Tour to Saint Petersburg. Trip to Russia. Legendary tour.
TRIP TO ST. PETERSBURG
PLACES TO VISIT IN ST. PETERSBURG
SOUTH & WEST OF NEVSKY PROSPEKT
This teeming and rather dirty market square, interesting at any time of the day, is dominated by what seems to be a permanent exhibition of construction equipment. This is also the gateway to
Dostoevsky ville. The peripatetic writer, who occupied around 20 residences in his 28-year stay in the city, once spent a couple of days in debtors' prison in what is now called the Senior Officer's
Barracks, just across the square from the Sennaya Ploshchad metro station. Dostoevsky had been thrown in there by his publisher, for missing a deadline ('Had we but thought of it ...' - Т Wheeler).
At the site of the metro station was once a large cathedral that dominated the square.
Just west of the square and across the river, at ulitsa Kaznacheyskaya 7, is the flat where he wrote Crime and Punishment; Raskolnikov's route to the murder passed directly under the author's window. The old woman lived at flat 74, naberezhnaya kanala Griboedova 104; you can visit the hallway outside the flat
(residents are quite used to it). Entering from the canal side, walk straight back to entrance No 5 (apartments 22-81); the flat's on the 3rd floor.
Vladimirskaya Ploshchad Area.
Around Vladimirskaya ploshchad are the indoor Kuznechny market (note the 1920s worker statue on its facade), St Petersburg's biggest and best stocked. There are also a few museums and a
smattering of eateries and shops, all on a backdrop to what is one of the city's liveliest areas. The onion-domed working Our Lady of
Vladimir Church (1761-69) with its 1783 three-tiered belfry
by Quarenghi dominates the square. Around it, there's an unofficial, daily market of stolen goods, clothes and
jewellery. The alcoholics, thieves and genuine folks trying to make an honest rouble who
gather here are dispersed regularly by the police, but always return to sell their wares; this very St Petersburg scene is worth a gander.
Dostoevsky wrote most of The Brothers Karamazov in a flat at Kuznechny pereulok 5. just past the market, and died there in 1881. It's now a small and worthwhile Dostoevsky
Museum. A long-awaited (and gloomy) statue of the writer was unveiled in 1997 and now stands directly outside the Vladimirskaya metro.
The Arctic & Antarctic Museum on ulitsa Marata focuses on Soviet polar explorations and ratty taxidermy exhibitions.
There's a small Rimsky-Korsakov Flat-Museum at Zagorodny prospekt
Just north of Zagorodny prospekt is Semyonovskaya ploshchad, where in 1849 Dostoevsky and 20 other prisoners underwent a mock execution.
Teatralnaya Ploshchad Area.
Teatralnaya ploshchad has been an entertainment center since fairs were held here in the mid-18th century. Built in 1859, the Mariinsky Theatre has played a pivotal role
in Russian ballet ever since. Outside performance times you can usually wander into the Mariinsky Theatre's foyer, and maybe peep into its lovely auditorium.
One good foot route to the area is along the south side of the Moyka River from Isaakievskaya
ploshchad. On the way, you'll pass the original Yusupov Palace at naberezhnaya reki Moyki
94, where in 1916 Rasputin, as a dinner guest of Prince Felix Yusupov and friends, was fed with poisoned food, cakes, cookies and drink. Afterwards as he was happily licking his fingers, the Yusupov
gang shot ol' Raspy repeatedly. But like a tsarist-era Terminator, he refused to die, and when Yusupov knelt over him, Rasputin grabbed him by the throat! At that point, Yusupov did what any sane man
would do: he ran like hell. When he returned with reinforcements, they found Rasputin had dragged himself outside. They shot him a few more times, beat him with sticks for good measure, and stuffed
him through the ice of the frozen river. Legend has it that Rasputin did not die until he was submerged — water was found in his lungs.
North-east of Teatralnaya ploshchad, before it twists south-east, the Griboedova Canal runs under another
of St Petersburg's beautiful beast-supported bridges - the Lviny most, with cables
emerging from the mouths of golden lions.
This long avenue south from Sennaya ploshchad is the start of the main road to Moscow. The iron Moscow Triumphal Arch, 3.5km out, looking very like Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, was built in 1838 to
mark victories over Turks, Persians and Poles, demolished in 1936 then rebuilt in 1959-60. Local legend has it that the gate is built on the spot where
travelers entering the city in the early days
had to show that they had brought with them bricks or stones to be used in the construction of buildings.
A couple of kilometers farther south, east off Moskovsky prospekt on ulitsa
Gastello, is Chesma Palace, built for Catherine the Great to rest en route to Tsarskoe Selo (now
Pushkin). More interesting is the red-and white 18th century Gothic Chesma Churcl(1774-80), at ulitsa Gastello 17. The
church designed by Y Feltema (who was also responsible for the
Church of St Catherine on Vasilevsky Island), was built in honor о the Battle of Cesme (1770) when the Russian fleet sailed from the Baltic to
the Aegean to beat the Turks.
Wide Moskovskaya ploshchad, a little way south of ulitsa Gastello, was intended under a 1930s plan to become the
center о St Petersburg, replacing the old tsarist center. In a testament to the
stubbornness of St Petersburgers during Stalin's terror, this plan was universally ignored. Moskovsky prospekt ends a few hundred
meters farther on at ploshchad Pobedy, where the Monument to the Heroic Defenders of
Leningrad, commemorating WWII and the siege, makes a striking first impression on entering St Petersburg.
Underground is a free exhibition, open daily except Wednesday on the blockade, highly worth the trip to metro Moskovskaya and the 10 minute walk south after it. With a mausoleum-marble interior,
films about the siege, exhibits, and haunting music, it's a sobering memorial to a grief felt by many residents to this day.
Just south of the Pulkova airports, lies the Pulkova Observatory. For a short time at the beginning of the century, the observatory, founded in 1839, was
considered the astronomical capital of the world for the quality and scope of its research. The WWII front line was only one mile to the south so many buildings suffered damage. The hill on which the
observatory stands is the region's highest elevated point; from here the Nazis used to shell the easily viewed city.