Saint Petersburg Is Great Cruise Destination in Northern Europe and Baltic
Travelers have two cruise options for visiting St. Petersburg. They can either take a northern European cruise of the Baltic Sea, or they can take a Russian Waterways cruise between St. Petersburg and Moscow. Peter the Great founded the city in 1703 as the capital of his Russian empire, and over 300 years later the city still attracts visitors from around the world.
There are so many sites to see in St. Petersburg that cruises usually overnight for two or three nights. The city is wonderful for walking, and the long summer days are delightful. Fall is a good time to visit the city since the crowds have all gone home.
This photo gallery is a compendium of some of the St. Petersburg sights from all around the city. The city is flat, and perfect for walking. Peter the Great's capital is also a fascinating mix of opulent palaces, canals, museums, and history.
More Photo Galleries of Saint Petersburg
Peter and Paul Fortress
St. Isaac's Cathedral
Griffin Statue on the Bank Bridge over the Griboedov Canal in St. Petersburg
I loved seeing all these wonderful old bridges while strolling the streets of St. Petersburg.
Lion Bridge in St. Petersburg
The Lion Bridge is one of many beautiful canal bridges in St. Petersburg. This one was within easy walking distance of our hotel, the Hotel Ambassador.
Church on Spilled Blood in Saint Petersburg, Russia
The Church on Spilled Blood in Saint Petersburg is arguably the most-photographed site in the city.
The Church on Spilled Blood was built in the late 19th century on the assassination site of Tsar Alexander II, who was killed by a terrorist's bomb. The church's fascinating, colorful appearance is the result of the numerous materials used in its construction. Much like the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, the church is a challenge to the visual senses--there is so much to see. For example, the bell tower is covered in 144 mosaic coats of arms, representing the regions and towns of Russia. The five domes are covered in jeweler's enamel, and glazed ceramic tiles cover much of the exterior.
The intricate design and detail of the church are an interesting contrast to the simplicity of most of the rest of the buildings in St. Petersburg.
For those who have been to Moscow, the resemblance to St. Basil's Cathedral in Red Square is no coincidence. The architect, Alfred Parland, was trying to copy St. Basil's, and most would say the two churches do look much alike, although their environs are certainly different.
Church on Spilled Blood in Saint Petersburg, Russia
The Church on Spilled Blood in Saint Petersburg, Russia is no longer an active church; it is now a museum.
Gostiny Dvor Shopping Center in Saint Petersburg, Russia
Gostiny Dvor has been St. Petersburg's main shopping area for over 200 years. The building is not one big department store, but houses hundreds of small shops.
Our Lady of Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia
During Soviet times, the Kazan Cathedral was transformed into a Museum of Atheism. It was returned to religious use in 1999.
The Our Lady of Kazan Cathedral is distinguished by its curved colonnade of numerous huge columns. The church was built following the war with Napoleon in 1812. Russian Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov, who was immortalized in Tolstoy's War and Peace, is buried here. A statue of General Kutuzov and Mikhail Barclay de Tolly have stood in front of the church since 1837.
Ice Bar in St. Petersburg, Russia
The Ice Bar in St. Petersburg is much like the Absolut Ice Bar in Stockholm--a great place for a photo and a drink. The Ice Bar in St. Petersburg is found on a small street right behind the Kazan Cathedral.
Ice Bar in Saint Petersburg, Russia
Limousine at Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg
Newlyweds often tour St. Petersburg immediately after their wedding, stopping to make photos with friends in front of famous sites in St. Petersburg.
I am glad that this couple used a limousine to do their touring! (Note the champagne bottle next to the limousine door.)
Grand Hotel Europe on Nevsky Prospect in St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg's Grand Hotel Europe and its restaurants have long been famous as a meeting place for the rich and famous, diplomats, and artists.
Rusca Portico in St. Petersburg, Russia
The Rusca Portico, designed by Luigi Rusca, was originally the entrance to a large arcade of shops next to Gostiny Dvor on Nevsky Prospect in St. Petersburg.
