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The main Russian port on the Baltic Sea, St. Petersburg was founded on water in 1703 by the will of Emperor Peter the Great, who became a Bronze Rider. Imperial capital for 2 centuries, the city remains the country's cultural centre with flagships such as the Mariinsky Theatre, a temple of opera and dance, the Russian Museum (Orthodox icons, works by Kandinsky...) and the immense Hermitage Museum. Like a northern Venice, bordered by the Neva River and the Obvodny Canal, bathed by the Fontanka and Moika rivers, the centre of St Petersburg is built around the Nevsky Prospekt, a wide and chic shopping avenue, lined with historic monuments. Also a lot of charm and remarkable monuments on Vasilievsky Island. The initial nucleus of the city, Petrograd is home to the famous Peter and Paul Fortress. You can also admire the bulbous and richly decorated church of Saint Sauveur-sur-le-sang versed and that of Saint-Nicolas-des-Marins. Much less lavish is the northern suburb of the Soviet era where the Finnish Railway Station is located. Finally, we must see the district located south of St. Petersburg with its industrial and Stalinist architecture. Great! Great! The Narva Arc de Triomphe, the Chesme church and the Poulkovo observatory are located there. The Soviet authorities had planned to move the city centre south. This was not done. St. Petersburg sumptuous under the snow when the Fontanka freezes, attracts many visitors, in summer, during its Nights blanches. The sun does not set and the celebrations follow the shows.
What to see, what to do Saint-Petersburg (Санкт-Петербург)?
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The high tourist season is from mid-May to the end of August with a peak between mid-June and mid-July, during the Nuits blanches. Hotels are full and prices are rising. The rest of the year can be considered as the low season, with the exception of the first 10 days of January when the Russians celebrate Christmas and New Year with their families. Winter temperatures are far from the Siberian cold, but the climate of St. Petersburg remains marked by the humidity of the Baltic Sea. The sidewalks are then transformed into an ice rink or a.... children's pool. Clothes close to your body, a good windproof jacket, waterproof shoes... and you're ready to walk through the city in the snow. Here as elsewhere there is no more climate. Snow is sometimes slow to come and the sun can sulk in summer. A quick look at the local weather can help avoid disappointments. The people of Petersburg have a joke that reflects the region's very changing climate: "If you don't like today's weather, wait 15 minutes. "»
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Covid-19 : current situation Saint-Petersburg (Санкт-Петербург)Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, entry and travel restrictions may apply Saint-Petersburg (Санкт-Петербург). Remember to visit the site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before you leave for the latest information
A cultural getaway to discover the two capitals
Budget : €€ Charm and comfort
Forerunner of Transsiberian or tsar's last trip
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The North, its holy islands and its white nights
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How to go Saint-Petersburg (Санкт-Петербург)
How to go alone
You can organize your stay alone. Don't forget to make your visa on time. Low cost airlines offer direct flights to St. Petersburg. You can book your hotel from home, but on site the choice is wide. Going alone is the right option to enjoy the Nuits blanches at your own pace, depending on the encounters. You can also land in Moscow, visit the city for two days and take the high-speed train that links St. Petersburg in 5 hours.
How to go on a tour
The package tour is a good option for discovering St. Petersburg. Generally, the proposed stays take place over a week. Good timing to see the most important thing and get to know the city. With this formula, you don't have to worry about your visa and you are sure to see a maximum of things in a minimum of time without wasting time looking for your subway station!
How to get around
In St. Petersburg, the metro is a must. It operates from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. The stations in the centre are worth a visit for their Stalinist decoration, especially that of Avtovo. Some are very deep because of the water underground. You don't see the end of the escalator! They are very far apart and you will refine your trips thanks to the bus, tramway or trolleybus. In addition, there are the stars on the Neva and the canals. You can also use a (affordable) taxi.
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The so-called "Venice of the North", which was conceived as a much-desired "Window on Europe" by Peter the Great, is a leading cultural destination. The name of the city is a tribute to the founder of the church and the guardian of the keys to paradise who was to open this bridgehead between Russia and Europe. As you travel through its interlacing canals spanned by charming little bridges or along its majestic avenues, you will come across the collections of the Hermitage or the Russian Museum, where you will be delighted by its architectural purity. Culture, alive and well, will be embodied by an unforgettable evening at the Mariinsky. Whether in its "traditional" theatre or at the Mariinsky-2, which redefines the standards of ballet, opera and acoustics in the 21st century.
