During the first half of the 19th century, around 11,000 serfs drove 25,000 wooden planks into the ground, creating the foundation for what would become Isaakievskiy Sobor or Saint Isaac's Cathedral. More than 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of pure gold were used to gild the dome and its 112 polished granite support column. The massive interior is constructed from various types of marble and stone, and it is designed to accommodate up to 14,000 people. Construction of the cathedral was a painstaking process, taking 40 years in total, and architect August Ricard de Montferrand passed away shortly after its completion. Now, the golden dome has commanded the Neva River skyline for nearly 200 years. From the 562-step climb to the circular observation deck unparalleled panoramas of St. Petersburg await.
In 1704, Peter the Great employed Frenchman Le Blond to design a luxurious formal garden in the manner of Versailles. In 1777, the beautiful garden with fountains, imported trees and more than 200 Italian statues was unfortunately ruined by a flood. Today's slightly more austere incarnation can be ascribed to the more restrained taste of Catherine the Great. Nowadays, more than 80 statues reside at the park; in the winter, they are eerily encased in wooden boxes for protection from the winter elements. In the summer, the relaxed calm of the gardens makes it a popular destination for weddings and parties.
The stately Michailovskaya Building is a home to worthy renditions of classics, such as La Traviata, Prince Igor and The Barber of Seville. Though it was known by other names, theater first stepped in way back in 1833, when French, Italian and German artistes performed regularly. Today Mussorgsky (as it is also known) is famed for drama, musicals and opera productions from around the world and noteworthy among theater circles.
The ground floor of this well-known club is the home of big band jazz in St Petersburg; upstairs, more intimate jazz concerts entertain those looking to sip a cocktail rather than cut a rug. The Philharmonic isn't nearly as crowded as other jazz clubs in the city, and it's far better appointed. The walls are covered with pictures of the many jazz luminaries who played with club founder David Goloschokin: Dave Brubeck, Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington among others. Call for a schedule and ticket prices.
If you like seeing ancient body parts and human foetus at various stages of development floating around in formaldehyde, then this is the place for you. It's not so much what constitutes good hygienic practice that you'll find here, but reminders of what can happen to you if you don't. We're talking diseased livers, infected genitalia, gallstones, the works. Most interesting is a 200 year old corpse, a female, standing up in a glass case perfectly preserved with a full head of brown hair, an 18th century gown, stocking, hands in perfect order, nails ready to be polished, exactly the way in which she was found. Unless you have the stomach for this kind of thing, it's probably not a place you'll want to visit more than once. Also do remember, the museum administration must be informed of your visit pre-hand.
Leningrad's experience of WWII was unimaginably harsh. Hitler was intent on nothing less than the extermination of the city's population by starvation and ceaseless bombing. This imposing monument commemorates the siege of Leningrad and can be found on the main road into the city. A wide concrete staircase flanked by heroic bronze figures leads up to a 48-meter column of red granite. Beyond stands a lowered circular basin where an eternal flame burns. From here, you can enter the unsettling underground Memorial Hall.
Second to Moscow only in size, St Petersburg is no less dazzling than the Russian Federation's capital. The city's historic center is a freeze-frame of its illustrious history as the nation's imperial capital, its picturesque canals lined with Italianate mansions giving way to stately plazas with neoclassical and baroque gems. It is St. Petersburg's palaces and cathedrals, however, that best capture its glorious past, most notably the Palace of Peter I, the city's founding father, and the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. Built on the banks of the Neva River where it empties into the Gulf of Finland, the city's shore is lined with attractive beaches. There are gardens and amusement parks too, as well as zoos and other family-friendly attractions. A veritable paradise for art lovers, St. Petersburg's thriving arts scene is defined by the extensive collections of the Hermitage, Russian Museum and the Street Art Museum, alongside its numerous art galleries. The best time to visit is during the Summer White Nights when the city comes alive in a seemingly endless celebration of the glorious weather, with art festivals galore and superb performances around every corner. There's always something to see and do here, no matter the time of the year, as the scene morphs from the snow-dappled whimsy of winter to the vivid hues of autumn and the fledgling verdant spring.
Alexander Column, is a mighty Doric column, cut from a giant granite monolith with a bronze base, cap, bas-reliefs and a sculpture on top, was put on Palace Square in memory of victory in the war of 1812. The huge granite monolith weighs 704 metric tons. It took 2000 soldiers and 400 workers just one hour and 45 minutes to complete the construction of this monument. The column itself has a height of 25.58 meters (83.92 feet). It is the highest triumphal column in the world.
Located in the heart of St Petersburg, a number of historical monuments, statues, palaces, parks and highways together form the Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments. Featuring different architectural styles such as Neoclassical, Baroque and Russian-Byzantine, the city is frequently referred to as the 'Venice of Russia' and extremely popular among tourists. It was designated as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization in the year of 1991.
Flanked by the imperious Winter Palace on one side and the sweeping majesty of the General Staff Building on the other, the decadent Palace Square is one of the world's most impressive inner-city expanses. Like Red Square in Moscow, this open area has been an integral witness to a series of events which mark the historical timelines of Russia. In 1905, the square endured the ‘Bloody Sunday', when confused palace guards opened fire on peaceful demonstrators, whereas during the October Revolution, it was from here that the alleged "storming" of the Winter Palace was launched. Dominating the heart of the square is the soaring, granite-built Alexander Column, which was built to commemorate Russia’s liberation from the shackles of France. Having been instrumental in carving out the historic and revolutionary discourse of the country, the square, now, stands as a vital venue of many significant cultural events of the city.
This is where the Russian October Revolution began. On the night of October 25, 1917 Lenin ordered an assault on the Winter Palace on Palace Square. The former Tsar's residence was created in the Baroque style by the Italian architect Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli from 1754 to 1762. Today it houses a large part of the Hermitage collection. The neoclassical General Staff Building is by Carlo Rossi and the Column of Alexander in the middle of the square testifies to the victory over Napoleon's troops.