Globe on the Top of the Singer Building on Nevsky Prospect in St. Petersburg
Singer Building was built for the Singer Sewing Machine Company.
Russian Navy Cruiser Aurora on the Neva River in St. Petersburg, Russia
The Cruiser Aurora fired a single shot from its bow gun on October 25, 1917, signaling the storming of the Winter Palace by the Bolsheviks.
The Cruiser Aurora entered service in 1903, and is most famous for its 1917 signaling shot. However, the Naval vessel was deliberately sunk by the Russian Army during the World War II siege of Leningrad (the Soviet name of St. Petersburg) to protect the ship from the possible invasion by the German army.
Singer House on Nevsky Prospect in St. Petersburg, Russia
The Singer House on Nevsky Prospect in St. Petersburg was built in 1904 for the Singer Sewing Machine Company.
Naval Museum and Two Rostral Columns in Saint Petersburg, Russia
The two Rostral columns honor the Russian Naval fleet and were completed in the early 1800's. The name comes from the Latin word rostrum, meaning prow. The columns are decorated with the prows of numerous ships and were originally used as lighthouses. The Rostral columns provide a nice frame for the old Stock Exchange, which is now the Naval Museum.
Close-up View of Rostral Column in St. Petersburg, Russia
The Rostral Columns are decorated with the prows of ships, and the figures on the base represent four of Russia's great rivers.
Duma Watchtower on Nevsky Prospect in St. Petersburg, Russia
This watchtower stands in front of the former city hall of St. Petersburg. Equipment in the tower once sent messages between the Winter and Summer Palaces.
Naval Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia
St. Peterburg's Naval Museum was modeled after a famous Greek temple. At one time, it was the Stock Exchange.
Smolny Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia
The Smolny Cathedral is part of the Smolny Convent complex in St. Petersburg. The Cathedral was designed by Rastrelli in 1748, and over 50,000 wooden piles were needed to secure the foundation in the marshy soil of St. Petersburg.
Tsarina Elizabeth planned the convent as a school for young noblewomen, but Catherine the Great did not like the design of the Cathedral and stopped funding in 1762. Nicholas I commissioned the completion of the complex in 1835, and the cathedral has great views of the city from its tower.
Walking Around St. Petersburg, Russia
St. Petersburg is a wonderful town to explore on foot, but you will need to have a Russian Visa unless you are accompanied by a licensed guide.
Rolling Stones Poster in St. Petersburg, Russia
The Rolling Stones entertained the crowds in Palace Square in St. Petersburg in the summer of 2007.
McDonald's Restaurant in St. Petersburg, Russia
McDonald's Restaurants are everywhere, but how many use Cyrillic script on their umbrellas?
The Admiralty in St. Petersburg, Russia
The Admiralty is decorated with dozens of sculptures and reliefs documenting the glories of the Russian Naval fleet of the 19th century.
Apraksin Market in Saint Petersburg, Russia
The Apraksin Market in Saint Petersburg is filled with small shops selling liquor, cigarettes, clothing, and a little bit of everything else.
The Apraksin Market (Apraksin Dvor) is perfect for people watching, but keep your purse and camera close since it is a favorite of both shoppers and pickpockets.
The Bronze Horseman - Peter the Great Statue in St. Petersburg, Russia
Catherine the Great commissioned this statue of Peter the Great, and it is called the Bronze Horseman after the famous Pushkin poem.
The Bronze Horseman statue is in a small park along the palace embankment in St. Petersburg. It depicts Peter the Great on a rearing horse trampling a serpent, which is often symbolically used as a sign of treason. Many newlyweds find their way to the statue (especially on weekends), since having a wedding photo there is considered good luck.
Monument to Nicholas I on St. Isaac's Square in St. Petersburg, Russia
The statue honoring Tsar Nicholas I was completed in 1859. The faces of the Tsar's wife and three children are carved into the base of the statue.
