St. Petersburg is the second largest city in Russia and is located at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. It was the imperial capital of Russia between 1713–1728 and 1732–1918. St. Petersburg is probably the most westernized city of Russia, as well as being its cultural capital. We stayed at Hotel Astoria in a convenient location next to St. Isaac’s Cathedral and the State Hermitage Museum.
St. Petersburg’s most popular attraction, and one of the world’s largest and most prestigious museums, the Hermitage is a must-see for visitors to the city. With over 3 million items in its collection, it has been estimated that you would need eleven years to view each exhibit on display for just one minute. We found it extremely helpful to hire a guide to show us the highlights.
The Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The city’s architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but this church is built in medieval Russian style. It intentionally resembles the iconic St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow.
There are many palaces in St. Petersburg and we decided to visit Peterhof Palace less than an hour from the city center. Peterhof Palace is a series of palaces and gardens built by Peter the Great and is sometimes referred to as the Russian Versailles. We spent a nice day visiting the museum as well as the cascades and fountains of the gardens.