Traveling to Russia
is an adventure

“VERUM Tourism” successfully works in the international tourist market for more than 22 years as tour operator of business and sightseeing trips to Russia

Site map


+ 7 (499) 973-14-84

Museums of St.Petersburg


This museum holds one of the world's largest and most famous collections with more than 2.7 million works of art. Founded by Catherine the Great in 1764 as a private court museum, today the Hermitage houses a magnificent collection of Western European art including works by Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael. Its collection of Spanish art is second only to Madrid's Prado, while its collection of French art is the largest outside France. The Hermitage comprises five buildings, one of which is the Winter Palace, the former royal residence. The state reception rooms in the Winter Palace are magnificently decorated, forming the ideal background for the Hermitage's treasures.



The Peterhof Grand Palace is one of the oldest summer palaces outside St. Petersburg and, given its seaside location, perhaps the most exotic. Peterhof means "Peter's Court". In 1714 Peter the Great started building on an elevated site overlooking the Gulf of Finland, determined to have a palace and garden that would outshine those at Versailles. And indeed, the upper park "…is no less beautiful than that of the King of France". As we see it now, the Great Palace still has the exterior planned by Peter's daughter, Empress Elizabeth I. Elizabeth had the initial building altered and enlarged by the architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli. The park is especially notable for its wide variety of fountains. Elsewhere (at Versailles, for instance) all the surviving fountains are Classical in design. Not so at Peterhof, where the fountains are designed with extravagance and great playfulness. On the slope between the upper and lower parks is the celebrated Great Cascade. The statue of Samson and the Lion symbolizes the Russian victory over the Swedes at Poltava (1709). During World War II, the estate was occupied by the Germans and all of the buildings and fountains destroyed. Since then, nearly all the damage has been repaired and the palace and fountains have been restored to their original splendour.


The Hermitage Theatre was designed by Quarenghi along antique lines. It has a semicircular amphitheatre of rising tiers of seats and is truly one of the best stages in the city. The auditorium is decorated with Corinthian semi-columns; between these Quarenghi placed sculptures of Apollo and the nine Muses as well as bas-reliefs of famous musicians and poets. The theatre opened for its first season on November 16th, 1785. Highly privileged guests entered the theatre through a covered passage built by G. Veldten across the Zimnaya Kanavka (Winter Canal). The entire 18th-century European and Russian repertoire was performed on this stage. However, after the death of Catherine II in 1796, performances here ceased. All attempts to revive the theatre in the 19th century failed. Until the early 1980s the Hermitage Theatre was used as a lecture hall, while other premises were occupied by various museum departments, laboratories and depositories. After reconstruction and restoration, the Hermitage Theatre re-opened in 1989.



The Catherine Palace ranks as one of the masterpieces of world art. Located in the town of Pushkin (formerly Tsarskoye Selo) 25 kilometres south of St. Petersburg, the original palace was built at the beginning of the 18th century by Braunstein. In 1710 the estate and small palace were given by Peter the Great to his second wife, Catherine. Then, in 1752, Bartolomeo Rastrelli was asked to expand and entirely redesign the palace. The wonderful Baroque building we see today is the result of this work. The palace contains a series of magnificent rooms, including the famous Picture Gallery with over 100 works by Flemish, Italian, and French artists of the 17th and 18th centuries, and, of course, the Baroque Great Hall, where official balls and receptions were held. The latter is the largest room in the palace and has an area of 860 square metres. The adjoining parks add to the palace’s splendour. Several are adorned with enchanting pavilions, including the Grotto Pavilion, the Hermitage, and the Chinese Pagoda. Alexander Pushkin, Russia's most celebrated poet, lived here in Tsarskoe Selo at the beginning of the 19th century, hence the town's present-day name. Connected to the palace by an arch is the lycee where Pushkin went to school.

                                                                                            • YUSUPOV PALACE

The Yusupov Palace acquired its present appearance in the course of several restorations. The inner rooms are remarkable for their rich dйcor. The painted ceilings of the Large Rotunda, the Red and Blue Drawing-rooms and the Corinthian colonnade of the White-Columned Hall are especially attractive. The building belonged to the Yusupov princes from the 1830s. Here, on the night of 16-17 December 1916, Grigory Rasputin, the favourite of Emperor Nicholas II’s family, was murdered by a group of monarchists, including Prince Felix Yusupov. The Turkish Study, the Pompeian, Oak, Heinrich II’s Parlour and the Music Parlour are decorated with morifs of different historical styles. The domestic theatre is built in the Baroque style.


