Alexander Park#11 in Best Things To Do in St. Petersburg
Located near the Catherine Palace and Park, the nearly 500-acre Alexander Park is less formal than its neighbor. The Alexander Palace, which was a frequent retreat for the last czar, Nicholas II, sits inside the park. Though the palace is currently closed for renovations, there are still several other attractions within the park worth seeing. The park also contains the remains of the Chinese Theatre, an opera house designed by Antonio Rinaldi (who also designed the Chinese Palace still standing in the Oranienbaum State Museum Reserve), which was destroyed during World War II. A Chinese Village remains, and its restored cottages were made into apartments, and many of the park's adornments have an Asian motif. The park also features miniature versions of some of St. Petersburg's most famous buildings.
The park is often described as peaceful, pleasant and relaxing. Its pathways accommodate walkers, runners and bicyclists (as well as users of wheelchairs). Past travelers said Alexander Park makes for a nice addition to any visit to Catherine Palace, but they also said it's not worth the trip from St. Petersburg if you don't plan to also tour Catherine Palace.
Located in Pushkin, the park sits about 15 miles north of central St. Petersburg. Some visitors reported arriving via taxi (the most convenient option), but you can also reach it via hydrofoil boat from St. Petersburg (in the summer). Though it will take you longer, you can also reach Pushkin by metro and bus. Entry to the park is free (though there is a charge to use the toilets). Alexander Park tends to be less crowded than the Catherine Palace and Park. Both parks and their palaces are part of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve. For more information, visit the official website.
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#1 Hermitage Museum and the Winter Palace
Catherine the Great founded the Hermitage Museum in 1764 as a place to house her private art collection. The main museum complex comprises six buildings, including the Winter Palace, which was the home of the czars for almost 200 years. It finally opened to the public in 1852, and since then has been one of the largest and most interesting museums in the world. It draws more than 4 million visitors each year – in fact, this museum is the main reason some travelers visit St. Petersburg in the first place. Recent travelers offered fulsome praise for both the art on display and the opulent building housing the works. For many, the only downside was the constant crowds.
Bursting at the seams with art from masters like Leonardo da Vinci and Pablo Picasso, the Hermitage demands a substantial commitment of time to see even a portion of its collection, which encompasses 3 million works of art and artifacts. Some previous visitors reported spending seven hours touring the grounds. If you plan to spend a considerable amount of time admiring the works, consider purchasing the two-day entrance ticket.
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