Parks and Sights of Saint-Petersburg (Self Guided), St. 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.
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Parks and Sights of Saint-Petersburg Map

Guide Name: Parks and Sights of Saint-Petersburg
Guide Location: Russia » St. Petersburg (See other walking tours in St. Petersburg)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 km
Author: emily
1
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saint Katarina

1) Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saint Katarina

Religion, once a major part of Russian life, is on the rise again after the fall of communism. One cannot think of Russia without imagining its glorious and beautiful churches, cathedrals, mosques, and synagogues. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saint Katrina is one of those churches.

Known as the Swedish church, it was built by Swedish expatriates in 1885. St. Petersburg has contained a large Swedish population for more than 300 years. In the time of Peter the Great, many Swedish and Finnish people worked in the city as laborers or as part of the government. The church is located near the well-known Nevky Prospekt.

The multi-storied Romanesque structure originally housed Finnish and Swedish worshipers until the Finnish established their own church. At one time, the congregation population exceeded 7,000. The church conducts services in Swedish two Sundays per month and in Russian the other Sundays. English Anglican and Korean Presbyterian services are also conducted at the church. During Soviet rule, the church was closed and was used for sports related activities. The church reopened for services in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union and held its first service in 1993.
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

2) Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood (must see)

The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, officially consecrated as the Church of Resurrection of Christ, is the location where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated. It is one of the main Orthodox churches in Russia and a monument to the murdered Tsar. Construction began on the building in 1883 and was completed in 1907. Architect Alfred Alexandrovich Parland and artists Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov, and Mikhail Vrubel created one of the most stunning masterpieces of the 19th century.

Beautiful mosaics that illustrate biblical scenes and saints decorate the interior and exterior of the cathedral. What makes the structure unique is that it features medieval Russian design in contrast to the Baroque and Neoclassical designs of nearby structures. Visitors should pay special attention to the mosaics that line the domes and the actual site of the assassination that is enclosed within the church walls. The cathedral functions as a museum and not as a full-functioning church.

Unfortunately, the place of worship did not escape damage during the Soviet years. The building was used as a storage space from the 1930s to 1970. In 1970, St. Isaac’s Cathedral raised the funds to restore the church. Restoration work was completed in 1997.

Why You Should Visit:
Possibly the most photographed church in St Petersburg? Great location to walk to, as restaurants and beautiful views abound. Lovely park adjacent and you can go inside the church for a fee if you have time.

Tip:
Try wandering into the Mikhaylovski Garden next door for some of the best views.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10:30am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Mikhailovsky Garden

3) Mikhailovsky Garden

Mikhailovsky Garden, a stunning oasis of meadows, groves, walkways, floral and fauna, is an 18th and 19th century garden that was strongly influenced by the work of Carlo Rossi, designer of the Mikhailovsky Palace.

The unique garden came to life when Peter the Great requested architect Jean-Baptiste Le Blond design three summer gardens. Mikhailovsky Garden is located in the former location of the Swedish Garden. The present Summer Garden consists of the two other gardens.

In 1743, Catherine the Great tasked architect Carlo Bartolomeo Rastrelli to update the garden. Rastrelli added fountains, marble sculptures, and installed ponds in the garden. In 1819, Carlo Rossi added an oval lawn in front of the adjacent palace and a pavilion pier. What makes this creation unique is that it is a beautiful combination of French and English influences and seamlessly blends into and compliments the adjacent Mikhailovsky Palace.

The garden became a part of the Russian Museum at the end of the 19th century. In 2001, the park was renovated to maintain the style created by Rossi. Visitors should make sure to view the Tree of Freedom by sculptor A. P. Solovyev and the stony pavilion pier and cast-iron bridge by architect Carlo Rossi.
4
Mikhaylovsky Theatre

4) Mikhaylovsky Theatre (must see)

Mikhailovsky Theater is one of the oldest theaters in Russia. It was established in 1833 on the orders of Tsar Nicholas I. The theater is located in Arts Square in St. Petersburg and is named after Grand Duke Michael Pavlovich of Russia. The theater’s main priority is to introduce patrons to operas and ballets of the 19th and 20th century.