    • THE CHURCH OF THE RESURRECTION (Church on the Spilled Blood)
Alexander III built the Church of the Resurrection on the spot where his father Alexander II was assassinated. This building is commonly also known as the Church of the Spilt Blood. The church’s twisted onion domes, proliferation of mosaics, and asymmetry are a surprising sight in this city of Baroque curves and Classical rigour, but in perfect conformity with the architect’s brief, which called for purely Russian style of the 17th century".


peter-paul-fortress fotoWhen Peter the Great re-claimed the lands along the Neva River in 1703, he decided to build a fort to protect the area from possible attack by the Swedish army and navy. The fortress was founded on a small island in the Neva delta on May 27, 1703 (May 16 according to the old calendar) and that day became the birthday of the city of St Petersburg. The Swedes were defeated before the fortress was even completed. For that reason, from 1721 onwards the fortress housed part of the city's garrison and rather notoriously served as a high security political jail. Among the first inmates was Peter's own rebellious son Alexei. Later, the list of famous residents included Dostoyevsky, Gorkiy, Trotsky and Lenin's older brother, Alexander. Parts of the former jail are now open to the public...

In the middle of the fortress stands the impressive Peter and Paul Cathedral, the burial place of all the Russian Emperors and Empresses from Peter the Great to Alexander III. The Cathedral was the first church in the city to be built of stone (between 1712-33) and its design is curiously unusual for a Russian Orthodox church. (Come over to St Petersburg and you can find out why!).

On top of the cathedrals' gilded spire stands a magnificent golden angel holding a cross. This weathervane is one of the most prominent symbols of St Petersburg, and at 404 feet tall, the cathedral is the highest building in the city.

Other buildings in the fortress include the City History Museum and the Mint, one of only two places in Russia where coins and medals are minted.


st-isaacs-cathedral fotoThe dome of St. Isaac's Cathedral dominates the skyline of St. Petersburg and its gilded cupola can be seen glistening from all over the city. You can climb up the 300 or so steps to the observation walkway at the base of the cathedral's dome and enjoy the breathtaking views over the city.

The church itself is an architectural marvel. Built by the French-born architect Auguste Montferrand to be the main church of the Russian Empire, the cathedral was under construction for 40 years (1818-1858), and was decorated in the most elaborate way possible. When you enter the cathedral you pass through one of the porticos - note that the columns are made of single pieces of red granite and weight 80 tons (about 177,770 pounds) each. Inside the church many of the icons were created using mosaic techniques and the iconostasis (the icon wall that separates the altar from the rest of the church) is decorated with 8 malachite and 2 lapis lazuli columns. The cathedral, which can accommodate 14,000 worshipers, now serves as a museum and services are held only on significant ecclesiastical holidays.


kazan-cathedral fotoWhilst taking a stroll along Nevsky Prospekt you cannot fail to notice the impressive Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan. Kazan Cathedral, constructed between 1801 and 1811 by the architect Andrei Voronikhin, was built to an enormous scale and boasts an impressive stone colonnade, encircling a small garden and central fountain. The cathedral was inspired by the Basilica of St. Peter's in Rome and was intended to be the country's main Orthodox Church. After the war of 1812 (during which Napoleon was defeated) the church became a monument to Russian victory. Captured enemy banners were put in the cathedral and the famous Russian Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov, who won the most important campaign of 1812, was buried inside the church.

The cathedral was named after the "miracle-making" icon of Our Lady of Kazan, which the church housed till the early 1930s. The Bolsheviks closed the cathedral for services in 1929, and from 1932 it housed the collections of the Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism, which displayed numerous pieces of religious art and served anti-religious propaganda purposes. A couple of years ago regular services were resumed in the cathedral, though it still shares the premises with the museum, from whose name the word "atheism" has now been omitted.


cruiser-aurora fotoThe historical ship Aurora has been turned into a museum and is docked just a few hundred yards upstream from the Cabin of Peter the Great, opposite the "St Petersburg" Hotel. The cruiser, built in St. Petersburg between 1897 and 1900, took an active part in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 and participated in the Tsusima battle, in which most of Russia's Pacific fleet was destroyed. After the war the ship was used for personnel training and during the October revolution of 1917 gave the signal (by firing a blank shot) to storm of the Winter Palace, which was being used as a residence by the democratic, but largely ineffective Provisional Government.

