The city of St. Petersburg was founded by Tsar Peter I in 1703 on the shore of the Baltic Sea, on the territory recaptured from the Swedes during the Northern War.
The historic center of St. Petersburg was the first cultural heritage site in Russia to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1990. Several palaces, which are located outside of St.Petersburg were also included to UNESCO List.
In this review, you can read about the sights of St. Petersburg, included in the UNESCO List of Cultural Heritage:
1. Peter and Paul Fortress
2. The winter Palace
3. Palace Square
5. St. Isaac's Cathedral
6. Monument to Peter I
7. Cathedral of the Savior on Spilled Blood
8. Russian Museum
9. Peterhof Palace and Park
10. Catherine Palace and Park
11. Pavlovsk Palace and Park
12. Oranienbaum Manor
13. Kazan Cathedral
14. Alexander Nevsky Lavra
Click on the hyperlinks to read in detail about each attraction and see a large number of photos
May 27, 1703 is considered the date when St. Petersburg was founded. It was just on that day that Peter I laid down the first stone in the foundation of Peter and Paul Fortress on Hare`s Island. The fortress became the main Russian citadel on the Neva River, in the period of the Great Northern War with Sweden for the outlet to the Baltic Sea.
The fortress was designed by Peter I himself and French architect Lambert. Instead of common walls, a system of strong bastions was constructed. Almost at the time when the bastions were constructed they began to erect the main tem-ple of the fortress – Peter and Paul`s Church. The tombs of Russian emperors are located under the right-hand altar of St. Peter and left-hand altar of St. Paul.
Imperial palace, called the Winter Palace, became the primary building on the Palace square of St.Petersburg. However, today palace was built by the architect Francesco Rastrelli only in 1754-1762, fifty years after the city was founded.
For several centuries the palace was the main grand residence of Russian emperors, and now it is the largest museum in Russia and one of the largest and best museums in the world. Later there appeared the second name – Hermitage. Museum Hermitage was founded in 1764, when Catherine II purchased a collection of paintings in Berlin. It will also be very interesting to see the interiors of the palace.
Palace Square is the central square of St. Petersburg. It is bordered on one side by the Hermitage, on the other - the huge semicircle of the General Staff building. Italian architect Rossi was the author of this architectural complex.
The middle of the square is marked by the Alexander Column. This majestic monument was erected in commemoration of the victory of Russia over Napoleon`s troops. The monument was named so after the Emperor Alexander I. People started to call it «Alexander Column» or «Alexander Pillar». The top of the column is the figure of an angel trampling a snake with a cross.
The Admiralty was laid down in the autumn of 1704, as the primary place to build the ships of the future Baltic Fleet. Originally, the Admiralty was a stern fortress, but already by the 1730th it was rebuilt and acquired its today appearance.
The Admiralty spire is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Petersburg has such a layout that its three main streets. The building façade is 407 meters long, and the spire of the Admiralty reach the height of some 72 m. It was the second highest building in Petersburg after Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral, which was 122 meters high.
St. Isaac`s Cathedral is the main temple of St. Petersburg erected by French architect Montferrand in the 19th century. You can see its dome from the roof of almost every house in the old city. It is the world-largest cathedral, accommodating 14 thousand people.
Interior of the cathedral is very beautiful. You should also buy a ticket to the gallery. There you could have a wonderful view of old Petersburg, the way it was in the past centuries.
One of the most recognizable symbols of St. Petersburg is the equestrian momument of Peter I on the Senate Square. It was set up there in 1768, by order of the Empress Catherine II. The construction of Petersburg, as well as the Northern War as a whole, cost a lot of resources to the Russian state, but these events predetermined the development of Russia for centuries ahead, so several decades later.
The enormous stone called Thunder Stone became the pedestal for the statue. It was found near the village of Konnaya Lahta. It was a megalith weighing 2 thousand tons of 13 meters long and 8 meters high. On the advice of Voltaire and Didro, Catherine II invited to St. Petersburg the sculptor Etienne Falconet who was commissioned to erect the Monument to Peter I.
You can see one of the most beautiful churches in Russia, the Cathedral of Christ`s Resurrection often called Cathedral of the Savior on Blood, on Griboyedov Canal near Nevsky Avenue at the heart of Petersburg. This is a memorial church built on the site of the murder of the Russian emperor Alexander II.
