precious stones.
    • Notice that 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: Field of Mars (Marsovo Pole), St. Petersburg 191186 Russia
    • You will visit Sheremetiev estate and fountain house, where the most famous poet of silver age- Anna Akhmatova lived, who started as a decadent poet, and ended up as a dissident, whose son and a husband both were killed under soviet government, and who unable to write anything under Stalin, only was committing her poetry to memory to avoid the danger of arrest and gulag imprisonment herself.
    • We would visit Summer garden, dating back to Peter's time. First regular French style garden in Russia, which was to rival the one in 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 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.
    • We'll visit field of Mars, former drilling ground for soldiers, turned into a desert since the grass didn't have a chance to grow on it because of all the paradomania, where the parades rivaled with theater and concert shows. It eventually became a common burial ground for the victims of the revolutions. We'll visit eternal flame monument, dedicated to it.
    • We will visit the decadent cafes, that existed just before the revolution and where all the symbolist's and acmeist's poets, avangard and futurists artists, ballet dancers of the Dyagilev Russian seasons and organisers of the «world of art movement» of the silver age were gathered.
    • We will visit Marble 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.
    • You would find out why 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: 1 hour

    Stop At: Mikhailovskiy Castle Historical Museum, Sadovaya St., 2, St. Petersburg 191011 Russia
    • We'll 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 tsars, torn between his grandmother’s grooming him for the throne with the help of most progressive liberal thinkers of that age at the big court and his father military obsessed Prussian sergeant style goose step drilling in the small court.
    • We will see why he 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.
    • We will understand how he from the 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, tortured by the guilt of regicidal killing of his own father.

    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.
    • We will see how this assassination of Alexander II, changed the course of Russian history yet again from liberal reforms to slavophile ways, based strictly on monarchy and on special bonding between the tsar and the people but not on democratic institutions.
    • These pre-Petrine Moscovite ways adhered to by the successor of the killed tsar, Alexander III, proclaimed the most typical Russian tsar, 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: 1 hour

    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, with his help deposing and killing her husband in the process.
    • 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.
    • We will have a look at the center of the artistic life of the Silver Age, which was located in the corner building on Tavricheskaya and Tverskaya streets during 1905-1912. Where the poet Vyacheslav Ivanov and his wife, fiction writer Lydia Zinovyeva-Annibal lived on the top floor of Dernov’s house and were having their famous salon sessions, frequented by the most prominent philosophers, writes, poets, artists, musicians and actors.
    • Valery Bryusov, Andrei Bely, Nikolai Gumilev, Maximilian Voloshin, Nikolai Berdyaev, Leonid Andreyev met on famous Wednesdays in the building's round tower complete with corner bay window.
    • Akhmatova presented there her first poem, Blok read “The Stranger” in a dull monotonous voice. The performances of the amateur “Tower Theater” were staged by Meyerhold, sets were designed by Sudeikin, and visitors of the Tower themselves participated the productions, playing their parts, along with the apartment owners and even of the porter's children.

    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.
    • We will learn how Elisabeth, who was Peter the Great's daughter but born out of wedlock and who could not subsequently inherit the throne, only was able to 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 the old Muscovite ways of running Russia. And this conflict of old and new, of eastern and western ways of ruling Russia remained the point of content for almost 3 century lasting into present days.
    • Learn this and much more during this introductory day in St.Petersburg.

    Duration: 1 hour

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

    Day 2: Travel back in time by exloring the city history from its foundation to its more recent times

    Stop At: Peter and Paul Fortress, Petropavlovskaya Fortress, 3, St. Petersburg 197022 Russia
    Second day we dedicate to the history of the city during last 300 years. 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 and Peter's cottage.
    • We would be able to 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.

    Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes

    Stop At: The State Museum of the Political History of Russia, Kuibysheva st., 2/4 Metro: Gorkovskaya, St. Petersburg 198218 Russia
    • 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 tsar 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 tsar’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 there on an armored car to turn her mansion 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: 1 hour

    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.
    • We will visit Kshessinskaya prima ballerina and lover of the last tsar 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.
    • We'll walk along the river Neva embankments, where every stone remembers the past.
    • 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 5 of Peter and Paul fortress museums 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: 1 hour

