Other Attractions, Saint Petersburg
Worth a visit, although generally not as ornate as Moscow, there are still some beautiful stations
See my SPB transport tips for some photo's
The St Petersburg Metro is reputed to be the deepest one in the world due to the fact that St Petersburg is actually mad up of a number of islands.
Aurora (Russian: Авро́ра) is Russian protected cruiser. Now is a famous museum ship in St. Petersburg from 1957.
She participate in battle against Japanese Navy in the Russo-Japanese War. The October Revolution in Russia start with incident on Aurora ship.
I spend some time here, on deck and inside the ship. Without tourist guide, enter to ship is free. You could visit deck and lower cabins with permanent exhibit.
For an extra fee you can tour the engine-room. If you like that ask an attendant for that service. Regular price is 300 RUB and students discount is 100 RUB. There is and additional cost of taking photos (50 RUB) and filming (100 RUB).
It was open every day (except on Monday and on Friday) from 10:30 am to 4 pm.
Note: On VT forum I got information that ship is moved for restoration. In fact, I find online that from 18th September 2014 cruiser has been moved from its location in St. Petersburg to Kronstadt for repairs.
Aurora, the magnificent museum and historical symbol of Russian Navy daily visited by many tourists.
Inside the ship is a rich collection of documents, photos, art work, military artifact as well permanent exhibit of presentation of everyday life of mariners. So, there was a navy collectibles and others memorabilia related to Russian Navy.
It was free of charge when I visited (August 2011). I visited deck and museum-exhibition room. On official site I saw that now it have fee for entering and taking photo and video for engine-room and boiler-room.
Inside is a small gift shop.
You will remember traveling by the city underground called the Metro. It is so clean, comfortable and reliable! You can reach the remotest districts of the city in no time!
It saves you the precious time and energy and is quick and beautiful in the interior.
The stations are like small underground palaces. The builders did not spare granite and lavishly decorated each station in Soviet times.
The place to have a coffee and cake or lunch is the Singer bookstore building opposite the Kazan Cathedral. The room itself is quite atmospheric and you have a lovely view of the Kazan Cathedral. You can have a package lunch with 2 courses for 600 roubles. The serving of tea is huge. We had borsch dumplings and two teas.
The borsch which was very nice for 300 roubles. They also had a selection of cakes and pastries. The service was friendly and efficient.
I stumbled across this rather magnificent looking building quite by accident. Its currently used by the Bank of Moscow. So far I have not been able to find out anything more about it. If your in the area its well worth a look.
Not many foreigners know that the most Northern location of Egyptian sphinxes is in St. Petersburg. Russian government have bought a few sphinxes from Egypt in 1820 and brought them to decorate shore banks of Neva river in St. Petersburg. This is probably the only place in the world where you can see each year Egyptian, 3500 year old sphinxes covered with snow.
In one of the regular inner yards of multi-stored buildings in St. Petersburg there is a whole collection of Middle-American San Agustin statues standing under open air and not protected by anybody, left all by themselves.
The story of them appearing there starts in 19th century when Academy of St. Petersburg sent a group of explorers to Middle America. They visited through all of Yucatan, collected different things for St. Petersburg’s museums. By the way they noticed and bought a set of San Agustin idols from Chichen Itza ruins. Upon the return of expedition smaller objects were placed into museums but nobody has found a good place for those San Agustin statues and they were left all by themselves in the back yard, dug into ground.
A few years passed and Soviet Revolution happened, all the museums were messed up, all the buildings were nationalized by Soviets and were used for a totally different purpose then before. In many churches warehouses were founded as the result of total atheism of new Russian authorities, and many museum were turned into something else as a result of ignorance.
So hundred years passed and those 1500 year old San Agustin deities stand abandoned
The Institute was founded much earlier than this building was built, in 1773.
The Institute was built in 1806-1811 after the project of A. N. Voronihin (he built Kazanskii Cathedral).
The sculpture on the right is " Hercules suffocating Antaeus", made by S. S. Pimenov.
On the other side of the portico there's the "Abduction of Persephone", made by V. I. Demut-Malinovsky.
There's a mineralogical museum in the Institute of Mining and Metallurgy.
Catherine II (the Great) founded the Smolny Institute for Girls, officially the Society for the Upbringing of Noble Girls, in 1764. Its popular name comes from its site in the Smolny Monastery on the left bank of the Neva River in St. Petersburg. Inspired by Saint-Cyr, a boarding school for girls in France, Smolny was part of Catherine's educational plan to raise cultured, industrious, and loyal subjects.
Ivan Betskoy, the head of this reform effort, was heavily influenced by Enlightenment theorists. Drawing on the ideas of John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Betskoy's pedagogical plan for Smolny emphasized moral education and the importance of environment. Girls lived at Smolny continuously from age five to eighteen without visits home, which were deemed corrupting. As at all-male schools such as the Corps of Cadets and the Academy of Arts, Smolny stressed training in the fine arts, especially dance and drama. The curriculum also included reading, writing, foreign languages, physics, chemistry, geography, mathematics, history, Orthodoxy, needlepoint, and home economics. The range of subjects led Voltaire to declare Smolny superior to Saint-Cyr. In 1765, a division with a less extensive curriculum was added for the daughters of merchants and soldiers.
