We’re starting at Palace square, one of the most famous places in St. Petersburg. And there’s much more coming up.
Saint Petersburg, Russia – Restaurant AZIA interiors.
You know something very interesting about this restaurant here?
It opened its doors in the beginning of 20th century. And it was super modern and tecnologically advanced for that time.
For you to have an idea: it was the only establishment with eletric lights in St. Petersburg, even before the Royal Palace. No wonder it became a meeting point for artists, and the rich and famous.
Nevsky Prospekt is the main avenue here in St. Petersburg. And the main advantage of staying nearby is that you can walk to all major attractions here in the Historical Center.
The only challenge here, sometimes, is that you arrive at places and people don’t speak English and several attractions have multiple options for tickets, so it can be quite confusing sometimes.
So, I discovered a card here called Petersburg Card that you pay per day, you decided how many days you wanna use it and you have free access to over 60 attractions, boat tours, hop on, hop off buses and boats and so on.
It’s perfect if you don’t have a lot of time and if you wanna do a lot of things. Almost everything we’ll do here will be with that card.
I purchased mine online on my phone, it was super easy. And already picked it up here at the Tourist Information Office.
They give you a card and a booklet, you must carry both because every time you go to an attraction they rip off the page for that attraction.
I’ll take the chance to board the Hop on, Hop off bus as I wanna have a general overview of the city and I’ll stay in the first place I wanna visit.
I always like to start a visit in a new city with a guided tour. Because there are some things you only learn with someone local, especially in Russia.
we’re taking one of those free tours that in the end, if you like, you tip the guide.
We’re starting at Palace Square, one of the most famous places in St. Petersburg.
“All revolutions happened in this city. The October Revolution and the February one. That’s why this city was more important for our revolutionary movement. That’s why it was called Leningrad for almost the whole 20th century. Until the Soviet Union collapsed which was in 1991, not a long time ago.
And then there was an opinion poll organized, our city got the original name back. And now it’s again Sankt-Peterburg or in English, Saint Petersburg.
For two centuries, St. Petersburg was the capital of Russia. And about 100 years ago it even had a third name. It was a homage to the founder, Peter the Great Petrograd, because we were on opposite sides during the first World War. It was a big anti-German program, and that’s not the best idea to have a capital city with a German sounding name, that’s why it became Petrograd.”
It all started as a private collection by Catherine the Great, a Russian monarch. In 1764 she purchased her first paintings. And look what it became.
Here you’ll find several important monuments like the Alexander Column and several buildings of the Hermitage Museum, like the Winter Palace.
This was the official residency for the Russian Tsars and the monarchy between 1700’s and the 1917 Revolution when Russia became socialist.
This Column celebrates the Russian victory in the war against Napoleon.
And can you believe it has no foundation? It’s a single piece of granite with no attachment to the base and it counts on it’s weight alone to remain standing.
When they put here several people were afraid of it actually, today they forgot about this detail.
When you hear Hermitage Museum a lot of people think of one building. But it’s actually all this here. We’ll come back another day.
“Why they chose such a strange name for the museum of fine arts? Because it was a private collection. The museum remained private for almost 100 years. Only in 1852 they built the fifth and the last building included in all this Hermitage Museum.
This one and they thought: “it’s the newest, let’s called it the New Hermitage”
Russians have a supersticion here. They believe you should touch the toe of one of these statues, make three wishes. All of them bring luck but one is even more special.
“During the Second World War, our city, which was called Leningrad. It was sieged for almost three years, 872 days of the siege. Which means the city was circled by Hitler’s army and people, its 3 million citizens were trapped, they got stuck in Leningrad and they couldn’t leave, they couldn’t get food.
Around three thousand buildings were damaged, not completely destroyed. What you see in the city center is authentic, there was one corner missing. One floor or two floors missing, and then they were all renovated.
This building nothing happened, just one statue suffered. There was a bomb that exploded not far and because of shrapnel one of them was wounded.
A statue got wounded and its torso was damaged, but the statue still could do its job, to hold up the portico. The statue survived the Second World War, that’s why it’s a hero.”
The other side of the Winter Palace faces the Neva River. From here you can see the famous Peter and Paul Fortress
“It was never used as a military fortress. It never battled, never participated in any real battle. The fortress was used as a prison for political prisoners only. Trotsky, Dostoevsky, the provisional government that was arrested in the Winter Palace – Lenin’s brother, Aleksandr -and many more famous revolutionaries, famous in our country, were kept in that prison.”
And I’ll tell you all about it in one of the upcoming posts. If you wanna do the whole tour without leaving the bus, it takes about one and a half hour.
Our original idea was to stop in at least other two places but the day was so beautiful that we decided just continuing on the bus simply to photograph.
You know, days like this are actually rare in St. Petersburg. It tends to be cloudy here. So, as the hop on hop off ticket is good for three days, we’ll definitely come back tomorrow.
I loved it, it was awesome! A little bit of the midnight sun already, during the summer it’s even stronger.
For more about the White Nights in St. Petersburg check out my previous post.