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Student Guide to St. Petersburg
Everything to know about staying awhile
Table of Contents (jump to)
- Theatre, Classical Music, Film
- Longer Trips from St. Pete
1. Maps (back to table of contents)
- The SRAS Google Map of St. Petersburg is marked with uni locations and lots of other stuff.
- 2GIS is a downloadable smartphone program with maps of various Russian cities. It is increasingly the choice of locals, but is available in Russian only.
- Yandex Maps are Russia's answer to Google maps - and are often more accurate for Russian cities.
- The St. Petersburg Metro has an interactive map (in Russian) for planning your trips around the city.
2. Water & Weather (back to table of contents)
It is highly discouraged to drink the tap water in St. Petersburg. For brushing teeth, please boil the water for at least ten minutes. For drinking, bottled water is quite inexpensive; stick to it. A water pitcher with filter can be purchased inexpensively at larger supermarkets, including Perekrestok and Okey.
Because Petersburg is a former swamp, mosquito repellent is highly recommended, particularly if you plan to visit the beautiful nature of Karelia in the summer.
The allotment of daylight in St. Petersburg reaches extremes. During the winter, days become almost non-existent and in summer, days almost never end. We have found that exercise and vitamins are very effective ways to fight off seasonal blues and colds, which can be common in a humid, densely populated, foreign city. For summer, a sleeping mask can be helpful.
The climate of St. Petersburg is fairly typical of a northern coastal city; it is unpredictable. Winters can be mild or bring a severe, damp, biting cold. The average winter temperature tends to stay above zero, but you can generally assume, with the windchill and humidity, that it will be colder on average than any other place you have experienced.
in St. Petersburg:
3. Restaurants, Cafés, etc. (back to table of contents)
Petersburg is loaded with places to eat: some good, some not so good, some expensive, some a great value. Ask Russians where they like to go and talk to your classmates and acquaintances about their experiences. Here is a short list to get you started:
Traditional Gone Pop:
Try traditional Russian blini served fast-food style at one of the city's Teremok
or Chainaya Loshka
locations. For a delicious homestyle pirozhok, you can't beat Stolle's
, which now has several locations across St. Petersburg. As all the pirozhki are made fresh, don't worry about it if the kind you want is not currently available - barring dietary restrictions, everything on offer is sure to satisfy.
- Coffee: Kofe Khaus and Shokolodnitsa are Russia's ever-present chains - both offer decent coffee and food - Kofe Khaus is particularly commendable for its breakfast specials. Shoko Mokko is a local chain that has been popular with students for their free WiFi. Starbucks has also expanded to St. Pete.
More Traditional Traditional:
For an ideal place to have a good time and a good Russian meal simultaneously, try Na Zdrovye!
Traditional live music is sometimes featured during dinner, and you might even run into a traditional Russian wedding party reception. Gorka!
You will find much more than just Russian food in St. Petersburg! A. Georgian:
Georgian food is highly recommended as a way to please the most ardent vegetarians and
die-hard carnivores. Between the khachapuri, vegetable dishes, and shashlyk, everyone walks away happy. The city's best value for the money is at Kvareli
- a tiny restaurant near the city zoo that is so good and so tiny that you may want to book in advance. A bit more expensive, but larger and still affordable, most students like Tbliso
for its delectable khachapuri and excellent service and Caravan
for its festive atmosphere and wide range of dishes. B. Uzbek:
Uzbek is also well known as one of the former USSR's most yummy culinary experiences. Try the lahgman and plof - both are delicious! Try Dastarhan
- a cosy Uzbek restaurant that offers delicious food and a luxurious, exotic atmosphere for a reasonable price. Be sure to order from the Russian menu, however, as the English seems to be less extensive and higher priced.
C. Mexican: Tequila Boom
has several locations in St. Petersburg and has hearty, generously-portioned, affordable dishes. Live music is a staple most nights. Conchita Bonita
has more expensive fare but with really fresh ingredients and a friendly staff.D. Everything Else:
for a great search engine of restaurants in St. Petersburg. You can filter for anything you want - Chinese, Indian, Arab, etc.
Summer Dining: The Seventh Line is a pedestrian street near SPGU. It is lined with small, decently-priced cafes and, on weekends, street musicians and artists. A good place to stroll and eat.
Pizza Gone Wild: Pizza Olli's
hits the right balance of satisfying and imaginative pizza-making. With more pizza topping options than you'll likely ever find at home you can order something you've never had before while still reaping the benefits of enjoying a student comfort-food favorite. Good vegan pizza is available.
Various Pubs: Biblioteka
is a pub and bookstore in one hip package. It has burgers, spare ribs, fish and chips, and even Belgian waffles with ice cream. SPB
, a city-wide chain of bars, offers a lot of Western pub favorites like cheese sticks, chicken wings, fries, burgers, milkshakes and more. The Shamrock
is an Irish-themed bar with a dance floor.
Check out Students Abroad
for lots of recommendations from past SRAS students! Shawarma Liteyniy
at Liteyniy Prospekt, 64 is a 24-hour joint offering the classic chicken wrap for 100 rubles, usually (depending on who's working) with a free beer thrown in. Very popular with students. For a cheap dessert, Pyshki
(Donuts) at Bolshaya Konushenaya, 25 offers 12 ruble fried donuts and 18 ruble cups of coffee. It's a historical building in itself, operating in the same space with the same interior and pyshki-making process as it did more than 50 years ago. There is another pyshki location near the univeristy - at Sadovaya Ulitsa and Muchnoy Pereulok, across from the Dixie.
Kosher in St. Petersburg:
There is a kosher restaurant
called Lekhaim inside the Beit-Khabad Jewish Community Center.
Vegetarian Friendly: Troitsky Most
is vegetarian chain that offers affordable food that is so imaginative and delicious that vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike would do well to make it a regular eating place. For a more intimate and upscale (though still affordable) dining experience, The Idiot
is another excellent choice and offers a variety of traditional Russian dishes - without the meat. The Green Room Café
, part of Loft Project Etazh offers inexpensive vegan and vegetarian dishes from organic and, when possible, locally-sourced produce. Rada and K
offers vegan soups, salads, desserts, and some Indian-inspired dishes. Pizza Olli's
offers vegan pizza. Georgian ethnic food
(see above) will also offer many meatless meals. You might also check out HappyCow
, a site that runs a world-wide ratings site for vegetarian restaurants.
4. Clubs and Music (back to table of contents)
A list of addresses for all clubs described in this section is located at the bottom of this section.
For a student new to St. Petersburg nightlife, the best place to go is somewhere that has several bars/clubs next to each other, with a different atmosphere in each. That's easy - Konyushennaya Ploshad (near the Church on Spilt Blood) is stuffed full of some of the best clubs the city has to offer. Closest to the church is Mod Club
, an artsy place with a gritty feel and colorfully-dressed crowd. The famous/infamous trifecta of Fidel
, and Belgrade
, are all located in the same building. St. Petersburg also a few gay clubs - Central Station
being one of the better-known.
Live Music: A2
, The Place
, and Mod Club
are popular for indie music. Opera
is known for heavier groups, including metal and those of the 'core' genre (i.e. hardcore, emo-core, etc.). Money Honey
is for those seeking rockabilly. For Jazz shows, see JFC Jazz Club
, (the established hot spot for jazz in St. Petersburg), The Krasny Lis
(The Red Fox) or Dom 7
. Fish Fabrique
(formerly Moloko) are excellent places to go for alternative music (ethic, punk, jazz, fusion, etc.) and cheap beer in the company of Russian artists and intellectuals.
- More Information: The Saint Petersburg Music Guide offers lots of info on the subject! During the summer, New Holland Island (Address: Embankment of Admiralteskiy Kana, 2) holds a weekly free concert series, usually on Fridays from May through mid-September.
5. Theatre, Classical Music, Film (back to table of contents)
Russia is known for its performing arts. Take advantage and see all that you can. Tickets can be purchased at the theatre or concert hall itself. Tickets may also be purchased from theatre kiosks and tables around town. If you know a bit of Russian, you can also use Kontramarka.ru – reserve tickets online, and pick them up at various locations in town. You can also find what you want to see and head to of the city's many central ticket offices. Your student ID should be enough to get you the Russian price automatically.
Note that for the Mariinsky Theater, you can only buy tickets online or at the theater itself there. Buying online is easy though, as the website is available in English. Just create a username and password and then choose the performance you want to see. You can chose the Russian price here as well – but be prepared to show your student ID when you collect the tickets. Note that tickets prices vary widely - from fairy cheap (~$10) if you go for the cheaper seats during a weekday/less popular performance to more than $100 if you get a really nice seat on the weekend to a big-event show (like Swan Lake).
a. Ballet and Opera
(Teatralnaya Pl. 1; Tel: 326-4141)
The Mariinsky, among those in-the-know, is even more famous than the Bolshoi for ballet. It's company, known as the Kirov, took the ballet world by storm during the Soviet era and its reputation has not diminished - nor should it. It's also recommended for dramatic productions if for no reason than they now have a subtitle screen (in English) next to the stage.
Saint Petersburg Opera
(33 Galernaya Ulitsa; Tel: 312-39-82)
Founded in 1987 at the beginning of glasnost, the Saint Petersburg Opera is known for its "innovative opera." It's newly renovated facility in the Baron von Derviz mansion is also known for excellent musical quality.
(Pl. Isskustv, 1; Tel: 595-43-05)
Surrounded by art museums and architecture, a trip to one of St. Pete's most respected and oldest theatres can make a great end to an art-infused day. They feature ballet, musicals, operas, and more.
Musical Comedy Theatre
(13 Italianskaya Street; Tel: 210-4316)
Occasionally features the premiere of a new, cutting-edge ballet or opera.
b. Dramatic Theatres
Tovstonogov Dramatic Theatre
(Fontanka 65; Tel: 310-9242)
Founded in 1919 by Communist favorite Maxim Gorky, the theatre rocketed to fame under director Georgi Tovstonogov and adopted his name. It still gives some of the highest quality presentations of classic and contemporary plays in Petersburg.
(1 Narodnaya Ulitsa; Metro Lomonosovskaya; Tel: 446–6767)
A young, dynamic theatre, with shows that focus on improvisation.
MDT European Theatre
(18 Rubenstein Ulitsa; Metro Vladimirskaya, Dostoevskaya; Tel: 713-2078)
This theatre, which opened in 1944 during the blockade, has a formidable history and a place in the heart of St. Petersburg Theatrical culture. You can find classics, such as 'Uncle Vanya' as well as less well-known shows.
(12, Vladimirsky Prosp; Metro Vladimirskaya, Dostoevskaya; Tel: 113-2207)
This theatre is known more for showing comedies, which are often among the best-reviewed in the city.
Saint Petersburg State University Studio Theatre
(52 Galereinaya - entrance from 27 Admiralty Canal; Tel: 312-51-97)
As you can imagine, this is low-budget but often very artistic theatre. Highly recommended for students!
c. Classical Music
(Michailovskaya Ul, 2; Tel: 110-42-57)
Shostakovitch Hall inside the Grand Philharmonic Hall is probably the most respected of all concert halls - big names from Europe and Russia play here.
(Teatralnaya Pl. 3; Tel: 117-05-06)
Conservatories can be a great place to witness some of Russia's brightest young talent perform pieces on par with other theatres and concert halls, only in a more informal and less expensive atmosphere.
d. Art Films
(Karavannaya ul, 12; Tel: 812-314-56-14)
One of the oldest movie houses in Petersburg, showing contemporary and mainstream films, along with selections from Sundance, Cannes and other international film festivals.
(Next door to Dom Kino)
Offers an alternative to mainstream films, screening anime, cartoons, silent, and art house films.
6. Shopping (back to table of contents)
While the capitalist cornucopia in and around Nevsky Prospect is sure to tempt you, some of the best souvenirs and clothing items can be bought further from the center.
Art and Souvenirs:
At the St. Petersburg Art Community - also known as Pushkinskaya 10
(Ligovsky Pro, 53, under the arch) you can find art shops, used clothing, and an alternative record (yes, plastinki
) shop. For antiques and souvenirs, look for the rinok
between the Church of the Spilled Blood and the Neva River. One of the best places to get a deal on souvenirs is the Lomonosov Factory Store
(Obukhovskaya oborony, 151), where you can still get fine porcelain cup-and-saucer sets for as low as 100 rubles (around $5).
There is a great book market for Russian books called Knigomania
by metro Elizarovskaya. Go out, left, and find it two streets later. It's great if you want something cheap to practice with.
Clothing and Shoes:
Russia is very hard on shoes – with its often harsh and wet weather. If you find your old pair is done in, check out Troitsky Market
(130a Fontanka Nab. - behind the Troitsky Cathedral). This is also a great place to find cheap clothes as well. For another option for shoes, check out Tsentr Obuv'
(basically Russia's version of America's Payless stores).
St. Petersburg has a couple of these now to take care of all your homeware needs. The larger
(recommended) is accessible from busses marked "ÈÊÅÀ" that run from both the Ulitsa Dybenko and Lomonosovskaya metro stations. To get to the buses from Lomonosovskaya, go around behind the metro station (left, then left again) and you should be able to see the big yellow buses.
- Food, Hypermarkets: If you are looking for a store with wider variety and potentially lower prices that what you might find near the center, try the Okey Supermarket by the Ladozhskaya Metro Station. Or, follow the directions to IKEA above - IKEA is in a major shopping mall at both locations that are known as "MEGA." You can find Auchan locations there. There are some things that you aren't likely to find even in hypermarkets, however - things like Campbell's Soups and Bisquick. For that, you'll likely want to go to Stockmann's, an upmarket chain that caters to the needs of Westerners.
- Kosher products can be found at a small store at the Grand Choral Synagogue.
Soymilk can be found at Maxi Sopot,
a very large shopping center just behind the Primorskaya Metro station at 68 Zheleznovodskaya Ul. There is also an Indian Foods Store
located at 22 Vosstaniya Ul. that carries many vegetarian items.
7. Everyday Needs (back to table of contents)
Nevsky Prospekt is dotted with Internet cafes. Russia's largest chain, Cafe Max
has a 24-hour location there at 90/92 Nevskiy Prospekt, just out of the Mayakovksaya Metro station. There are also a number of "Internet Clubs
" in St. Pete. They are geared for gamers looking for head-to-head match-ups, but also offer Internet service. Free WiFi is now abundent in St. Pete as well, you'll find it in most chain coffee shops and many cafes.
Laundry and Drycleaners:
Though most of the student residences offer laundry service, Prachka.com
is a chain of self-service laundromats with several locations across the city. Stirka 40 Garusov
(Stirka 40 Degrees) at Kazanskaya ul., 26 offers self-service coin-op washers and dryers, though its main function is as a café and performance space. One load will cost about 260 rubles, though a free pot of coffee or tea is thrown in while you wait. Downtown, Garant
, a chain of cleaners, has locations at
on 29 Sadovaya ul. or 2 Manezhnyi per. For anyone based on Vasilievsky Island, Rodnik
(at 20 Korabestroitelei) is the closest service.
One of Russia's largest chains of sports centers, Planeta Fitness
has several locations in St. Petersburg. Past students have enjoyed the facilities. FitFashion
is also well equipped. The prices range depending on the many types of membership available. For just about all your other options for ice skating, pools, gyms, etc. check out KartaSporta.ru
During the summer, all Russian cities turn off the hot water (communally provided) for "pipe maintenance." It can be off for a couple weeks, meaning that showering can be difficult, if not painfully cold. For a great site that lists prices, locations, and services, see Hots.ru
. Note that all Russian banyas are cheaper if you go as a group.
Depending on the banya you go to, groups of 6-10 are usually best. Call ahead to verify prices and details.
8. Doctors and Clinics (back to table of contents)
American Medical Center (recommended*)
Address: 78 Moika Emb.
Tel : +7 (812) 740 20 90
Fax: +7 (812) 310 46-64
Hours: 24hr emergency service, option to direct bill your insurance.
Address: 60 Suvorovsky Prospekt.
Tel: +7 (812) 327-0301
Address: 10, Millionaya Ul.,
Tel: +7 (812) 325-7500
9. Church Services (back to table of contents)
A. Roman Catholic
Mother of God the Lord Cathedral ("Prihod Materi Bozhey Lurdskoy;" Kovenski Per., Dom 9; Tel. +7 (911) 209-59-53). Sunday masses in Polish at 9am, and in Russian at noon and 9pm.
The Main Synagogue in town is the Bolshaya Choralnaya Synagogue at Lermontovsky Prospect Dom 2. The only other working synagogue is directly next door. Both are Orthodox Jewish institutions. The Sha'arei Shalom Progressive Jewish Community is at 1a Michurinskaya Street close to the Gorkovskaya Metro Station. YESOD Jewish Community Home is at 25a Bolshaya Raznochinnaya Street, close to Chkalovskaya Metro Station.
Datsan Gunzechyoney at Primorskyi Prospect, Dom 91 has services usually at 3pm daily.
Sobornaya Mechet' Obshini Musul'man (7 Kronverskiyi pr., Metro Gorkhovskaya, On Petrograd Island). Check at the mosque for service schedules.
E. Church of Christ
Church of Christ at Aleksandra Nevskogo, Dom 9 has services usually at 12.00 PM on Sunday. Some English available.
The Anglican Church in St Petersburg, Russia is an Anglican - Episcopal church, part of the Church of England's Diocese in Europe. Services are held in English every Sunday at 11:00 in the upstairs (1st floor) worship hall of the Swedish Church of Skt Katarina, 1/3 Malaya Konyushennaya Ul. See their Facebook or Twitter accounts for more info.
