For the keen traveller, Russia is packed with amazing places just waiting to be discovered. One of my favourite destinations is the spectacular city of St Petersburg, famous for its charming mix of canals and striking architecture. Located on the mouth of the River Neva, this city was built on 40 islands and is a veritable historical treasure trove.
Constructed at the behest of Peter the Great, St Petersburg has a distinctly European feel, while housing some of the country’s most fascinating museums, galleries, architecture and monuments. I think the fact that you can go on cruises that focus directly on these aspects of the city is a testament to just how impressive they are; if you like the sound of this kind of holiday, make sure you research your options for cruises from Liverpool in 2013, as many voyages to Russia depart from here.
Below, you’ll find a list of what I think some of the most exciting and enthralling monuments and historical sites in St Petersburg are.
1) The Bronze Horseman
This is one of the city’s most famous statues, partly due to the fact that it’s incredibly imposing, but also thanks to a celebrated poem by one of Russia’s most treasured poets, Pushkin. In fact, it was this poem that led to the statue, which is of the city’s founder Peter the Great, becoming commonly known as the Bronze Horseman.
You can see it by heading to Decembrists’ Square (which, by the way, is something of an attraction in its own right). The statue is located on the side nearest the river and, in fact, it is often suggested that the monument is best admired from a boat on the water. That said, I think it’s equally great to see it on foot, so never fear if you don’t have time for a boat trip.
While you’re taking it in, keep in mind that it took some 12 years to sculpt – something that makes it all the more awe-inspiring, I think.
2) Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad
The next site on my list is the Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad, which I think is easily one of the most impressive you’ll see here. Located in Victory Square (which is known locally as pl Pobedy), this is an absolutely huge monument that was designed by architect Sergei Speransky.
Commemorating the efforts of both Leningrad residents and soldiers in resisting the Nazis during World War II (more specifically during the Siege of Leningrad, which lasted 900 days), the monument is centred on a vast obelisk that’s 48 m tall. Bronze statues complete the scene, which dominates the local landscape.
3) Pushkin monument
Pushkin is one of Russia’s most famous names, so it’s well worth visiting the monument dedicated to him – especially if you’re a fan of his poetry. You’ll find it located in the centre of the fabulous Square of the Arts, which is surrounded by some of the city’s most important cultural sites, including the Russian Museum.
4) State Hermitage Museum
While not technically a monument, the State Hermitage Museum has a huge cultural and historical significance – so forgive me for sneaking it in! Renowned as one of the world’s finest collections of artistic works and historical artefacts, it is located in the stunning palace from where the Romanov tsars once ruled. So, it’s historical in more ways than one.
Head inside and you can see an unbelievable array of items reaching more than 3 million in number. These include archaeological treasures, works of art and much more.