|Visiting Saint Petersburg|
This is one of Europe's most magnificent cities. Two nights in St Petersburg are included in our 10 day Elbrus trip itinerary but several of our other trips could be easily extended to add on a visit to St Petersburg. It is often possible to obtain an "Open Jaw" flight if you are travelling in to Russia via Moscow - you should be able to return home departing from St Petersburg. Alternatives include the comfortable overnight sleeper service from Moscow to St Petersburg or flying. Cultural tours in the St Petersburg area can also be arranged that include Kronstad, Novgorod, Tsarskoe Selo etc. Enquire for details.
Altai | Kronotsky Reserve, Geyser Valley | Kamchatka South | Klyuchevskaya Sopka
Tuva Sayan Mountains | Short Elbrus Trips
Saint Petersburg History
Under Catherine's patronage education, science, the arts and trade flourished. New buildings for the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Fine Arts and the first Public Library (now the Russian National Library) were constructed and the large Gostiny Dvor trading complex was opened on the Nevsky Prospekt.
St Petersburg continued to flourish until gradually the poor working and living conditions of peasants and factory workers were used to rouse the population against the old Tsarist system. In January 1905 a peaceful demonstration of workers was fired on by troops at the Palace Square. This led to public outrage and the start of the 1905-07 Revolution. On October 17, 1905 Tsar Nicholas II was forced to issue a manifesto proclaiming an improved of civil rights and instituting a new parliament, consisting of the Duma and the reformed State Council.
The opening of the Duma in 1906 gave fresh grounds for hope to thousands of liberals in the intelligentsia. The district where the Duma was located soon became one of the most popular residential areas. However reforms were being carried through too slowly and the weak Duma gradually lost the support of the people. In 1917, the young and dynamic Bolshevik party led by Vladimir Lenin captured political power, a blank shot fired from the cruiser "Aurora" gave workers and soldiers the signal to storm the Winter Palace, then the residence of the ineffective Provisional Government. Most of the ministers were arrested and the 73 year long Communist rule began. St Petersburg was renamed Leningrad.
Housing for the masses was improved, sometimes at the expense of the "bourgeoisie". During Stalin's period some impressive buildings were put up but this at a great cost to the nation during his rule of terror to which were added the horrors of the 2nd world war. In September 1941 German troops had encircled Leningrad and a siege began that lasted for about 900 days. By January 1944 when the siege was lifted over half a million people out of the 3 million trapped had died (mainly of starvation) but the city never surrendered to the Germans. Throughout this period the war industry still worked, the treasures of the Hermitage and the palaces of Petrodvorets and others were hidden in the basements of the Hermitage and St Isaac's Cathedral. Most students continued their studies and even passed finals. Dmitry Shostakovich wrote his Seventh "Leningrad" Symphony and it was performed in the besieged city.
After the war Leningrad was restored to its pre-war glory. The palaces of Peterhof and Pushkin were almost fully rebuilt but time and an increasing lack of money saw the city deteriorate in the last years of the Soviet Union. After the collapse of the Union the city was renamed St Petersburg and gradually the restoration work was initiated. Although Moscow received the lion's share of money for restoration St Petersburg is catching up and it is by far the more beautiful and fascinating city to visit especially during the "White Nights" in the middle of the summer when the golden domes and steeples glisten in the setting sun at 10pm.