Skip to main content

St. Petersburg: 12 best sights in the city of the czars

By Bruce Holmes, for CNN
June 19, 2013 -- Updated 1540 GMT (2340 HKT)
The massive dome of St. Isaac's Cathedral is made of 100 kilos of pure gold. Designed and built by French architect Auguste de Montferrand and completed in 1858, it can be seen far out into the Gulf of Finland. The green and white building in the foreground is the Winter Palace. Home to Russian czars from 1732 to 1917, it now houses the Hermitage Museum. The massive dome of St. Isaac's Cathedral is made of 100 kilos of pure gold. Designed and built by French architect Auguste de Montferrand and completed in 1858, it can be seen far out into the Gulf of Finland. The green and white building in the foreground is the Winter Palace. Home to Russian czars from 1732 to 1917, it now houses the Hermitage Museum.
HIDE CAPTION
St. Isaac's Cathedral
Hermitage Museum
Grand Peterhof Palace and Grand Cascade
Cathedral at the Peter and Paul Fortress
The Bronze Horseman
General Staff Building
Rostral Column
Church on Spilled Blood
St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral
Tourist boats on River Neva
Nevsky Prospekt
Palace Square
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • International Economic Forum attendees will have plenty of distractions in "Paris of the East"
  • Massive dome of St. Isaac's Cathedral is made of 100 kilos of gold
  • Church on Spilled Blood was built on spot where Czar Alexander II was fatally wounded in 1881

Editor's note: This story was originally published in March, 2013 and updated June 19 to coincide with the International Economic Forum.

(CNN) -- Several thousand of the world's most powerful people are in St. Petersburg this month for the city's annual International Economic Forum.

The only problem? While we at CNN Travel would be the last to deny that macroeconomics can be a thrilling subject for discussion, there also happens to be a bulbous onion-shaped dome's worth of once-in-a-lifetime type touristic distractions in Russia's spectacular "Paris of the East."

St. Petersburg showcases a vivid history from czarist Russia, through Communism (it was long called "Leningrad") to the present day.

Established in 1703 by Czar Peter the Great, Russia's second-largest city lives up to its reputation as the country's cultural capital, with astounding palaces, churches and museums.

Scroll through the gallery for highlights -- if you can keep your mind off neoclassical theory, that is.

Tourist information: www.saint-petersburg.com

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 0626 GMT (1426 HKT)
the Teufelsberg or
Spooks have left their mark on a once-divided city still thought to be an espionage hotbed.
August 24, 2014 -- Updated 2206 GMT (0606 HKT)
nanjing, handicrafts
With more than 6,000 years of history, Nanjing is one of the few cities in China still practicing the country's endangered traditional crafts.
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 1610 GMT (0010 HKT)
Rock and weather collide over millennia to create natural bridges. Here are 15 of our favorites from around the world.
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 0539 GMT (1339 HKT)
A one-nun brewing operation, Sister Doris is putting Germany's women beer makers on the map. Sort of.
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 0607 GMT (1407 HKT)
From Myanmar to Mickey Mouse, Stefan Zwanzger, aka The Theme Park Guy, gives his rundown of the best.
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 1510 GMT (2310 HKT)
Four hundred years after the death of Countess Elizabeth Bathory, her murderous exploits prove a grisly attraction.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1250 GMT (2050 HKT)
Formed by volcanoes and steeped in a rich history of Polynesian culture, Hawaii sounds more like a place in a fantasy novel rather than an American travel oasis.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 2356 GMT (0756 HKT)
Despite Kyoto's allure, until this year there's been a glaring absence from the city's travel scene -- a top tier, super-luxury hotel brand.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
Why global adventurer Alastair Humphreys now looks for 'microadventures' close to home.
August 13, 2014 -- Updated 1133 GMT (1933 HKT)
Don't order Corona and don't freak out when you see Jessica Alba without makeup and you might pass for local.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 2301 GMT (0701 HKT)
History buff? Hardcore surfer? These South Pacific islands have every traveler covered.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1514 GMT (2314 HKT)
Airlines and airports are going high-tech to reduce your time in line.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 0858 GMT (1658 HKT)
Summer isn't over yet. These new hotels are keeping it alive and fresh.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1832 GMT (0232 HKT)
Eight of the top 10 scoring cities in the Economic Intelligence Unit's annual Liveability Survey are in Australia and Canada.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 2221 GMT (0621 HKT)
When a man tells me to "trust him," my typical reaction is to run.
ADVERTISEMENT