Spectacular St. Petersburg, Russia—Day 1

by Teri E. Popp, Tastemaker in Residence

Привет-Preevyet!!  Hello and welcome to the majestic beauty of the City of St. Petersburg—home to tzars and tzarinas of old Russia.  Founded in 1703 by Peter the Great, this grand city of Baroque and Neoclassical architecture lay situated on a series of Venetian-like canals.  

When touring St. Petersburg, one could easily spend more than a week and still miss many important and stately sites.  Unfortunately, since we toured from a cruise, we were limited to only 2 days.  However, much of this great city can be seen if you plan your days carefully and tour from sun up until late in the evening.

We started our first day by driving a short distance from St. Petersburg to Pushkin to tour the Catherine Palace—a Rococo masterpiece.  Known as the summer residence for a series of rulers, it’s been carefully reconstructed after its near demolition during World War II.  While there are numerous ball and staterooms to tour, the awesome Amber Room sparkles as the centerpiece of the palace.

After a lovely morning walking the grounds and vast galleries of the estate, we ventured on to lunch at the quaint Podvorye.  Of course, we toasted our many adventures with Russian vodka and enjoyed borscht, along with other authentic local cuisines while enjoying a show featuring Russian folk dance and song.

From lunch, we returned to the city and visited St. Isaac’s Cathedral—the largest Russian Orthodox Basilica in the world.  Forty years in the making, its magnificent gold dome towers above the city.

Our afternoon consisted of a trip to see the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, also known as the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ.  It harkens back, stylistically, to Medieval Russia, intentionally resembling St. Basil’s located in Moscow, with its towering multi-colored towers.  And the interior, covered in mosaic tiles, is absolutely breathtaking.  A definite “must see” for all travelers.

We ended our day by taking in the Russian ballet with a viewing of Swan Lake.  It should be noted that a number of theaters offer this option in the area.  We attended one of the smaller theaters, giving us the option to sit just a few rows from the stage!

*Note:  Pick-pocketing is common in St. Petersburg.  I viewed two instances, myself while touring the city.  Travelers should definitely take safety precautions and visit the U.S. Department of State’s online web page at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel.html for helpful hints and travel tips.

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