Evening | Welcome to St Petersburg Dinner with Introduction to Tour, includes Russian Vodka Tasting Experience
Meals included: D
*Please aadvise your Grand Cultural Tours representative if you require transfers from the airport.
Morning | City Orientation Tour of St Petersburg including Peter & Paul Fortress, St Isaac’s Cathedral and Saviour of the Spilled Blood, Nevsky Prospekt and The Hermitage
"It is too early to thank God" and with that, Ignacy Hryniewieck, a young member of the Narodnaya Volya (“People's Will") movement, threw a bomb at tsar Alexander II. Mortally wounded, the tsar was taken to his study at the Winter Palace, where he later died at 3.30pm on the 13th March 1881.
Built on the spot where the assassination took place, the Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood is just one of many of the city’s landmarks you will visit during this morning’s tour.
Other sites include Nevsky Prospect, Peter & Paul Fortress, St. Isaacs Cathedral & Square, Senate Square, the Kazan Cathedral and the Singer Sewing Machine Head Quarters, which today is the Dom Knigi, the House of Books.
You will also pass The Hermitage buildings including the Winter Palace, Small and Large Hermitage and walk along the Neva River with its many canals and bridges.
Afternoon | Lunch followed by Guided Tour of Yusupov Palace
On the night of the 16th December 1916, Grigory Rasputin, the Russian peasant & mystical faith healer, was brutally murdered in the basement of Yusupov palace. Despising of Rasputin’s influence over the Romanov tsar Nicholas II, a group of monarchists, led by the wealthy aristocrat Prince Felix Yusupov, committed the gruesome crime.
During your tour of the palace, you will enter the exhibition dedicated to this historical event.
Constructed in the neoclassical style, Yusupov palace was completed by renowned architects of the time, during the period from 1760 till 1850. The stately rooms are richly decorated and contain unique West European works of art as well as 19th century musical instruments. The highlight of the palace is the Rococo style theatre, built as a miniature of the world-renowned Mariinsky Theatre.
Yusupov Palace was also used in the filming of the recent BBC War & Peace TV Series.
Evening | Private Canal Boat Ride* and Dinner at Russian Empire restaurant
It’s a completely different experience to view St Petersburg from the water.
During your private canal boat ride you will see how the sloping granite embankments appear as pedestals upon which the city’s magnificent architecture sits.
With an open air terrace on the upper deck you can marvel at the views, whilst the lower deck provides tables and chairs in which to relax and take in the sights in comfort. All the while, your guide will bring to life fascinating tales of the city’s rich history.
*Private canal boat ride (season permitting).
Meals included: B, L, D
Morning | Special Early Opening of the Hermitage with Tour by its Curator, Professor Alexei Lepork | Visits to the Winter Palace, Small & Large Hermitage Buildings
Upon entering The Hermitage, the force of Russian history hits you, as so many of the Russian Empire’s most momentous events took place within its walls.
The residence of the Romanov dynasty for almost 300 years, it encompasses a grand ensemble of buildings, including the Winter Palace, the Small Hermitage and Large Hermitage and is now one of the largest museums in the world.
Housing an immense collection of masterpieces by some of the world’s greatest artists including works by Michelangelo, Veronese, Giorgione, Rembrandt, Rubens, El Greco, Goya, Cezanne, Matisse and Picasso, a visit to the Hermitage is a “must” for anyone visiting St Petersburg..
It also includes the best collection of ancient Scythian Gold artwork. Scythian paganism and mythology would later inspire works by some of Russia’s greatest poets and artists, including Alexander Blok, Andrei Bely, Rimsky-Korsakov and Igor Stravinsky.
Within the palace complex, the White Dining Room, with its mantel piece clock stopped precisely at the moment Russia succumbed to communism (2.10am on the 25th October 1917) and the extravagant Pavilion Hall, which combines Renaissance, Gothic and Oriental motifs and has twenty-eight crystal chandeliers which illuminate the sumptuous room, are particularly evocative.
The Winter Palace has also played its role in mass popular culture. It not only appeared in the BBC’s recent War and Peace TV Series, but also Sergei Bondarchuk’s Oscar-winning 1967 Soviet era adaptation. It was at the heart of the action in the Russian film director, Sergei Eisenstein’s influential film, October: Ten Days That Shook the World, which included shots of the storming of the palace.
A tour of The Hermitage will be led by its curator Professor Alexei Leporc.
Afternoon | Lunch followed by Hydrofoil to Peterhof Palace
Often referred to as "the Russian Versailles", Peterhof was built by Peter the Great after his victory over the Swedes at Poltava in 1709.
Peter employed over 5,000 labourers, serfs and soldiers supported by architects, water-engineers, landscape gardeners and sculptors. The palace was officially opened in 1723.
As well as the most comfortable way in which to arrive at Peterhof, the Hydrofoil trip across the Gulf of Finland, is also a befitting way to travel, given the importance of maritime history to Peter and St Petersburg.
Evening | Optional Performance at Mikhailovsky Opera and Ballet Theatre
Meals included: B, L
Morning | Russian Museum Visit at Mikhailovsky Palace
The State Russian Museum is a remarkable collection of national art, tracing the development of the visual arts in Russia from its origin in Byzantine icon-painting to the richly varied avant-garde experiments of the early 20th century, when Russian art finally exploded onto the international stage.
Your Expert will introduce you to the breadth of the museum’s world renowned collections.
