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This popular tourist area features the outstanding Catherine Palace and Alexander Palace, each with their corresponding gardens. They served as summer residences for Catherine I and Alexander I respectively. The town is accessible by car as well as connected to Saint Petersburg proper by train via the Vitebsky Rail Station. The drive is about a half hour with the one hour train ride departing every 20 minutes. Besides the palaces and assorted parks and gardens the town boasts a Museum of History and Literature as well as one dedicated to the painter Pavel Chistyakov which is located in a historic wooden house.
Address: Sadovaya ulitsa, 7, Pushkin, St Petersburg, Russia, 196601
Phone: +7 812 466-66-69
Hours: Vary depending upon the season – check the website. Public tours have limited hours compared to private ones.
Admission: Public tours run 400 rubles for an adult, 200 for a student or child (approx $12 and $6 respectively) and pre-school aged kids are free. Private tours vary, consult office.
The opulence of this palace is matched only by its architectural ambition. The work of several masters it features grand styling and gorgeous works of art. Over 100 kilograms of gold adorn the facade and roof of the building alone. The park consists of two parts, an “Old Garden” and an English Garden. Both feature stunning water features and marble statues and any family is sure to remember a walk across its grounds. The Palace’s famous “Amber Room” has been dubbed the “8th Wonder of the World” with its unmatched panels of Amber adorned in gold leaf and reflective, mirrored surfaces. Over 55 square meters of 350 shades of amber totalling over 6 tonnes constitute this truly stunning and unique marriage of art and architecture. It took 24 years to finish the recreation after the original room was looted by the Nazis but historians agree that what stands today is a faithful and worthy recreation.
The 40 minute drive includes a final stretch along the water that will be sure to turn heads. For those taking the train however the trip can take up to three hours so this is a stop you might want to reconsider if you haven’t rented a car. However both the sights of Peterhof and the drive to it are well worth the effort and expense if you choose to take advantage of the opportunity.
Address: Разводная ул., 2, Санкт-Петербург, Russia
Phone: +7 812 450-52-87
Hours: From 9AM-7:30 PM (8PM on Saturdays) Fountains open slightly later and close slightly earlier and it is worth noting that the Grand Cascade launches every day at 11 AM.
Admission: Adults are 500 Rubles for the day, 300 for the evening (approx $15 and $9) with Children running 250 and 200 (approx $7 and $6). See website for further specifics.
The nickname “Russian Versailles” is a nod not only to the extravagance of this locale but of its emperor’s desire to make a great international and naval power out of Russia. The elaborate palace and lavish garden show some of the finest creations of man, which are further complemented by the natural beauty of the countryside on which they are located. While the original palace was destroyed in World War II the current incarnation is a painstaking restoration representing a history of virtually all the major architectural styles of Russia. The gardens are among the world’s most famous and the words “photo opportunity” seem to pale in comparison to what they provide.
While the drive is the most efficient way back to Saint Petersburg proper, a visit to the city would not be complete without a short ride along the Number One Line, also known as the Red Line in reference to how it was originally depicted on maps. This major arm of the Saint Petersburg Metro is the city’s oldest and connects four out of the five major stations. The oldest and biggest of these being Avtovo and Narvskaya which are beautifully appointed and sights to be seen in their own right. Colored Glass and Marble adorn Avtovo with an intricate mosaic of the Leningrad Blockade at the end of the platform. Narvskaya features a neoclassical dome as well as features in marble, bronze and red stone unlike anything you’ll see in a domestic subway station. To further add to the old world feel these trains still use tokens, and a single ride can be purchased for about the equivalent of $1.
As with any major city there is no lack of shopping to be had in St. Petersburg. Also common to any city high in tourism souvenirs will not be hard to find. If you’re looking for a truly personal and memorable piece of the city, there are an abundance of commercial art galleries which acknowledge the rich artistic tradition of the country. Similarly, Saint Petersburg abounds in bookstores featuring collectors’ editions of the Russian Literature the area is famous for. For more local fare, locations like the Bolshoi Gostiny Dvor Department Store (the oldest department store in the city) blend traditional and modern as well all locals and tourists. There is sure to be something for everyone in one of Russia’s most vibrant shopping districts.