St Petersburg has many well-known and well-trodden tourist attractions, but what if you are looking for something a little different to see and do in this Imperial city?
Here are just a few unique and hidden attractions in and nearby St Petersburg – get off the beaten path and explore something a little different…
Imperial Porcelain Factory
St Petersburg was once an important European centre for porcelain production, and the Imperial Porcelain Factory produced top quality, bespoke crockery and ornaments for local aristocrats from 1744. Private tours can be arranged. The museum is not only interesting but also has franchise stores selling dinner sets and porcelain gifts inspired by Revolutionary, Soviet, and contemporary design.
Summer Garden at the Russian Museum
We have talked about the Russian Museum in a prior post, but the Summer Garden deserves special mention. These gardens, or Letny Sad, located on a small island on the south bank of the Neva River, are a favourite amongst city residents as a peaceful retreat and have been recently restored. Tree-lined alleys, eighteenth century marble statues, and seasonal fountains await in these gardens that are managed by the Russian Museum.
Alexander Nevsky Monastery
Named for ST Petersburg’s patron saint, this is amongst the city’s most revered and oldest religious sites. Still functioning as a monastery today, it is free to tour, though entry to the graveyards (where many famous artists rest) is charged at a small fee.
Erarta Contemporary Art Museum and Gallery
The contemporary art scene in this city is growing and this gallery on Vasilievsky ostrov on the Neva’s north bank is appealing to art lovers. It houses Russia’s largest non-government owned collection of modern art. The gallery is open every day except Tuesday.
The St Petersburg Chamber Opera Company performs from its home theatre in the Baron von Derviz Mansion on Gallernaya ulitsa (complete with a grotto to explore during intermission), as well as in the chamber theatre in the Hermitage. During December, for example, classics including Puccini’s La Boheme, Verdi’s La Traviata, and Britten’s Rape of Lucretia are produced. Lesser known and smaller than the Mariinsky Company, the SPB Opera is well worth an n evening out.
Art Hotel Rachmaninov
Not just a place to stay, the Art Hotel Rachmaninov has gallery spaces that present local artist and photography exhibitions. It is situated in a pre-Revolutionary townhouse, close to the Kazan Cathedral, and was the childhood home of renowned Russian composer Sergey Rachmaninov.
The Aurora is a battleship that was built in 1900 and went on to play an important role in the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. It is maintained by local naval cadets, and is free to visit for a quick but interesting tour.
Slightly off the beaten track, this cemetery dates to WWII when St Petersburg was called Leningrad and was under siege by the Nazis. Hundreds of thousands of civilians died during the siege and many of them were buried here – it is an important historical must-see.
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