St. Petersburg - A Taste Of Europe Within Indian Budget

Tripoto
4th Aug 2019

With this trip of mine, I, hereby, bring my first international blog. When we think of Russia, the capital - Moscow, Red Square, Vodka, Matryoshka dolls & the famous Vladimir Putin comes to our mind. For me, the first city which I took a taste of was St. Petersburg. However, I landed in Moscow first because of the direct Aeroflot connection between India & Russia. The first picture I took was of Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport (SVO) which is the largest airport in Russia & the most busiest among other two airports of Moscow which are known as Domodedovo (DME) & Vnukovo (VKO).

Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport (SVO)

Photo of Sheremetyevo - A.S. Pushkin international airport, Khimki, Russia by Sudarshan Gupta

To reach St. Petersburg, I went to the Leningradsky train station to catch high speed bullet train SAPSAN which takes around 3 hr 45 min to reach St. Petersburg. There are total of 9 train stations in Moscow and interestingly, three of them are located at the same place Komsomolskaya Square heading to different directions. Those are known as "Leningrandsky", "Kazanski" & "Yaroslavki".

Photo of St. Petersburg - A Taste Of Europe Within Indian Budget by Sudarshan Gupta
Photo of St. Petersburg - A Taste Of Europe Within Indian Budget by Sudarshan Gupta

The train arrives in St. Petersburg at Moskovsky station which is located in the centre of the city and easily walkable from Nevsky Prospekt. Once you get out of the station, you will be stunned to see this beautiful town which keeps its identity almost similar to European cities like Amsterdam, Rome, Madrid or Paris. I was already inspired by the Russian culture and architecture that it became one of the favorite cities of mine in no time.

Let's explore the most beautiful and incredible places of this city with me with a pinch of interesting history attached with the monuments.

HISTORY OF ST. PETERSBURG

Located on the Neva River, the city was founded by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703. The city has previously been called Petrograd in 1914 and Leningrad from 1924. From 1991 the city has been named back to St. Petersburg. Also known as "Venice of the North", St. Petersburg is one of the 7 cities which share this name. The other cities are Amsterdam, Bruges, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Manchester and Stockholm. All these cities have a network of canals and hence called "Venice of the North".

Photo of St. Petersburg - A Taste Of Europe Within Indian Budget by Sudarshan Gupta
Photo of St. Petersburg - A Taste Of Europe Within Indian Budget by Sudarshan Gupta

Famous for its arts and culture, this city is home of 200 museums & 50 theatres. The most famous, Mariinsky Theatre, is home to the Mariinsky Ballet which is renowned all over the world. The transport infrastructure is very smooth here. You can get taxis everywhere by the "Yandex" mobile app or you can choose to travel with underground metro which is more convenient because of the single travel zone. Your token is valid until you are inside the subway, no matter how long you have travelled. It will cost around 45 rubles. There are total of 5 lines (Red, Blue, Green, Violet, Orange) and 64 stations on this network. All the major squares and monuments are easily accessible by the metro. (Contact me for more detailed information about the metro routes for different places)

Day 1

The State Hermitage Museum is the second largest museum in the world after the magnificent Louvre Museum in Paris. This museum is very huge to cover in the whole day but atleast half of the day is recommended to see around the various parts of the museum. You can have a glimpse of various kinds of arts here like Russian culture of the 18th century, Japanese art, culture of Ancient Egypt, Culture of the Siberian people, flemish paintings, etc. This place is also known as "Winter Palace" as it was home to the Russian emperors from 1732 to 1917.

Photo of Hermitage Museum, Palace Square, Saint Petersburg, Russia by Sudarshan Gupta
Photo of Hermitage Museum, Palace Square, Saint Petersburg, Russia by Sudarshan Gupta

The museum design and its mint green color looks so eye catching in both blue skies summer & white snow of winters. Located at the centre, this museum can be reached by metro station Admiralteyskaya easily by walking. The museum collection includes work by Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso, Van Gogh, artwork "The Return Of The Prodigal Son" by Dutch painter Rembrandt, the stupendous "Peacock Clock" and many more.

Photo of St. Petersburg - A Taste Of Europe Within Indian Budget by Sudarshan Gupta

Peacock Clock by James Cox

Photo of St. Petersburg - A Taste Of Europe Within Indian Budget by Sudarshan Gupta
Photo of St. Petersburg - A Taste Of Europe Within Indian Budget by Sudarshan Gupta
Photo of St. Petersburg - A Taste Of Europe Within Indian Budget by Sudarshan Gupta
Photo of St. Petersburg - A Taste Of Europe Within Indian Budget by Sudarshan Gupta
Day 2

The first structure to be built in the city, birthplace of the city, Peter & Paul Fortress was built by Peter the Great on the Neva river facing the Winter Palace. It was built in 1703 to defend the city from naval attacks but luckily, it was never tested for defence purposes. It got reputation as one of the most feared prison in the Russian empire and strangely, the first prisoner held there was Peter's son, Tsarevich Alexei and died in the fortress itself. This fortress is easily accessible too from the metro station Gorkovskaya on the blue line. This place is a good picnic spot too as there is a beach where you can sit and relax.

Photo of Peter and Paul Fortress, Saint Petersburg, Russia by Sudarshan Gupta
Photo of Peter and Paul Fortress, Saint Petersburg, Russia by Sudarshan Gupta

St. Isaac's Cathedral, the largest orthodox church in Russia and the fourth largest cathedral in the world, took 40 years to build from 1818 to 1858 and located in the centre of the city near the Hermitage Museum. The Saint Isaac's Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Isaac of Dalmatia, a patron saint of Peter the Great and was built by Tsar Alexander I.