Canal Boats in St. Petersburg, Russia
St. Petersburg is filled with canals, and many of the sights are accessible by water, so a canal tour is a great way to see some of the city.
Bridal Shop in St. Petersburg, Russia
I loved the design of this lovely bridal shop near the Sennaya Ploshchad (square).
St. Nicholas Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia
St. Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, and this cathedral honors him.
After visiting St. Petersburg, I guessed that this icon on the bridge of the M/S Rossia was St. Nicholas, and I was right!
Gallery Spanning the Winter Canal in St. Petersburg, Russia
This gallery connects the Large Hermitage to the Theatre.
Alexander Column in Saint Petersburg's Palace Square
The Alexander Column commemorates Tsar Alexander I and his role in Russia's victory over Napoleon in the War of 1812. It is the largest free-standing monument in the world. The Alexander Column is made of red granite and stands 154 feet (47 meters) high.
Palace Square in St. Petersburg, Russia
Palace Square has been the setting for military parades, massacres, demonstrations, and rock concerts.
Palace Square in St. Petersburg is one of the world's largest public squares. It is almost twice as large as Red Square in Moscow.
Ambassador Hotel Room in St. Petersburg, Russia
This spacious room was our hotel room in St. Petersburg. We stayed four nights in St. Petersburg as part of our Grand Circle Russian Waterways cruise tour.
We loved staying in St. Petersburg and walking around the city. St. Petersburg is very flat, with wonderful canals and lots of interesting sites to see while strolling the numerous fascinating streets. The Ambassador Hotel is located across from Yusupov Park in the western part of St. Petersburg called Sennaya Ploshchad.
Ambassador Hotel Dining Room in Saint Petersburg, Russia
Grand Circle uses the Ambassador Hotel in St. Petersburg for its Russian Waterways cruise passengers. The hotel is in the downtown area near from Yusupov Park.
While in Saint Petersburg, Grand Circle uses a hotel to house its passengers since the river cruise port is a 30 minute to one hour ride from the downtown area. The Ambassador Hotel was in a good location in the western part of St. Petersburg, just a couple of blocks from St. Nicholas Cathedral.
Grand Circle passengers spend either three or four nights in St. Petersburg on this cruise tour. A buffet breakfast and two dinners are held in this private dining room on top of the hotel. The restaurant provides an excellent view of downtown St. Petersburg, including St. Isaac's Cathedral.
Academia Restaurant in Saint Petersburg, Russia
While on one of our included tours with the Grand Circle Small Ship Cruises' Russian Waterways cruise tour, we enjoyed lunch at the Academia Restaurant.
Peterhof, Peter the Great's Palace of Peterhof near Saint Petersburg, Russia
The magnificence of Peterhof, Peter the Great's summer imperial palace on the Gulf of Finland on Baltic Sea, is somewhat reminiscent of Versailles near Paris. Peter the Great visited Versailles in 1717 and he returned to Saint Petersburg with many ideas for enhancing his own summer palace and grounds, which were already under construction. Peterhof Palace sits in 1500-acres of formal gardens and park 18 miles from Saint Petersburg, and its 173 glorious fountains are fed by underground springs that are 14 miles away. Like the Catherine summer palace, Peterhof was almost in ruins following World War II. However, many photos of Peterhof allowed reconstruction of the magnificent palace and park.Most visitors to Peterhof come with an organized group or guide for a half-day tour, riding a hydrofoil for 45 minutes along the Neva River one way and a tour bus the other. As shown in these photos, Peterhof and its park are well worth the visit.
