A visit to St Petersburg, whether as part of a Baltic Cruise or a land vacation, will not be complete without picking up a gift or souvenir to take home and remember the trip by. But what to buy in this Old Russian city?
Souvenirs can be as simple and cheap or as extravagant as you choose. There are, however, some very special items which are worth investing in if you want a really memorable keepsake.
Russian artworks are traditional items that, rather than simply being kitsch souvenirs, are used by Russians daily and are connected with traditional Russian folklore…
- Amber Jewellery – the “stone of the sun”, amber has been used decoratively for thousands of years. There is a large natural deposit of amber at Kaliningrad, not far from the city of St Petersburg; many local masters are inspired by and craft this warm stone into talismans, jewellery, and decorative items. Every Russian man knows amber is the optimal gift for any woman in his life. Baltic amber comes in colours from yellow through greens and even reds and purples.
- Russian Dolls – called Babushka (“old woman”) by many, the correct Russian name for these dolls – a symbol of Russia – is Matroyshka. Derived from the name “Matryona”, (“Maria”, traditionally the most popular Russian girls’ name), these wooden dolls nest inside each other. Anything from two to twenty four nesting dolls is common, though there are some with up to sixty!
- Faberge Eggs – real Faberge Eggs are priceless museum artefacts. Made for the Tsars by the House of Faberge between 1885 and 1917, they contained secret precious metals and jewels, as well as artistic depictions of palace life. Modern reproductions are not inexpensive, yet are exquisite if made well.
- Orenburg Shawls – dating to the seventeenth century, these exquisite shawls are hand-knit from goat down. Intricately woven, they are renowned outside Russia for their delicate beauty.
- Fur – if you’re not adverse to wearing real fur, Russia is the place to buy the highest quality furs in the world. Russians wear more fur than any other nation worldwide.
- Gzhel Porcelain – Gzhel is Russia’s oldest and most famous manufacturer of handmade porcelain, dating from the 1300s. Each item is an individual and unique piece of art with patterns drawn by hand. Available are tea, coffee, and dinner services, vases, clocks, samovars, candlesticks, lamps, statuettes, and much more.
- Birch Bark Boxes – the birch is a Russian symbol, the tree being associated with light and peace. Traditionally, birch was planted near the entrance to one’s yard to prevent troubles from entering the home. Birch bark boxes are perfect for keeping jewellery and are usually intricately carved and decorated.
Rather than coming home from St Petersburg with lots of “cheap” souvenirs, why not invest in one special item you will keep and treasure forever?