Photo of St. Isaac's Cathedral, Saint Isaac's Square, Saint Petersburg, Russia by Sudarshan Gupta
Photo of St. Isaac's Cathedral, Saint Isaac's Square, Saint Petersburg, Russia by Sudarshan Gupta

The exterior of this cathedral is faced with grey and pink stone, creating the imposing look with granite columns, 24 statues stand on the roof and another 24 stand on the rotunda. This 333 foot dome is plated in pure gold and decorated with twelve statues of angels. The 360 view of the city shouldn't be missed from this cathedral where you can reach to the rotunda of the dome by climbing 300 steps and the view will be stunning and spectacular from such height.

Interior of St. Isaac's Cathedral

Photo of St. Petersburg - A Taste Of Europe Within Indian Budget by Sudarshan Gupta

One of the largest cathedral in St. Petersburg, built in 1801 - 1811 by the architect Andrey Voronikhin ordered by Emperor Paul I resembles St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. This church is also known as the Cathedral of our Lady of Kazan who is a holy icon within the Russian orthodox Church. This cathedral can be reached by two metro lines, Nevsky Prospekt (Blue) & Gostiny Dvor (Green) easily.

Photo of St. Petersburg - A Taste Of Europe Within Indian Budget by Sudarshan Gupta

An island occupied between the Fontanka, Moika and the Swan Canal, Summer Garden was founded in 1704 by Peter the Great who personally planned it. Summer Garden is not something you will find in every Russian travel guide or blogs but besides monuments, it holds a significant importance of the Russian history. The summer garden is home to marble statues acquired from Europe for Russia's new capital.

Photo of Summer Garden, набережная Лебяжьей канавки, Saint Petersburg, Russia by Sudarshan Gupta
Photo of Summer Garden, набережная Лебяжьей канавки, Saint Petersburg, Russia by Sudarshan Gupta

The first imperial garden of European style in Russia share its name with the adjacent summer palace. Apart from the statues, the fountains are another major attraction of this garden. This garden has depictions of Russian literature like Alexander Pushkin, the famous poet chose this garden as the setting for the childhood walks of his fictional character Evgeny Onegin. Luckily, during the bombardment of World War II, the statues and the garden didnt suffer any serious loss or damage.

Photo of St. Petersburg - A Taste Of Europe Within Indian Budget by Sudarshan Gupta
Photo of St. Petersburg - A Taste Of Europe Within Indian Budget by Sudarshan Gupta
Photo of St. Petersburg - A Taste Of Europe Within Indian Budget by Sudarshan Gupta
Photo of St. Petersburg - A Taste Of Europe Within Indian Budget by Sudarshan Gupta

There is a pond in the Summer Garden where a couple of swan resides. They are the oldest pair here and resembles Romeo & Juliet as per the saying of local Russians. They resides here since very long time.

Photo of St. Petersburg - A Taste Of Europe Within Indian Budget by Sudarshan Gupta
Photo of St. Petersburg - A Taste Of Europe Within Indian Budget by Sudarshan Gupta
Photo of St. Petersburg - A Taste Of Europe Within Indian Budget by Sudarshan Gupta

There is a very interesting monument near the Summer Garden which no one will tell you but it is the smallest monument of the world, an 11 centimetre statue of a siskin, Chizhik Pyzhik. There is a very interesting rhyme associated with this statue for the students who wore green and yellow uniforms and looked like siskin. Local stories says that anyone who can toss a coin on Fontanka river, if falls on the statue gets some good luck. (You can look its picture on google as I couldnt take it because of the construction going on)

Day 3

About 1 hour drive outside of St. Petersburg is located Peterhof Grand Palace also known as "Russian Versailles" consisting of a series of palaces and gardens that were the residence of the czars. It is located at the shore of the Gulf of Finland, west of St. Petersburg.

The most interesting are the gardens here known as Upper Park and the Lower Park. The Upper Park is located at the park entrance and consists of 5 fountains. The Lower park is more big like 100 hectares and have separate ticket to enter. The Peterhof Palace looks beautiful with fountains in summer and sometimes known as the Fountain Capital Of Russia consisting of 64 different fountains. One can also go to the shore crossing the Lower Park and relax at the beach which is Gulf of Finland. 

Photo of St. Petersburg - A Taste Of Europe Within Indian Budget by Sudarshan Gupta
Photo of St. Petersburg - A Taste Of Europe Within Indian Budget by Sudarshan Gupta
Photo of St. Petersburg - A Taste Of Europe Within Indian Budget by Sudarshan Gupta
Photo of St. Petersburg - A Taste Of Europe Within Indian Budget by Sudarshan Gupta
Photo of St. Petersburg - A Taste Of Europe Within Indian Budget by Sudarshan Gupta

There is many more to explore in St. Petersburg but unfortunately, I was there for 4 days only and could experience the limited things. Besides these monuments and gardens, there are many activities which can be done here and cannot be missed at all if you come to St. Petersburg. I will give the details of those activities in my next blog. Also, wait for the magnificent Moscow and many more to come. 

As a traveler, St. Petersburg became one of the favorite cities of the world which touched my heart & soul. I am always in love with the cities I have never seen and the people I have never met. After visiting Russia, my inclination towards learning Russian language got increased and the desire to explore the other parts of Russia. Travelling always turns us into a story teller and this is the most beautiful story I ever had. Hope, this blog will be interesting for you and maybe you can tell me your story too !!!

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