Skip to main content

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

By Bruce Holmes, for CNN
updated 11:40 AM EDT, Wed June 19, 2013
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
updated 2:26 AM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
the Teufelsberg or
Spooks have left their mark on a once-divided city still thought to be an espionage hotbed.
updated 6:06 PM EDT, Sun August 24, 2014
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.
updated 12:10 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Rock and weather collide over millennia to create natural bridges. Here are 15 of our favorites from around the world.
updated 1:39 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
A one-nun brewing operation, Sister Doris is putting Germany's women beer makers on the map. Sort of.
updated 2:07 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
From Myanmar to Mickey Mouse, Stefan Zwanzger, aka The Theme Park Guy, gives his rundown of the best.
updated 11:10 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Four hundred years after the death of Countess Elizabeth Bathory, her murderous exploits prove a grisly attraction.
updated 8:50 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
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.
updated 7:56 PM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
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.
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Why global adventurer Alastair Humphreys now looks for 'microadventures' close to home.
updated 7:33 AM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Don't order Corona and don't freak out when you see Jessica Alba without makeup and you might pass for local.
updated 7:01 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
History buff? Hardcore surfer? These South Pacific islands have every traveler covered.
updated 11:14 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Airlines and airports are going high-tech to reduce your time in line.
updated 4:58 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Summer isn't over yet. These new hotels are keeping it alive and fresh.
updated 2:32 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Eight of the top 10 scoring cities in the Economic Intelligence Unit's annual Liveability Survey are in Australia and Canada.
updated 6:21 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
When a man tells me to "trust him," my typical reaction is to run.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT