Besides the Winter Palace, there’s a plethora of palaces, parks and gardens that should be included in your colorful St. Petersburg itinerary.
St. Petersburg is home to Russia’s most dazzling and historic palaces. There are more than 50 imperial mansions and palaces, in addition to Winter Palace’s global notoriety. When Peter the Great was envisioning his ideal city, his idea for palaces were not only aimed to serve as his wide array of residences and estates but also as proof of Russia’s power and influence dominating in Europe during the 1700s. He often commissioned European architects to showcase Russia’s path to Westernization by displaying Baroque style which originated in Italy.
Out of the city’s abundance of glittering ancient residences, we’ve selected seven outstanding choices that should remain on your radar.
Palace Embankment, 32, St Petersburg, Russia, 190000
While visiting the State Hermitage Museum, one can’t avoid the extravagance of the Winter Palace which is connected to the museum. As home to the czars for 200 years, Winter Palace was the emperors reflection upon political dominance of Imperial Russia when it ruled approximately 1/6 of the Earth’s landmass. Commissioned by Peter the Great, the glamorous green-and-white palace was designed by several architects. It stood as an architectural commencement of Russia’s expansion into Westernization and the heartbeat of a new city: St. Petersburg. Today, Winter Palace remains to be one of the largest palaces in the world, showcasing 1,886 doors, 1,945 windows, 1,500 rooms and 117 staircases. Its significance in Russia’s mighty history as well as in Baroque and Rococo architectural styles attract more than 4 millions travelers every year.
Catherine Palace & Park
Garden St, 7, St Petersburg, Russia, 196601
Located 20 minutes outside of downtown St. Petersburg is Catherine Palace & Park, which was gifted by Peter the Great to his second wife Catherine I. But the real work to refurbish the palace as an architectural feat truly began under the watch of their daughter, Empress Elizabeth in 1743. The palace’s signature white-and-blue exterior is highlighted by real gold can also be found in the palace’s interior rooms, including: the Amber Room (decorated with six tons of amber that was later taken by the Nazis during WWII,) the Great Hall/Light Gallery (where balls and masquerades were held,) Courtiers-in-Attendance Dining Room (multiple mirrors are placed on opposite walls to create an illusion of a more spacious room)…and many more. In the garden, numerous decorative fountains and sculptures make an afternoon stroll furthermore scenic and picturesque.
Peterhof Palace & Garden
Razvodnaya Ulitsa, 2, St Petersburg, Russia
Make sure to reserve an entire day to explore Peterhof, since its monumental size and influence is often compared to Versailles in France. Situated an hour outside of the city center, Peterhof (translation: Peter’s Court,) is a series of palaces, gardens and parks constructed in response to Louis XIV’s Versailles. Peter the Great originally saw Peterhof as his country home, but the expansion grew dramatically after his trip to the French royal court. During WWII, Peterhof was obtained by German troops during their invasion into the Soviet Union. Today, the entire estate is a UNESCO World Heritage Site not to be missed.
Summer Palace & Garden
Naberezhnaya Lebyazh'yey Kanavki, St Petersburg, Russia, 191186
Summer Palace is much less extravagant than other palaces seen throughout the city. In 1710, Peter the Great hired Swiss-Italian architect Domenico Trezzini to construct a two-story residence that would house himself, his second wife Catherine I and their twelve children. The royal couple took over the first floor while the children stayed on the second. After touring the palace, Summer Garden is a great location to picnic to unravel a jam-packed day of sightseeing. Despite that this was Peter the Great’s personal favorite spot to relax and unwind, the garden was the site of several ceremonies and festivals during his reign.
Alexander Palace & Park
Garden St, 7, St Petersburg, Russia, 196601
Next to the Catherine Palace and Park is the Alexander Palace where the last czar Nicholas II often retreated due to the estate’s privacy. Commissioned by Catherine II, or Catherine the Great, in 1792; Alexander Palace was built for her favorite grandson who later became Russia’s czar, Alexander I. Despite that this palace appears less glamorous than its neighbor, it encompasses several captivating features: Chinese Village, Chinese Theatre, Opera House. The park attached to the palace is a continuum of its Asian décor while embodying an atmosphere of peace and relaxation.
Hot tip! Try to plan Catherine Palace and Alexander Palace on the same day since they’re both further away from city center.
Ulitsa Dekabristov, 21А, St Petersburg, Russia, 190000
Also often referred to as the Moika Palace, the Yusupov Palace is one unrelated to the czars. The Yusupov family was extremely wealthy, well-known for charity work and art collections that are featured in the glitzy interior of the palace. The 40,000 masterpieces seen throughout the palace include works by Rembrandt. One of the highlights is the ceiling of the theater which was painted by Ernst Friedrich von Liphart – a former curator of paintings at the Hermitage Museum. If you don’t feel like traveling all the way out to see Peterhof, then Yusupov Palace is a fantastic alternative option.
University Embankment, 15, St Petersburg, Russia, 190000
Founded in 1710 by the city’s Governor General Alexander Menshikov – a close associate of Peter the Great – the Menshikov Palace broke grounds in several ways, especially as the first edifice in St. Petersburg to be built in stone while featuring a combination of Russian architecture and Western European-style coined as: Petrine Baroque. Once the Menshikov family was exiled to Siberia, the building was confiscated in 1727. Later, it became the home to First Cadet Corps. Today, it is an extension of the Hermitage Museum with a unique collection of 17th-early 18th century Russian art.