Designed by the Russian-Italian architect Alberto Cavos, the Mariinsky Theater is the center of classical performances in the city. This is where masterpieces by Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov once premiered. Every summer the theater hosts the “Stars of the White Nights” festival, featuring the best performers from Russia and beyond.
Open: Box office open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Museum of Political History
Perfect Spot for History Geeks
Russophiles and history lovers can’t miss this fascinating museum with artifacts from Russia’s political history. Located in the former mansion of the ballerina Mathilde Kschessinska, famous for her alleged affair with the last tsar, Nicholas II, the house was subsequently seized by Lenin during the 1917 Revolution. Today the building displays Lenin’s study as well as numerous political artifacts, photographs and posters that document Russia’s history.
Open: Sun. to Tues., Sat. from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wed. and Fri. from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Closed Thursdays and the last Monday of every month
Tickets: 250 rubles for adults, free for children
Peter and Paul Fortress
A Beach, a Fortress, a Prison
Just a 10-minute walk from the Hermitage, another unmissable sight is the Peter and Paul fortress. This is where the foundations of the city were laid by Peter the Great. Constructed to withstand an attack from the Swedes, the fortress never served its original purpose but over the ages was used as a prison, a mint, a rocket engine laboratory, and as the resting place of the imperial family. Today the fortress is part of the museum of St. Petersburg’s history, with various museums documenting the history of the city and of the fortress. It also encompasses a fascinating cathedral and a small beach where you can catch the city’s rare sun rays.
Open: Open all day. The museums are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and closed on Wednesdays
Tickets: Free, although all the museums charge admission
The Church of the Savior on Blood
Built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881, the church, with its striking colored domes, is the most prominent building on Nevsky Prospekt. If the exterior of the church looks stunning with its bright colors and patterned cupolas, the interior, entirely covered with mosaics, is an even more outstanding sight and definitely worth the entrance fee.
Open: Daily from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Evening openings of the cathedral in the summer only (May 1-September 30): 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Closed Wednesdays
Tickets: adults 250 rubles, children 50 rubles