During World War II and the 900-day Siege of Leningrad the guns of the ship were taken down and used on the front line of the city's defenses. After the war the ship was carefully restored and used as a free museum and training ship for cadets from the nearby Nakhimov Navy School.



mikhailovsky-castle fotoThe Mikhailovsky Castle is both a beautiful and unusual architectural phenomenon for St. Petersburg and was a silent witness to some interesting episodes in the dramatic story of the short-lived reign of Emperor Paul I, son of Catherine the Great. Catherine overthrew her husband Peter III to gain access to the Russian Imperial throne and then ruled the country until her death in 1796. By then her son Paul was 42 years old and would normally have already taken over the mantle of power from his mother. However, neither the nobility nor the royal guards liked or respected Paul and he lived his life in constant fear of assassination. In order to allay these fears he ordered a fortified palace (a castle surrounded by deep ditches) to be built for him. According to a legend, one of the soldiers guarding the construction site experienced a vision of the Archangel Michael guarding the castle alongside him. This was reported to the Emperor and the castle was given the name Mikhailovsky (St Michael's).

The paranoid Emperor Paul did not live in his new palace for long. In 1801 he was assassinated in his own bedroom by a group of officers who organized a coup, inspired by Paul's son Alexander.

Later the castle was used for the Army Engineers School and became know was the Engineer's Castle. Today the building hosts a branch of the Russian Museum.


smolny-cathedral fotoSmolny Cathedral was originally intended to be the central church of a monastery, built to house the daughter of Peter the Great, Elizabeth, after she was disallowed to take the throne and opted instead to become a nun. However, as soon as her Imperial predecessor was overthrown during a coup, carried out by the royal guards, Elizabeth decided to forget the whole idea of a stern monastic life and happily accepted the offer of the Russian throne.

Though the age in which she lived was rather harsh, Elizabeth (especially in her younger days) was an amazingly joyful woman, who later displayed a passion for entertaining. As Empress she is notorious for never having worn the same ball dress twice, which has left us today with an enormous collection of mid-18th century dresses.

Smolny Cathedral's stunning blue-and-white building is undoubtedly one of the architectural masterpieces of the Italian architect Rastrelli, who also created the Winter Palace, the Grand Catherine (Yekaterininsky) Palace in Pushkin, the Grand Palace in Peterhof and many other major St. Petersburg landmarks. The cathedral is the centerpiece of the convent, built by Rastrelli between 1748 and 1764. When Elizabeth stepped down from the throne the funding that had supported the constructed of the convent rapidly ran out and Rastrelli was unable to build the huge bell-tower he had planned or finish the interior of the cathedral. The building was only finished 1835 with the addition of a neo-classical interior to suit the changed architectural tastes of the day.

Today Smolny Cathedral is used primarily as a concert hall and the surrounding convent houses various offices and government institutions.


menshikov-palace fotoAlexander Menshikov (1673-1729) was a good friend and companion of Peter the Great. He came from a very humble background, but was quickly promoted by Peter to become a duke (1707) and the Governor General of St. Petersburg. Under his supervision the Peter and Paul Fortress and the fort of Kronshlot (now Kronshtadt) in the Gulf of Finland were built. Being the Governor General, he commissioned a large palace on Vasilievsky Island, where he lived until 1727. The palace was the most luxurious house to be built in the city thus far (far superior to the Summer Palace of Peter the Great) and was therefore chosen to host various official functions.

After Peter's death in 1725, Menshikov did his best to ensure that the throne would pass safely to Peter's wife Catherine I. For two years Menshikov effectively ruled the country. In 1727, a few weeks before his daughter's marriage to the heir to the throne, Menshikov was accused of treason and stealing government money and was exiled with his whole family to Siberia.

Between 1732 and 1918 the palace was home to a military school, but in 1967 it was given to the Hermitage. Now, with the early 18th century interiors restored, it houses a collection of Russian cultural artifacts from the early 18th century.


russian museum fotoThe Russian Museum is the perfect choice for those interested in Russia art from the 12th century to the mid-20th century. The museum's collection can only be rivaled by that of the famous Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. The museum's central building is the yellow, white-columned Mikhailovsky Palace, built between 1819 and 1825 for Grand Duke Mikhail, the brother of Alexander I and Nicholas I. The building was bought by the government during the late 19th century and was turned into the "Russian Museum of the Emperor Alexander III" in 1898. A new wing, the Benois Building, was added to the museum at the start of this century to help house the museum's growing collections.

Although the museum's floor plan is somewhat vast and confusing, the collections are incredible and number over 320,000 works, ranging from 12th century icons to canvasses by the 20th century artists Chagall and Malevitch. We recommend a guided tour as the best way to see all the highlights and get the most out of the museum. Enjoy!