St. Petersburg is not only famous for its old architecture and its museums, but also for its bridges that spread across the city. Wherever you go, wherever you look, you will quickly find that you are never far from a bridge. And they are of all kinds: narrow, broad, long, short, stone, cast-iron, hanging, or flap.
I myself don’t have a special interest in bridges, but bridge «buffs» would be in their element. If you want to see one of these bridges in action, look at the nearest bridge to your hotel and watch a boat passing underneath. A beautiful sight, but remember, you’ll need to wake up around 2 or 3 in the morning to view it! Other things that you can do in St. Petersburg:
Stroll around the city!
You don’t need a tour to visit all the interesting places you find on Google or in your Lonely Planet book. You just need your feet, a map, and patience. But don’t forget your umbrella!
As our hotel is situated on Liteyny Street, not far from the bridge and Finskiy Vokzal (You can take a train to Helsinki from here), we’ll start our day and our adventure from this point.
Aurora is a Russian armored cruiser that has been transformed into a museum. Besides serving in the Russian fleet in the Russo-Japanese war, Aurora is famous as having fired the shot that signaled the start of the Assault on the Winter Palace; in other words, it marked the beginning of the October Revolution of 1917. The museum is open every day except Monday from 10.30 to 16.00.
Peter and Paul Fortress (Petropavlovskaya Krepost)
If you go a little further along the riverbank, to the right from the Aurora, and then cross the street, soon you will find this fortress, which is the original citadel of St. Petersburg, founded by Peter the (undoubtedly) Great in 1703. The fortress is star-shaped, and located on an island that is connected by a bridge. There are also the Saint Peter and Saint Paul Cathedral and the Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments (hmm).
Nearby museums: The Museum of Artillery
The Rostral Columns on Vasilyevsky Island
The rostral columns or the victory columns originated from ancient Greece and Rome. They were erected to commemorate a naval military victory. You’ll find these columns right in front of the Exchange building in Neva. They are constructed of brick coated with a deep terra cotta-red stucco which is quite striking. The marble figures on each column represent the major rivers of Russia — the Volga and the Dnieper.
Nearby museums: Zoological Museum, Kunstkamera
The Bronze Horseman (Mednyi Vsadnik)
The statue which is located right in front of Senate Square is of Peter the Great. The name itself actually comes from a poem by Alexander Pushkin, the famous poet, playwright, and novelist.
Attraction nearby: Aleksandrovskiy Sad, where you can stroll around during the day, especially if you are lucky and the weather is nice.
Saint Isaac's Cathedral
This Cathedral has a really long story. I saw it for the first time on a tourism brochure, then later in the history book with a woman planting cabbage in front of it during the Leningrad Blockade. According to history, Saint Isaac was ordered by Tsar Alexander I just to replace an early statue that was already there. The process was not as easy as making a sand castle, as the Tsar gathered a group of designers from which he finally chose the best one, in this case the French architect Auguste de Montferrand won the ‘tender’. It took a long time just to erect this cathedral, around 40 years. The status of this cathedral itself has changed since 1931, where the government decided to transform it into a museum. You are able to go inside the museum and also visit the observation deck above.
Going to St. Petersburg without visiting Nevsky Prospekt is a shame. Prospekt (street, a very long street) in Russia has become some attractions that you mustn’t miss. By walking through it, you will find not only restaurants, hotels, hostels, and stores, but you will also learn how the locals live their daily lives. An additional thing: in St. Petersburg you can also enjoy the bridges and the river during your walk. Don’t forget to visit the Church of the Savior on Blood.
Church of the Savior on Blood
Many people (including me) confused this church with St. Basil Church in Red Square. They do look similar, but if you watch them carefully, you might find out that the color itself is different. The Church of the Savior on Blood’s color is almost like blood, like my husband said, even though I kept struggling to understand its color. The name means everything, that might be true, especially in this case. This church was built on the site where the emperor Alexander II was fatally wounded by the political nihilist in March 1881. Shortly speaking, it’s a memorial palace for him. If you have time to not only admire its exterior, please come inside to see the beauty of the mosaics.
Letniy Sad of Petr 1 (Summer Garden of Peter 1)
How nice to be an imperator, a tsar, and a king/queen and royal family. My home is nothing compared to their garden, I just have a summer garden. I have no idea how to clean it, especially if suddenly I went bankrupt and had no money to pay gardeners. Here, you will find some comfortable benches to sit around fountains and sculptures. Don’t get astray (like me).