City tour combined with St.Isaac's Cathedral, 3,5 hrs
City tour includes all major sights and places of St.Petersburg. This is one of those “must-do” excursions that serve as number 1 priority for the first time visitors, and today stays as the most popular option, the necessity in every single itinerary.
Here are the places included into a standard 3-hour city tour.
Nevsky Prospekt, the main street in St. Petersburg, is one of the best-known streets in Russia. Being in the historical center of the city, the prospect runs from the Admiralty to the Moscow Railway Station and then, after a slight turn, to the Alexander Nevsky Monastery. In the very first days of St. Petersburg it was originally called the Great Perspective Road and was simply the beginning of the road to the ancient city of Novgorod, but it quickly became adorned with beautiful buildings, squares and bridges and became the very center of the bustling, rapidly growing city. It is 4.5 kilometers long and 25-60 meters wide. It was planned by the French architect Alexandre Jean Baptiste LeBlond, who at that moment was working for the city's founder Peter the Great.
The part between the Square of Insurrection and the Alexander Nevsky Square is traditionally called Old Nevsky. It appeared in 1710 and soon afterwards became one of the most famous thoroughfares in the world. If comparing Old Nevsky with a “Newer” one, there is a feeling that life has suddenly stopped here, despite the fact that it has a lot of different shops and restaurants here. New Nevsky (the part from Ploschad Vosstaniya to the Admiralty) is in every way – the heart of day and night life – thousands of people, hundreds of shops and boutiques, restaurants, nightclubs, casinos, cinemas and so much more.
Nevsky gradually gets wider as you travel along it. Along the way you will see some of St. Petersburg’s most impressive buildings; like Stroganov Palace; Beloselskih-Belozerskih Palace; Kazan Cathedral, named after "miracle-making" icon of our Lady of Kazan; the building of our famous Dom Knigi book store, the largest in town; the wonderful view down by Griboedova canal to the picturesque Russian-style Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood.
There are numerous other attractions. Just a stone's throw from Nevsky, next door to the Grand Hotel Europe, stand Arts Square and the RussianMuseum. Further down the road, you’ll find the largest department store in the city - "Gostiny Dvor", the Russian National Library (the second largest branch in the country), an impressive monument to Catherine the Great and the Anichkov Bridge, adorned with 4 striking equestrian statues (beautiful Klodt's horses).
The Palace Square is the most grandiose among the squares of the city and a good example of how different styles can be combined in the most elaborate way. The General Stuff Headquarters Building and State Hermitage can be found here.
The facade of the Admiralty and the Alexander Garden that is in front of it, link the Palace Square to the Senate Square. In the center of the square there stands an impressive monument to the founder of St Petersburg — Peter the Great — known as Bronze Horseman. Vasilievsky Island is a district of Saint Petersburg, bordered by the rivers Bolshaya Neva and Malaya Neva (in the delta of Neva) from South and Northeast, and by the Gulf of Finland from the West. Situated just across the river from the Winter Palace, it constitutes a large portion of the city's historic center. Two of the most famous St Petersburg bridges, Palace Bridge and Lieutenant Schmidt Bridge, connect it with the mainland.
The easternmost tip of the island, called Strelka (Spit, literally Arrow), features a number of museums, including the Bourse as well as two Rostral columns, and is a popular tourist attraction.
Across the river from the Peter and Paul Fortress is the historic Summer Garden. Peter the Great commissioned the first architect of the city - Domenico Trezzini - to build a small palace in the park. The palace had no heating and was intended for summer time, hence its name - the Summer Palace (Peter had a Win ter Palace further down the Neva River) - and the park became known as the Summer Garden.
St Isaac’s Cathedral, one of the most prominent landmarks in the silhouette of St Petersburg, towers at the crossing of St Isaac’s Square and Decembrist’s (formerly Senate) Square on the left bank of the Neva. St Isaac’s is the fourth largest domed cathedral in the world after St Peter’s in Rome, St Paul’s in London and Sta Maria del Fiore in Florence. St Isaac’s, amazing by its dimensions even today, is 101.5 m high, 111.3 m long (with porticoes) and 97.6 wide. The inner diameter of the dome is 21.8 m and the outer one 25.8 m. The pediments rest on 112 monolithic granite columns – each of portico’s columns is 17 m high and weighs 114 tons. The cathedral can accommodate about 14,000 people. It was designed by the outstanding architect of the first half of the nineteenth century Auguste Ricard de Montferrand.
In accordance with Greek canons assimilated by Orthodox architects, St Isaac’s Cathedral is cross-shaped in plan. Its compact rectangular block is crowned with a gilded dome surmounted by an octagonal lantern resting on a high drum. The four belfries make a transition from it to the basic volume more gradual. The central dome and the small tops of the belfries form the traditional five-domed design characteristic of Russian architecture. The porticoes of the Corinthian order projecting on the facades lend an air of grandeur and majesty to the entire edifice. Large arched windows with massive surrounds pierce the quiet planes of the walls; the corners of the building are adorned with pilasters. The exterior of St Isaac’s has an easily traceable imprint of Renaissance and Baroque models, especially as regards the abundance of decor.