Home » Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia

by Debra C. Argen
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Saint Petersburg, Russia - Russian Emblem Double Headed EagleSaint Petersburg, Russia, founded in 1703 by Peter the Great, is an architectural delight and the home of the world-renowned State Hermitage Museum.


Visiting Saint Petersburg I learned that the city is comprised of more than a hundred islands, covers 606 square kilometers, and has a population of 4.6 million. The city is famous for its cultural life, palaces, and over 100 museums, the most famous being The State Hermitage Museum.

Edward F. Nesta and I traveled to Russia, the largest country in the world in terms of area in early November 2006, first visiting Moscow the capital city, followed by a trip to Saint Petersburg. The weather was snowy and cold when we arrived in Saint Petersburg, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time in this charming city.

Kempinski Hotel Moika 22, Saint Petersburg, RussiaWe stayed at the Kempinski Hotel Moika 22, a gorgeous little gem of a hotel housed in a former Saint Petersburg mansion built in 1853 by Basil von Witte. The hotel opened in 2006 and features a total of 197 rooms including 23 suites. The Kempinski Hotel Moika 22 is all about luxury; the hotel is conveniently located across from Palace Square and the State Hermitage, and a short distance from Nevsky Prospekt, and situated on the Moika River Embankment, the hotel takes advantage of its prime location by having a private dock for guests.

The hotel has two restaurants, their fine-dining French restaurant Beau Rivage, and Bellevue Brasserie on the ninth floor with its panoramic rooftop views of Saint Petersburg. Together with the Tea Room, Von Witte Lounge, Wine Cellar 1853, and Rooftop Relaxation Center, the hotel is a charming and elegant oasis in Saint Petersburg.

We had wonderful dinners at the Beau Rivage and Bellevue Brasserie, and partook of the very Russian tradition of Afternoon Tea in the Tea Room sitting by a crackling fire in the fireplace while we listened to classical music by a violin duo, and met with Executive Chef Philippe Bossert and convinced him to share a few recipes which he does in the Chefs' Recipes section.

Read about the Kempinski Hotel Moika 22 in the Hotels and Resorts, Restaurants and Chefs' Recipes sections.

Kempinski Hotel Moika 22
Moika River Embankment
191186 Saint Petersburg
Russian Federation
Telephone:      +7 812 335-9111
Toll-Free:        00 800 426 313-55 (Europe)
Toll-Free:        1 800 426-3135 (North America)
Fax:                +7 812 335-9190

Saint Petersburg, Russia - Palace SquareA short stroll from the hotel is Palace Square, Arch of the General Staff and the Alexander Column with angel statue and cross, erected in 1834 in the middle of the square. There are period horse drawn carriages with costumed actors in the Palace Square adding to the overall charm, and reminding visitors of an earlier and grand age.

Saint Petersburg, Russia - The State HermitageThe Palace Square is the central square of Saint Petersburg, and is the home of The State Hermitage Museum, one of the largest and most celebrated museums in the world, and for me, it would not be possible to visit Saint Petersburg without visiting this magnificent museum. We arrived at the museum at opening time, and left just before the museum closed, and still only saw a fraction of the museum. Allow yourself at least one full day to spend here to truly appreciate this spectacular museum.

Golden Drawing Room By Permission from The State Hermitage Musuem, St. PetersburgWhat began as a private collection by Empress Catherine the Great in 1764 when she purchased Flemish and Dutch paintings, The State Hermitage Museum collection has now grown to the considerable size of over 3 million exhibits. The museum buildings consists of the spectacular baroque Winter Palace of Peter I, the Small Hermitage, the New Hermitage, the Large (Old) Hermitage, and Hermitage Theatre.

The collections include: Antiquity, Caucasus, Ancient Egypt, Prehistoric Culture, Treasure Galleries 1 and 2, Ancient East, Russian Culture, Palace Interiors, French Art 15th – 18th Centuries, Spanish Art, German Art, British Art, Flemish Art, Dutch Art, Netherlandish Art, Italian Art, European Medieval Art, European Arms and Armor, European Art 19th – 20th Centuries, Numismatics, and Byzantium and the East. The sheer volume and exquisite temporary and permanent exhibitions captured our imaginations and had us enthralled for hours.

Jordan Staircase By Permission from The State Hermitage Musuem, St. PetersburgThe architecture of the buildings is breathtaking, and walking up the majestic ornate white marble main (Jordan) staircase in the Winter Palace, I felt like an Empress.  A few of the numerous highlights included the Peter Hall (Small Throne Room), the opulent Gold Drawing Room with its gold walls and intricately designed domed ceiling with blue silk draped windows that was the setting of the temporary exhibit of Malachite Drawing Room By Permission from The State Hermitage Musuem, St. Petersburgcameos and intaglios collection, the Large Italian Skylight Hall with parquet floors, glazed dome skylight with malachite tables and enormous malachite vases on pedestals, the adjacent room with lapis lazuli tables and vases, The Pavilion Hall in the Small Hermitage with its golden peacock clock, and the Leonardo da Vinci room in the Old Hermitage.

