St. Petersburg: 12 best sights in the city of the czars
June 19, 2013 -- Updated 1540 GMT (2340 HKT)
The massive dome of St. Isaac's Cathedral is made of 100 kilos of pure gold. Designed and built by French architect Auguste de Montferrand and completed in 1858, it can be seen far out into the Gulf of Finland. The green and white building in the foreground is the Winter Palace. Home to Russian czars from 1732 to 1917, it now houses the Hermitage Museum.
St. Isaac's Cathedral
Grand Peterhof Palace and Grand Cascade
Cathedral at the Peter and Paul Fortress
The Bronze Horseman
General Staff Building
Church on Spilled Blood
St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral
Tourist boats on River Neva
- International Economic Forum attendees will have plenty of distractions in "Paris of the East"
- Massive dome of St. Isaac's Cathedral is made of 100 kilos of gold
- Church on Spilled Blood was built on spot where Czar Alexander II was fatally wounded in 1881
Editor's note: This story was originally published in March, 2013 and updated June 19 to coincide with the International Economic Forum.
(CNN) -- Several thousand of the world's most powerful people are in St. Petersburg this month for the city's annual International Economic Forum.
The only problem? While we at CNN Travel would be the last to deny that macroeconomics can be a thrilling subject for discussion, there also happens to be a bulbous onion-shaped dome's worth of once-in-a-lifetime type touristic distractions in Russia's spectacular "Paris of the East."
St. Petersburg showcases a vivid history from czarist Russia, through Communism (it was long called "Leningrad") to the present day.
Established in 1703 by Czar Peter the Great, Russia's second-largest city lives up to its reputation as the country's cultural capital, with astounding palaces, churches and museums.
Scroll through the gallery for highlights -- if you can keep your mind off neoclassical theory, that is.
Tourist information: www.saint-petersburg.com
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 1007 GMT (1807 HKT)
Which cities provide the most memorable party times? A self-proclaimed "nightlife connoisseur" names his top 10.
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 0344 GMT (1144 HKT)
Whether you're looking for a post-meeting pint or a wild night out, creativity is on the menu at these hot Hong Kong venues.
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 1028 GMT (1828 HKT)
Artists and migrants are moving out as a once-crumbling neighborhood goes upscale.
September 20, 2014 -- Updated 0502 GMT (1302 HKT)
They irrigate our farms, are an important means of transport and a source of eco-friendly power.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 0828 GMT (1628 HKT)
Open House festivals allow snooping in homes and landmarks normally closed to public
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 0422 GMT (1222 HKT)
Ancient competitions held and yurt town set up to rejuvenate nomadic cultures.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 0102 GMT (0902 HKT)
Playful sea lions, fearless boobies and the only ocean-going lizards in the world -- these islands offer amazing experiences for naturalists and tourists alike.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1200 GMT (2000 HKT)
A foreign language can be the best aphrodisiac, so we traveled the world in search of the hottest accents.
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 0657 GMT (1457 HKT)
Hidden from the rest of the world for decades, Myanmar's Lethwei boxing is experiencing a revival globally.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1117 GMT (1917 HKT)
This aging cargo work whale makes more than 60 flights each week, carrying parts for all of the Airbus programs.
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 0026 GMT (0826 HKT)
Former brothels, public toilets and war bunkers now provide eccentric watering holes for those willing to drink deep.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 0338 GMT (1138 HKT)
Whether filled with electric blue sulfur flames or hissing lava, these mega mountains offer incredible vistas.