Visit the Hermitage Museum!
The Hermitage Museum is one of the world’s most prestigious art museums and a must-visit when on a school trip to St. Petersburg. The museum’s foundations lie in the personal collections of the Tsars, and Catherine the Great in particular, who was a prolific collector of fine art.
The collection grew significantly in the post-revolutionary period, when many great works of art were confiscated from both rich, aristocratic Russians and defeated Nazis, and given to the museum for the public to enjoy.
The museum has satellite centres as far away as Venice and Amsterdam. But the main museum in St. Petersburg is itself huge, consisting of 400 rooms spread over three floors of five interlinked buildings!
Did you know?
The Hermitage Museum’s collection consists of over 3 million works of art and cultural artefacts. You’ll only see a fraction of these displayed in the museum’s centres, but even so it’s advisable to plan your visit as there is still so much to see!
Visit the Yusupov Palace!
The Yusupov Palace, also known as the Moika Palace, is most famous as the setting for the murder of Grigori Rasputin, the Russian mystic whose close association with Tsar Nicholas II and his family caused such scandal in the lead up to the Russian Revolution.
He was lured to the palace by its owner, Prince Felix Yusupov, who initially tried to poison him. When that didn’t work, Rasputin was shot but he survived that too and tried to escape across the courtyard of the palace.
Yusupov and his co-conspirators did eventually succeed in killing the ‘mad monk’ by throwing him into the Moika River. Yusupov was never charged with the murder but was banished from St. Petersburg, before later going into exile after the February Revolution and the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II.
Did you know?
The Yusupov Palace is one of the best examples of a 19th century aristocratic palace in St. Petersburg, having survived the Russian Revolution and two World Wars. The interiors are incredibly sumptuous, illustrating the pre-revolution wealth of Russia’s noble families.
Visit the Field of Mars!
The Field of Mars is almost as old as St. Petersburg itself and has a fascinating history that not only reflects that of the city, but of the country as a whole. Until the 18th century it was just an open area of swampy land. But that all changed when the digging of the city’s canals drained the land and it was turned into a park for the nobility to walk and ride in.
It also began to be used for festivals and military parades, and it was this that led to its renaming to the ‘Field of Mars’ in 1805.
After the Russian Revolution it became the burial place of revolutionaries and prominent Soviets from 1917 – 1933. Then, during the Siege of Leningrad it was turned into a large vegetable garden to feed the city’s population. It has now returned to a place of leisure.
Did you know?
The name ‘Field of Mars’ references both the Campus Martius in Rome and the Champs de Mars in Paris, and not only alludes to the military connection but also highlights Peter the Great’s aspirations for St. Petersburg to be considered one of the great European capitals.