Outside in the courtyard of the State Hermitage, there were cheerfully painted lion sculptures that seemed to bring out the child in everyone as they happily posed with the lions.

Also of interest is the elaborate gate at the entrance with the emblem of Russia, the double eagle.

The museum is open Tuesday – Saturday from 10:30 am – 6:00 pm, and Sunday from 10:30 am – 5:00 pm. The museum is closed on Monday. Entrance from Palace Square for visitors with limited mobility. Admission is charged. Free admission for children, students, and members of ICOM.  

The State Hermitage Museum
2, Palace Square
190000 Saint Petersburg
Russian Federation
Telephone:      +7 812 571 3420, +7 812 710 9079, +7 812 710 9625
Fax:                 +7 812 312 1550

Saint Petersburg, Russia - The Russian MuseumAnother wonderful museum that we visited is The State Russian Museum, the first and largest museum of Russian fine art in the country, established by Emperor Nicholas II in 1895, the museum opened to visitors in 1898. In 1917, the museum named was changed to The State Russian Museum. We toured the impressive Mikhailovsky Palace built for Mikhail Pavlovich, the Benois Wing, and the Rossi Wing, which feature 400,000 exhibits of icons, Old Russian art, 18th century art, early 19th century art, late 19th century art, and 20th century art. A few of the important artists in their collection include: M. Vrubel, V. Serov, K. Petrov-Vodkin, M. Chagall, K. Malevich, and P. Filonov.

The museum is open Wednesday – Sunday from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, and Monday – 10:00 am – 5:00 pm. The museum is closed on Tuesday. For information on visitors with limited mobility, contact the museum at +7 812 314 6424, wheelchairs are available free of charge. Admission is charged.

The State Russian Museum
4, Inzhenernaya str.
191186 Saint Petersburg
Russian Federation
Telephone:      +7 812 595 4248
Tour Office:    +7 812 314 3448

Saint Petersburg, Russia - Cathedral of the SaviorThe architecture of Russia is amazing, and a wonderful example of Russian revival style architecture is the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ, also known as the Cathedral of the Savior on the Spilled Blood, or Savior on the Blood. The cathedral is a memorial to Emperor Alexander II who was assassinated on this spot on March 1, 1881. Construction on the church began in 1883 and was completed in 1907.

The cathedral is almost fairytale-like with its ornately decorated façade on all sides of the building, and has over 7,000 square meters of mosaics. The brightly colored faceted onion domes painted in colors of turquoise, gold, white, and green, as well as the gilded onion domes of the church had us mesmerized as we compared them to St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, which we had just recently visited. Also of interest are the icons and paintings on the exterior, and the gilded bell tower. The church was damaged during the October revolution, was renovated and opened as a museum in 1997. The museum is open from 11:00 am – 6:00 pm, and is closed on Wednesday. Admission is charged.

Cathedral of the Savior on the Spilled Blood
26, Griboedova Kanala nab.
Saint Petersburg
Russian Federation
Telephone:      +7 812 315-1636

Saint Petersburg, Russia - decorative fenceAnother example of the highly decorative Russian style is the fanciful floral wrought iron fence surrounding the park across from the Cathedral of the Savior on the Spilled Blood, with stylized flowers, leaves, and curlicues.

Saint Petersburg, Russia - Souvenirs FairDespite the cold temperature, we visited the large outdoor Souvenirs Fair across the street from the Cathedral of the Savior on the Spilled Blood where visitors can purchase fur hats, handcrafted items including the famous Matreshkas (nesting dolls), birch boxes, lacquer boxes, ceramics, porcelain, shawls, icons, and other souvenirs. The fair is open daily year-round from sunrise to sunset.

Souvenirs Fair
1, Griboedova Kanala
Saint Petersburg
Russian Federation
Telephone:      +7 812 572-1551, +7 812 962-2613

Saint Petersburg, Russia - Wedding CoupleAs we were out walking, we saw a beautiful young bride and a handsome groom posing for pictures for their photographer, and I could not resist taking their photograph, with their permission, to capture the beauty and the love of the Russian people.

Saint Petersburg, Russia - Our Lady of Kazan Cathedral Nevsky Prospekt is the main street of Saint Petersburg, and one of its impressive landmarks is the Our Lady of Kazan Cathedral, built between 1801 – 1811, inspired by Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome with its sweeping 96 column colonnade exterior. The church was built to house the Kazan icons.

Our Lady of Kazan Cathedral
Nevsky Prospekt
Kazanskaya Square 2
191011 Saint Petersburg
Russian Federation
Telephone:      +7 812 315-5856

Saint Petersburg, Russia - Saint Catherine of Alexandria ChurchWe also visited Saint Catherine of Alexandria Church, built in the early neo-classical style, which is the largest and oldest Catholic Church in Russia.

