June 23, 2012
The two most popular cities in any short visit to Russia are St. Petersburg and Moscow. No visit to this historical country is complete without seeing the amazing and culturally rich sights of these two cities.
St Petersburg is a relatively young city, by both Russian and European standards, and was only founded in 1703 by Tsar Peter the Great. Despite its short life so far, Petersburg has a rich and exciting history. From the early days of Peter the Great’s “Venice of the North” to the modern events of the 1991 coup d’etat, the city has always bustled with life and intrigue, revolution and mystery.
The city’s other names were Petrograd and Leningrad. St. Petersburg was the capital of the Russian Empire for more than two hundred years and ceased being the capital only in 1918 after the Russian Revolution of 1917. It is Russia’s second largest and Europe’s fourth largest city (by city limit) after Moscow, London and Paris. 4.6 million people live in the city, and over 6 million people live in the city’s vicinity. Saint Petersburg is a major European cultural center, and important Russian port on the Baltic Sea. It is often described as the most Western European styled city of Russia.
Its geopolitical, intellectual, economical, cultural and historical advantages are unique. St. Petersburg is the symbol of the European part of Russia and one of the most venerable capitals of the world.
St. Petersburg, a cultural center of the global significance, has accumulated and enormous cultural potential over the period of three centuries. For all this time the city has been a true pearl of world culture. Artists and architects made a permanent mark in the cultural history of Russia with their world-renowned architectural ensembles of St. Petersburg. There are over 250 museums, 18 literature museums, 44 art museums, 5 national museum-preserves, 39 history museums, 24 local history and ethnographic museums.
ST. PETERSBURG ATTRACTIONS:
Peterhoff Grand Palace & ParkPeterhof is a jewel of Russian art – a town of parks, palaces and fountains. In the past, it was used as an exquisite summer residence by the Russian Tsars. Verkhniy Garden and Nizhniy Park, are genuine masterpieces of landscape design. They include over 150 fountains and 4 monumental cascades. Within the park, there are 10 museums: the Grand Palace, Monplaisir, Catherine’s Block, Marli, Hermitage, the church of St. Alexander Nevsky (Gothic Capella), the Benois family museum, the Cottage, the Bath Block including Tafeldecker and Kaffeeschenk Rooms, the Kitchen and the Museum of Collecters. The exposition of the special treasury and the private room of Catherine the Great in the Block under the Armcoat of the Grand Palace are all open to the public. (Admission to The Peterhof
St. Isaac’s CathedralSt.Isaac’s Cathedral is a remarkable monument of Russian architecture. This grand structure filled up the space of the Senate Square, and created a new square as well. Alongside with the Peter and Paul’s Cathedral and the Admiralty it became an important architectural landmark in the city outline. The golden dome of St.Isaac’s can be seen from any part of the city, and in clear weather – even from the suburbs.
Winter PalaceThe Winter Palace is the finest example of Russian Baroque in St Petersburg, and at the time of its completion was the largest and most opulent palace in the city. Its 200-metre-long facade features a riot of ornamentation in the fifty bays facing the square, including two tiers of pilasters, a balustrade peppered with urns and statuary, and the prominent vertical drains so characteristic of the city. From this ultimate symbol of power, the autocrat could survey the expanse of Dvortsovaya ploshchad or gaze across the Neva to the Peter and Paul Fortress. As the journalist Alexander Herzen wrote of the palace, “Like a ship floating on the surface of the ocean, it had no real connection with the inhabitants of the deep, beyond that of eating them.”
Today the Winter Palace, together with four more buildings arranged side by side along the river embankment, houses the extensive collections of the Hermitage. The Hermitage Museum is the largest art gallery in Russia and is among the largest and most respected art museums in the world.
