Not packed in a bus. Not herded with a group. Self guided walk is the SAFEST way to sightsee while observing SOCIAL DISTANCING!

Neva River and Griboedov Canal Tour (Self Guided), St. Petersburg

The city of Saint Petersburg abounds in attractions and one day is definitely not enough to see them all. This guide invites you for a walk from the city's largest St. Isaac's Cathedral down to other major attractions found between the Neva River and the Griboedov Canal, ending at the beautiful Naval Cathedral of St. Nicholas. This tour is an opportunity to learn more about St. Petersburg's glorious past.
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Neva River and Griboedov Canal Tour Map

Guide Name: Neva River and Griboedov Canal Tour
Guide Location: Russia » St. Petersburg (See other walking tours in St. Petersburg)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 Km or 2.2 Miles
Author: emily
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • St. Isaac's Cathedral
  • Monument to Nicholas I
  • Blue Bridge
  • Mariinsky Palace
  • Yusupov Palace
  • Central Naval Museum
  • Mariinsky Theatre
  • Saint Petersburg Conservatory
  • Naval Cathedral of St. Nicholas
  • Grand Choral Synagogue
St. Isaac's Cathedral

1) St. Isaac's Cathedral (must see)

St. Isaac’s Cathedral is the third largest cathedral in the world and the largest cathedral in Russia. Tsar Alexander I ordered the construction of the house of worship to replace a Rinaldiesque structure. The church was built in 1710. Auguste de Montferrand was the architect.

The gray and pink house of worship features a Neoclassical design with a beautiful golden dome. A large stained glass of the resurrection adorns the altar. Bas-relief figures, featuring religious themes adorn the building exterior. Stunning iconostasis embellishes malachite and lapis lazuli columns inside the house of worship. A total of 112 red granite columns line the exterior of the building. A rotunda that is available for tourist’s use encircles the rotunda. A total of 48 statues, 24 on the roof and 24 on the rotunda, watch upon all who visit.

Why You Should Visit:
Boasts a wonderful interior and has a more Western feel rather than traditional Orthodox... clearly related but different.

Get the tickets for both the Museum and the climb to the cupola as both are well worth it. There are a lot of steps but the panoramic views are worth the climb!

Opening Hours:
Thu-Tue: 10:30am-5:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Monument to Nicholas I

2) Monument to Nicholas I (must see)

Located on Isaakievskaya Ploshchad (Isaac Square) is the Neo-Baroque monument of Nicholas I, former Tsar of Russia. Nicholas I is depicted on horseback in military uniform. The monument rests on a marble and granite pedestal that features images of the Tsar’s family, Grand Duchesses Maria, Olga, Alexandra, and Elizabeth and Empress Charlotte, in bas-relief. The figure was designed by Auguste de Montferrand in 1856 and unveiled in 1859. What makes the statue unique is that it is supported only by the horse’s rear hooves, a technological feat unheard of that time.

Nicholas I was not a popular sovereign and ruled with an iron hand. He also disliked serfdom and wanted to abolish it, but failed to do so for political reasons. Still, he managed to improve the rights of serfs by instituting a number of measures such as preventing landless nobles from selling serfs separate from the land. Upon his death, people were divided on the effect of his rule or his legacy. Some of the sovereign’s accomplishments include making education available to all, establishing Kiev University, and requesting his successor abolish serfdom. The monument is located 10 to 15 minutes away from the Nevsky Prospekt, a main street in St. Petersburg.

Beautiful views of the St. Isaac’s and St. Paul’s Cathedrals from here, but watch out for the traffic while taking your pictures.
Blue Bridge

3) Blue Bridge

Russian architecture exemplifies brilliance in design, architecture, and engineering. The Blue Bridge does not fail to do live up to this stunning reputation. Located between Saint Issac’s Cathedral and City Hall, and in front of the Mariinsky Palace, the well-known and well-traveled overpass is 97.3 meters wide. Although not one of the widest bridges in the world, it is nonetheless one of the widest overpasses in St. Petersburg. The bridge is one of 342 bridges in the city known as the Venice of the North.

