As many operators begin to offer Russian river cruise itineraries after a period of uncertainty, the popularity of these trips is sure to increase again. These romantic waterways are filled with history and culture that spent so long behind the iron curtain but is now available for us all to enjoy.
Ships usually ply the Volga and Svir Rivers in both directions between St. Petersburg and Moscow. This means that, depending on which way round your itinerary is, you will either start or finish your river cruise in Russia’s second city. Here are some great ways to spend your time in St. Petersburg.
For art fans, the Hermitage is a must during your time in this city. As one of the most famous and recognisable museums in the world, it features works by greats such as Leonardo de Vinci and Picasso. As you wander the vast halls, it is easy to feel a bit overawed by the sheer size of the place and the amount of exhibits on display. If your itinerary features more than one day in St. Petersburg, you may want to consider coming back for round two on the second day.
As well as the paintings, there are sculptures, curiosities, artefacts and antiques on display amongst the permanent and temporary exhibitions. Plus, there’s the chance to explore the Winter Palace which was once the residence of the Russian royal family. The gold-encrusted Malachite Room is a definite highlight.
The Church On Spilled Blood
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, to give it its full name, is likely to be one of the first things you see when you arrive in the city. Not just because of its close proximity to the River Neva but also due to the fact that you cannot help but be drawn towards its colourful exterior. This iconic landmark is just as vibrant on the inside, though, as it houses the largest collection of mosaics in Russia.
The church was built by Alexander III to honour his father, Alexander II, who was assassinated on this very spot by a member of the People’s Will movement in 1881. It is part of a museum complex that also includes St Isaac’s Cathedral and St. Sampson’s Cathedral – both of which are also worth a visit if you have time.
The Summer Garden is a peaceful place to explore during your cruise along the Russian waterways, especially when the sun is shining. Surrounded by the rivers and situated close to the Church on Spilled Blood, the garden was designed by Tsar Peter the Great (from whom the city takes its name) to exact geometric principles to provide a pleasant experience. Once the venue for noble parties and fireworks displays, the Summer Garden is home to statues, rare flowers and fountains which depict the fables of Aesop.
Although some of the fountains were demolished in the 18th century and the original sculptures have been moved indoors to be replaced by replicas, it is still an interesting and romantic place to take a stroll.
If you would like to explore this imperial city along the Russian waterways, we have some great itineraries available. Contact us today to start your journey into the land of the Tsars.