The history of Imperial Russia

A route around main museums of St.Petersburg: Peter and Paul Fortress, St.Isaac;s Cathedral, Savior on the Spilled Blood, State Russian Museum and cruiser Aurora

No matter, if you came to St.Petersburg  for the first time or if you have been to the Northern capital of Russia before, the mysterious St. Petersburg is always new, amazing and unique.

In 1703 Peter and Paul Fortress was situated among the forests and marshes of Zayachi island by the will of tsar Peter the Great.

St. Isaac's Cathedral was intended to become the main Orthodox church of the Russian Empire. Today, in the 21st century, it is a functioning temple and museum.

The Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood is a truly unique monument, which was created to commemorate Alexander II the Liberator, who was mortally wounded during the assassination attempt at this very place. Nowadays Savior on Spilled Blood is worldwide famous for its intricate mosaics.

The largest world collection of Russian art can be found in the Russian Museum, which was created under the decree of emperor Nicholas II in the memory of his father Alexander III.

1917 was a tragic year in the history of tsarist Russia. The idle volley shut from the gun of the cruiser Aurora was a signal for the beginning of the socialist revolution. Imperial Russia became the USSR, and St. Petersburg acquired the unofficial name "The Сity of Three Revolutions."

However, neither time, nor revolution, or war could defeat St. Petersburg, which is incredibly beautiful up to these days. You can appreciate its beauty during this walk that will guide you through the history of St.Petersburg.

  • points of interest 1 ,
  • temples and cathedrals 2 ,
  • museums 2
9 km, 713 m
Peter and Paul Fortress

Peter and Paul Fortress

St. Petersburg, Zayachy ostrov

A unique historical, architectural and fortification art monument of XVIII-XIX centuries

Founded by Peter the Great in 1703, St. Peter and Paul Fortress is considered to be a unique fortification monument of XVIII-XIX centuries. Its architectural ensemble is focused around St. Peter and Paul Cathedral where the tombs of all the Russian emperors can be found.

The Peter and Paul Fortress is put on May 27, 1703. According to the legend, Peter I himself chose a place for new fortress – the small Hare island (in Finnish – Enisaari), located in the Neva River mouth. The citadel in the form of a six-pointed star was constructed according to the project made by the French engineer Zh.G. Lamber with the participation of the tsar. Six curtains connect six powerful bastions, the associates of Peter I called by names.

The defensive system from the West and the East is closed by Ioannovsky and Alekseevsky ravelins. Two bridges — Ioannovsky and Kronverksky - connect the Hare island with Petrograd. On October 1, 1703 fortress consecrated. On the Monarchic bastion the Andreevsky colors were hoisted, on ramparts three hundred tools are installed. On June 29, 1703 in the center of the Peter and Paul Fortress put small wooden church for the sake of apostles Pyotr and Pavel on which place in 1712-1732 built a stone cathedral. From 1731 to 1858 Peter and Paul Cathedral had the status of the cathedral temple of the capital, then was ranked as court department. The cathedral served as a tomb of reigning House of Romanovs. Here the Russian emperors and empresses from Peter I to Nikolay II, except for Pyotr II and Ioann of VI are buried. To a cathedral the covered gallery connected the Grand-ducal tomb.

Within the XVIII-XIX centuries in the territory of fortress buildings and constructions of different function were built: Botny house, Artillery, Mint, Commandant's and Engineering house, an also guardroom and others. In the XVIII century fortress became a jail of the state criminals, in XIX — the main political prison of Russia. At the emperor Alexander I at the beginning of the XIX century fortress was for the first time open for visitors. In the 1900th years in Peter and Paul Cathedral tours on an imperial necropolis were conducted. In 1924 Trubetskoy's prison of a bastion turned into the museum. In 1954 the complex of buildings of the Peter and Paul Fortress was passed the State museum of history of Leningrad (St. Petersburg).

The territory of the fortress and the beach are open for public. The main cites include the history of everyday life in St.Petersburg in the XVIII-XIX centuries in the House of the Commandant of the garrison. One may visit the prison of Trubetskoy bastion that once used to be the political prison. Among those prisoners who are well-known in the world were L.Trotsky and F.Dostoyevsky. The Boat house shows the first ship that started the history of Russin fleet.

 

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Saint Isaac's Cathedral

Saint Isaac's Cathedral

Saint Petersburg, Isaakiyevskaya square, 4

The largest Russian Orthodox cathedral in the city

St. Isaac's Cathedral - is a unique monument of domestic architecture and is one of the best cathedrals of Europe. It is an outstanding model of the Russian cult art. Decorating of a cathedral includes the largest collection of the Russian monumental painting of the middle of the XIX century, numbering more than 150 works. Works of well-known artists Vasily Shebuyev, Karl Bryullov, Fyodor Bruni are among them. More than 300 statues, sculptural groups and reliefs are created by Ivan Vitali. More than 60 mosaic works of Russian masters play an important role in art and decorative furniture. One of the largest in Russia stained-glass windows of 28,5 sq.m. represents a real interest.

