Winter palace, Hermitage
Well,,, the word 'Hermitage' says everything by itself. Now it's known as one of the most important museams in the world, it's in the list of the top museams to visit.
The projkect was elaborated by the Italian architector Rastrelli (he is author of many other palaces and buildings in St. Petersburg) and was previously a residence of the Russian kings (tsars) since Peter the Great's time. For 300 years it was the capital of Russian empire and they were governing the vast land from here.
Reading Russian signs
Most signs in Saint Petersburg are in Russian Cyrillic Alphabet only. Learning how to romanize (transliterate) the Cyrillic letters to phonetic English will go a long way to understanding where you are. :)
Here is an old sign for the Kanal Griboedova. The main canal leading to the Church of our Saviour on the spilled Blood. Can you read the sign? If not, see my next tip, Cyrillic Transliteration :)
I'm not sure how it is there...
I'm not sure how it is there now, but in 1989 when I was there, food was scarce for the locals. This photo was taken of people queuing up at a local food store. The produce being sold in markets was the same quality of produce that is thrown out in the USA and the meat just sat in the open, uncovered while people walked by and touched it. If things haven't changed, bring your own food whether it be peanut butter, vegemite or whatever is portable and non-perishable. Also bring toiletries especially toilet roll and feminine hygiene products as those items were not to be found either.
This small cathedral/large church is located outside the village of Tsarskoye Selo. It was built in the early 1900s as a church for the troops responsible for guarding the royal family. While it is much plainer than the cathedrals in central St. Petrsburg, we found it interesting because it was still undergoing restoration in 2003, and gave us a feel for the massive amount of work that has been and is still being done to repair the damage done during World War II to Tsarskoye Selo's palaces and churches
Holiday: Day of Russian Birch - Troitsa in June
Real folk dances and festivals are a little obscure to find in the city.
There are the reviews made for tourists in the center, but to find groups from a village that still retain their old traditions requires a more careful scan of the calendar listings.
This group was in a park on Ostrov Krestovsky celebrating the Day of Russian Birch Tree in song and dance.
Troitsa is celebrated 50 days after Easter, usually in June.
On Troitsa the houses are usually decorated with fresh green branches. The maiden's clothes are put on the young birch-trees and songs and dances round the birch-trees take place. The garlands made of birch branches and flowers are put into water for fortune-telling.