The foundation of Saint Petersburg
The magic of the Nuits Blanches
The Mariinsky, excellence since 1783
The green city
Architecture (and design)
Fine Arts (Painting / Sculpture / Street Art / Photo)
Musics and Scenes (Dance / Theater)
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The 12 keywords Saint-Petersburg (Санкт-Петербург)
It may come as a surprise, but Saint Petersburg is one of the capitals of the Baroque style! It owes it in particular to the Italian Rastrelli. He arrived in 1716 (at the age of 16) in the luggage of his father, a sculptor, and spent his whole life there, shaping Russian Baroque. Summer and Winter Palaces, Smolny, Peterhof Palace and Tsarkoye Selo Palace all bear his imprint.
The Russian alphabet can be frightening, yet it only takes 2-3 hours to learn it. Once you have learned the letter P which is an "r", the letter Y which is "or", or the letter C which is "s", you should start to find your Latin. It will then be easy to find your way: in Russian, all the letters are pronounced. Well, almost..
3. Window on Europe
Peter the Great wanted to modernize his country, make it a maritime power and reopen the country to Europe after centuries of living back to back. He conceives the revolutionary project of creating a Western capital. He will choose the site himself on the Gulf of Finland, which he will define in his own words as a "Window on Europe".
Saint Petersburg is a stronghold of lyric art. It is the history of the whole city which seems to merge with that of Russian opera and ballet, so closely linked are they. A single name is enough to designate its flagship. The Mariinsky has been the leading theatre and performance stage, ballet and opera company since 1783.
5. Capricious weather
Known for its rain and heavy clouds, Piter has more than 70 days of sunshine a year. Highly variable, this is what best defines the local weather! It is not uncommon for snow to fall in late spring, followed by rain and a warm sting in the evening. Therefore, bring warm clothing and an umbrella, even in summer.
6. White Nights
SPB is the northernmost metropolis in the world. This latitude gives rise to a particular phenomenon: from May to early July, the sun does not set because it only disappears at 6° below the horizon. After a long winter, the city is filled with joy. Festivals and streets are never empty and nobody seems to want to go to bed anymore.
With more than 100 palaces, the city offers a fairy-tale setting reflecting an overwhelming splendour. Summer residence, winter residence, summer or winter garden, ceremonial bedroom, large living room, small living room, Chinese boudoir, Turkish boudoir, bathhouse, music pavilion... Every room, every building is a whim and a wonder.
8. Nevsky Prospect
The backbone of the city, the Nevsky Perspective stretches 4.5 km from the banks of the Neva River to Moscow railway station. Conceived by Peter the Great, this emblematic avenue concentrates shops, banks and the city's cultural and nightlife hotspots. Walking along it is one of the favourite activities of both visitors and locals alike.
Hay from St. Petersburg, Petrograd or Leningrad, for its inhabitants it will always be "Piter". Unless you talk to foreigners, few St. Petersburgers will refer to their city by its official name. They have given it this little name with affection and pride. And from then on, they personify it with tenderness. "Ah, Piter! »
There are no less than 342 of them! Simple passages, tripod architecture or richly decorated walkways, they will brighten up your strolls along the canals. Those connecting the main islands open and close at fixed times and every local has the timetables in mind. To be caught in default induces to wait all night before returning to your hotel..
This is where the story turns. First of all, on January 22nd 1905, when 100,000 workers gathered in front of the Hermitage were shot at by the imperial troops. Then on the night of November 7, 1917 when Lenin had the Winter Palace shot at from the cruiser Aurora. They entered the palace at gunpoint... Bolshevism was on the rise.
Piter is the city of the Romanovs. Peter the Great, one of the first czars of the dynasty, created it. All his successors lived there until Nicholas II. Catherine II, an emblematic figure of the city, was a fine politician and a man-eater. She didn't hesitate to have Orlov, her faithful lover, murdered and imprisoned for life..
You are from here, if...
You instinctively call the town by its diminutive name "Piter". This emotive name has been used since the 18th century and is a familiar contraction of the town's name in VO: Sankt-Piter-Burgh.
You take full advantage of the sunny days and absorb every ray to nourish your body with the vitamin D you sorely need. Rain does not frighten you and never changes your plans. In fact, even though you don't set foot in the country and never go to sea, your rubber boots and oilskin are not far away.
For you, Finland and Estonia are not EU countries, but getaways in the Piter region. You often drop in at the weekend for shopping or just to get some fresh air.
You never forget the bridge-raising times, especially at weekends if you are partying on the Vasilievsky or Petrogradskaya islands, which are then totally cut off from the city centre from the middle of the night until the early hours of the morning .