Russia's capital of history and culture
Filled with treasures and oozing imperial grandeur from its chequered past, St Petersburg is arguably Russia’s defining city when it comes to history and culture.
The tag ‘Venice of the North’ seems to be liberally sprinkled on any number of cities which have a smattering of rivers and canals at their heart. St Petersburg, however, does merit this overused epithet, thanks to its attractive array of numerous bridges spanning its river, the Neva.
A stop-over in St Petersburg will give you time to enjoy the beauty of the city’s serene palaces and gardens, plus the world-famous Hermitage Museum.
The Hermitage – the pride of St Petersburg
The pride of St Petersburg, the Hermitage can with much justification lay claim to being the finest museum in the world, and was founded by Catherine the Great in 1754.
It is certainly the largest – and the oldest – museum in the world, with breathtaking permanent and temporary art collections.
Among the Hermitage’s six stately buildings is the legendary Winter Palace, one-time home of the Russian tsars prior to the revolution of 1917.
And a cruise to St Petersburg in June and July is the best time to lap up the natural phenomenon of the ‘White Nights’.
At this time of year, the city’s days meld seamlessly into its nights and bathe the place in a bright glow, a fortuitous peculiarity put down to St Petersburg’s particularly northerly latitude, surprisingly sitting as it does on the same latitude as Oslo.