Hermitage MuseumIn 1988 the Hermitage was entered into the Guinness Book of Records as the largest art gallery in the world. Founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great, the museum was opened to the public in the 19th century. Now it houses one of the world’s largest collections of art containing about 3 million items from prehistoric to modern times. Magnificent works of art embracing prehistoric culture, Egyptian art, the art of Antiquity, Scythian gold, applied art, and great collections of Western-European paintings are displayed on the magnificent background of the palace interiors in the 400 halls of the museum. Collection of the Spanish art is second only to the one of Prado in Madrid, and collection of the French art is the largest outside France. Among the masterpieces of the Hermitage there are paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian, Velasquez, El Greco, Rubens, Van Dyck, Picasso and many other famous artists and sculptors.
The Peter and Paul FortressBuilt to secure Russia’s hold on the Neva delta, the Peter and Paul Fortress anticipated the foundation of St Petersburg by a year – and may even have suggested to Peter the Great the idea of building a city here.
The fortress’s role as a prison dates back to 1718, when Peter the Great’s son, Alexei, was tortured to death within its walls. The “Secret House”, built to contain Empress Anna’s opponents, was subsequently used by Nicholas I to hold the Decembrists; later generations of revolutionaries were incarcerated in the Trubetskoy Bastion. The fortress was known as the “Russian Bastille”, its grim reputation surpassed only by that of the Shlisselburg fortress on Lake Ladoga, until the Soviet era made other prisons synonymous with even greater terror.
The St.Peter-and-St.Paul Cathedral
St.Peter-and-St.Paul Cathedral, which was constructed in 1733 in early baroque style and became burial ground for almost all the members of the Romanov family starting with Peter the Great. Gilded spire of the cathedral crowned with the angel holding the cross is the city’s well-known landmark.
The Church of the Savior on Spilled BloodThe Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood (Khram Spasa na Krovi) is one of the main Russian Orthodox cathedrals of St. Petersburg.
The church is also variously known as the Church of Our Savior on Blood and the Church of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, its official name. The “blood” of the common name refers to that of Tsar Alexander II, who was killed on that site on March 13, 1881, as well as that of the crucified Jesus.
The church is prominently situated along the Griboedov Canal. The section of street where the assassination took place was enclosed within the walls of the church, and part of the canal filled to allow the street to pass around the building.Architecturally, the church is out of place in St. Petersburg. The city’s architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood is more in line with medieval Russian architecture. It intentionally resembles the famous St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow.
The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day – including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel – but the church’s chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known. An elaborate shrine was constructed on the exact place of Alexander’s death, garnished with topaz, lazurite and other semi-precious stones.The church contains over 7,500 square meters of mosaics – according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The intricately detailed mosaics depict biblical scenes and figures, with fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
There is hardly one person in the world who has never heard about Moscow. A great city, the capital of independent Russia, during more than 860 years of its existence (the city was founded in 1147 by Prince Yuri Dolgorukiy), grew from a small town on the banks of the calm Moskva river into a giant city with a population of more than 10 million people and an area of more than 900 square km.All the stages of the complex, diverse history of our huge beautiful country, which spreads from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific Ocean, left their traces in Moscow’s appearance. The calm and stately ancient monasteries are situated close to the awkward bulks of the «Stalin Gothic». The elegant mansions, built in «modern» style, are the neighbours of the Soviet skyscrapers on the New Arbat. And, certainly, the Kremlin – the heart and the symbol of Russia. Today we are the witnesses of a new stage in Moscow’s life: the streets and squares of Moscow get back their historical names, more and more neon ads of famous foreign companies and firms are shining in the streets of Moscow, private stores and restaurants are going into business. Here in Moscow, more than anywhere else, one can feel the atmosphere of all these changes, which have already captivated the attention of the whole world for few years and are called the Renaissance of Russia.
Now Moscow has become even more interesting for tourists: only now, only in this city you can see with your own eyes how the history of a great country is being created.
And, certainly, the doors of all hotels, restaurants and cafes, night and sport clubs, numerous museums, galleries and theatres are open for you, and their staff is happy to welcome you.
