The State Hermitage is one of the oldest and largest museums in the world. The museum is located in 5 historical buildings of St.Petersburg, including the Winter Palace - the former residence of Russian tsars. The buildings of the museum, by themselves, are architectural chef d'oeuvres. The collections of the Hermitage number over 3 million items from prehistoric to modern times. Magnificent works of art embracing prehistoric culture, Egyptian art, the art of Antiquity, Scythian gold, and great collections of Western-European paintings and sculptures are displayed in 400 halls of the museum.
The Fortress is the cradle of the city; St Petersburg’s first settlement. Now a tourist complex, it houses the famous Cathedral of the Saint Apostles Peter and Paul, along with numerous museums, galleries and spectacular river-side views.
St Isaac’s Cathedral is an architectural
marvel. Built by the French-born architect Auguste Montferrand to be the main
church of the Russian Empire, the cathedral was under construction for 40 years
(1818-1858), and was decorated in the most elaborate way possible. When you
enter the cathedral you pass through one of the porticos - note that the
columns are made of single pieces of red granite and weight 80 tons (about 177,770 pounds)
each. Inside the church many of the icons were created using mosaic techniques
and the iconostasis (the icon wall that separates the altar from the rest of
the church) is decorated with 8 malachite and 2 lapis lazuli columns. The
cathedral, which can accommodate 14,000 worshipers, now serves as a museum and
services are held only on significant ecclesiastical holidays.
The Church on a Spilled Blood is one of
the city’s most beautiful and memorable landmarks. It got its awkward name
because it was built on the spot where Tsar Alexander II was murdered in 1881.
Locals call it ‘the mosaic church’ because the interior is covered with
magnificent mosaics, each wall with a particular Biblical theme. Used to store
potatoes during Soviet times, it was renovated in the early 1990s and reopened
as a museum in 1997.
This cathedral, which was modeled on St. Peter's in Rome, is one of the city's most majestic. It was built from 1801 to 1811 to house the miracle-working Icon Our Lady of Kazan. The dome is 80-metres high and the colonnade facing Nevsky has 96 columns.
The Smolny ensemble
The Smolny ensemble, notably the Smolny Institute, is among St. Petersburg's most cherished historical monuments related to the greatest event of our epoch, the October Socialist Revolution which came about in 1917.
The Smolny architectural ensemble consists
of several buildings erected at different times. The oldest are the buildings
of the Novodevichy Resurrection Convent, popularly called the Smolny Convent,
and the Smolny Institute, which was Russia's first educational establishment,
in effect a boarding school, for noble young ladies.
The name Smolny comes from the time when St. Petersburg was in the process of construction and there was a tar yard (smolyanoi dvor) at the bend of the Neva where tar (in Russian smola, hence Smolny) was made to meet the needs of the Russian fleet. In the 18th century it lay on the city's outskirts and it was in this remote place that they decided to establish a convent. Its builder was Bartolomeo Rastrelli. The Smolny Convent is one of his best productions. The five-domed cathedral, nearly 100 metres high, is especially impressive. Turquoise and white, it seems to be soaring in the air. Giacomo Quarenghi, another great architect, would take his hat off when he passed the Smolny Cathedral.
The first state museum of Russian art was opened in 1898. It is one of the world’s largest museums, with a collection of over 320,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, and works of applied and folk art. In its fullness and variety, this collection of national art has no equal in the country. The almost thousand-year history of Russian artistic culture is presented not only through works of professional artists, but also through unique examples of folk creation.