Mystical Petersburg

Being a modern city with its unique architectural and historical monuments, Petersburg is also surrounded with an air of mystery.

For more than three hundred years of its history Saint Petersburg has amassed a great lot of secrets. This route will guide you through the buildings and monuments not only beautiful and admirable, but mysterious as well.

  • temples and cathedrals 1 ,
  • points of interest 3 ,
  • palaces 2 ,
  • museums 1 ,
  • monuments 2 ,
  • bridges 1
13 km, 276 m
 The Sphinxes and the Gryphon on Unversitetskaya Naberezhnaya

The Sphinxes and the Gryphon on Unversitetskaya Naberezhnaya

Saint Petersburg, Universitetskaya naberezhnaya, 17

Sphinxes on Unversitetskaya naberezhnaya are about 3 500 years old

Riverside near St. Petersburg’s Academy of Arts is guarded by Sphinxes and Griffins. There is a curious belief associated with these mystical animals. It is said that Griffins can fulfill desires. But it can't be happened without help of Sphinxes. You need to perform a special procedure of actions. First of all, recall your desire and with one your hand pat the Griffin’s head. Than with your other hand grasp his right tooth and in the same time look in eyes of closest to you Griffin.  If all are done correctly the wish comes true!

Newlyweds are also choosing that place on the embankment. Traditionally they should drink champagne near the Sphinxes, write their wishes, put them into an empty bottle and throw it into the Neva River.

Russian Academy of Arts

Russian Academy of Arts

St. Petersburg, Universitetskaya nab., 17

Museum of the Russian Academy of Arts is a unique art collection not only in Russia, but throughout the world

The Russian Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg, informally known as the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts, was founded in 1757 by Ivan Shuvalov under the name Academy of the Three Noblest Arts. Catherine the Great renamed it the Imperial Academy of Arts and commissioned a new building, completed 25 years later in 1789 by the Neva River. The academy promoted the neoclassical style and technique, and sent its promising students to European capitals for further study. Training at the academy was virtually required for artists to make successful careers.

Formally abolished in 1918 after the Russian Revolution, the academy was renamed several times. It introduced free tuition; students from across the country competed fiercely for its few places annually. In 1947 the national institution was moved to Moscow, and much of its art collection was moved to the Hermitage. The building in Leningrad was devoted to the Ilya Repin Leningrad Institute for Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, named in honor of one of Russia's foremost realist artists. Since 1991 it has been called the St. Petersburg Institute for Painting, Sculpture and Architecture.

43 m
Yusupov palace

Yusupov palace

Saint-Petersburg, ul. Dekabristov, 21, lit. A

​Princely family residence, Museum of the Nobility Lifestyle, historical and cultural Palace Ensemble of federal significance and European fame

Today, this grandeur building (one of the most prominent architectural gems of the Russian "Northern capital") hosts government and diplomatic meetings, international conferences and symposia. The names of many Russian public officials, leaders of St. Petersburg and heads of foreign states are recorded in the Yusupov Palace Guest Book.

On multiple occasions, the president of the Russian Federation Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has visited the palace. Here, the city’s governors received Russian and foreign delegations of the highest rank and held talks on issues related to the development of St. Petersburg and strengthening of its international ties.

Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain with her husband, Duke of Edinburgh and Crown Prince Charles, Queen Sophia of Norway, King of Greece Constantine II with his wife Queen Anne-Marie, Queen Silvia of Sweden, King Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin of Malaysia and Queen Sirikit of Thailand, all visited Yusupov Palace. Various illustrious representatives of domestic and foreign science, culture, art, banking, education, and journalism, including as participants of significant international conferences, visited Yusupov Palace.

Among them were the President of the Club of Rome Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, Director of the Institute of General History of the Russian Academy of Sciences Academician A.O. Chubaryan, Nobel Prize winner Academician J.I. Alferov, Honorary Vice-President of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences Academician S.P. Kapitsa, President of Intesa Sanpaolo Bank (Italy) Professor Giovanni Badzoli, President of the General Conference of UNESCO Musa Bin Jaafar Bin Hassan, writer C.T. Aitmatov, artistic director of the Taganka Theater Yu.P. Lyubimov, film director A.S. Konchalovsky, poet B.A. Akhmadulina, artist B.A. Messerer, chief editor of the Moscow News newspaper V.T. Tretyakov.

Over the years, the palace has had such world-famous celebrity guests as a movie star Lisa Minelli, a super-model Naomi Campbell, singers Sting and Cliff Richards, The Rolling Stones rock band and its lead vocalist Mick Jagger.

The reputation as one of the most interesting, alluring and popular tourist attractions of St. Petersburg draws in tens of thousands of visitors from different parts of Russia and the world to Yusupov Palace every year.

1 km, 521 m
Kokushkin Bridge

Kokushkin Bridge

St. Petersburg, Griboedova Canal

One of the most popular in literature bridges in St. Petersburg

The Kokushkin Bridge is a bridge across the Griboedov Canal in Saint Petersburg, Russia.The bridge got its name from the merchant Vasily Kokushkin, whose house was located at the corner of Kokushkin Alley and Garden Street. From 1786 to 1796 the name was spelled Kokushkinov Bridge and from 1801 to 1853 the bridge was mistakenly called Kukushkin Bridge (meaning Cuckoo Bridge in Russian). Until 1872 the official name of the bridge could be written both as Kokushkin and as Kakushkin.

