Welcome to St. Petersburg! Tourist attraction of Russia, this stunning city is home to some of the most luxurious and pristine palaces in the world. From the world-famous Hermitage and Peterhof to the grand Catherine Palace in Tsarskoye Selo, these masterful structures encompass centuries of imperial grandeur. Each palace holds a unique story of art, craftsmanship and Russian culture, waiting to be explored. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the famous palaces of St. Petersburg and reveal what makes them so captivating.
1. Overview of St. Petersburg
- The Venice of the North – With its hundreds of canals crossing through the city and bridges scattered around, St. Petersburg is said to be “the Venice of the North” – a beautiful city filled with canals, parks, and impressive architecture.
- Pristine palaces of Russia – Spend your days exploring the various palaces, such as the Catherine Palace, the Peterhof Palace, and many others. These palaces were built by Catherine the Great more than 300 years ago and they remain majestic and pristine today.
- Gorgeous center of the city – St. Petersburg is home to one of the most beautiful city centers in the world. Here you can admire Nevsky Prospect, the main street of the city, and explore the State Hermitage Museum, one of the largest and oldest in the world.
- Cultural Hub – St. Petersburg is home to some of the most impressive theatres and opera houses in the world. The Mariinsky Theatre, for example, is considered one of the premier ballet and opera venues in Europe.
- Varied Cuisine – St. Petersburg is a true melting pot of cultures and cuisines. Enjoy traditional Russian fare, such as borsch and blinis, or try the various European and Asian influences in the restaurants all over the city.
St. Petersburg offers a unique mix of architectural grandeur, art and culture. The city is filled with beautiful historic buildings, museums, and palaces – all built during the rule of Catherine the Great. One of the most famous of these is the resplendent Catherine Palace, a fantastic example of Russian baroque architecture. You can also explore the neoclassical Peterhof Palace and the lush gardens that lead up to it. Both of these palaces are open to visitors and offer incredible views of the city.
The heart of St. Petersburg is its city center. The stunning Nevsky Prospect is the city’s main street, lined with elegant buildings and historic sights. Nearby is the world-famous State Hermitage Museum which houses an extensive art collection, including works by Rembrandt and Leonardo da Vinci.
Culture lovers will marvel at the city’s cultural attractions, which include theatres, concerts, and opera houses. The Mariinsky Theatre, however, remains a firm favorite and has been hailed as one of the best opera and ballet venues in Europe.
And if you’re in the mood for food, you can expect to try a unique mix of Russian, European and Asian cuisines. Stop by a traditional Russian restaurant to sample borsch, pelmeni and blinis, or visit some of the more modern venues to experience the city’s creative take on the classics. There are plenty of eateries in the city to suit every palate.
No matter how long you’re staying in St. Petersburg, you’re sure to find something to keep you entertained. The city’s mix of historic buildings, cultural events, and delicious food are sure to captivate visitors from all over the world.
2. Exploring the Most Iconic Palaces
St. Petersburg is home to some of the most stunning palaces and majestic monuments that Russia has to offer. From the iconic Peter and Paul Fortress to the Catherine Palace, St. Petersburg is home to the most pristine and unique palaces and fortresses in the country.
Peter and Paul Fortress – The symbol of the city, the Peter and Paul Fortress stands tall and proud overlooking the Neva river. Built in 1703 by Tsar Peter the Great, the fortress was formerly a political prison but has since been restored and turned into one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations. The cobblestone streets and whitewashed buildings of the fortress provide a captivating view of Russian culture and architecture.
Summer Palace of Peter the Great – This beautiful palace is a vivid reminder of the grandeur of the Russian czars. Located in the heart of St. Petersburg, the Summer Palace of Peter the Great holds great historical significance. The palace is home to a wide range of stunning interiors, from golden-painted ceilings decorated with ornate carvings, to the dazzling exterior park filled with majestic fountains and sculptures.
Catherine Palace – One of the most beloved and iconic palaces in St. Petersburg, the Catherine Palace has stood for centuries as a symbol of elegance and grandeur. The palace features an opulent collection of furniture, art and artifacts from the 18th and 19th centuries and the world-renowned Amber Room. From the stunning Hall of the Mirror to the lavish Chinese Blue Salon, visitors will be enchanted by the beauty of the palace.