The original cast-iron bridge was designed by architect V.I. Geste in 1805 and built in 1818. The name of the viaduct comes from the bridge’s blue cast iron railings. In the 19th century, St. Petersburg color-coded the bridges along the Moika River. The Blue Bridge is one of four color-coded bridges still in existence, the others being the Red, Green, and Yellow Bridges.

The bridge was renovated and widened on its north side in 1841. This caused many to mistakenly state the bridge was the widest in the world. The bridge was also site for a marketplace for serfs until serfdom was abolished in 1861. Currently, the bridge functions as a parking lot for the city parliament. The nearest metro is Nevsky Prospekt.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Mariinsky Palace

4) Mariinsky Palace

Mariinsky Palace is a Neoclassical red-brown structure located on the south side of St. Isaac’s Square. It was built for Grand Duchess Maria by Emperor Nicholas I as a gift for her impending wedding to Maximilian, Duke of Leuchtenberg. The architect was Andrei Stakenschneider. The palace was constructed from 1839 to 1844. Located near the Blue Bridge, it is the last Neoclassical structure built in Saint Petersburg.

While the exterior features a rusticated facade, each room in the interior is decorated with a different historical style. The rotunda is particularly stunning with its arched balconies, bas-relief engravings, and grooved columns. The palace grounds formerly housed a greenhouse. In addition, the palace grounds were used for military exercises.

The building has been the location for many political functions and events. During the reign of Alexander III, the palace was used by the State Council of the Russian Imperial. In 1902, the Minister of Interior, Dmitry Sipyagin, was assassinated by Stepan Balmashov in the palace vestibule. The palace was used by the Council of Leningrad after the October 1917 Revolution. In 1991, the palace was the epicenter for the resistance to the communist party. In 1994 the palace became property of the Legislative Assembly of Saint Petersburg.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Yusupov Palace

5) Yusupov Palace (must see)

Yusupov Palace is the former residence of the House of Yusupov, a noble Russian family, and the setting for the murder of Rasputin, a mystic religious man who had undue influence over Tsar Nicholas and his wife Empress Alexandra. Located on the Moyka Embankment, the six column yellow-colored palace was designed in 1770 by architect Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe.

The palace reflects a variety of styles due to the influence of many architects. The Yusupovs had an extensive art collection that included Rembrandt, Tiepolo, Rober, and Bushe. The structure reflects the beauty, arched ceilings, gold-accented elements, and beautiful artwork that Russian palaces are known for.

Currently, the building is the Palace of Culture for Educators and serves as a museum to Rasputin's murder. The wax exhibits of Rasputin and his assassins are interesting and eerie at the same time. Tours are available in English and Russian.

Why You Should Visit:
A beautiful palace where you can walk from room to room. Stunning decor and very well maintained.
There is an intimate feel compared to the Hermitage and much of the original furniture, paintings, decor, etc are intact and in the building.

Try and catch the 'a capella' quartet to hear traditional Russian harmonies with great acoustics!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 11am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Central Naval Museum

6) Central Naval Museum (must see)

Recently moved into Kryukovsky Barracks from the Old Stock Exchange Building in 2011, the Central Naval Museum is now one of the oldest and most extensive nautical museums in the world. Founded by Peter the Great in 1709, the exhibition hall contains over 800,000 items from the Middle Ages to modern times. The collections on display are the Ship Fund Collection, the Weaponry Fund, the ISO Fund, the Znameny Fund, the Documentary, the Fotonegativny, the Drawing Fund, and the Special Fund. For those who have a strong interest in the military, this museum is the perfect place to visit. Breathtaking exhibits that display all things nautical in great detail abound. You will literally experience hundreds of years of military history by walking the magnificent halls. The boat of Peter the Great, the weapons of Horatio Nelson and Pavel Nakhimov, ship montages and models, and nautical instruments are some of the items patrons will enjoy. In addition, posters and banners, naval uniforms, guns, muskets, cannons, drawings, engravings, photographs, paintings, military uniforms, flags, banners, and handwritten documents from royalty and other historical figures are available for viewing.