MOSCOW ATTRACTIONS:Red Square came into its own in the 20th Century, when it was most famous as the site of official military parades demonstrating to the world the might of the Soviet armed forces. Two of these will be remembered forever. The first was the parade of 7 November 1941, when columns of young cadets marched through the square and straight on to the frontline, which by that point was less than 50km from Moscow. The second was the victory parade on 24 June 1945, when two hundred Nazi standards were thrown in front of the mausoleum and trampled by mounted Soviet commanders in celebration. The year 2000 saw the return of troops to Red Square, with a parade to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of World War Two.
Since Perestroika, however, the emphasis has moved away from official pomp, and Red Square has been used increasingly for rock concerts, big classical music performances and a whole range of large-scale events from fashion shows to festivals of circus art. Moscow met the millennium here with a huge firework display and street party.
Today it’s hard to think of a place that is more beloved of Muscovites and visitors to the city. The varied beauty of the architecture and the magical atmosphere belie the square’s often brutal and bloody history, but the combination makes Red Square a truly fascinating place that you’ll want to come back to again and again.
Moscow Kremlin is a unique architectural ensemble. It is famous for the ancient Sobornaya (Cathedrals’) Square and cathedrals: Cathedral of the Annunciation; Assumption Cathedral where Russian tsars and imperators were crowned; Cathedral of the Archangel was a burial place for Grand Princes; Church of the Deposition of the Robe; the Patriarch’s Chambers; Ivan the Great Bell Tower. The world-famous Tsar Canon and Tsar Bell became symbols of Moscow, and at the Senate Square, one can see buildings of former Senate and Arsenal (monument of architecture of Peter the Great time). The Great Kremlin Palace used to be a residence of Russian tsars and imperators; nowadays it is a residence of Russian President.
St. Basil’s CathedralThe Cathedral of Basil the Blessed, is a Russian Orthodox cathedral erected on the Red Square in Moscow in 1555–1561. The Monument to Minin and Pozharsky is made of bronze. Not particularly large, it consists of nine chapels, built on a single foundation. According to legend, however, it was built by an Italian architect who was blinded so that he could never create anything that was similar or equal. The St. Basil’s Cathedral, along with the Red Square were inscribed by Unesco as World Heritage Sites in 1990.
The Cathedral was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century to commemorate a military victory.Victory came on the feast day of the Intercession of the Virgin, so the Tsar chose to name his new church the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin on the Moat, after the moat that ran beside the Kremlin.
The inside of St. Basil’s is a maze of narrow, dimly lit corridors connecting the different chapels. Each of the painted domes differs in design and colour.
The Cathedral is now a museum. During restoration work in the seventies a wooden spiral staircase was discovered within one of the walls. Visitors now take this route into the central church, with its extraordinary, soaring tented roof and a fine 16th Century iconostasis. You can also walk along the narrow, winding gallery, covered in beautiful patterned paintwork.
Pushkin State Museum of Fine ArtsThe Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts has one of the most representative collection in Russia of foreign art dated from ancient times to modern days.
The Mayakovskaya Metro StationThe Mayakovskaya Metro Station is the internationally most awarded Moscow metro station for the outstanding architecture. The station is dedicated to the soviet poet Vladimir Mayakovkiy and used to be a safety bunker, when Moscow was bombed during the World War II. The famous communists meeting was held here in 1941, where Stalin made his speech.
Sapsan, The High Speed Train of Russia
“Sapsan” is Russian for the peregrine falcon, the fastest bird in the falcon family, so it was an appropriate name for this new train, which can reach speeds of up to 250 km/h. The train was conceived in preparation for the 2018 World Cup. In the past, the only way to reach Moscow from St. Petersburg was by domestic airline or overnight train, however just recently there is a new addition to Russia’s rail system. The ride between the cities is a little under 4 hours for what used to be an overnight trip. See the video below to appreciate latest modern transport.
MBM Classic Travel is offering the Amazing Russia one week package departing August 20, 2012. It includes using the new high speed train Sapsan to reach Moscow. For details pls email travel email@example.com or call +63 2 904 0187