5 reasons to visit Saint Petersburg
St Petersburg is an epic of European revolt and intrigue. Russia’s window to Europe has experienced a lot in the past 350 years, and its historical narrative is still evident in its streets, parks, bars and galleries. But history sits alongside cutting edge contemporary culture in this majestic city.
While the city is pregnant with imperial stalwarts like the Hermitage, the streets offer visitors a glimpse of revolution bearing its teeth. The provocative Timofey Radya, a hero of the contemporary Russian street art scene, is responsible for street art, which reveals the political as well as the personal. St Petersburg is home to his manifesto, All I Know About Street Art. It was created for the St Petersburg Street Art Museum and is located at a former plastics factory. Perhaps plastics factories aren’t your thing? You should consider more classical works housed in the world famous Hermitage Museum. Displaying priceless works by Rembrandt, Leonardo, Michelangelo and Rubens, the Hermitage showcases gilded elegance and refinement, which is unparalleled in the city.
Lower Park is known as the "Russian Versailles" and sits between the Grand Palace and the seashore. It offers the world's largest system of fountains. As well as three major cascades, there are over 140 fountains in Lower Park. The impressive Grand Cascade can be found directly below the Grand Palace and features a stunning golden statue of Samson grasping the jaws of the lion. The park’s diversity is represented in its cascades, which include black and white chess board designs, as well as Chinese dragons.
Pavlovsk Palace was the summer residence of the great Paul I. Several architects were responsible for the Palace’s beautiful interiors. Inside is a cultural melting pot with the Egyptian Vestibule, the Italian Hall, and a Greek Hall with French furnishings. Visitors can relax in the serene palace gardens, where Strauss once performed with his orchestra. The gardens offer many pavilions, such as the Temple of Friendship, the Colonnade of Apollo, the Pavilion of the Three Graces, the Dairy Farm or the Rose Pavilion.
Travel and romance
On a winter’s night, the overnight train from Moscow to St Petersburg is possibly one of the great romantic journeys. In winter, the train moves sleepily through falling snow as it pulls out of the nation’s capital, passing through the suburbs into the ghostly, silent forests. Arriving in St Petersburg is a special moment with its ornate museums, gilded spires and majestic River Neva. This is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in romance and discover a city for the first time.
If the day belongs to St Petersburg’s parks and palaces, then the night belongs to the city’s bars. People are known to enjoy a tipple in the city and with a number of independent bars, St Petersburg can offer visitors a diverse and memorable evening of inebriation. Redrum serves quality local craft beer, with Khroniki providing a killer cocktail. The bars licencing policy is liberal and drinkers can continue into the early hours.