Among the many masterpieces, is llya Repin’s Barge Haulers on the Volga painted in 1873. The most versatile of all the Russian Realist painters, Repin’s masterpiece, considered revolutionary at the time, celebrates the barge haulers’ dignity and fortitude whilst condemning those who sanctioned such inhumanity to man.
Afternoon | Lunch followed by time at leisure
Evening | Dinner at leisure
Meals included: B, L
Morning | Visit of Pushkin Museum and Apartment
On the afternoon of the 27th January 1837 Alexander Pushkin, considered by many to be Russia’s greatest poet and the founder of modern Russian literature, was killed in a duel. His brother-in-law, the dashing French military officer, George D’Anthès, who Pushkin believed to be his wife’s lover, was his killer.
You will discover more about this tragic incident, as well as other fascinating insights about this literary giant, during a guided tour of the Pushkin Museum and Apartment, where the writer lived between 1836 and 1837.
The apartment is a carefully preserved example of a nobleman's residence of the 1830s. Especially of interest is Pushkin’s study where he wrote the epic novel in verse, Eugene Onegin, and The Queen of Spades, both of which were later turned into operas by the great Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
Afternoon | Visit Rimsky-Korsakov Memorial Museum | Early afternoon lunch at Café Idiot | Dostoevsky’s World
The youngest and probably the greatest of the "Mighty Handful" of composers, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, strove to create a Russian style of classical music in the late 19th century.
A prolific composer, he is perhaps most famous for his fifteen operas, nearly all of which are based on Russian history or folklore. More than two thirds of them were composed whilst living in the Rimsky-Korsakov Memorial Apartment Museum.
Four rooms in the museum are reconstructions of original interiors. The centrepiece is a grand piano once played by Scriabin, Rachmaninov, and Stravinsky (among others) at Rimsky-Korsakov's celebrated musical soirees, which attracted leading lights of St. Petersburg's cultural world, including the opera singer Feodor Chaliapin and the painters Ilya Repin, Vasiliy Serov and Mikhail Vrubel.
No Russian writer exemplifies more than Fyodor Dostoyevsky his St Petersburg literary credentials. Born in the city, he wrote most of his works here, the most famous of which, Crime and Punishment, was a literary sensation and is considered to be his first great work.
Today you will be introduced to Dostoevsky’s world, stepping back into 19th Century Russia, by first visiting the Dostoyevsky Memorial Museum before walking in the footsteps of Crime and Punishment’s protagonist, Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov.
The rooms of the Dostoyevsky Memorial Museum display the writer’s personal belongings and furnishings and are where he lived from 1878 until his death in 1881. Another part of the museum includes editions of Dostoyevsky's books published during his lifetime, a collection of illustrations and photographs signed by the writer (and famous contemporaries) and manuscripts and portraits.
Next you will visit the writer’s tomb at the Alexander Nevsky Lavra’s Necropolis followed by a walk in the old part of the city, then onwards to Sennaya Square and surroundings, before following the path taken by Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment.
Evening | Optional Performance at Grand Philharmonic Hall | Dinner in St Petersburg
Meals included: B, L, D
Morning | Catherine’s Palace (Tsarskloe Palace)
When Natasha Rostova and Prince Andrei fell in love at the Tsar's New Year's Eve ball, it became one of the most memorable scenes of the BBC’s recent War & Peace TV Series. It was shot within the shimmering gold ballroom of Catherine’s Palace (Tsarskloe Selo), a lavish rococo-style mansion on the outskirts of St Petersburg.
Today you will walk in the footsteps of Tolstoy’s literary characters, Natasha and Prince Andrei, during a guided visit of the palace, gardens and park.
Designed by the architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli for Tsarina Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, the imperial palace was the summer residence of the tsars.
Later, the Scotsman Charles Cameron, was commissioned by Catherine the Great to redesign the palace’s interiors to her neo-classical taste. Cameron also constructed an ensemble of buildings next to the palace, including the Agate Rooms and Neo-Classical Cameron Gallery.
Perhaps the most impressive room is the Amber Room, an 18th century chamber decorated entirely with panels of amber and gold. The original, regarded as an “eighth wonder of the world”, had gone missing at the end of the Second World War, rumoured to have been stolen by the Nazis. In 1982 the Soviet government proceeded to build an exact replica, which took over 20 years to complete and was opened by President Putin in 2003.
And of course the palace’s magnificent parks and gardens provide the ideal setting for a morning stroll.
Afternoon | Lunch followed by Guided Tours of Pavlovsk Palace and Park
This afternoon you will enjoy a visit to Pavlovsk Palace and Park. Commissioned by Catherine the Great for her son, Paul, in celebration of the birth of his son, the future Alexander I, it has a distinct charm, as opposed to the grandeur of Tsarskloe Selo.
Designed by the architects Charles Cameron and Vicenzo Brenna, who were given precise directions by Paul’s wife, Maria Fyodorovna, the palace buildings are made up of a mixture of neo-classical and more elaborate designs.
Around the English style gardens are dotted a Palladian mansion, the Doric Temple of Friendship and the Apollo Colonnade. A most picturesque view is that of the Visconti Bridge, designed by Andrey Voronkin, which passes over the river Slavyanka that flows through the gardens.
Evening | Farewell Dinner at leisure
Meals included: B, L
Morning | Breakfast | Tour concludes*
Meals included: B, L
*Please let your Grand Cultural Tours representative know if you require transfers to the airport.
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