G. Other / Protestant
An extensive Russian language list of protestant churches can be found at Protest.ru. An English-language, though outdated - list of churches and services can be found here.
10. Museums in St. Petersburg (back to table of contents)
in St. Petersburg:
This is a small sampling of St. Petersburg's plethora of museums. If you are interested in taking guided excursions to any of these locations (or have requests for others), you may contact SRAS about arrangements. You should keep in mind that many of the smaller museums in Russia tend to keep odd hours, and change them at will. You should call ahead to make sure your location will be open when you arrive.
Also, keep in mind that especially in St. Pete, it is hard to classify museums specifically. Many art museums are housed in architecturally-interesting, historically-important buildings which formally housed nobles and/or government offices.
A. Must Sees! (back to table of contents)
The Peter and Paul Fortress (The Museum of the History of St. Petersburg)
(Petropavlovskaya krepost, 3; Tel: 238-45-50)
This fortress complex was the first major structure built after Russia occupied the territory that would become St. Petersburg. It is now a fascinating museum with exhibits on construction techniques, city planning, early government structures and acts, etc. You can even arrange helicopter rides over St. Pete here.
The State Hermitage
(Dvortsovaya nab, 32-38; Tel: 110-96-25)
This is the world's largest collection of Art, anywhere. It's housed in the former winter palace, a massive, winding and audacious structure that would take you a week to see all of. This will also give you some idea of why the people were so upset with the rulers come time for the revolution.
Museum of the Defense and Siege of Leningrad
(9, Solyanoy Pereulok; Tel: +7 (812) 275-7208)
This small but extremely moving museum commemorates perhaps the most harrowing period of the city's history - the 900-day Blockade of Leningrad which lasted from 8 September 1941 to 17 January 1944.
Monument to the Heroric Defenders of Leningrad
This massive tribute to the citizens and soldiers who fought off the Nazi invasion is truely awe-inspiring.
The Alexander Nevsky Lavra
(Nevsky pr. 179/2; Tel: 274-263)
This is the sacred burial site of some of St. Pete's biggest names: Lomonosov, Dostoevsky, Tchaikovsky, Glazunov, Rimsky-Korsakov.
The Aurora Cruiser
(Petrogradskaya nab, 3; Tel: 230-84-40)
Among other things, this ship helped to start the Bolshevik revolution by firing a blank shot at the winter palace. It's now a FREE museum where you can watch real navy cadets being trained how to work the controls.
St. Isaac's Cathedral
(1 Isaakievskaya sq., Tel: 315-9732)
A classical cathedral more reminiscent of Italian than Russian churches, this is big enough to house 10,000 worshipers. Get there early to check out the view from the colonnade on top.
b. Quirky but Interesting (back to table of contents)
The Grand Maket Museum
(Tsvetochnaya Ul.; Tel: (812) 495-54-65)
This museum is home to a large-scale replica of the entire country of Russia. Here you can learn about its various regions, weather patterns, time zones, agriculture, and peoples through detailed miniatures.
Museum of Hygiene
(Italyanskaya ul. 25; Tel: 595 89 08)
Only come if you have a strong stomach and psyche. This museum, created by Peter, features medical anomalies such as preserved organs affected by disease and misuse, deformed fetuses and Pavlov's dog (stuffed). This is interesting, but you might not want to stay for the all the exhibits.
The Cat Museum
(Ul. Yakubovicha, 10; Tel: 812-312-04-87)
Features small-scale exhibits dedicated to feline biology and "the image of the cat in art." It also regularly hosts cat-themed art shows. The museum is also home to a few real cats.
Stieglitz Museum of Applied Arts
(Solyarnoy per., 13; 812-273-3258)
Named after philanthropist Baron Alexander von Stieglitz, features his collection of fine housewares, including chairs, glassware, tapestries, tiled stoves, and other furniture.
c. Art (back to table of contents)
The State Russian Museum
(Inzhenernaya UL., 4; Tel: 314-34-48)
If winding your way through the hermitage didn't exhaust your artistic appetite, you can come see 320,000 more ancient and modern pieces on display here. Most will tell you its worth seeing, however, as the Hermitage represents on of the finest collections of European art and the Russian Museum represents one of the finest collections of Russian art.
The Mikhailovsky Castle
(Sadovaya ul., 2; Tel: 210-41-73)
A sort of medieval-classical montage built by Catherine's son, Emperor Paul I. He lived in it only a few years before he was killed in his bedroom. It is now a branch of the Russian Museum and hosts yet even more art!
