The city was founded in 1703 as part of a war with Sweden and is located on the Baltic Sea at the mouth of the Neva River. 1712 saw Peter the Great move the capital to Petersburg, and for 100 years until 1918 it was the political, cultural and economic center of Russia, as well as the center of scientific, technological and industrial development.
On October 25, 1917, Lenin led the Bolsheviks to seize the Winter Palace and establish Soviet power, and in 1924 St. Petersburg was renamed Leningrad. St. Petersburg’s group of monuments in the city’s historic center and the Ekaterina Palace and Peter the Great’s Summer Palace were named a World Heritage Site by the United Nations, and the Hermitage is known as one of the four major museums in the world along with the Louvre in Paris, France, the British Museum in London, England, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, USA. I will take you through the three major palaces, starting with the Hermitage, which is right in the center of St. Petersburg, while the other two palaces are on the outskirts.
The Hermitage – a vast amount of wonders for the ages
The Hermitage (Russian: Зимний дворец) is part of the Ermitage Museum, and its mint green facade with white columns decorated in gold relief is a bright sight on the banks of the Neva River. The construction of the Hermitage took 50 years from the start of the design process to the completion of the building. The Tsars saved countless treasures for the Hermitage, Peter the Great and Ekaterina the Great planned it themselves, and several European architects participated in the design. In the early days, the Hermitage was the residence of the Empress of Russia Ekaterina II, housing her private collection of paintings, which was gradually collected and developed into a museum, which was opened to the public in 1852.
Highlights of the visit
The artworks in the Hermitage, in huge quantities! Fixed exhibits up to more than 3 million pieces, the collection of artworks from all over the world, oil paintings, statues, carpets, furniture, handicrafts, etc., of which three parts of the collection of ancient Greek bottle-painted art, ancient Roman sculpture and Western European art are renowned in the world of collecting.
Summer Palace – Peter the Great’s “summer residence”
The Summer Palace (Russian: Петергоф), located 30 kilometers outside of St. Petersburg, was built by order of Tsar Peter the Great to commemorate his great victory in the Northern War against Sweden, when he captured the entrance to the Baltic Sea. In order to demonstrate the greatness of the country, a large number of excellent architects and craftsmen were gathered here to create the perfect summer palace garden in the heart of the Russian emperor, under the vision of Peter the Great that Russia should have a palace garden comparable to Versailles, France. Peter the Great himself was also involved in the planning of the project, and he personally designed more than a dozen plans. The Summer Palace was built on a large scale between 1710 and 1714, and the completion ceremony of the palace and park was held in 1723, two years before Peter the Great’s death. After its completion, it became the summer residence of successive tsars, and many large balls and festivities were held here.
Highlights of the visit
The fountain is the finishing touch of the Summer Palace, which is divided into three main parts: the Upper Garden, Peterhof Palace and the Lower Garden. If the Winter Palace is known for its collection of artistic treasures, the Summer Palace is distinguished by its exquisite fountains. Several large step ladder fountains in the garden, spraying water up to 22 meters, without the help of any external power, relying entirely on top-down terrain to generate natural water pressure, its unique hydraulic engineering technology convinced the world, and is still praised by experts.
Ekaterina Palace – the most luxurious summer palace of the empress
Ekaterina Palace was built in 1717 as a summer residence given by Peter I to Empress Ekaterina I. In 1752, their daughter, Queen Elizabeth, found the villa too outdated and ordered it to be rebuilt with more than 100 kg of gold, building a brand new palace named Ekaterina Palace. After the reign of Ekaterina II, the palace was extensively modified and expanded according to her own preferences, giving it a new look and creating the present gorgeous gardens that combine the Baroque style palace and the English and French gardens.
Highlights of the visit
While the exterior of the palace is fresh and airy, the interior of the palace is a stunning display of light, especially the Amber Room. The back garden is lush with trees and green grass during the summer months.
Exterior of the palace
The two-story palace, with a frontage of more than 300 meters, is mainly composed of blue, white and yellow, which are said to represent the blue eyes, white skin and golden hair of the mistress, respectively. The top is covered with five gilded and distinctive onion-shaped domes.
The Hermitage is suitable for visits all year round, with Peter the Great’s Summer Palace and Ekaterina Palace being better visited in summer. If a one-day visit to the Hermitage is not enough for you, you can choose a two-day ticket! You can go to Visa Express to find out the Russian visa requirements.