Saint Catherine of Alexandria Church
32-34, Nevsky Prospekt
191011 Saint Petersburg
Russian Federation
Telephone:      +7 812 311-5795
Fax:                 +7-812 315-1929

Saint Petersburg, Russia - St. Isaac's Cathedral Saint Isaac's Cathedral (Saint Isaac of Dalmatia) is another important Saint Petersburg landmark built in the Russian Empire style. Of particular interest are the 112 solid granite columns, bas-relief doors, and sculptures. The State Memorial Museum Saint Isaac's Cathedral is open daily from 11:00 am – 7:00 pm, and the Colonnade is open from 11:00 am – 6:00 pm, and is closed on Wednesday. Admission is charged.

Saint Isaac's Cathedral
Isaakievskaya pl.
Saint Petersburg
Russian Federation
Telephone:      +7 812 315-9732

Like the Moscovites, the people of Saint Petersburg also appreciate luxury goods and fashions, and you will find a large selection of international designer goods. We went shopping at Gostiny DVOR, constructed from 1757 – 1785, Saint Petersburg's largest department store. The store is open from 10:00 am – 10:00 pm.

Gostiny DVOR
35, Nevsky Prospekt
191011 Saint Petersburg
Russian Federation
Telephone:      +7 812 710-5408

Saint Petersburg, Russia - PeterhofSaint Petersburg, Russia - water vews
Architecture of Saint Petersburg 

We also went shopping at Dom Leningradskoy Torgovli (Dlt). The store is open daily from 10:00 am – 9:00 pm, with the exception of Sunday when it opens at 11:00 am.

Dom Leningradskoy Torgovli (Dlt)
21/23 B. Konyushennaya Ul.
Saint Petersburg
Russian Federation

Saint Petersburg, Russia - Arch of the General StaffSaint Petersburg, Russia - Peterhof 
Architecture of Saint Petersburg

Another shopping complex that we visited was Passage, open daily from: 10:00 am – 9:00 pm, with the exception of Sunday when it opens at 11:00 am.

48 Nevsky Prospekt
Saint Petersburg
Russian Federation

Despite the cold and snowy weather, we took a walk through the 12 hectares Summer Garden designed for Peter I in 1704 to see the famous collection of beautiful Italian marble sculptures that line the park, and also saw the famous sculpture of Catherine the Great.

Saint Petersburg, Russia - Catherine The Great
Catherine The Great

An interesting note is that Russians love ice cream, and while Edward and I were stopping periodically at coffeehouses for a cup of hot chocolate to warm up, street venders were selling ice cream from pushcarts even as the snow was falling.

Whatever the season or the weather, Saint Petersburg is an enchanting city waiting to delight visitors with its cultural riches.

Important Information for Russia

Russia requires that foreign visitors apply for a visa. For information on how to apply for a visa, please visit the website: www.VisitRussia.com.

The currency of Russia is the Russian Ruble (RUB). As of March 2007, the exchange rate was 26.03 Russian Rubles (RUB) to 1 US Dollar (USD), and 34.67 Russian Rubles (RUB) to 1 Euro (EUR). There are 100 kopecks to the ruble. Kopeck coins come in denominations of: 1, 5, 10, 50, and ruble coin denominations: 1, 2, 5, and 10. Ruble banknotes come in denominations of: 5, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000 and 5000.

Saint Petersburg is +3 hours Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and +4 hours GMT from March to October. From the United States, Saint Petersburg is +8 hours Eastern Standard Time (EST), +9 hours Central Standard Time (CST), +10 hours Mountain Standard Time (MST), and +11 hours Pacific Standard Time (PST).

The voltage in Russia in 220V AC and uses a 2-prong European plug, and it is helpful to bring your own converter.

I find that it is always helpful to have some basic language knowledge when traveling.

Basic Vocabulary





Please (and You're Welcome)


pa zhal sta

Thank you


spa see ba









zdra stvooy tye


до свидания

das vee da nee ye

My name is …

Меня зовут …  

min-ya za-oot

What is your name?

Как вас зовут?  

kak vas za-voot

Pleased to meet you.

Очень приятно  

och-en pree-yat-na

Beverage Vocabulary







men yoo



kaw fe






ma la kaw






va daa



pee va



vawd ka

Food Vocabulary





Russian beetroot soup








myaa sa



koo reets a



reeb a



ve ge ta ree aa nets




Read other articles on Saint Petersburg and Russia in the Destinations, Hotels and Resorts, Restaurants, Chefs' Recipes, and Spas sections.

For information on the Kempinski Hotel Moika 22 please visit the website: www.Kempinski-St-Petersburg.com or www.Kempinski.com.

For information on Russia, please visit the website: www.VisitRussia.com.

Photos of The Gold Drawing Room, The Malachite Room, and The Jordan Staircase by permission of The State Hermitage Musuem, St. Petersburg.

© April 2007. Luxury Experience. www.LuxuryExperience.com All rights reserved.

Related Articles