Walking on Nevsky prospect one might get tired of counting the monuments, bridges and canals in the downtown area of Petersburg. With my friends we decided to take a big tour (on foot) to see everything in one day, but after five hours of walking, we had to give up – we were nowhere near to the end of the planned tour. During my first exchange I organized another four of these big walks, plus I visited the Hermitage three times, but I had a feeling that I missed a lot of things. Upon returning to Russia I arranged a two weeks long tour, also visiting some of the cities in the vicinity, and finally after that I could say with confidence: „I know something about Saint-Petersburg.” That’s right folks, two weeks time is the minimum in order to leave with a complete experience (for people with a full-time job it is at least ten weekends). In the following lines I will say a few words about my personal experience, things closer to my heart, so there is much more coming in future articles.
On the top of my list there are, I believe, the most iconic monuments of Saint-Petersburg: The State Hermitage Museum, which is among the oldest museums worldwide, preserving the greatest collection of the Russian culture and the largest collection of paintings in the world. I realized after the tenth visit, that I could still find new things in the Hermitage (with student ID it is for free). Right after comes The Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood, which is widely recognized by the amazingly colorful onion domes, honestly, there is no way I could walk past the onion domes without taking photos of them. Going on with the list of museums (after the Hermitage), I must mention The National Russian Museum along with the Museum of Political History of Russia – both have some astonishing pieces. In the first I was amazed by the modern art (human sized metal bugs and beautiful paintings) while in the latter we could walk through the Russian history from the era of the tsars to shooting Gagarin into space to today’s leaders.
The third architectural masterpiece of my choice is also located on Nevsky prospect: Kazan Cathedral is a fabulous monument, there is something magical in its design, it always makes me want to walk further, instead of taking any public transport to hasten my trip. The tallest point of the city center is the Peter and Paul Cathedral with its 122.5m bell-tower: walking in its garden and being surrounded by the pleasant breeze of the Finnish-bay – it is a perfect place to relax. When the weather turns better, we simply sit on a blanket under the sun or in the shade, enjoying a shashlik and shisha with friends in a warm summer night or just spend some time in the green – Petersburg will render a slice of tender for everyone. Oftentimes we gathered in the park in front of Saint Isaac’s Cathedral or took memorable walks between the fountains of the Summer Garden.
There are 342 bridges over rivers and canals in Saint-Petersburg, of which 22 opens up during the night (from April till November). Sitting at the Bronze Horsemen, a statue of Peter the Great we were watching the two main bridges opening up, thus finally it is checked on my bucket list. I can not wait to see again the lovely phenomena of nature, the White Nights, when we literally needed sunglasses at 11 pm. Earthly words simply would not be enough to describe that feeling: it is supernaturally attractive, a sensational and extraterrestrial wonder.
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