1 km, 190 m
Tchaikovsky House

Tchaikovsky House

St. Petersburg, Gorohovaya ul., 13

It was the last residence in Saint Petersburg for Tchaikovsky and it was in this house exactly

1 km, 380 m
Monument to Peter I on Senate Square (Bronze Horseman)

Monument to Peter I on Senate Square (Bronze Horseman)

Saint Petersburg, Senatskaya ploshchad

Monument to Peter the Great, the founder of St.Petersburg

Commissioned by Catherine the Great, the monument was created by the French sculptor Étienne Maurice Falconet in 1782. The second name (the Bronze Horseman) comes from the same name poem written by Aleksander Pushkin (1833). The monument symbolizes the Russian victory over Sweden in the Northern War (1700-1721): the snake symbolizes a defeated enemy, the horse symbolizes Russia. The pedestal of this monument is a huge so-called "thunder-stone", which was delivered to Senate Square from a borough Lakhta.

There is a legend that one can find the name of Étienne Falconet on a fold of Peter the Great's cloak.

You can see the ballet “Bronze Horseman” in Mariinsky theater.

882 m
National Pushkin Museum

National Pushkin Museum

St. Petersburg, Moika river Embankment, 12

Memorial apartment is the last lodging of Russian poet Alexander Pushkin

The Pushkin Apartment Museum, located in one of the oldest stone mansions in St. Petersburg at River Moika, 12, which in XIX century belonged to several generations of the Dukes Volkonky. It is the Memorial Museum of the poet, telling about the last period of his life and creativity. That was Alexander Pushkin’s last apartment. There he died on January 29 (old style), 1837 after he had been mortally wounded at the duel.

The central part of exposition represents Pushkin's study. The Captain's Daughter novel and many other things were written here. A clock in Gothic style is placed on the wall. According to contemporaries, it stopped on February, 10 at 2 P.M., when Pushkin’s heart ceased beating.

2 km, 196 m
Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

St. Petersburg, nab. kanala Griboedova, 2, lit. B

One of the most beautiful, majestic and colorful cathedrals in the Russian Revival (Pseudo-Russian) style, it was built on the place where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated

The temple was built from 1883 till 1907 in the place of the tragic events that happened on the 1st of March 1881 – lethally wounding Emperor Alexander II who was heading to the place of the parade in the Field of Mars that moment. His son Alexander III ordered to build there a church for regular services for the repose of the killed father. That is why the name of the Church on Spilled Blood stuck to the temple, although it is officially called the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ.

The money was donated to the construction of the temple not only by Russians but also by the habitants of Slavic countries. On the walls of the bell tower there are more than a hundred of mosaic coats of arms of the cities, towns, governorates and uyezds who funded the building of the church. There is also the coat of arms of House of Romanov.

The cross of the bell tower is topped with a gold-plated kingly crown in recognition that the biggest contribution to the creation of the church was made by the august family. 4,6 millions of rubles were invested into the construction in total.

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. This mosaic ensemble was worked at by artists V.M. Vasnetsov, M.V. Nesterov and  A.P. Ryabushkin.

For decoration of the heads there were used copper pieces covered with freeze-proof colored enamel (having the area of 1000 square meters). The height of the highest dome is 81 meter. All along the perimeter of the temple building there are set 20 granite plaques with gilded writings describing Alexander II’s deeds. From the side of the Mikhailovsky Garden the temple is surrounded with a cast-iron fence having a with floral made to a sketch by Parland.

After the revolution the Church on Spilled Blood was closed and not restored for a long time. It was even heard to be going to get built-down. In 1970 it was taken under the patronage of Saint Isaac’s Cathedral which invested 80% of money into its restoration. In 1997 the Church on the Spilled Blood threw open its doors for visitors as a museum housing a large collection of mosaic icons (having the area of more than 7 thousand square meters).

543 m
Saint Michael's (Engineer's) Castle

Saint Michael's (Engineer's) Castle

St. Petersburg, ul. Sadovaya, 2

The largest architectural monument, completing the history of St. Petersburg architecture of the XVIII century

Mikhailovsky Castle is the only palace constructed in Russia in the style of romantic classicism. It is a unique building with which many stories and legends are connected, often of a mystical character. It combines the features of a medieval knight's castle and a secular European palace of the XVIII century.

The palace was designed by the architect V. I. Bazhenov on behalf of Emperor Paul I, who wanted to make it his main front residence. The construction was led by architect V. Brenna. He revised the original design of the palace and created the artistic decoration of its interiors.

In addition to Bazhenov and Brenn, the emperor himself took part in the creation of the project, having composed several drawings for him. Brenn's assistants were also included Fedor Svinin and Karl Rossi. 

Built in the shortest possible time, the castle became the place of the mysterious death of its owner.

At the beginning of the XIX century. the castle “a deserted monument of a tyrant, an abandoned palace forgotten” took military and cultural figures into its walls, and later the Engineering School was located here, and the luxurious interiors of the former imperial residence were rebuilt and adapted to its needs. For many years, the castle was named Inzhenerny. In Soviet times, various military organizations were located here.

Now in the restored halls of the castle there is a permanent interactive exposition "The Romanov Saga" and open sculpture funds of the late XIX - early XXI centuries. The authentic marble sculpture of the Summer Garden is also stored here, as well as temporary exhibitions.


638 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.

4 km, 187 m