If we were to choose a capital of luxury, elegance and opulence, Sankt Petersburg could easily gain a top position. The imperial headquarters, the City of Tsars was meant to be a display of grandeur, from the very beginning, despite its modest start out, considering that prior to the majestic palaces and cathedrals, the surrounding place was nothing but a daunting swamp.
The Russian emperor who gave the name to the citadel, Peter the Great, gathered an army of the finest European architects to fulfill his desire of sophistication and luxury, and the dream came true, making the place the first modern city of the Russian Empire and the household of the Romanov Dynasty.
Centuries have passed, Russia faced tremendous turmoil and changes of the forms of government, but nothing crashed the splendor and greatness of Sankt Petersburg.
The home of some of the most prestigious museums, Sankt Petersburg is a macro-scale museum in itself and one of the finest collections of art, history and culture in the entire world.
Every corner, every building preserves the mark of a great historical moments or personality that you know of from your books.
However, be prepared to enjoy the visual exhibit of wonders and make sure that you adjust your visit to the harsh weather. To the locals, it doesn’t mean much and it’s a part of the city’s charm, but to those of you who are not accustomed to Russian winters, you might need to add some extra luggage to keep you warm. But the problem is not the chill itself, which is at the “normal levels” of any winter in the temperate zone, but the humidity: Sankt Petersburg is located on the Neva – fact that granted it with the nickname `the Venice of the North – and it gives a foggy disposition all year long.
Another particularity is the White Nights phenomenon, which takes place from nay to July, due to the placement in the Northern hemisphere. The sun hardly goes underneath the horizon (for not more than one hour daily) and it bather the city in an endless twilight which confers a surreal other-worldly charm to the already staggering beauty of the city.
During this time of the year, you have to opportunity to enjoy many artistic events; such as music and theatre festivals that take place, making Sank Petersburg the liveliest spot on the planet, with people roaming the streets in seek of exhilarating and unforgettable performances.
However, if you decide to plan your visit during this time, keep in mind that all the touristic spots will be overcrowded.
I would mention a few popular venues which every person who appreciates art must see at least once in a lifetime.
Hermitage Museum one of the most famous museums on the planet and probably the most visited spot in all Russia. What is more to say about this collection of some of the finest artistic treasure worldwide? The Hermitage is a fabulous castle that gathers more than three million masterpieces signed by names such as Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Rembrandt or Picasso. Do not expect to manage to visit the entire museum but make sure you decide prior to the entrance which areas to go to. For instance go to the section of your favorite artists, or favorite epoch, as it is impossible to see everything in only one visit. First of all, there aren’t enough hours in a day…
A fun fact which you’re probably missed is that some of the most respected employees of Hermitage are a few cats that have the clear task to protect the masterpieces from mice!
The Pushkin Palace – with its famous Amber Room -, the University of Sankt Petersburg, the Winter Palace, Menshikov Palace, Kazan Cathedral, Mikhailovsky Castle, Petrodvorets Palace, Peter and Paul Fortress – a military complex which houses a former prison and the cathedral where the Romanov family is buried -, Alexander Nevskiy Monastery are just a few options that you must not miss.
You can talk endlessly about this historical and architectural gem, you can return for many times but you will always remain with the feeling that there is still something left to discover and let it mesmerize you.