Why You Should Visit:
Now in a wonderful updated and modernized old building. The history of the Russian navy is impressively and impartially presented and the displays are second to none for their quality and detail.

As with other Russian museums, English texts/descriptions here are kept to the bare minimum. Note also that for an English tour with a guide a minimum of 5 people have to sign up.

Opening Hours:
Wed-Sun: 11am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Mariinsky Theatre

7) Mariinsky Theatre (must see)

Mariinsky Theater, formerly known as the Kirov Opera and Ballet Theater, is a famous three-tiered Italian style auditorium that was built by Albert Carlos. Named after art patron Empress Maria Alexandrovna, it is often referred to as “the finest theater in Europe.” The theater is also home to the Mariinsky Theater Orchestra, one of the oldest musical institutions in Russia. Many influential artists have performed at the Mariinksy.

The first performance on opening night in 1860 was A Life for the Tsar by Mikhail Glinka. The theater is and was one of the most famous theaters of the day. Famous ballets and operas such as Swan Lake, Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Fifth Symphony, and Fantasy Overture were performed at the theater. In addition, patrons were the recipients of spectacular recitals by many famous artists such as Anna Pavlova, Galina Ulanova, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Matilda Kshesinskaya.

Stunning design is present everywhere. Beautiful artwork adorns the ceiling. A bust of Empress Maria Alexandrovna greets all who enter the foyer. Gold accented chandeliers beautifully light the Imperial Room, while a golden-themed curtain regally covers the stage. The theater has remained virtually unchanged since its opening and can seat 1,625 people. Performance time is at 7 pm. Recordings of performances are available through the museum’s record label.

Why You Should Visit:
Acoustics are great, programming is generally excellent and the seats and sight lines are both generally good. Easy to get to and from.

No strict dress codes but do your best and try to dress well.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 11am-7pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Saint Petersburg Conservatory

8) Saint Petersburg Conservatory

The Saint Petersburg Conservatory is a world famous music school well-known for producing prolific greats such as Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Balanchine, and Rachmaninov. It is also one of the oldest and most revered music educational institutions in Russia and the world. The founding members were Anton Rubinstein, Henrick Wieniawski, Karl Schubert, and Gavriil Lomankin.

For 150 years, this great school has produced some of the finest artists in the world. The school offers training in performance, pedagogical methods, composition, history of Russian and western music conducting, musicology, music teaching, the art of the choreographer, and other subjects. Over 1,500 international students comprise the student body. And, many professional and established artists teach courses. Students must pass a Russian language exam prior to admission. A 10 month preparatory course is available for foreign students who need to learn the Russian language. The course also teaches other elements they will need to succeed during their course of study.

The school is located near the famed Mariinski Theater, in the heart of St. Petersburg, on the site of the old Bolshoi Theater. The building still contains the old staircase and landing from the old theater. The school also hosts many festivals, music concerts, and recitals that students and visitors alike enjoy.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Naval Cathedral of St. Nicholas

9) Naval Cathedral of St. Nicholas (must see)

The Naval Cathedral of Saint Nicholas, also known as the Sailor’s Cathedral, is a Russian Orthodox place of worship that was built between 1903 and 1913 by Vasily and Georgy Kosyakov and consecrated in 1760. It is located adjacent to the Kryukov Canal.

The Baroque church has served many purposes during its existence. Originally, it was the chief temple of the Baltic Fleet. Then it became a cinema in the 1920s, an officers’ house in the 1930s, and museum of the navy in the 1980s. Since 2005, the church performs religious ceremonies on special occasions. In addition, the cathedral commemorates seamen who died in battle.

