St. Petersburg was born in the battles of the Northern Wars with Sweden, and it was in this area, on Hare Island (Zayachy Ostrov), that it all began: in 1703 Peter laid the foundation of the first fortress to protect the mainland and to secure Russia's outlet to the sea. Ever since, the small hexagonal island forms, as it were, the hub around which the city revolves. The showpiece of the island is the magnificent Peter and Paul Fortress, the starting point for any tour of this section of the city, which actually consists of a series of islands, and is commonly referred to as the Petrograd Side (Petrogradskaya Storona). Hare Island and the fortress are almost directly across the Neva from the Winter Palace. Cut off from the north by the moatlike Kronverk Canal, the island is connected by a footbridge to ploshchad Troitskaya (Trinity Square, sometimes still referred to by its Soviet name, Revolution Square) on Petrogradsky Ostrov (Petrograd Island). Along with its famous monuments, this part of the city is also one of its earliest residential areas, and ploshchad Troitskaya, named for the church that once stood here (demolished in 1934), is the city's oldest square.
Don't go to these destinations in 2017—try our suggestions instead.More