Hermitage Museum and the Winter Palace#1 in Best Things To Do in St. Petersburg
Catherine the Great founded the Hermitage Museum in 1764 as a place to house her private art collection. The massive complex has six buildings, including the Winter Palace, which was the home of the Tsars 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 on the globe. It draws more than two million visitors each year -- in fact, this museum is the main reason some travelers visit St. Petersburg in the first place. Recent travelers are full of praise, with one TripAdvisor user claiming, "This place makes other museums look unimportant."
Bursting at the seams with art from masters like Da Vinci and Picasso, the Hermitage is "virtually wallpapered with celebrated paintings," says Fodor's, who goes on to suggest you budget a substantial amount of time to explore. "It has been estimated that in order to spend one minute on each object on display, you would have to devote several years to the museum," they write.
A one-day ticket is about $18 USD and a two-day ticket costs $26 USD. Recent travelers and the Hermitage website both suggest purchasing tickets online here to avoid the (usually very long) line at the ticketing office. Closed on Mondays, the museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. The ticket office shuts down an hour before closing. For more information or a "virtual visit," check out the Hermitage website.
- Planning is key to any Hermitage visit, and an online tour can be a great preparation…. The audioguide is quite helpful, but the official English-speaking guides hovering around the entrance can offer more detail and nuance. Be sure to ask if you can set your own itinerary or if they will show you only specific rooms." -- Frommer's
- The best deal is to buy a two-day combined-entrance ticket, which allows you to visit the State Hermitage Museum and three other splendid museums: the original, wooden Winter Palace of Peter the Great, accessible through a tunnel (historians believe this is the site where Peter the Great died) from the museum; the General Staff Building; and Menshikov Palace." -- Fodor's
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#2 Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main attractions in St. Petersburg, drawing crowds to its ornately decorated onion domes and the stunning mosaics housed within.
Alexander III commissioned the construction of the church in 1883 as a tribute to his slain father, Alexander II, who was assassinated on this site by a group of revolutionaries. The church's name references this murder and much of the art inside has a martyrdom theme.
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