St. Isaac's Cathedral's height is 101,5 m. The cathedral is the fourth in the world by its size. It concedes only to St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome, St. Paul's Cathedral in London and Saint Maria's cathedral in Florence. It can contain to 12 000 having the area of 4000 square meter.

3 km, 613 m
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Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

Saint Petersburg, naberezhnaya kanala Griboedova, 2, lit. B

This church was built on the site where tsar Alexander II was assassinated

This Church was built on the site where Emperor Alexander II was severely wounded and died in March 1881. The church was built from 1883 till 1907. The construction was funded by the imperial family.

Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The Church contains over 7500 square meters of mosaics—according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.

2 km, 241 m
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State Russian Museum

State Russian Museum

Saint Petersburg, Ingenernaya street, 4

An excellent sample of High Classicism in Russian architecture

The principal collections of the Russian Museum are located in the Mikhailovsky Palace. It was constructed for one of the emperor Paul I’s sons, the grand duke Mikhail Pavlovich, upon the project of the architect C. Rossi.  From the very beginning of its existence, the palace was recognized as an architectural masterpiece not only on the territory of Russia, but also in all Europe. The receptions given in this palace were frequented by the most famous Russian poets and writers, such as Alexander Pushkin. The palace was also famous for its musical salon, where the best European singers, musicians, and composers came to. It was a place where the residents of St. Petersburg could listen to such celebrities as Liszt, Berlioz, Schuman, Wagner, and many others.

At the end of 19 century, the palace which is partially reconstructed in three years for the museum purposes and accepted collections of Winter Palace, Gatchina and Aleksandrovsky Palaces, the Hermitage and the Museum of  the Academy of Arts, and also  private collections donated to the museum. Now the collection of the Russian Museum contains more than 400 000 exhibits and covers all historical periods and tendencies of the history of the Russian art through more than 1000 years (from the XI till the XXI century), and the variety of all its principal types and genres, directions and schools.

And also the museum contains a rich collection of folk and applied arts, including different objects representing national crafts, embroideries, fabrics, fragments of the Russian log huts, women's suits of different Russian regions.

443 m
4
The Central Naval Museum, Cruiser "Aurora"

The Central Naval Museum, Cruiser "Aurora"

St. Petersburg, Petrogradskaya embankment

21.09.2014 the ship was transferred to the Kronstadt shipyard`s dockage facility till 2016

The ship is a 1900 Russian protected cruiser, currently preserved as a museum ship. In the same time Aurora stands today as the oldest commissioned ship of the Russian Navy. The Cruiser  Aurora is a legendary 1st rank Cruiser. The Aurora's keel was laid down at the "New Admiralty" shipyard in St.Petersburg on 23 May 1897. The cruiser was launched on 11 May 1900 and joined the Navy of Russia in July1903.
During the Russian-Japanese War the cruiser, being included in the second Pacific Ocean squadron, sailed to the Far East (October 1904 - May 1905). The cruiser Aurora had her baptism of fire in the Tsushima battle on 14-15 May 1905. When she returned to the Baltic sea, the Aurora for a long time was used as a ship for training naval cadets of the Naval College. In 1917 the Aurora's crew took an active part in the February and October revolutionary activities and the Civil War repulsing international intervention. On 25 October 1917 a blank shot from her forecastle gun signaled the start of the assault on the Winter Palace, which was to be the beginning of the October Revolution. For the whole period of the Leningrad siege from 1941 to 1944 the Aurora was moored at a pier in the Oranienbaum port (the town of Lomonosov) and was constantly shelled and bombed. The hull was holed, got many leakages and sank aground, but the small crew courageously fought for the life of their ship. In July 1944 the ship was raised and taken into a dock for repair.
In 1948 the cruiser Aurora was moored at the Petrogradskaya embankment of Leningrad and till 1956 was used as a naval training ship by the Leningrad Nakhimov College. In 1956 the cruiser Aurora was made a museum (a branch of the Central Naval Museum). 
The Cruiser Aurora is often mentioned in various art works - songs, poems and movies. So in 1945 was made a film about the legendary cruiser Varyag. The role of the Variag fell to Aurora's lot. 
3 km, 176 m
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Useful information

This route is provided by St.Petersburg Card company. Official website: https://petersburgcard.com/

It is recomended to take the route in parts.