Catherine held public exams and performances of plays at Smolny, and took her favorite pupils on promenades in the Summer Gardens. Portraits of these favorites were commissioned from the painter Dmitry Levitsky. Smolny also became a stop for visiting foreign dignitaries. Its graduates were known for their manners and talents and were considered highly desirable brides. Some became teachers at the school, and a few were promoted to ladies-in-waiting at court.
Peter Zavadovsky, who directed Catherine's commission to establish a national school system, succeeded Betskoy as de facto head of Smolny in 1783. He replaced French with Russian as the school's primary language and altered the curriculum to emphasize the girls' future roles as wives and mothers.
After Catherine's death in 1796, Maria Fedorovna took over the institute and made changes that set Smolny's course for the rest of its existence. The school's administration became less personal and more bureaucratic. The age of admittance was changed from five to eight, in recognition of the importance of mothering during the early years of a child's life, and the rules forbidding visits home were relaxed.
Throughout the nineteenth century, Smolny maintained its reputation as the most elite educational institution for girls. Its name was regarded as synonymous with high cultural standards, manners, and poise, although sometimes its graduates were considered naive and ill-prepared for life outside of Smolny. The many references to Smolny in the Russian literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries attest to the school's cultural significance.
In October 1917, Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks appropriated the Smolny Institute and made it their headquarters until March 1918. Since then, the Smolny campus has continued to be used for governmental purposes, eventually becoming home to the St. Petersburg Duma. Several rooms have been preserved as a museum of the institute's past.
To see one of the city’s best examples of communist “art”, and one of the least noticed, head to Moscow Station, go to the main entrance hall and look up. The colourful ceiling mosaic makes you feel as if you are lying on your back in a sunlit square, looking at the sky. Its unique perspective makes it one of the more original and less austere examples of communist propaganda. It suggests unity and celebration; happier times that perhaps never came. The Olympic flags tell you it’s from the fifties, when the Soviet Union joined the Olympic family.
Right opposite the Peter and Paul Fortress is Russia's first zoo, opened in 1865. It's not a big place but there is a fair range of animals including the cutest polar bears ever, two giraffes and a range of impossibly energetic monkeys. There's also an indoor aquarium and a giftshop.
Admission 0 - 400Rbl.
Saint Petersburg State University (SPbGU, Russian: Санкт-Петербургский государственный университет, СПбГУ) is a Russian federal state-owned higher education institution based in Saint Petersburg and one of the oldest and largest universities in Russia. It is still disputes between Moscow and SPB which Universities is the oldest in country.
The university has two primary campuses: one on Vasilievsky Island and the other in Peterhof. During the Soviet period, it was known as Leningrad State University (Russian: Ленинградский государственный университет), in 1948—1989 named after Zhdanov.
Today, the university boasts over 20,000 students, 2,000 professors, 210 departments and a library with 4 million volumes, 22 specialized faculties, 13 research institutes, etc. Many famous Russian was alumni of this University including eight Nobel Prize winners. Eight Nobel Prize recipients are: Ivan Pavlov (Physiology and Medicine, 1904), Ilya Mechnikov (Physiology and Medicine, 1908), Nikolay Semyonov (Chemistry, 1956), Lev Landau (Physics, 1962), Aleksandr Prokhorov (Physics, 1964), Wassily Leontief (Economics, 1973), Leonid Kantorovich (Economics, 1975) and Joseph Brodsky (Literature, 1987). Interesting is that none of those people dint received the prize while working at the university or for the work done while affiliated with it.
Wide and luxurious Palace square is a place with many architecton gems. Beside a famous Winter palace of Romanov family and Alexander column here is another one.
The General Staff Building (Russian: Здание Главного штаба) is wide buildinf with a 580 m long facade. The building shapes the square and places focus on Alexander column in the middle.
The building was designed (again) by famous Carlo Rossi in the Empire style. It was built during 10 years (1819-1829). It consists of two wings, which are separated by a the tripartite triumphal arch design by Russians sculptors Stepan Pimenov and Vasily Demuth-Malinovsky. That addition is in honor to the Russian victory over Napoleon in the Patriotic War of 1812. The arch links Palace Square through Bolshaya Morskaya St. to Nevsky Avenue.
Until the capital was transferred to Moscow in 1918, the building served as the headquarters of the General Staff (western wing), Foreign Ministry and Finance Ministry (eastern wing). The western wing now hosts the headquarters of the Western Military District. The eastern wing was transferred to the Hermitage Museum in 1993. So, only one part is open to public but is interesting architectural gem and it is a nice picture. Unfortunately, the building in the time of my visit be under construction and it not so photogenic like other buildings in the City.
The Moscow Triumphal Gates (1834-38) was build in the memory of the Russian victory in the Russo-Turkish war of 1828. The Triumphal structure was located on the Moscow highway and the Ligovsky Canal. In this way, the gates became an impressive gateway into the Russian capital.
The author is famous Russian classical architect Vasily Stasov. After that, Russian classical sculptor Boris Orlovskiy, design details of the gates including war trophies and figures of geniuses.
The sculpture has a 12 columns. Each column was comprised of nine separate blocks together with the trunks and upper units of the columns. In fact, all 12 columns weighed approximately a combined 450 tons. The first column was erected on July 14, 1836. The gates were opened two years later on October 16, 1838. At that time, the Moscow Gates were the largest structure in the world made of cast iron.
The monument symbolized the greatness and glory of the Russian army.