St. PetersburgBack to Classic Trips: Helsinki to Moscow »
A planned city commissioned by Peter the Great, St. Petersburg is made up of more than 100 islands linked by bridges and canals. As glitzy as Moscow is businesslike, the city is home to many of Russia's most lavish treasures and buildings.
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- Art lovers flock to the palatial Hermitage, equal of just about every other art collection on earth. From Matisse to Rembrandt, it's all here, in the former private collection of the tsars.
- The Winter Palace is the grandest monument of the Russian rococo style. The 1,001 rooms, built for Catherine the Great next to the Hermitage, include rooms swathed in marble and malachite.
- The third largest domed cathedral in the world, St. Issac's is a quintessential part of St. Petersburg's skyline. Excessive to some and lushly opulent to others, the cathedral took 40 years to build and was finished in 1858.
- The White Nights, when the city stays light around the clock due to its northern location, are at their peak in June and July. Many attractions stay open late to take advantage.
- Musical Olympus assembles award winners in classical music disciplines at the philharmonic each May and June.
- The Peterhof Palace is accessible from St. Petersburg by hydrofoil. Masterminded by Peter the Great, it lives up to its billing as the Russian Versailles.
- Pushkin, 15 mi/24 km south of the city, was the summer home of the tsars from Peter the Great to the Romanovs.