One of the world's great cities of art, St Petersburg is home to the Hermitage Museum as well as the spectacular palaces of the Tsars. The best way to appreciate the range of exceptional palaces and galleries is with an escorted holiday in the company of an expert tour lecturer.
St Petersburg is the cultural heart of Russia and the country’s most European city. Founded by Peter the Great on a former marshland site at the edge of the Baltic, it was constructed to offer this vast continental empire a ‘window on the west’ and rapidly established a reputation as one of Europe’s most alluring cities for artists, writers, musicians and intellectuals in the 19th century.
The palaces lining the city’s canals have a distinctly Italian appearance, in large part due to the Rococo architects recruited by the Tsars and nobles. The patronage of these powerful individuals also funded the work of composers and artists who set up shop here where they found a steady income.
One of the most famous beneficiaries was the jeweller Carl Faberge, whose creations have become synonymous with the opulence of Tsarist Russia.
Although in appearance the city is a European metropolis, it can be bewildering to the uninitiated, and the only way to successfully navigate and appreciate the vast museums and wonderful palaces in the company of a local expert.
Private guides can be arranged, but one of the most popular ways to discover the city is as part of an escorted small group with expert tour lecturer Tatiana Shulga, who grew up and studied in the city.
Her expertise brings out the highlights of galleries including the Hermitage and the Russian Museum whose collections can be impenetrably immense without guidance. As well as the art galleries, we will explore some of the palaces both inside and outside of the city, and churches that have once again become a key part of Russian life.
Highlights include the summer palaces of the Tsars at Pushkin and Pavlovsk, where Catherine the Great and the Romanov dynasty spent much time, as well as the impressive palace of Peter the Great at Peterhof – with gilded fountains and parkland stretching down to the Baltic Sea.
You will see the best example of traditional Russian architecture at the Church of our Saviour on Spilled Blood, adorned with onion domes, mosaics and icons, and will visit the more classical St Isaac’s Cathedral with its cavernous golden dome.
No visit to St Petersburg is complete without a chance to watch ballet, and we will obtain tickets (subject to performance schedules) for a performance at the iconic Mariinsky Theatre, or the nearby Mikhailovsky, which will be available for those who wish to attend on one of the evenings.
Kirker’s six-night escorted tour to the Palaces & Galleries of St Petersburg costs from £1,897 per person, to include flights, transfers, accommodation with breakfast at the 4* Hotel Angleterre, five dinners and two lunches, all entrance fees and gratuities and the services of the Kirker Tour Lecturer. 2016 departures are 14 April, 12 May, 1 September or 6 October.