St. Petersburg is a Russian port city on the Baltic Sea. Second largest city in Russia, it was the imperial capital for 2 centuries. It was founded in 1703 by Peter the Great who is the subject of the city’s iconic “Bronze Horseman” statue.
It is Russia’s cultural centre with venues such as the Mariinsky Theatre hosting opera and ballet, and the State Russian Museum showcasing Russian art from Orthodox icon paintings to Kandinsky works. No trip to St Petersburg is complete without a visit to the world-famous Hermitage museum which contains masterpieces by Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso, Goya and Rembrandt.
Aside from art, St. Petersburg is also full of fantastic architecture from the psychedelic domes of the Church on Spilled Blood to the imposing façade of St. Isaac’s Cathedral. If you get bored of art and architecture, take a walk down bustling Nevsky Prospekt which is a sight in its own right.
Through a private tour with a curator as escort, get a rare look at the Hermitage’s most prized possessions in the museum’s Diamond and Gold rooms. Explore galleries filled with gold, jewels, icons and antiques, and marvel at artworks commissioned by Catherine the Great that consists of a toilet set made of gold and Fabergé items that go beyond Easter eggs.
The Romanovs (Russian Emperor’s dynasty) were the richest family in the world at the beginning of the 20th century. The Diamond Room houses the biggest collection of the Russian Emperor’s finest jewellery.
The Gold Room houses a rare collection of archaeological finds, ancient Greek gold, the world’s biggest and best collection of Scythian gold, Oriental jewellery items from India, Iran and China, and ceremonial Oriental weapons. It consists of about 1,500 works made from gold and dating from the 7th century B.C. to the 19th century A.D.
State Russian Museum
Opened in 1898 as the central museum of Russian art and life, it is housed in the buildings of the former Mikhailovsky Palace designed by Karl Ivanovich Rossi and built in 1819–25. The buildings were converted into a museum in 1896–97 and the museum was expanded considerably after the Russian Revolution of 1917 when many private collections were confiscated and added to the Russian State Museum.
The central building houses art from the 10th century to the Revolution including a comprehensive collection of painting and sculpture from the 18th and 19th centuries and an excellent collection of early Russian art with icons dating from the 12th to the 14th century.
Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood
Built to memorialize Alexander II following his assassination in 1881, this magnificent church with Italian pink marble floors and numerous mosaics was modelled after 16th and 17th century churches contrasting sharply with the prevailing architectural styles.
St. Isaac’s Cathedral State Museum-Memorial
This gold-domed ornate 19th-century cathedral is the third largest domed cathedral in the world and offers visitors a 300-step climb to a spectacular view of the city. The outside is as impressive as the inside. Mosaic murals, stained glass, columns of malachite and lapis lazuli, and gold make this one of the most gorgeous cathedral interiors. The cathedral was built around 100 marble columns each weighing about 140 tonnes.
This historic theatre of opera and ballet opened in 1860. It became the pre-eminent music theatre of late 19th century Russia where many stage masterpieces of Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov, all world-famous composers, received their premieres.
The city’s main street, Nevsky, today functions as the main thoroughfare in St. Petersburg. The majority of the city’s shopping and nightlife are located on or right off the Nevsky Prospekt.
Planned by Peter the Great as the beginning of the road to Novgorod and Moscow, the avenue runs from the Admiralty to the Moscow railway station and, after making a turn at Vosstaniya Square, to the Alexander Nevsky Lavra.
The chief sights include the Rastrelliesque Stroganov Palace, the huge neoclassical Kazan Cathedral, the Art Nouveau Bookhouse, Elisseeff Emporium, half a dozen 18th-century churches, a monument to Catherine the Great, an enormous 18th-century shopping mall, a mid-19th-century department store, the Russian National Library, the Anichkov Bridge with its horse statues, and the Singer House.
The feverish activities of the avenue were described by Nikolai Gogol in his story Nevsky Prospekt. Fyodor Dostoevsky often employed the Nevksy Prospekt as a setting within his works, such as Crime and Punishment and The Double: A Petersburg Poem.
Want to know more about Wassily Kandinsky? The Wassily Kandinsky page on Artsy provides visitors with Kandinsky’s bio, over 70 of his works, exclusive articles, and up-to-date Kandinsky exhibition listings. The page also includes related artists and categories, allowing viewers to discover art beyond Artsy’s Kandinsky page. Do check it out.