Saint Petersburg has emerged as the world’s best cultural destination in 2016’s World Travel Awards. The Russian city beat London, New York, Paris, Rome, Venice and Sydney in the Oscars equivalent of the tourism industry. So, what does the ‘Venice of the North’ have in store for tourists? Here’s a glimpse of the city’s rich cultural scene:
History & Art at The Hermitage
The Hermitage (above) was initially used as the residence Russia’s Tsars, and now serves as the venue of culture and art much like the Louvre in Paris. As one of the biggest art and culture museums in the world, it houses as many as three million works, ranging from ancient antiques to artistic masterpieces. If you take one minute to observe each piece, and you do it for a good eight hours per day, it would still take 15 years to view every showcased artifact in the Hermitage. Expect to see paintings by influential artists Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Van Dyke and Picasso. Step into the lives of the Russian Tsars in the Winter Palace, one of the many buildings in the museum’s complex. There are also the Old Hermitage, the Small Hermitage and the New Hermitage to explore, as part of the museum complex that overlooks the Neva River.
Russian literature is in a league of its own. Tourists can visit places where literary history was made, or even places depicted in the works of iconic Russian authors. The Dostoyevsky Museum for example, is where the Crime and Punishment writer had resided, while the Raskolnikov House is depicted as its protagonist’s home. There is also the Nabokov Museum, the former home of Lolita’s author, that had been described in his autobiography Speak, Memory. Some other destinations include the site where the founder of modern Russian literature, Alexander Pushkin, met his tragic end in a duel against Baron Georges d’Anthès.
Delve into the marvels of Russian architecture along the canals of St Petersburg. The city’s center offers a blend of Baroque and Neoclassical architecture in a beautiful layout that remains loyal to its original history, founded by Tsar Peter the Great himself.
There are several gorgeous churches in the city, such as the Smolny Cathedral (above) and the Chesme Church. However, the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is what identifies St Petersburg the most. The city is also worldly-renowned for its ballet performances, held at the Mariinsky Theater (below).