The establishment of the theater gave the French troupe a place of their own. For the next 85 years, the troupe performed many great works. After the Revolution, the theater became the property of the State and was named the Maly Operny. The French troupe was forced to leave Russia during the Revolution. From 1989 to 2007, the theater was named Modest Mussorgsky. In 2007, the theater regained its former name.

Many leading artists of the day performed at the theater. Sarah Bernhardt, Rachel Felix, and Hortense Scheider are just a few of the many who graced the theater’s stage. In addition, works of Moliere, Hugo, Sardou, Dumas, and Offenbach were presented.

Since 2007, the theater has experienced a rebirth that has returned it to its former greatness. A visit to the theater is worth it, if for nothing else; just to see the stunning design of the interior. The box office is open daily 10 am to 9 pm.

Why You Should Visit:
Although the stage is smaller than the Mariinsky Theatre, overall Mikhaylovsky is an equal match.

Tip:
They are strict about time. You are not allowed to enter if you are late. So be on time!
Consider paying extra to sit in the first row in the upper seating areas for the clearest view.
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Mikhailovsky Palace / State Russian Museum

5) Mikhailovsky Palace / State Russian Museum (must see)

Built for the Grand Duke Mikhail, son of Emperor Paul I, the impressive Mikhailovsky Palace features a Neoclassical design. The architect and builder was Carlo Rossi who had created many of St. Petersburg’s marvels. The palace has been a part of the State Russian Museum since 1895.

In the 18th and 19th century, the palace was the site of many musical performances. Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna, wife of Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich, was known to be beloved by the people and to have a strong love of the arts.

Each room of the palace is a work of art. Gilt accents, Corinthian columns, stunning sculptures, and vibrant paintings decorate the palace. In addition, visitors are greeted by a magnificent lion sculpture before entering the front doors. Of equal beauty is the adjacent Mikhailovsky Garden.

Exhibits at the palace include sculptures, objects of art, drawings, and paintings from the 18th to 20th centuries. To truly enjoy the artwork of artists such as Aivazovsky, Vasnetsov, Kuingi, Trubetskoy, and Rokotov, it is recommended to use the services of a tour guide. No photography or videography is allowed.

Why You Should Visit:
Unlike the Hermitage, there is virtually no line to get into this amazing museum.
A very good introduction to the history of Russian art, from folk to avant-garde.
The complex also includes the Mikhailovsky Gardens, Engineering Gardens, Summer Garden (including the Summer Palace) and the House of Peter the Great.

Tip:
Audio guide – minimum must have, but better – take a personal museum assistant.

Opening Hours:
Mon: 10am-8pm; Wed, Fri-Sun: 10am-6pm; Thu: 1-9pm
6
St. Michael's Castle

6) St. Michael's Castle

St. Michael’s Castle, also known as Mikhailovsky Castle, is the former royal residence of Paul I. Construction began on the structure in 1797 and was completed in 1800. The architects were Vincenzo Brenna and Vasili Bazhenov. Surrounded by the Moika River and the Fontanka River, the castle reflects French Classicism, Italian Renaissance, and Gothic design.

The exterior of the orange colored building features beautiful bas-relief engravings and stunning white columns. A bronze equestrian statue of Peter the Great greets all who enter the front courtyard. The castle was given to the Main Engineering School in 1819. Since the 1990s, it has been a part of the State Russian Museum.

Among the recommended items to see while visiting the museum are Ilya Repin’s Ceremonial Meeting of the State Council painting, the landscape canvases of Arkhip Kuindzhi, and the museum’s portrait gallery. The portrait gallery features official portraits of Russian Emperors and Empresses, dignitaries, and celebrities from the 17th to 20th century.

