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The Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

The Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, or the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ, was commissioned by Tsar Alexander III between 1883 and 1907 on the exact spot where his father, Tsar Alexander II, was fatally wounded.

Located next to the Griboedov Canal and visible from Nevski Prospekt, the building was constructed according to the traditional Russian style and inspired by Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. It therefore stands as one of the most striking Baroque and Neoclassical buildings to be found in Saint Petersburg. The structure includes three semi-circular apses and is crowned by five domes. It is one of the churches housing the largest number of mosaics in Europe, which bring together both Byzantine and Art-Nouveau styles.

In the past, the church was only available for private use but was opened to the public following the revolution. The building was used for various purposes throughout the communist era and eventually fell into complete disrepair. In 1970, responsibility was passed to Saint Isaac’s Cathedral and a series of restoration projects began that were to last for 27 years.

It is currently open as a museum and entry costs 250 roubles (350 if you visit during the White Nights Festival). We recommend that you rent an audio guide (200 roubles) so as not to miss any of the interior details or alternatively join one of the guided tours offered on the website of Saint Isaac’s Cathedral.

By Isabel Romano from DiariodeaBordo

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The markets of St Petersburg and surrounding areas

Its markets are the best place to take the pulse of any city,places where you can experience the day-to-day life of the people and mingle with the local population. This is no less true in Saint Petersburg, where haggling is encouraged and stallholders will even offer you their wares without any kind of pressure to buy.

Kuznechny Market

The most central and representative of the markets in Saint Petersburg (and also the most expensive) is the Kuznechny Market where you will find flowers, vegetables, cheeses and natural honey for sale.

Numerous attractions are located close to the market: the Arctic and Antarctic Museum can be found in the former Church of Saint Nicholas and includes exhibits on the characteristics of the polar regions, the history behind the conquest of the Great North and the economy and culture of the Nordic people. The Floral Exhibition Centre, the Vladimirskaya Church and the Lensoveta Culture Centre at 42 Kamennoostrovsky Avenue are also worth visiting.

The Dostoevsky Museum is another nearby attraction – the place where this famous writer and author of such novels as ‘Crime and Punishment’, ‘Demons’ and ‘The Idiot’ lived and died. This house museum has been faithfully restored to how it was originally.

If you get hungry, why not try the Marius Pub or the Tres Amigos restaurant. However, if it is thirst that needs quenching, Mollie’s Irish Bar is a great place for a drink.

Sennoy Market

What was once an old hay market has now become a major food market with clothing stalls that fill the surrounding streets.

A large part of  ‘Crime and Punishment’ by Dostoevsky is set in the streets of the Sennaya district, where the Sennoy Market is to be found. It is more popularly known as the Dostoevsky District.

It is an excellent area for a spot of shopping in the large department stores. Sennaya Square is a bustling hive of activity where you can find the famous PIK and the large Sennaya Shopping Centre.

For some nice, reasonably-priced home-made food, you should head over to Kafe Adzhika.

If you’re up for a short walk, take a stroll over to Yusupov Palace, located on the edge of the River Moika and one of the most spectacular monuments to classicism to be found in Saint Petersburg.

Sitni Market

On the small Zayachy Island in the River Neva is the true historical centre of the city: Peter and Paul Fortress, the original citadel of Saint Petersburg. Peter I the Great ordered its construction in 1703 and it contains such remarkable buildings as the Peter and Paul Cathedral, where all the Tsars from Peter I the Great to Nicholas II and his family are buried. Standing 122 metres tall, the cathedral bell tower is the highest point in the city.

Although initially designed for defensive purposes, it never needed to be used for that but rather served as a prison until 1917. Its most famous prisoners included such individuals as Trotski, Dostoevsky and Bakunin.

Also nearby is the Saint Petersburg Zoo and the Political History Museum.

A good choice for something to eat would be the popular Salkhino restaurant where they serve Georgian cuisine. In the evening, you might want to try out the legendary Tunnel Club, the first techno club to open in Russia.

Vernisazh Souvenir Market

Less of a market and more a collection of souvenir stalls, this is to be found behind the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ or the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood and is one of the most popular tourist sites and an attraction in itself. Here you will find many traditional Russian gifts and souvenirs.

The Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood was built on the spot where Tsar Alexander III was killed. The interior and exterior mosaic decorations are fantastic, as are its stained glass windows. The temple was built in the Russian architectural style of the 16th-17th Centuries (pure Russian orthodox) and bears a striking resemblance to Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow’s Red Square.

Its five large bulbous domes decorated in numerous colours and gold, as well as the meticulous detail work that covers the exterior, are yet more features that make this an outstanding piece of architecture.

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The Cats of The Hermitage

The Hermitage Museum is a must-visit for sightseers in Saint Petersburg. It is one of the best ways to delve into the country’s past – that of the Czars – to get an idea of the opulence and splendour they lived in. The figures speak for themselves: the Hermitage has over three million artworks, from both East and West, including paintings, sculptures, archaeological pieces, Greek and Roman antiquities, jewellery and weapons – imagine that! The art gallery rates among the finest in the world, leaving behind other great art museums such as the Louvre and the Prado. What’s more; only about 3% of that huge number of artworks are actually on public display.

