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The city of St. Petersburg can be see as one of the world’s first truly planned cities. It didn’t evolve over time, but rather was planned and carried out from a wild woodland to serve as a showcase city for culture and national pride. It should not be surprising then that the entire city is like an open air museum, with grand buildings, monuments, churches and parks. While just the outside can be thrilling to see, the city offers some spectacular palaces and museums in which to see one of a kind works of art.
This iconic yellow building on the Moika River is a place of opulent luxury and mysterious appeal. Some tourists come to see the architectural genius, the collections of jewelry, fabrics, furniture and tapestries, but many come to see the exhibit on Rasputin, the mysterious religious figure who kept close ties with the ruling class of the Tzars. This is where he was killed and the museum dedicated to him in the lower floors fascinates many.
One of the most famous museums in the world, the one hundred and twenty rooms often prove too much even for big museum fans. A recommendation would be to purchase an advance ticket ahead of time online. These are cheaper and the line to wait is far less. Then print out a map beforehand or pick one up the day before your visit and see which of the collections might interest you. For those wanting to see everything a couple days pass might be the past way to see things. Remember the majority of the collection is held in storage, so if you ever find yourself back in the city again, it might be an entirely different rotation.
The State Russian Museum
Following its namesake this museum highlights the entire history of Russian art from ancient iconography to contemporary works of art. This museum is often overlooked in the shadow of the Hermitage but it is worthwhile. The collection is easier to explore and there is an abundance of impressive work. Many pieces were added from private collections after the 1917 Revolution. The neighborhood has stunning buildings and palaces and the museum itself is housed in the Mikhailovsky Palace. There are abundant gardens worth visiting on the property grounds as well.
A site of gardens, almost living fountains and many ornate buildings from the grand living quarters of the Tzar’s summer residence to the solariums in the gardens, this palace is a great place to see art and architecture in a relaxed atmosphere. The statuary is probably the most impressive. Lead statues covered in gold depict heroes of mythology that adorn the fountains. The buildings have the look of Baroque Italian palaces and the hydrofoil ride to get to the site is a quick half hour from downtown St. Petersburg.
The Marble Palace
This is a Neoclassical structure whose interiors are sure to wow visitors with their superabundance of marble. The palace has served as a Lenin Museum in the past and has endured several alterations. In addition to the built in works of art and architecture it is also a museum of modern art. It is not as big of a museum as the others but it is packed with 20th century collections.