Although the impressive building that houses St Petersburg's Central Naval Museum and the curious red pillars ( Rostral Columns - they celebrate naval victories) bedecked with ship's prows that flank it feature in many a tourist's photo of the city, judging by the number of people who had actually ventured inside on the day we were there, I'd say the museum's exhibition halls are definitely an Off the Beaten Path activity for most visitors. Which is a pity because it is a fascinating museum with a wonderful collection illustrating Russia's 300 years of naval history. Founded in 1709 by command of Peter the Great, the museum is one of the oldest in Europe.
Starting with the grand building itself - inspired by Classical architecture, it was built in on Vasilyevsky Island in 1805, when this area of the island was still a seaport. The pre-revolutionary city's Stock Exchange, the importance of the sea to the city's wealth was acknowledged by the fine sculpture of Neptune that still adorns the pediment over the main door. Quite fitting therefore that it now houses the country's main naval museum.
As with all good maritime museums, there are superb models of ships of all sorts and sizes. The walls are hung with maps and naval paintings, naval colours and banners hang from the ceilings and wall brackets and everywhere there are displays of maritime artifacts, weapons and naval memorabilia.
The ground floor is devoted to the pre-Revolutionary period. Standout pieces include the boat in which Peter the Great learnt to sail - setting in motion his lifetime's love of the sea, he called it "The Grandfather of the Russian Navy" - and a 19th century submarine.
Figureheads line the staircase to the upper floor where you'll find an equally fascinating array of Soviet-era displays including WWII fighter planes and enough hammer and sickle banners to start a revolution.
Whether you're a ship-lover, a naval-history-buff or simply an interested tourist, this is a museum not to be missed. Personally, if my time in St Petersburg was short, I'd forgo a couple of hours of the time most people devote to the Hermitage to fit in a visit to this excellent museum.
Closed Monday, Tuesday and the last Thursday of the month, opening hours are 1030-1730 (last admission 1645),
Address: Birzhevaya Ploschad 4
Metro: Vasileostrovskaya or Nevsky Prospekt and walk over the bridge)
You can't miss it, directly across the water from the Winter Palace,
Across the road to the left from the Maritime Museum, in long, yellow building with a less-than-noticeable entrance - you'll find another of the amazing collections that are a feature of so many of Russia's museums.
This is the Museum of Zoology, with room after room full of cases and dioramas featuring just about every animal that walks the earth and bird that flies - and some that are long, long gone. The stars of the show are definitely the 44,000 year old woolly mammoth found in 1902 and the baby mammoth that was discovered in 1977, but there is something for everyone - mammals, birds, reptiles, insects and all sorts of creepy-crawlies, fish - stuffed or skeletal, they're all here.
The museum was founded in 1832 and whilst it is definitely in the old-school-mould of rooms full of glass cases, it is anything but dry and dusty. Unlike so many museums of this kind elsewhere, there's hardly a moth-eaten animal or moulting bird to be seen - many of these beasts are masterpieces of the taxidermists art, set in lively and realistic dioramas, looking for all the world as though all they need is a jolt on the glass to dislodge the piece of poisoned apple in their mouth and bring them back to life.
The building itself is in a fairly sorry state, definitely in need of a face-lift that could start with some new signs and, unless you are absolutely desperate, the loos are definitely to be avoided - but don't let that put you off - there's so much to charm you - starting with the cute penguin family in the photo here.
Needless to say the museum is very popular with school groups, so if excited children on a school outing set your teeth on edge, you're probably better going later in the day rather than early.
Address: Universitetskaya Nabereshnaya 1
Opening hours are 1100-1800, with the last admission at 1700.
Closed on Tuesday (or maybe Friday) and National Holidays, and Thursday is free admission day.
Guided tours are available - phone ahead to book.
My family has a tradition of finding wierd museams and this is amongst the wierdest.
The Russian State Museam of Hygene fetures mummys, human organs in jars, bones, lots of interesting things.
The hi-light, by far my favorite, is Pavlov's Dog, The actual dog. Stuffed and apparently once mechanized to drool when a bell rang.
Italianskaya Ul. 25
Admission 30 cents
The cruiser Aurora, built in St. Petersburg between 1897 and 1900, took an active part in the Russian-Japanese War of 1904-05 and participated in the Tsusima battle, in which most of Russia's Pacific fleet was destroyed. After the war the ship was used for personnel training and during the October revolution of 1917 gave the signal (by firing a blank shot) to storm of the Winter Palace, which was being used as a residence by the democratic, but largely ineffective Provisional Government.
During World War II and the 900-day Siege of Leningrad the guns of the ship were taken down and used on the front line of the city's defenses. After the war the ship was carefully restored and used as a free museum and training ship for cadets from the nearby Nakhimov Navy School.
At the time of writing, I haven't yet posted pages for Petergof or Tsarskoe Selo, but we did make those excursions from St. Petersburg. . .despite their magnificent scale and lavish spending, the Yusupov Palace made a much bigger impression on us.
It's an incredibly sumptuous and elegant palace and was the home of the (non-imperial) rich and powerful Yusupov family. During the 18th century, they were among the most influential families in Russia ~ they also amassed a world-renowned collection of art (most of which is now found in the Hermitage).
The rooms of the palace are unique and breathtaking. . .each generation of the family revamped certain rooms, so the styles are varied, but almost all are refined and impressive.
My favourite was the Moorish Room, pictured here, which is decorated in mosaics and lattice screens, with a fountain in the centre of the room.
The small-in-scale, private theatre of the Yusupov Palace far surpassed the beauty of the Mariisnky (and of the Bolshoi, still to come at this point).
It's decorated in Rococo style and, as is the case with every room in the palace, is tasteful and exquisite.
