by Valentina Spiridonova
“Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma,” got to the root of the matter Winston Churchill back in 1916
“Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma,” got to the root of the matter Winston Churchill back in 1916. I strongly believe that, more than to any other place in our country, these words can be applied to Saint Petersburg – Russia’s second largest and the most European city that bears the status of the country’s cultural capital.
Is it possible to put into words the atmosphere of St. Petersburg? The “Northern Palmira”, the “Northern Venice”, the “Window to Europe” are only few of the names St. Petersburg has had throughout its, a bit more than, 300-year history.
Skillfully built across the marshlands of the Neva River by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703, St. Petersburg became the birthplace of the Great Russian fleet and the capital of the Russian Empire, one of the most powerful in Europe.
Romanov dynasty sovereigns spared no expense to create the distinctive appearance of their great city and its suburbs. They invited the best of the best artists and architects such as D. Trezzini, B. Rastrelli, C. Rossi, A. Brullov, N. Benois and many others.
Unfortunately, the life of the splendid Saint Petersburg wasn’t always serene.
Back in the day, it witnessed Bloody Sunday and was the center of the Great Russian revolution, started from a cruiser Aurora single blank shell. And, finally, St. Petersburg (then Leningrad) heroically survived almost a 900-day siege during the World War II.
Nowadays St. Petersburg can be rightfully called the most beautiful, the most mysterious, the most contradictory and the most romantic city of Russia.
How to see the sights?
To explore a vast under-the-open-sky-museum territory of St. Petersburg you can select from a wide range of means that can fit every taste, from cultural walking tours to rooftop tours (Note, it is officially allowed to enjoy the most gorgeous views and sunsets from the top of St. Petersburg historical buildings.), from comfortable hop-on\ hop-off double decker excursion buses and boats to private luxury yachts and helicopter tours that allow to see the city from a bird’s-eye perspective! Most active and adventurous visitors can join in a SUP tour, and, literally, study every nook and cranny of the city from its most interesting angle – from water.
You should certainly travel by the St. Petersburg Metro to experience the world’s deepest underground system that is itself a masterpiece (You might even have your ears blocked while going down to Admiralteyskaya Metro station).
You can either opt for a coach tour or melt into locals and get on a high-speed comfortable above ground train “Lastochka” to get to the famous St. Petersburg suburbs (former countryside summer residences of the Russian establishment) to enjoy the Fountains of Peterhof and to admire the Catherine Palace, famous for its Amber Room, in Pushkin....