Walking Tour of St Petersburg, Russia
This "City of the Tsars" is, without question, one of the most regal and elegant cities in the world. It rivals Paris and London with its stately architecture and monumental buildings. It is also a city rich in history and has witnessed some of the world’s most pivotal events. There are excellent museums and religious buildings, as well. Although my walking tour does not profess to access all of the city’s sights, it manages to include the most important ones for the tourist.
My walk begins at Palace Square (Dvortsovaya Ploshchad). The Alexander Column, in the center, commemorates Tsar Alexander I’s victory over Napoleon. Surrounding you is a dizzying ensemble of incredible architecture. First and foremost is the Winter Palace (The Hermitage Museum). A visit here requires, at minimum, half a day, both to admire the exquisite art contained in the galleries, and to appreciate the amazing palace itself, both inside and outside. Must-sees include the Malachite Room, the Main Staircase, and the Small Throne Room. Also on the square is the General Staff Building. Note the three-part arch connecting several of the buildings. The arch celebrates Russia’s triumphs over Napoleon, Turkey, and Sweden. The Admiralty overlooks the square, a bit to the west. Its distinctive weathervane, atop the spire, announces that its existence is associated with shipping and the Navy.
Walk past the Admiralty into Decembrist’s Square, named for the attempted coup d’etat which occurred here in 1825. Note the regal Senate and Synod Buildings which occupy the western side of the square, and the beautiful Statue of Peter the Great, on horseback, in front of them. To the south is one of St Petersburg’s magnificent churches, St Isaac’s Cathedral. Its golden dome is covered with more than 200 pounds of gold leaf. On the south side of the Cathedral is St Isaac’s Square, which sports a handsome Statue of Tsar Nicholas I.
From this square, turn left (east) on Malaya Morskaya ulitsa to Nevsky Prospekt and turn right. This street, the city’s major thoroughfare, is probably the most well-known street in all of Russia and epitomizes the stately and regal nature of this incredible city. About 1/4 mile ahead is the Kazan Cathedral, on your right. Although it looks as if the front of the Cathedral is straight ahead, at the center of the concave colonnade, it is actually on the eastern side of the building, to your left as you approach it. Inside, note the pink granite columns and mosaics on the floor.
Continue walking on Nevsky Prospekt to Sadovaya ulitsa and turn left. When you reach Inzherernay ulitsa, museum-lovers will want to turn left to visit the Russian Museum, housed in the elegant Mikhailovskiy Palace.
Otherwise (or afterward, if you decided to check out the museum), continue north on Sadovaya. Next, on your right, is the Mikhailovskiy Castle, now a museum. Spend some time strolling around the castle gardens before proceeding.
Sadovaya eventually brings you to the Neva River which you should now cross, on the Troitsky (Trinity) Bridge, just to your west. The bridge will bring you to the Petrogradskaya District, home of the imposing Peter and Paul Fortress. After crossing the river, continue walking north on Kamennoostrovskiy Prospekt, then turn left over the Ioannovskiy Most (Bridge) and through the Ivan Gate, into the complex. Next, pass through Peter’s Gate to reach the dazzling Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, at the center of the fortress.
When you have finished examining the interiior of the Cathedral and the rest of the grounds, retrace your steps all the way to and across the Trinity Bridge, then walk straight across the Field of Mars, directly ahead. Now turn right on Moika, and then left across the Moika Canal and alongside another canal, Griboyedova, to the Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood, a stunning church which resembles St Basil’s in Moscow. Be sure to see the interior as well as the outside.
Now, continue south, along the canal, to Nevsky Prospekt, then turn right to return to the starting point of the walk, Palace Square.