You can attend performances in the theatre ~ it seats 180 ~ but we weren't able to coordinate this during our visit.
There are plenty of things to watch for in the palace ~ these initials worked delicately into the stucco molding of the entryway are but one. . .
The palace holds other, more bloody appeal (should you need more to draw you to it). Rasputin, advisor to the Yusupovs (as well as other influential families in the city ~ especially the Romanovs), was murdered here in 1916. Prince Felix Yusupov poisoned, then shot Rasputin. Still alive, he was chased and shot three more times, then beaten and dumped into a river to drown.
There is a special tour that you can take through the lower floor, where an exhibit on Rasputin can be viewed ~ during our visit, only tour groups could arrange this in English.
The Museum of the breakthrough the blockade of Leningrad.
That military museum is situated forty kilometers east from Saint Petersburg on the left bank of the river Neva. This is the place where the Soviet Army started the offensive on January 12, 1943 and by January 30 unblocked the city. Museum has small but very good collection of WW II Soviet tanks. All tanks were drowned in the river Neva during in 1941-1943 and found within last decade. Many tanks which had no combat damages were still operatable despite sixty years under water. Museum also has the diorama showing the scenes from the first day of Soviet Army offensive on January 12, 1943.
Access to museum: tourist can get it by car (the best option) or public buses #565 and 575 from the bus stop near the metro station “Ulitsa Dybenko” at Saint Petersburg.
Working time from Monday through Sunday, from 11:00 -18:00
Both the Museum of the Blockade and Defense of Leningrad (Solyanoy Pereulok 11, Metro Chernyshevskaya) and the Exposition on the Blockade at the St. Petersburg Historical Museum (Angliyskaya Naberezhnaya 44, on the Neva east of the Palace Bridge) have excellent exhibits on the Blockade of Leningrad, including many individual stories, based on diaries and personal narratives from this period. Unfortunately, many of St. Petersburg's museums are still not tourist-friendly - i.e. the exhibits are only in Russian. They still might be worth a visit however, especially if you can find a guide who speaks English.
This museum has two separate parts. The first is an indoor museum covering the history of railraods in Russia. Unfortunately, it was closed on the day we tried to visit it. We were, however, able to visit the other part of the museum, which is an outdoor exhibit of locomotives and railcars from various eras of Russian railroading. The outdoor section of the museum is located about a mile from the indoor section. On the day we were there, there were only about 10 people there, and we were the only non-Russians. Our daughter, who loves choo choo trains, was very happy that we went out of our way to visit it.
Nabokov is my favorite writer. You will see “Half an hour with Nabokov” film in English/French/Russian (on request) and his butterfly collection. On display are magazines like The New Yorker (April 1949, “sexiest New Yorker since Lolita”) or a Playboy (1969) mentioning his name. It was a super modern house in that Russia with an elevator, 5 bathrooms and a garage for 3 cars.
The State Memorial Museum of the Fieldmarshal Alexander Suvorov the Count of Rymnik and Duke of Italy (1730-1800) was founded in 1904 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. That museum is dedicated to the best Russian military leader Fieldmarshal A.V. Suvorov the Count of Rymnik, the Duke of Italy, the Count of the Holly Roman Empire, the Grand and the Prince of Blood of the Kingdom of Sardinia, since 1799 also the Generalissimo of Russian Ground and Naval Forces, General Fieldmarshal of Russian, Austrian and Sardinian Combined Armed Forces. Within seventy years of his life Suvorov commanded Russian and Allied troops in seventy battles and never lost a single one. He took part in the Seven Years War 1756-1763, Suppression of Bar Confederacy insurrection in Poland 1769-1772, Russo-Turkish wars of 1768-1774 and 1787-1792, Suppression of Pugachiov rebellion in 1774-1775, Suppression of Polish insurrection of 1794, Italian and Swiss campaigns against France 1799-1800.
Museum’s collections display the uniforms, weapon, battle paintings, colors and combat trophies of Russian Imperial Army. This is the typical must see place for any fan of military history.
Address: 43, Kirochnaya Street, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Access: ten minutes by walk from the metro station “Chernyshevskaya”.
Here is a exhibition gallery for St. Petersburg artists. It presents traditional paintings mostly in oil and continues the expressionistic and traditional portrayal of landscape, portraits and cityscapes. It is a nice setting along the Moika River and it is a very comfortable palce to spend time looking at some nice work. There are some couches for an elegant living room feel in the main room. Be one of the few to sign the guest book in a language besides Russian :)
Moika Embankment 100, push the doorbell to unlock the front door.
Entrance is free. Photographs are not allowed.
They also host small musical concerts and tickets can be purchased in the museum or by calling. http://www.piter-art.com/muzyka/
The Saint-Petersburg Toy Museum is a member of the Union of Museums of Russia. It was established in 1997 as a non-state cultural establishment, subsided by private companies. It is the second museum of toys in Russia after the oldest Artistic-educational museum of that kind in Sergiev Posad near Moscow, which treats pedagogic problems mainly.
The Saint-Petersburg Toy Museum was established as an artistic museum with the main task of collecting, storing, exposing and studying a toy not only as a unique item of material culture, but also as a unique art form, that includes ancient national traditions and the most recent artistic tendencies.
It was the insight to a toy as to the synthetic art form, existing in complex connection between the aesthetic and playing functions, and possessing the richest palette of artistic means, that predetermined the allocation of the collection of author’s artistic toy (partly represented in the “Petersburg Toy” album) as being the main museum fund. It is this very collection that predetermines the specificity and uniqueness of the Saint-Petersburg Museum.
This enchanting little museum contains several rooms of various antique and modern toys. There are dolls from 16th century and teddy bears, miniature tea sets, figurines, Russian dolls and dolls’ houses.