That enormous private collection, which became a State Museum in 1917, dates from 1764, when Catherine the Great acquired 225 Dutch and Flemish paintings. It was also during her reign that construction began on the massive architectural complex where the collections are now housed. It is made up of seven buildings: the Winter Palace – the former residence of the Czars – the Hermitage Theatre, Old Hermitage, Small Hermitage, New Hermitage, General Staff Building and the Menshikov Palace, once the residence of the governor of Saint Petersburg.

The Hermitage Cats

What strikes visitors to this magnificent museum – apart from its wealth, splendour, fine execution and antiquity – are the cats that roam about there. In case you think they are there by chance – no, they are there by design, as they are tasked with hunting down rodents to prevent any artworks from deteriorating. Thus far, it might just sound like some quaint story but there is actually a long history behind these feline guardians. In fact, they are the only tenants of the Palace that have survived all the upheavals of the country’s past – the Napoleonic invasion, the Russian Revolution and the German invasion during World War II.

The first cat to appear in the royal palace was brought there by Czar Peter I from the Low Countries. But, it was his daughter, Czarina Elisabeth Petrovna, who in 1774 decreed the use of cats to rid the palace of mice, which she was genuinely terrified of. Cats have lived in the Winter Palace ever since and have witnessed the passage of Czars, courtesans and the Bolsheviks. Nowadays they share the premises with the museum staff and visitors. Only the siege of Leningrad, which lasted nearly 900 days and sowed famine throughout the city, caused them to vanish temporarily.

There are currently over 60 cats of different breeds roaming through the basements, the offices and the area surrounding the Hermitage, although they are not allowed into the exhibition halls. They even have their own caretaker, Irina Popovets. While the museum does not have a budget for their upkeep, funds are raised for this purpose by different means. They are supported through private patronage and the association, “Feline Friends of the Hermitage”. They have even had exhibitions held in their honour.

Whether you like these whiskered creatures or not, we recommend you book a Vueling to Saint Petersburg to discover one of the world’s largest and finest art collections.


Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Images by James Byrum, Brent Ozar, Jorge Cancela, RachelH_

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6 Signature Cuisine Spots in Saint Petersburg

In the culinary sphere, a new wave of local chefs is venturing into signature cuisine based on local produce and a heady shot of well channelled creativity. There aren’t many places where you will notice such a local penchant for eating and drinking – particularly drinking – as in Saint Petersburg, like some genuinely celebratory way of life. And, as the saying goes, when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Cococo. In the same kitchens where Alain Ducasse decided to try his luck in the city, now it is chef Igor Grishechkin and his talented crew who delight lunch and dinner guests that share their predilection for the setting and staging. Local produce in abundance and a commitment to the source of each dish. Brilliant plating up. Must book in advance. Voznesensky prospect, 6

TartarBar. Well off Saint Petersburg’s tourist track, this huge, industrial-aesthetic eatery invites you to savour chef Dmitri Blinov’s creative offerings. A profusion of raw, proximity products on a menu which makes no distinction between first and second course in a bid to foster a sampling approach throughout the meal. Vilenskiy St. 15

Hamlet + Jacks. Here you can taste chef Eugene Vikentiev’s compelling local-style dishes, as well as those of international inspiration, hard by the warmth and in full view of the kitchen fires. Short cookings, judicious combinations of ingredients and texture contrasts go into the making of dishes that bring out the finest in Russian cuisine as well as successfully exploring the culinary produce from the world over. Volynskiy per. 2

Pedro & Gómez u Larisy. If you’re into generous helpings of fusion cuisine, this is for you. Get ready to wield the chopsticks and move from America to Asia through a number of adroit dishes prepared in front of you, if you elect to sit at the bar. Large snacks, tremendous bowls of ramen and all dishes conducive to sharing. Rubinshteyna 29

Four Hands.Strike out just beyond downtown Saint Petersburg to try this warm gastropub with its characterful, minute cuisine authored by chef Cepren Fokin. Go for the bar counter so as not to miss the various preparation stages and even engage in repartee with the chef while you’re at it. Their tripe is another hallmark of the house. Prospekt Kosmonavtov, 63

Duo Gastrobar. Market cuisine with harkings of long-standing recipe books in modest-sized helpings. This quaint hangout with a bar counter and just five tables is the in spot among the foodie crowd. You’ll be caught up by the atmosphere and the ambitious wine list. Best book in advance. Kirochnaya St. 8A

Where to Sleep, Breakfast and Vice Versa

W St. Petersburg. This is the grand hotel par excellence. A pageant of modernity, warmth and good taste in Russia’s most cosmopolitan city. You will appreciate the welcome, the fireplace in the lounge in the colder months, and their spa, all year around. Spacious rooms, a roof terrace with views, a peerless location and a buffet breakfast lacking nothing, round off this charming hotel. 6 Voznesensky Prospect

Polikoff. The most functional option, sited at an intersection on crowded Nevsky Avenue, which you are bound to hit sooner or later. Housed on two floors of a former block of flats, this is the most practical and economical choice when pressed for time to sleep and breakfast. Karavannaya/Nevsky prospekt 64/11

Text by Belén Parra of Gastronomistas.com

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