The Menshikov Palace
(Universitetskaya nab., 15; Tel: 213-11-12)
Built by the historically controversial former Governor-general of the city, Alexander Menshikov, this massive and lavish former home is now a museum of culture and art; it's an affiliate of the Hermitage.
The Marble Palace
(Milionnaya ul., 5; Tel: 312-91-96)
And for those especially interested in modern and pop art (or marble architecture), this is the place to see.
The Stroganov Palace
(Nevsky pr., 17; Tel: 311-82-38)
The former palace is now home to a large collection of icons and wax figures of Romanov-era figures.
Contemporary Art Galleries
SRAS's Art in Russia project has documented lots of St. Petersburg's best contemporary art museums. Below are several more as short listed by E. Varshavskaya, the Director of Art and Museums in Russia.
(Ligovsky Prospect, 53)
This is actually a conglomeration of studios, apartments, and various artistic experiments that can be said to effectively encompass Russia's contemporary artistic elite. Spend the day here at places like the museum of non-conformism, the centre of experimental noise, the studio for performance art, and the Techno Art Centre. When those close down, the complex also houses one of the city's best clubs, Fish Fabrique, frequented by the artists.
The Globus Museum and 'Loft Project Etazhi'
(both at 72 Ligovskii Prospect)
Welcome to modern-art oases in a city that is often more focused on its past than its future - the setting and accompanying ultra-chic wine bar alone are reason enough to frequent these venues, and the often inspiring exhibitions are reasons to stay.
The Anna Nova Gallery
(Zhukovskogo Street, 28; Tel: 812-275-9762)
The Mitki Gallery
Dmitry Shagin, Curator (Marata Street, 36; no phone)
Olga Kudriavtseva, Curator (Nevsky Pr., 90-92; Tel: 812-275-6011)
Marina Gisich Art Gallery
Marina Gisich, Curator (Fontanka Embankment, 121, apt. 13; Tel: 812-314-4279)
d. History (back to table of contents)
The Central Naval Museum
(Birzhevaya pl.; Tel: 218-25-02)
A vast collection of naval uniforms, model ships and submarines, and really big guns.
The State Museum of the History of Religion
(14 Pochtamskaya Ulitsa; Tel: 312-35-86)
Founded in 1932, this museum may not seem like much at first glance, but has fascinating exhibits that showcase elements of religious symbolism and lore, as well as some unexpectedly modern museum design features.
The House of M. Ksnesinskaya (The Museum of the Political History of Russia)
(Kuybysheva ul., 2; Tel: 233-70-48)
Renamed from "The Museum of the October Revolution" after the fall, this museum is well worth a look if you are interested in Communism.
The Military Historical Museum of Artillery, Engineering, and Communication Forces
(Alexandrovskiy park, 7; Tel: 233-03-82).
This is one of the world's largest military museums, housed in the formal Arsenal.
The Monument to Heroic Defenders of Leningrad
(Pobedy pl.; Tel: 293-65-63)
A monument and museum to the epic 900-day siege of the city during WWII.
Piskariovskoye Memorial Cemetery
Dedicated to those who did not survive the siege. The 186 mass graves where a half million are interested are sobering to say the least.
e. Literature, Theatre and Music (back to table of contents)
The Museum of Russian Literature (Pushkinskiy Dom)
(Makarova nab., 4; Tel: 218-05-02)
A very large collection of first edition and original manuscripts. Many, many artifacts related to Russia's literary development from the 18th to the 20th centuries.
The Museum of Theater and Music
(Ostrovskogo pl., 6a; Tel: 311-21-95)
A very large collection of musical instruments, sheet music, portraits of famous actors, and general memorabilia from Russia's great epics of theatre and music.
Glinka Museum of Musical Culture (Instruments)
(Isaakievskaya pl., 5.; Tel: 314-53-94)
Dostoevsky lived in St. Petersburg and based most of his characters and novels in real places around the city. Visit Raskolnikov's house on Grazhdanskaia ulitsa 19/5. You can go up the stairs, where there is a good amount of interesting graffiti, but the apartment is occupied by a tenant (you can't go in). Then, walk the famous 730 steps to the pawn broker's house at Srednaya Podiacheskaya ul. 15/104. St. Nikolas Cathedral to the south of Theatre Square is a common scene in Dostoevsky's works. You can also visit The Memorial Museum of F.M. Dostoevsky housed in his former apartment (Kuznechnyy per., 5/2; Tel: 311-40-31), and see his grave at Alexander Nevski Lavra (see "Must Sees" above).