Peter and Paul Cathedral at the Peter and Paul Fortress in Saint Petersburg
The Peter and Paul Fortress was the first structure Peter the Great built in Saint Petersburg, Russia in 1703. Today it marks the founding of the city, but the fortress was used as a political prison for centuries and the cathedral holds the tombs of the Romanov Tsars. The Peter and Paul Fortress sits on the northern banks of the Neva River, and the tall golden spire of Peter and Paul Cathedral marks the location. This spire was the tallest point in Saint Petersburg until a television tower was built in the mid-1960s.Cruise ships sailing northern Europe and the Baltic Sea include shore excursions to the Peter and Paul Cathedral, as do river cruise tours sailing between Saint Petersburg and Moscow. I found the Baroque architecture of the cathedral fascinating, especially since it is so different than most Russian Orthodox churches.
The Hermitage (officially the State Hermitage Museum) is one of the most famous museums in the world. Spread over several buildings lining the Neva River in St. Petersburg, this museum is way too large to see in just a few hours. Most cruisers visit with a tour group on a half-day excursion and can see many of the art pieces and gaze at the beautiful decor.The Hermitage was once the palace of Catherine the Great, who used it as a private place of retreat and solitude, or a Hermitage. Tours enter through the Winter Palace on the ground floor and walk up the magnificent Jordan Staircase to the first floor. The rooms on the first floor are breathtaking, with many of the rooms restored as they were during Imperial times. The second floor is not architecturally as dramatic as the first floor, but has many important French paintings. Be sure to glance through the windows on the second floor for a great view of the Palace Square and the Alexander Column.
St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia
St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg is one of the world's largest domed cathedrals, holding 14,000 people. This massive church and its golden dome can be seen from many locations in St. Petersburg.St. Isaac's was commissioned in 1818 by Tsar Alexander I to celebrate the victory over Napoleon, and the French architect Auguste de Montferrand was the designer. St. Isaac's took 40 years to build, and Montferrand died the year it opened. It sits on a marshy bank of the Neva River, and thousands of huge wooden pilings were sunk into the mud to support the church. The exterior of St. Isaac's is of Renaissance and Baroque design, and the interior is spectacular because of the mosaics and many precious stones and minerals used. The golden dome is covered with 220 pounds of gold. During the Soviet era, the Orthodox Church was closed to worshipers and became a museum of atheism. Fortunately, many of the wonderful 19th century works of art were retained and decorate today's St. Isaac's.
Catherine Palace Near St. Petersburg, Russia
Tsarina Elizabeth commissioned Rastrelli to build a grand summer palace about 15 miles from St. Petersburg. The Catherine Palace, named for Elizabeth's mother Catherine I, was the result of his work. The Catherine Palace, also known as Tsarskoe Selo or Tsar's Village, was completed in the mid-1700's, but has been significantly changed over the centuries, first by Catherine the Great (Catherine II), and then after World War II. The palace was ransacked and almost destroyed by the Germans, but photos have allowed the magnificent reconstruction.The Amber Room is the most famous of the palace rooms, and a recreation of the original room was completed in 2003. The Great Hall, filled with mirrors and gilded carvings, is a perfect remembrance of what life was like for the Russian aristocracy of the 18th and 19th centuries. These photos, accompanied by an article on a day at Catherine Palace, help show why this palace is one of the most popular cruise ship shore excursions in St. Petersburg.
Yusupov Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia
The Yusupov Palace in St. Petersburg provides an interesting look at the lives of the aristocracy of the 19th and early 20th century. The palace has exotic rooms such as the Moorish room with its beautiful mosaics and a pool room with a secret compartment under the table. The palace has a wonderful Rococo theater, which seats 180 and is still used for concerts. However, Yusupov Palace is best known as the site of the murder of Grigory Rasputin, the "mad monk" who was killed in December 1916 by Prince Yusupov and others loyal to Nicholas II. They believed Rasputin had a mystical hold over the Empress Alexandra that was damaging the imperial family.Rasputin was not easy to kill. Prince Yusupov first tried poison, then shot him. He escaped, was pursued by the assassins and shot three more times before being battered and thrown in the Neva River. Rasputin's body was found in the freezing river three days later and an autopsy showed he had drowned. Perhaps he did have mystical powers!