The golden globed building features 18th-century icons, flowers, wooden iconostasis, and a bell tower. Sailors originally settled the area in which the church is located, hence the name of the cathedral. Trees and other shrubberies beautifully frame the structure, while the bell tower reflects brilliantly into the nearby Kryukov channel. Visitors should make sure to visit the image of Nicholas the Miracle Worker, a fourth-century Greek saint to whom many miracles were attributed.

Why You Should Visit:
Spectacular church with vibrant colors, grand exteriors and even grander interiors. Nicely restored with a beautiful bell tower.

You can go up the dome for an additional (nominal) cost. Beautiful 360-degree views!

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 7am-7pm; Sun: 7am-8pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Grand Choral Synagogue

10) Grand Choral Synagogue

The Grand Choral Synagogue is one of the largest synagogues in Europe. It was built by Viktor Aleksandrovich Shreter between 1880 and 1883. Located near the Mariinsky Palace, the synagogue was created to give the Jewish community a place to meet and worship.

Remarkably, the synagogue escaped harm during the Soviet years. Although the relationship with the Soviets was easier said than done, and many traditions of the synagogue were suppressed or banned, the people persevered and the structure survived. The synagogue has always placed an important role in the Jewish community and continues to do so to this day. Among the services that the synagogue offers are a charity service for the local community, classes and programs for youth, a dating service, a restaurant, bakery, a souvenir shop, and a mivkeh.

The exterior of the structure reflects a North African influence while the interior is more traditional in appearance. Upon entrance to the cathedral, worshipers will be greeted by a Moorish archway. The synagogue holds 1,200 people. Well-known cantors from around the world have performed at the synagogue. It is open from Monday to Sunday from 8 am to 6 pm. Prayers are held daily from 10 am to 12:30 pm and from 1 pm to 3 pm.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in St. Petersburg, Russia

Create Your Own Walk in St. Petersburg

Create Your Own Walk in St. Petersburg

Creating your own self-guided walk in St. Petersburg is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Parks and Sights of Saint-Petersburg

Parks and Sights of Saint-Petersburg

Saint Petersburg is one of the greenest cities in Russia. It has many parks and gardens, among which the Summer Garden is the oldest. The guide invites you to a tour around the southern bank of the Neva River to stroll across the Summer Garden, the Mikhailovsky Park, and the Field of Mars, and to explore the attractions within.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles
Bolshevik Revolution Walking Tour

Bolshevik Revolution Walking Tour

In the early 20th century Russia endured several revolutions waged against the Tsarist autocracy. The old regime fell and gave rise to a new formation, the Soviet Union. All the Russian revolutions took place in Saint Petersburg. Take this tour and discover the traces of Russian revolutions that had effect on the course of history of Russia and the entire world.

Tour Duration: 4 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 9.2 Km or 5.7 Miles
Top Religious Sites Walking Tour

Top Religious Sites Walking Tour

When visiting St Petersburg you will be astonished by the number and variety of churches. There are world famous, architecturally refined, historical cathedrals as well as small but beautiful and originally designed churches. Of particular grandeur are Russian Orthodox churches. Take this tour to see some of the most famous religious jewels of Saint Petersburg.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.5 Km or 3.4 Miles
Vasilievsky Island Walking Tour

Vasilievsky Island Walking Tour

Vasilievsky Island is a part of Saint Petersburg's historic center. The southern embankment of the island has long attracted tourists with its old beautiful buildings, some of which date back to the 18th century. This guide will help you find and explore the most popular attractions on St Petersburg's Vasilievsky Island.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
Russian Literary Heritage Walking Tour

Russian Literary Heritage Walking Tour

Many world-famous Russian writers and poets lived in Saint Petersburg. All of them described this beautiful city in their works. We offer you an unforgettable walking tour around the museums devoted to some of the most outstanding figures in Russian Literature. Do not miss the opportunity to see places of Saint Petersburg where Pushkin, Blok, Dostoevsky and others lived and created their...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.4 Km or 3.4 Miles
Nevsky Prospekt Walking Tour

Nevsky Prospekt Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

16 Unique Russian Things to Seek in St. Petersburg

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