Russia has tons of these preserved apartments, estates, and houses which also house things like original works, first-edition prints, and other gems from the famous people who lived in the residences. These sometimes host special performances, concerts, and lectures. You will also probably find babushkas that have worked there for ages and can tell you lots of interesting facts. Here are a few that may be of interest, if you don't find what you are interested in, you may contact us for more options.
The Apartment of Anna Akhmatova (Fontanny dom)
(Fontanki Reki nab., 34; Tel: 272-22-11)
Vladimir Nabokov House Museum
(Bolshaya Morskaya Ul., 47; Tel: 812-315-47-13)
The Apartment of A.A. Blok
(Dekabristov ul., 57; Tel: 113-86-33)
The Apartment of N.A. Nekrasov
(Liteynyy pr., 36; Tel: 272-01-65)
The Apartment of Pushkin
(Moiki Reki nab, 12; Tel: 314-00-06)
The Museum of M.V. Lomonosov
(Universitetskaya nab., 3; Tel: 238-45-50)
This one is much more of laboratory-museum, housing some of Lomonosov's experiments and art.
The Museum-Apt of Rimsky-Korsakov
(28 Zagorodnyy Pr. Detached house in the inner yard; Tel: 113-3208)
f. Religious/Architechtural (back to table of contents)
The House of Peter I
(Petrovskaya nab., 6; Tel: 232-45-76)
The first residence built in St. Pete – for Peter the Great himself. A unique hodge-podge of Russian and Dutch architecture, it still houses many of Peter's personal belongings.
The Summer Palace of Peter I
(Summer Garden; Tel: 314-04-56)
Peter's answer to the large and beautiful sculpted parks he had seen in Europe. A good place for a stroll, the 18th century palace inside is fully restored.
Church of the Spilled Blood
(Griboedova Kanala nab.; Tel: 315-1636)
Built by Alexander III to mark the spot where Alexander II died, this impressive, ornate and very Russian cathedral is one of St. Pete's prime attractions and a good place to buy souvenirs.
g. Science/Technology (back to table of contents)
The Museum of the Ethnography of Russia
(Inzhenernaya ul., 4a; Tel: 219-11-74)
Anthropological (Social) history of Russia, displays of everyday life from eras past.
The Museum of Zoology
(Universitetskaya nab., 1; Tel: 218-01-12)
Kuntskamera - The Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (named after Peter the Great)
(Universitetskaya nab., 3; Tel: 218-14-12)
11. Short Trips from St. Pete (back to table of contents)
NOTE: some of these locations are included or organized by The School of Russian and Asian Studies for students on our St. Petersburg programs. Check the included cultural program for details. "Short" is defined as a trip involving less than 9 hours of train travel. Some trips are much shorter, but generally you will be taking an overnight train, meaning that your train ticket will cover a night's sleep and you will have at least a full day in your destination city. Russia is a big place - but travel by train is relatively easy, cheap, and recommended! It is a Russian tradition.
This contains some of Russia’s most striking royal palaces (Catherine Palace among them) and manicured parks. Also the site of the famous Amber Room, whose riches are still missing after the Nazi plundering, but the room is still interesting (when it is open). You can also see Russia’s first rail line here.
Peterhof is also known as "Petrodvorets." As the name implies, this was Peter’s palace. He embodied his love of the sea and his pride in his navy within a massive complex of fountains, complemented by sculpted gardens and classical architecture. Many Russians make a trip out in the spring to see all the fountains get turned on. Spectacular.
The nation's capital is best seen allowing at least a 3-day, 2-night trip. Moscow is a huge, modern European city dating from at least the 12th century. Make sure you take in: a tour of the Kremlin and central Moscow: historic Tverskaya and Arbat streets, Tretyakov Gallery, Russian Fine Arts Museum, and/or Pushkin Fine Arts Museum, a tour of Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery.
Novgorod the Great, as the city is still known to many of its inhabitants was, for a long time, a fiercely independent bastion of democracy and was an important governing and military center in the 9th and 10th centuries. In addition to being remarkably green and tidy, there are several churches, monasteries, and a "small town feel" to the city, just a couple of hours outside of Moscow or St. Petersburg.