Grand Palace – Built in the late 17th century, the Grand Palace of St. Petersburg is one of Russia’s greatest architectural treasures. This grandiose structure features intricate designs and lavish decor which are sure to impress visitors from all over the world. The palace was also recently declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Palace Square - Palace Square is a large public square located in the heart of St. Petersburg. It has been the venue of various historical events, from military parades to outdoor concerts, and is home to the famous Alexander Column, which commemorates the victory of the Russian army in the War of 1812.
Hermitage Museum – Comprising of five grand buildings, the Hermitage Museum is one of the jewels of the city. From ornate paintings and sculptures to intricate jewelry and artwork, the museum showcases some of the best art and artifacts from around the world. With over 3 million works of art, the Hermitage is one of the most popular tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.
Church of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood – Built on the grounds of the assassination of Tsar Alexander II, the Church of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood is one of the most beautiful and intricate churches in St. Petersburg. The walls and ceilings of the church are adorned with beautiful mosaics and the intricate onion domes create a stunning silhouette against the sky.
3. The Historic Significance of the Palaces
The opulence of the palaces of St. Petersburg has attracted visitors since the city’s inception. To this day, the palaces stand as reminders of the Russian Imperial family’s grandeur and emphasize the city’s significance in the rise and fall of the Romanov Dynasty.
1. Catherinian Palace: Originating from the summer home of Tsar Peter the Great, the Catherinian Palace continues to be an awe-inspiring sight to behold. Richly decorated with statues, paintings, and intricate furniture from the era, the palace encapsulates the 18th century reign of the Romanovs.
2. The Peterhof Palace: Constructed in 1714, the Peterhof Palace is a magnificent work of Baroque architecture. From the Great Palace to world-renowned gardens, this palace is a gem of Russia’s cultural heritage. Such was its grandeur, that the English poet, Lord Byron, found it to be comparable to the gardens of Versailles.
3. The Winter Palace: Undoubtedly the most iconic palace of St. Petersburg, the Winter Palace was home to Russian Tsars for nearly two centuries. Rubbed shoulders with works of art by the likes of Rembrandt, Rubens and Raphael, it is characterized by its elaborate facades, grand corridors, and cavernous halls. It continues to draw visitors from across the world.
4. The Mikhailovsky Palace: With its grand interiors and exceptionally decorated rooms, the Mikhailovsky Palace stands as a testament of Russia’s regal past. Built in the 19th century, the palace is well known for its impressive frescoes and the Pavilion Hall — a masterwork of Italian design.
5. Yusupov Palace: An example of a neoclassical palace, the Yusupov Palace is characterized by its unmatched beauty. Featuring laboratories, libraries, concert halls and an endless series of secret passages, it is a relic of European aristocracy. According to the legend, it is also where Rasputin was assassinated in 1916.
The palaces of St. Petersburg serve as a reminder of the grandeur of the Russian Imperial family and its intricate and innovative artistry. A walk in the city — or a royal tour of the city — is one of the most unique experiences you can have in Russia.
4. Tips for Visiting St. Petersburg’s Palaces
1. Buy a One-Day Access Pass
If you’re looking to explore as many of St. Petersburg’s palaces as possible, a one-day access pass is the way to go. One access pass will give you entry to over a dozen of the city’s palaces, including Peter and Paul Fortress, the Hermitage, and the St. Isaac’s Cathedral. Buying a single-entry tickets to these palaces are a cheaper alternative, but ultimately gives you less freedom and value for your money.
2. Wear Practical Footwear
As a rule of thumb, wear comfortable shoes when visiting St. Petersburg’s palaces. Much of the attraction involves climbing long staircases as well as walking up and down hills, so if you’re not wearing good shoes, it will be more difficult to walk around the palaces and can make your experience tiring and uncomfortable.
3. Allow Enough Time to Sightsee
Allow yourself plenty of time to explore the many palaces in St. Petersburg. For example, the Hermitage alone consists of 40 different palaces, museums, and art galleries, and requires at least one full day to get through them all. After all, you don’t want to miss out on some of the incredible sights the city has to offer.
4. Visit Palaces Early in the Morning
If you’re looking to avoid large crowds and long queues, the best time to visit is early in the morning. During peak times, such as the summer months, most of the palaces in St. Petersburg get crowded quickly, and waiting times for entrances can be long.
5. Don’t Rush Visits To Palaces
Finally, don’t rush your visits to palaces in St. Petersburg. After all, you came to enjoy the sightseeing and take the opportunity to take in as much of the beauty of each palace as possible. So take a step back and appreciate the beauty of these incredible Russian palaces!
