Skip to main content

St. Petersburg: 12 best sights in the city of the czars

By Bruce Holmes, for CNN
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. 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.
HIDE CAPTION
St. Isaac's Cathedral
Hermitage Museum
Grand Peterhof Palace and Grand Cascade
Cathedral at the Peter and Paul Fortress
The Bronze Horseman
General Staff Building
Rostral Column
Church on Spilled Blood
St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral
Tourist boats on River Neva
Nevsky Prospekt
Palace Square
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 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

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 0207 GMT (1007 HKT)
Where to pay homage to the cutest local celebrities you'll ever stalk.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
For air travelers who like to gripe about being cramped in economy, here comes another warning that they've never had it so good.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
Cream cakes from the Ruszwurm bakery in Budapest, Hungary
Proving they're what's really important, the world's best pastry shops have survived survived sieges, revolutions and World War II.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1550 GMT (2350 HKT)
Lois Pryce ignored naysayers and traveled 3,000 miles via motorcycle to discover the real Iran.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 0320 GMT (1120 HKT)
Built at a cost of $442.2 million, Universal Studios Japan hopes its new Potter attraction will bring in $55 billion over 10 years.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1440 GMT (2240 HKT)
A scene in Marrakech
The gateway to Morocco's Atlas Mountains is becoming a photographer's paradise -- but capturing it on camera isn't easy.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 2136 GMT (0536 HKT)
Cathay Pacific was pronounced the world's best airliner of the year at the industry's leading awards ceremony in Farnborough on Tuesday.
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 2044 GMT (0444 HKT)
Britain has stolen a march in the space race with plans for the world's first spaceport outside the U.S.
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
In the hunt for the world's best amusement park, the people have spoken -- and it seems the people like mixing with creatures who eat a lot of fish.
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 0611 GMT (1411 HKT)
An Hellenic Seaplanes aircraft
Seaplane network set to open up far-flung destinations to affordable jet-setting tours.
July 14, 2014 -- Updated 2052 GMT (0452 HKT)
A man who took a dangerous selfie during the running of the bulls in Pamplona, with the half-ton beasts right behind him, is still on the run -- but this time from the police.
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 0207 GMT (1007 HKT)
Its cramped rooms and retro lobby are dated, but its charm and devotion to customers are worth preserving.
July 14, 2014 -- Updated 0553 GMT (1353 HKT)
A young girl sits on a bench decorated with an image of Paddington Bear.
As part of a scheme to encourage reading, 50 benches designed in the style of popular novels or kids' stories have been scattered around London.
July 12, 2014 -- Updated 0101 GMT (0901 HKT)
To all the locals who have been hoarding the following beaches, please forgive us.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
Jason Hullinger, a computer security architect in Los Angeles, went to Joshua Tree National Park in December to catch the Geminid meteor shower.
CNN iReporters from across the globe share their incredible images of the skies above us.
ADVERTISEMENT