You should enter Savior on the Blood Cathedral to see the most beautiful mosaic panels performed in the Byzantine style. All walls, columns and vaults of the cathedral are covered by mosaics. You can see something similar at the Cathedral of St. Mark in Venice.
The largest museum of Russian art was opened in St. Petersburg in 1896 and called «Russian Museum of Emperor Alexander III». The main exposition of Russian Museum is located at the building of Mikhailovsky Palace, which was built by the great Russian architect Charles Rossi in 1819-1825 for Mikhail, the junior brother of Emperor Alexander I. The palace was named after him, as well as nearby Mikhailovsky Garden.
One of the sights of Mikhailovsky Park is its wrought-iron fence facing the Church of the Savior on Blood. It consists of scrolls and flowers, and was made at Winkler factory near Petersburg in 1903-1907. The fence is rightly considered to be the most beautiful in St. Petersburg.
Peterhof palace and park was the first out-of-town palace on the coast of the Finnish Bay. It was built by Peter the Great only 29 kilometers of the city in 1714. In the time of Peter I the palace wasn’t as magnificent. There were only fountains, cascades and Monplaisir Palace. And only under Elizabeth Peterhof gained its today appearance. There were planted two parks – the Upper and Lower ones.
The Lower Park has 4 cascades consisting of 150 fountains, which amazes by their splendor and diversity. The Fountain Alley connects the Grand Cascade with the Finnish Bay. Samson Fountain is considered the most beautiful and wonderful fountain.
Catherine palace and park in Tsarskoye Selo is located 40 kilometers south of the city. For more than two centuries it was the summer capital of the Russian Empire. Surely, the main purpose of the trip to Tsarskoye Selo is to visit the Catherine Palace. Often people come there to see the world masterpiece, the famous Amber Room, although the palace itself is very beautiful.
After a visit to the palace you certainly should have a walk in the Catherine Park, see the Cameron Gallery, the Hermitage Pavilion and many other pavilions of the park. Alexander Park is opposite the main entrance to the Catherine Palace. A small part of it has a regular layout while most of it are forest lands intended for hunting. The Alexander Palace is in the Alexander Park.
Pavlovsk Palace and park was constructed in 1782 in the the picturesque river Slavyanka, which was given by Catherine II to Paul after the birth of her grandson Alexander. For the first years the Pavlovsk Palace was designed by the architect Charles Cameron. Palace and surrounding buildings was design in the shape of a horseshoe.
Pavlovsk Park is the biggest in Europe. Its area is about 600 hectares. The most beautiful places of the park are located along the river Slavyanka. There is a stair with lions near the palace, in the Gonzaga Alley. From there you will probably have the most magnificent view of the river Slavyanka.
In the beginning of the 18th century Count Menshikov who was the closest companions of Peter I began to build his Oranienbaum Estate. Great Menshikov Palace was built on the terrace from which one could descend to the lower park by cascade stairs. The length of the palace façade is 210 meters.
In the Upper Park the architect Rinaldi designed the architectural ensemble of the Peterstadt surrounded by the Peter`s Garden. In the second half of the 18th century there was built the so-called Own Dacha of Catherine II with Chinese Palace and Sliding Hill Pavilion. In winter there were also built ice sliding hills for amusing events.
Emperor Paul I decided to built on Nevsky prospect a spacious Kazan Cathedral, which had to become one of the largest churches in St. Petersburg. The Architect Voronikhin suggested to build a cathedral with a huge colonnade facing Nevsky Avenue.
Kazan Cathedral was laid down in 1801 it was finished in 1811, only a year before the war with Napoleon. The public prayer had been held here before Kutuzov departed to the army in 1812, and he was buried there in 1813. The miracle-making Icon of Our Lady of Kazan is the main sacred thing of Kazan Cathedral. The icon itself was found in Kazan in 1579.
The Alexander Nevsky Lavra is located on the banks of the Neva River. Seven years after the city was founded, in 1710, Peter the Great ordered to begin the construction of a monastery at the confluence of a small river Chernaya (Black) and the Neva. It is believed that on that place on July, 15, 1240 Alexander Nevsky won the victory over the Sweden troops headed by the Jarl Birger and stopped their expansion to the Russian lands.
As the place was historically related to Alexander Nevsky, in 1723 Peter I ordered to move his relics to the new monastery on the Neva and since then it was called the St. Trinity Monastery of Alexander Nevsky. Apart from the churches of Alexander Nevsky Lavra you should visit its necropolises or cemeteries.