5. Finding the Best Palace Views
- Peterhof Palace: Peterhof Palace offers some of the most spectacular views of St. Petersburg and is a great option for those seeking a close-up view of the glorious Russian palaces. Standing on the northern shores of the Gulf of Finland, the magnificent palace complex, surrounded by lush gardens offers up endless vistas of the city’s skyline. From the classic balustrade terrace, you can take in the full expanse of the city, from the Renaissance styled Church of the Covenant of St. Peter and Paul to the shimmering golden dome of the Admiralty building.
- Winter Palace: As the centerpiece of the Palace Embankment, the gorgeous pink Winter Palace offers some of the best views of the city. From the balcony of the old imperial quarters, you get an incredible perspective of the Neva river and the magnificent spires of the adjacent buildings. The view is especially beautiful at nighttime when the facades of the surrounding buildings are illuminated with gentle light.
- Menshikov Palace: Set on the banks of the Neva and Fontanka River, the Menshikov Palace offers a picturesque view of the famous dome of St. Isaac’s Cathedral. From the palace grounds, you can admire the magnificent golden dome of the cathedral and the splendid colonnade of the adjacent buildings. It is also within easy reach of the Alexandrinsky Theatre and the famed drawbridges that offer a unique insight into the city’s history.
- Grand Palace: The Grand Palace and its sprawling gardens provide a perspective of the city unlike any other. From the golden balustrades of the palace, you can see the grandeur of the Dvortsovaya Square and the River Neva. Adjacent to the palace, the Alexander Garden which is also known as ‘The Garden of New Holland’ allows you to take in the grandeur of the walls of St. Isaac’s Cathedral, the Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood, and the Peter and Paul Fortress.
- Marble Palace: The majestic Marble Palace provides an excellent viewpoint for taking in the sprawling city’s skyline. From the balcony of the palace, you can not only enjoy the breathtaking views of the Neva river, but you also get to see the spires of the Church of the Savior on Blood and the granite mass of the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral. It is an excellent place to take pictures and enjoy the beauty of the Russian palaces.
The striking views of St Petersburg’s pristine palaces that can be seen from Peterhof Palace, Winter Palace, Menshikov Palace, Grand Palace, and the Marble Palace are something that should never be missed. The vastness of the city from these majestic palaces, the shimmer of the golden rooftops and the colorful skyline, all provide an undeniable beauty to the view. Every palace offers its own unique perspective and is a great way to admire the grandeur of the city.
6. Enjoying the Culture Surrounding the Palaces
St. Petersburg is renowned for its pristine and grand palaces that were built in the 18th century imperial Russian style. Walking around the city you can see and enjoy a wide variety of breathtakingly beautiful sights of culture from its palaces. Step into the Tsar’s chambers and tantalize your senses with the vast wealth and opulence that was bestowed upon the royal families of Russia during the Tsarist era.
You can see what life was like during the time and appreciate the many carefully crafted pieces held within the palaces that are symbolic of the turbulent history of Russia. From world-renowned art collections to unique ceremonial pieces that represent royal descent and power, the artifacts in the palaces tell stories of times gone by.
Organize a Tour
- Many of the palaces allow you to organize a guided tour with a knowledgeable guide who can explain the history and background behind the different items.
- Interact with local experts and take part in workshops to learn more about the history of the royal families.
Visit Nearby Attractions
- Nearby attractions associated with the royal family, such as the gardens, parks and monuments, are also easily accessible and provide a great way to explore more of the local culture.
- Don’t miss out on the chance to take a guided boat tour of the Neva River with fantastic views of the city.
Visit the Grand Palace
- The Grand Palace is the most impressive of the palaces and offers a unique experience filled with dazzling gold décor and regal furnishings.
- The state rooms, chambers, and furniture of the palace are all rich with historical significance and tell a story of Russia’s past.
The culture surrounding Russia’s palaces is unique and beautiful. With its grand monuments and breathtakingly lavish style, you can spend hours enjoying the exquisite beauty they have to offer. From the comfort of a guided tour to the unique sights and attractions of the local parks and historic buildings, there is something for everyone to enjoy. This is just a small sampling of the wonders that St. Petersburg offers – a city with a wealth of history and culture. From the Leafy Canals to the Bulgakov House, the Pristine Palaces of St. Petersburg are likely to leave any visitor with some unforgettable memories. And as the saying goes: like all good things, you must come and see it for yourself!