It’s impossible to imagine the history of St Peterburg without the Romanov family. From Peter the Great, the founder of the “Russian Venice”, to Nicholas II, the last Emperor of Russia — their lives were closely connected with the city. Let’s explore the most important places of St Petersburg that still keep the vibes of the past and reveal some of the mysteries of the Russian Royal Family.
An absolute must-do and the first place to go for everyone interested in the history of the Romanovs. Often called a “Russian Buckingham Palace”, the Winter Palace was the main official residence of the Russian emperors and one of the most beautiful Romanov palaces in the country. Apart from having an enormous art collection, this place allows visitors to learn about the habits and tastes of the royal family.
Explore the dining rooms and the workplace where Peter the Great lived and worked, take a look at the collection of his personal belongings that can tell a lot about his character. Or go to St George's Hall on the eastern side of the Winter Palace where most of the Imperial court ceremonies took place.
Book a tour: The Hermitage and Winter Palace
Where: Palace Embankment, 32
When: 10:30 am–6 pm (until 9pm on Wednesday), closed on Monday
The ghost of Mikhailovsky Castle
Not all Russian tsars enjoyed living in the Winter Palace. Paul I, an emperor of Russia between 1796 and 1801, was so afraid of the assassination and intrigues of the royal court that he decided to build a new safer residence. Besides, the emperor was a big fan of medieval knights history, that’s why Mikhailovsky Castle (also called the Engineers' Castle) looks like a true medieval castle. Surrounded by water and defended by the canons and lift-bridges, it was being built days and nights and was finished in only 3 years.
Ironically, Paul, I was killed just 40 days after he moved into the new residence. Legends say that his soul hasn’t found the peace and the ghost of the emperor is still there.
Where: Sadovaya St, 2
When: 10:30 am–6 pm (1 pm–9pm on Thursday), closed on Tuesday.
Peterhof Palace: “the Russian Versailles”
Initially designed by Peter the Great to beat the Palace of Versailles, this famous place includes several magnificent palaces, gardens and the main attraction — more than 140 fountains.
Go to the Gгаnd Palace, in the center of Peterhof, just above the Lower Park and Grand Cascade. The interior decor is simply breathtaking but what may be the most interesting here is Oak Cabinet of Peter the Great with items that belonged to him. There is also the Throne Room with the gallery of Romanov portraits and other rooms with a more than 3000-items collection of furniture, paintings, porcelain plates and cloths.
Where: Razvodnaya Ulitsa, 2
When: 9am–7 pm, open until 10 pm on Saturday
The Fabergé Museum
In the “Blue room” of the Fabergé Museum, you find a collection of famous Easter eggs by a Russian jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé made with precious metals and decorated with gemstones. Each egg took a year of hard work. Many of them were very personal gifts within the Russian royal family. The first one out of 50 was an Eastern gift from Alexander III to his wife Maria Feodorovna in 1885. Within the two-and-a-half inches, the egg is a golden yolk with a golden hen and a little diamond crown with a tiny pendant hidden inside.
Book a tour: Faberge Museum
Where: Fontanka river embankment, 21
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
You can’t miss this church when you walk along Nevsky Prospect and cross Griboedov Channel. Apart from having its distinguished beauty, this place marks a tragic day in the Romanov family history. In March 1881 anarchist conspirators threw a bomb and killed Tsar Alexander II when his carriage passed along the embankment exactly where the church now stands. If you go inside you can see the spot where the tsar fell – the constructors even had to narrow the canal to keep it within the church walls. Inside the building, all the walls are covered with more than 7000 square meters of mosaics, making it look like a magic box.
Book a tour: City tour with the Savior-On-Blood Cathedral
Where: Griboyedov channel embankment, 2Б
When: 10.30–6 pm, closed on Wednesday
Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral: the final resting place
Finally, the place where almost all Russian tsars finished their path. The cathedral is a part of the Peter and Paul Fortress from which the history of the city starts. It was founded by Peter the Great in 1703 and the cathedral is one of the very first and oldest buildings of the city. Built between 1712 and 1733, the cathedral’s bell tower is often considered one of the tallest Orthodox bell towers in the world. It is the burial place from Peter the Great as well as for the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II and his family, their remains were brought here in 1998.
Where: Peter and Paul Fortress
When: 10 am–7 pm, works from 11 am on Sunday.