In addition, works of arts from 19th century greats Alexi Venetsianov, Pavel Fedotov, Ivan Shishkin, Nicholas Ge, Ilya Repin, and many others are housed on the second floor of the museum.

Opening hours: Monday - Wednesday, Sunday 10 am - 4 pm.
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Field of Mars

7) Field of Mars

Bordered by the Marble Palace, Suvorova Square, the Pavlovsky Regiment Barracks, and the Moyka River is the peaceful landscape known as the Field of Mars. The Field of Mars, also known as Marsovo Pole, was named after the Mar-Roman god of war.

The Field of Mars began as a marshy field that was drained and then used for public markets, festivities, military exercises, and parades. The grassland was originally named The Grand Meadow, the Pleasure Field, and the Tsarina’s Meadow before receiving its current name.

One of the most stunning elements of the park is the Monument for Revolutionary Victims, a tribute to those who died during the 1917 Revolutions and the following Civil War. The monument was designed by Russian architect Led Rudnev. The memorial contains an eternal flame in the center that was lit during the 40th anniversary of the rebellions. North of the field is the statue of Alexander Suvorov, a great general of the Russian empire who fought in the Russian-Austrian campaign against Napoleon.

In addition, the park contains a burial ground for those who fell in battle during the 1917 Revolutions and Civil War. It is also a custom for newlyweds to visit the park after their weddings to guarantee good luck.
Sight description based on wikipedia
8
Summer Garden

8) Summer Garden (must see)

Located between the Fontanka, Moika, and Swan Canal is the impressive Summer Garden. It is adjacent to the Summer Palace, residence of Peter the Great. Pushkin, Gogol, Tchaikovsky, and other great artists of the day visited the garden.

In 1704, Peter the Great commissioned Jean-Baptiste Le Blond and Mikhail Zemsteiv to design a garden similar to the magnificent gardens of the Versailles. Magnificent fountains that illustrated stories from Aesop’s fables were very popular with residents. In addition, hundreds of statues from Europe were placed in the garden. A flood in 1777 damaged many of the original fountains and statues. Restoration work quickly returned the oasis to its former state.

Summer Garden has 79 marble statues that were sculpted by leading Italian sculptors of the 17th and 18th century. It is one of the oldest statue collections in Russia. The garden also contains a selection of rare flowers and plants.

Visitors will enjoy the Coffee House, created by designed by Carlo Rossi and the Tea House, designed by Ludwig Charlemagne. There is also a statue of Russian storyteller Ilya Krylov that displays scenes from his stories. The garden is frequently the location of weddings and parties.

Why You Should Visit:
You are taken back to the times of the great Russian novelists, and the time when St Petersburg had tight connections to Central Europe.
Possibly the most beautiful park in St. Petersburg. On a warm and sunny day, it could be Paris.

Tip:
A tea/coffee/refreshment area is available is available in the center of the park, as well as public toilets.

Opening Hours:
Summer: Daily, 10am-9pm;
Winter: Daily, except Tuesday, 10-am-7:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
9
Summer Palace

9) Summer Palace

Summer Palace is the former residence of Peter the Great. It was built between 1710 and 1712 by Domenico Trezzini. The two-story brick and stucco yellow palace is located on the banks of the Fontanka River. The palace features a Petrine-Baroque design and is one of the first stone buildings in St. Petersburg.

The 14 room palace was modern for its time and featured running water from nearby fountains. The sovereign occupied the first floor, while his wife lived on the second floor. A small harbor near the palace enabled Peter the Great to sail up to his front door. The palace was used as a summer residence where many festivities, concerts, and dinners occurred. One of those festive events was the Assemblies, a social gathering for St. Petersburg aristocracy.

After World War II, the rooms of the palace were restored to their former glory. Visitors will see the ruler’s living quarters as they were when he was alive. It is a rare treat to view the many trees and marble statutes that decorate the palace, as well as the personal items that the Emperor owned.
Sight description based on wikipedia

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