    Stop At: Memorial Sign Strelka Of Vasilievskiy Island, Birzhevaya Square, St. Petersburg 199034 Russia
    • We visit panoramic spots where Neva splits into two brunches, 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.
    • We will see that 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, along with iconic the Exchange building which 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).
    • We would be able to learn the facts of its construction which 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.
    • 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.
    • You would be surprised, 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.
    • Interestingly enough would be to find out that 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.
    • Another panoramic spot not to be missed is the quay in front of the Academy of three major arts dating over forty years later of the building and which was designed by the man who built the Moscow Station, K. A. Thon.
    • Curiously the Sphinxes, brought with great labor 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.
    • Getting to the opposite side of Neva we examine the place 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: 2 hours

    Stop At: Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall, Pisareva st., 20 Entrance from Dekabristov Street, 37, St. Petersburg 190121 Russia
    • We will aproach the area closely connected with musical and ballet history of Russia. The present building of Conservatoire standing 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.
    • You would be entertained by the fact that 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.
    • Interestingly for you 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.
    • It may be interesting to note that 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.
    • Curiously enough that built (Chevakinskiy 1753–62) as the church of sailors, seafarers, shipwrights and all their associates who inhabited the area south-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.

    Duration: 2 hours

    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
    • We will approach it 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.
    • We move to the next point of our exploration 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).
    • We will see a little doir where he was to be taken by a side entry into a basement room, exotically redecorated for the purpose with a bearskin rug, a Persian carpet and a seventeenth-century Italian crucifix. There 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.
    • We will learn that 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.
    • May be for mist inquisitive will be interesting to find out that 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 done according to the latest fashion of the time.
    • So you would be able to see the things that awe and hear things that educate.

    Duration: 2 hours

    Stop At: Isaakiyevskiy Sobor, St Petersburg, Russia, 190000
    • 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.
    • It would be interesting to know, that forty years passed between the foundation stone of the fourth and last church of St Isaac’s 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. All those facts took toll on the constitution process, which was finished just before the architect's death.

    Duration: 1 hour

    Meals included:
    • Lunch: It all depends on you, you would have a wide variety of restaurants to choose from along the way for any type of budget.
    Accommodation included: The hotel of your choice

    Day 3: Explore three major squares adjacent to each other in downtown area

    Stop At: Senate Square, St. Petersburg 190000 Russia
    During our third day we find out who built those spectacular ensembles, along with for whom they were built and under what circumstances, and only then you'd be able not only look at them, but really see them. This day includes Hermitage complex museum tour the biggest depository of art in Russia situated in splendor interiors of 5 buildings. 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.
    • On the third day we will continue our walk around downtown area. 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.

    Duration: 1 hour

    Stop At: Isakiyevskaya Ploshchad', Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 190000
    • It is worth you attention because of its esthetic qualities mainly to examine the 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.
    • We will learn how 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.
    • One of most impressive sights in St.Petersburg is 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.
    • 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.

    Duration: 1 hour

    Stop At: The State Hermitage Museum, Palace Emb., 30-38, St. Petersburg 191055 Russia
    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: 3 hours

    Stop At: Admiralteisky, Admiralteisky, St. Petersburg, Northwestern District
    • 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.
    • We will find out that in spite of it was 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 that it would 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, and is still one of the most recognizable symbols of St.Petersburg.

    Duration: 45 minutes

    Stop At: Bolshaya Morskaya Street, Bolshaya Morskaya St., St. Petersburg Russia
    • The next on our list of squares is Senate or Desembrist square, and events connected with its name we are going to look into.
    • Interesting to note that 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 Tsar directly thus putting Church under the State control, a new system, which replaced Patriarchy and abolished equality of power of Tsar and Patriarch, which existed in Moscow.
    • 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.

    Duration: 45 minutes

    Stop At: Saint Isaac's Square, Isaakiyevskaya Sq., St. Petersburg Russia
    • 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.
    • It would be interesting to know, that forty years passed between the foundation stone of the fourth and last church of St Isaac’s 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. All those facts took toll on the constitution process, which was finished just before the architect's death.

    Duration: 1 hour

    No meals included on this day.
    No accommodation included on this day.
  • Departure Point :
    Russian State Archive of the Navy, Millionnaya ulitsa, 36, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 191186
    Traveler pickup is offered
    We discuss details personally before the tourPorts
    • Marine facade or river port
    Departure Time :
    9:00 AM
    Return Detail :
    Returns to original departure point
    Hotel Pickup :
    • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
    • Wheelchair accessible
    • Stroller accessible
    • Near public transportation
    • Infants must sit on laps
    • Infant seats available
    • Transportation is wheelchair accessible
    • Not recommended for travelers with back problems
    • Not recommended for pregnant travelers
    • No heart problems or other serious medical conditions
    • Travelers should have a strong physical fitness level
    • This is a private tour/activity. Only your group will participate
  • 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-100654P11

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