St. Petersburg: 4 Must-See Attractions in the Venice of the North
While Amsterdam has also been nick-named the Venice of the North, St. Petersburg, Russia is perhaps closer to the mark. It’s centuries of fascinating history, resplendent thoroughfares, innumerable arts venues, and unusual origins make it a major European city worth seeing, despite its relatively long distance from the Continent. Here are a few landmarks that are absolute must-sees for any traveler wanting to immerse themselves in Russia’s cultural capital.
If you thought the Louvre in Paris was impressive, you are in for surprise. The Hermitage houses millions of works of art from all parts of the globe and from all periods of history. Founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great, the museum has the largest collection of paintings in the entire world. For a glimpse into this famous landmark and a better insight into Russian history, check out the movie The Russian Ark, shot in 2007 and filmed entirely in the Hermitage.
Even if you aren’t a die-hard theater fan, the Mariinsky is one attraction you will not want to miss. Built in the mid 19th century, the Mariinsky Theater became a premier set for operas, orchestras, ballets and more. Many of the masterpieces of famous composers like Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, and Rimsky-Korsakov were premiered at Mariinsky. It now hosts the Mariinsky Opera, Ballet, and Orchestra.
If art museums don’t strike your fancy, then the Kunstkamera surely will. As the oldest museum in St. Petersburg, the Kunstkamera was instituted by Peter the Great himself in 1727. In order to quell ignorance that so often resulted from superstition, Peter the Great set about on a systematic campaign of prioritizing culture and education. With the Kunstkamera, he set up exhibitions of deformed fetuses and other curiosities in order to demonstrate that “monsters” did not exist. The Kunstkamera Museum is especially recommended for science buffs.
Although located a train or car ride outside of the St. Petersburg city center, the Peterhof Palace complex is a site worth going out of your way for. Recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, Peterhof is a popular spot for locals during the summer, when the sun is out and the stunning English gardens are in bloom. Having an ice cream cone while you stroll through the palace grounds, complete with ornate fountains, is the perfect thing if you enjoy outdoor activity.
While many European travelers don’t think of Russia as a tourist haven, it would be a huge mistake to not consider St. Petersburg for your next trip. It’s sure to be an unforgettable experience.
Bio: Hajera Blagg is a freelance writer based in Houston, Texas. She often contributes content to OnlineUniversities