Petrozavodsk and Karelia
As the name implies, Petrozavodsk was Peter’s factory – for making arms. Some interesting museums and a quick example of a “smaller” Russian town (it feels like a "mini-Pete," with about a quarter million inhabitants). Nearby is Kizhi Island which can be reached by boat and is home to a fantastic ensemble of Russian wooden architecture. Nowadays it is a mid-size city that serves as a starting point for the many tourists visiting Karelia's forests, lakes, and architectural/historical monuments. Visit Petrozavodsk the last Saturday in June to join in the city's birthday celebration.
Petrozavodsk is the capital of the Republic of Karelia, a heavily forested and mineral-rich region that borders Finland and the White Sea. It is strategic for Russia as its many rivers, lakes, and canals connect Karelia with the Barents, Baltic, Black and Caspian Seas. Virgin woods, clean lakes and rivers, historical and cultural monuments are all reasons to visit. Karelia, as a border land, also has an original culture which appeared as a result of the interaction of the Baltic-Finnish and the Eastern Slavic cultures in the North. It was here that the epic Karelian-Finnish runes were compiled in the Kalevala. Russian epic songs were also made here. Starting from the Middle Ages, Karelia was a territory on the border of the Swedish Kingdom and the Novgorod Republic, and later the Moscow Kingdom. It was taken from Finland in WWII.
One of the world’s last truly walled cities. Settled some twelve thousand years ago along the trade route between Scandinavia and Byzantium, many archaeological treasures have been found here. Highlights include thousands of ancient buildings dating from as far back as the 12th Century, St. Basil’s church and the church of St. Nicholas, a botanical garden and a fine arts museum.
The salt-heavy mineral springs of Staraya Russia established it as a health resort starting in the middle of the 19th century. The Tsar and his family were the first to put to use the curative powers of the waters and mud, and eventually facilities were built for the general population. Fyodor Dostoyevsky also came to the spas to treat his epilepsy. Here he wrote many masterpieces such as The Brothers Karamazov (action of which is set in Staraya Russa), The Adolescent, and The Possessed. The salt was also extracted and transported via waterways to the Black, Caspian, and Baltic Seas, giving the city another profitable source of economic activity. The town grew to support both the saltworks and tourists.
Pushkinskiye Gory, or Pushkin Mountain, is home to several estates belonging to Russian noblemen, but none more famous than that of the great poet, Pushkin. Here he wrote "Boris Gudinov" and you will see some of the places mentioned in "Eugene Onegin" in a walk though the village.
Known to some as "Russia’s First Capital," dating from 753 or so, it is now a sleepy village by a picturesque lake. This trip is advisable to plan well, as you might find transportation difficulties involved. Ideally, go with a group of Russians for a picnic.
12. Longer Trips from St. Pete (back to table of contents)
The following locations will take a bit more time to get to. However, as it is possible that you will never be this close to them again, it is worth considering the trip. Russia is a big place - but travel by train is relatively easy, cheap, and recommended! It is a Russian tradition. Travel by plane is also an increasingly easy option.
Sitting near the top of the world, 200 km north of the Arctic Circle, Murmansk is where you will find Russia’s Northern Fleet. Visit Murmansk in the summer for endless days, hiking and camping, and in the winter for skiing. Watch as the Northern Lights illuminate the sky as they dance in green, red and yellow. More accessible (by train and during summer by plane as well) than other areas above the Arctic Circle, Murmansk is close to national parks where you can go on either guided or unguided excursions into the wilderness, take in the city's transport and naval history, and see some remarkable landscapes and wildlife.
The Lapland Nature Reserve
This UNESCO-recognized natural heritage site is 2600 square km (1000 square miles) filled with lakes, rivers, wetlands, mountains and forests. The park is open to individuals and small groups for recreational purposes, but arrangements must be made in advance, and visitors must adhere to strict guidelines to ensure that they leave the park as they found it. In the park you'll probably see some of the largest reindeer herds in Europe, as well as other signs of large mammals such as wolves. There are facilities for camping in summer and skiing in winter.
Vologda was first referenced in 1147, but is likely much older. In the region are many beautiful monasteries, museums, and at the center of town is the Archbishop’s courtyard, a stone castle–like fortress dating back over 300 years. Vologda was used by the Tsars as a place of internal exile for undesirables in the early 20th century. Josef Stalin also lived here on three different occasions, none of which were his choice. Vologda is best known in Russia for what it makes, though. Vologda butter and other dairy products see high and constant demand. Vologda lace has won fame for its rich ornamentation and excellent workmanship. Lace woven from golden and silver threads decorated rich civilian, noble, and church garments. The Vologda is also known for wood carving, and this is visible in the window casings and porches in local homes.
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