ROL Cruise recommends…
1. Enjoy an evening at the ballet
Russia is famous for its world-class ballet and there is nowhere better to witness a performance than at the grand and elegant Mariinsky Theatre. Opened in 1840 this historic venue has staged the world premieres of many masterpieces over the years, including The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty and the definitive version of Swan Lake. Arrive a little early to give yourself time to admire this awe-inspiring building - its glorious grandeur never fails to amaze.
2. Marvel at the splendid Catherine Palace
Situated just outside St Petersburg, Catherine House is the former summer home of a succession of tsars. Surrounded by 1,400 acres of parkland, this stunning building is worth a visit for its ornate blue, white and gold façade alone. It’s also where you’ll find the famous Amber Room, covered in amber panels and mirrors, looted by the Nazis during the Second World War.
3. Wander along Nevsky Prospect
Dotted with opulent palaces, beautiful churches and historic monuments, Nevsky Prospect is the main road running through the city. Fiction fans may recognise the name from Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment – Nevsky Prospect is used as one of the settings in this classic novel. The real Nevsky Prospect is not only full of historical interest but is also lined with shops, cafes and restaurants.
4. Gaze in wonder at the Church on the Spilled Blood
Built on the site of the attempted assassination of Alexander II, the magnificent Church on the Spilled Blood cost an estimated 4.5 million roubles and took 24 years to complete. An architectural masterpiece, its exterior is inspired by medieval Russian architecture; within, 7,000 square metres of dazzling mosaics adorn its interior. An unmissable stop on your trip to St Petersburg.
5. Admire the treasures within the famous Hermitage Museum
Grown out of what was once the private art collection of the Romanovs, the Hermitage Museum has become the world’s second largest art museum (after the Louvre in Paris). Its collections are spread across a series of historic buildings, the most impressive of which is the Winter Palace. Once the residence of the Russian monarchy, the mint green palace is a work of art in itself. The interior is just as impressive, each of its 1,057 finely-decorated rooms presenting a new feast of delights for the eyes.