The other day I was sifting through my travel photos, as you do when you’re experiencing major wanderlust, and I came across some photos I took of the wonderful St. Petersburg.
Ever since I watched the animated film Anastasia as a child I developed a fascination with Russia and Russian history, and yes I’m aware that the movie isn’t historically accurate! This fascination grew during my final years in high school where I learned about (the real) Russian history. From then on I knew I had to one day visit Russia and I added it to my mental bucket list.
When the opportunity presented itself to me to visit Russia I jumped at the chance! I couldn’t wait to see the country that I had learned so much about. We only had two days in St. Petersburg but we made the most of it and I felt we had a great taste of what the city had to offer.
Russia surprised me in many ways that perhaps it shouldn’t have. For one it was harder to enter than it’s Scandinavian neighbours. We visited Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Latvia on this trip as a part of a cruise and none of the aforementioned countries required a passport or visa check upon entry. Russia on the other hand was extremely strict and you couldn’t enter St. Petersburg without a visa, passport check and surprisingly, a booked tour! You could also only enter and leave St. Petersburg once that day, so once you disembarked the ship it was wise you stayed in the city for the entire day.
Hermitage Museum and Winter Palace
Our tour took us to many amazing attractions and places of historical significance. The first stop was the Hermitage museum which featured many famous art works and was founded by Catherine the Great in 1794. Even if art work isn’t really your thing, the building itself is absolutely beautiful and it was fascinating to see some of the traditional clothes that the Russian nobility wore prior to the Russian revolution.
Church of the Saviour on Blood
Definitely one of my personal highlights during my time in St. Petersburg. This Church is incredibly beautiful and interesting to look at and is also what I would typically imagine when I envision Russia and Russian architecture. The interior of the building is insane. The walls are decorated from head to toe with the most detailed mosaic artworks I have ever seen and is guaranteed to leave you speechless. Not to be missed!
Grand Palace – Peterhof and Catherine Palace
There is no way to describe the palaces I saw in St. Petersburg as anything other than jaw droopingly beautiful yet extremely gaudy and ostentatious. The palaces sustained a lot of damage during World War 2 and have since been restored to their original glory, although some parts of the palaces are still under construction. Some walls were even adorned in gold and one room was made entirely of amber! The wealth of the Russian royal family is unfathomable and you can definitely understand why there was so much political unrest that ultimately led to a revolution. The gap between the rich and poor was monumental.
St. Petersburg was by far the most interesting city I have ever visited! The beauty of the city’s most famous buildings was astounding but they also contrasted greatly with the old communist housing that could be seen in some parts of the city. The history in St. Petersburg was so palpable and unlike anywhere I had ever been before.
Have you ever visited St. Petersburg or any other city in Russia? I would love to hear what you thought in the comments section below!