Art Lover’s Guide to St Petersburg

Once you finish the laborious process of getting a Russian visa, a visit to St Petersburg feels like a cultural pilgrimage into a world of endless art.

Whilst the vast collection of art in St Petersburg will steal your attention, it’s not the only show stopper, you can look forward to the city’s immaculate architecture too. Everywhere you look from the sidewalks – right, left, up, down – no detail has been spared in the name of beauty.

Though unlike its Nordic neighbours, who subscribe to the less is more school of design, St Peterburg has clearly adopted the more is more approach. And whilst your personal taste may sway toward Nordic design (like mine), it’s impossible to avoid getting swept up in the fairytale opulence of your surroundings.

For those who want to experience the diversity of St Petersburg’s art scene, you should not miss the following places:

 

Hermitage Museum

Hermitage Museum aka the Winter Palace in St Petersburg

One of the largest and oldest museums in the world. The only place I’ve visited that can rival here is the Lourve in Paris. Put aside a full day to see what’s on offer, including the world’s largest collection of paintings. You will discover who’s who of Russian art, and find entire rooms dedicate to the big names of Western European art.

The collection they have of Picasso’s work is truly mesmerising, including a lovely display of his ceramics.

Address: Palace Square, 2, St Petersburg
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday (closed Monday) 10.30 – 18.30, opened late nights on Wednesday and Friday 10.30 – 21.00

 

Faberge Museum

Faberge Museum - explore the art in St Peterburg
© Faberge Museum

Peter Carlos Faberge is perhaps the most famous Russian jeweller in history, and you have a chance to see his works of art in St Petersburg – including the imperial Faberge eggs, his most well-known creations.

The silk-lined walls and decorative ceiling of the Fabergé Museum are the vision of Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian billionaire who’s devoted his time to repatriating thousands of Russian decorative and fine art that was sold by the Soviet government in the 1920s and 1930s.

Address: 21, Fontanka River Embankment, St. Petersburg
Opening hours: Sunday to Thursday (closed Friday) 10.00 – 21.00

 

Church of the Savior on Spilt Blood

Church of our Saviour on Spilled Blood

There’s nothing austere about this church, from the whimsical exterior reminiscent of ice-cream swirls, to the blinding gold interior that make you want to reach for your sunglasses.

Church of out Saviour on Spilled Blood - explore the interior cladding in gold mosaics

Whatever your feelings are toward being ambushed by so much gold, the craftsmanship gone into creating the floor to ceiling mosaics is truly impressive.

Address: Griboyedov Canal Embankment, 2Б, St Petersburg
Opening hours: Thursday to Tuesday (closed Wednesday) 10.30 – 18.00

 

Catherine Palace and Pushkin Park

St Catherine's Palace - art in St Petersburg

Also know as the Summer Palace, this was perhaps the most beautiful area I visited in St Petersburg. Historically fascinating as well because Catherine Palace was also home to the infamous Amber Room, reportedly looted by the Nazis and never found again. However, now contains a very ornate replica.

Address: Sadovaya St, 7 | Ekaterininskiy Park, Pushkin, St. Petersburg
Opening hours: Varies throughout the year. See website for up-to-date information

 

The Peterhof Palace

Often referred to as the ‘Russian Versailles’ and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Peterhof Palace refers to not just one but a series of palaces located in Petergof, not too far away from the city. Accompanying the palace are stunning gardens filled with perfectly-pruned topiary, sculptures and fanciful fountains.

Address: Razvodnaya ulitsa, 2, St Petersburg
Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday (closed Monday) 09.00 – 19.00, late night opening Saturday 09.00 – 22.00

 

State Russian Museum

State Russian Museum - art in St Petersburg

Welcome to the home of St Petersburg’s largest collection of Russian art, from 11th century icons right through to modern age. Here you’ll also find wonderful examples of Russian folk art, a style that is often eclipsed in favour of more opulent aesthetics. And finally, no museum of Russian art would be complete without its most celebrated export: Wassily Kandinsky.

Address: Inzhenernaya St, 4, St Petersburg
Opening hours: Wednesday to Monday (closed Tuesday) 10.00am – 18.00, late night Thursday 13.00 – 21.00

 

Russian Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography

Outisde the Russian Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography

Easily the most modest museum on the list, it’s a little tatty around the edges but nonetheless one of the most interesting museums in the city. Contains many examples of Russian dress wear through the eras, as well as the very striking and rather creepy KunstKamera room (a museum within a museum).

Address: Inzhenernaya St, 4/1, St Petersburg
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday (closed Monday) 10.00 – 18.00, late night Tuesday 10.00 – 21.00

 

Mariinsky or Mikhailovsky

Swan Lake at the ballet in St Petersburg

Finally, what’s a trip to St Petersburg without seeing Swan Lake at either of the city’s premier theatres? The dancing alone is enough reason to buy tickets, but the stage design and beautiful costumes do not falter either. Though if you can’t afford tickets to see Swan Lake in either of these venues, do what I did and attend a lesser known production. The swans might just have one or two missing feathers…!

 

Do you want to check out the art in St Petersburg?



A travel & culture blog specialising in Scandinavia and the Arctic, peppered with the rest of the world in between.


'Art Lover’s Guide to St Petersburg' have 6 comments

  1. May 3, 2016 @ 4:08 pm Lily La

    Beautiful looking place. I love art, and can spend hours in museums (recently spent 4 hours exploring NYC’s Met). I was thinking of going to Russian for Christmas, but flights from Myanmar aren’t cheap, and the visa process is a little daunting to.. maybe I’ll revisit that idea again – I really want to be somewhere cold for Christmas!

    Reply

    • May 4, 2016 @ 5:45 pm Shing Yoong

      I’d love to go to the Met in NYC Lily! I think the best idea would be to visit Russia whilst you’re back in England for a period of time, the flights from the UK are very reasonable… and to save time you should start the visa process online whilst you’re in Myanmar 😉

      Reply

  2. May 7, 2016 @ 3:01 pm Sam Ford

    Wow! The perfect combination of both art and architecture. I HAVE to visit Russia soon. Great post as always Shing!

    Reply

    • May 8, 2016 @ 6:39 pm Shing Yoong

      Exactly, both the art and the architecture are a match made in heaven! I hope you get there soon Sam!

      Reply

  3. May 12, 2016 @ 8:32 pm theStyleJungle

    So happy you’ve managed to get to Russia and enjoyed your stay in St.P! This city is really a pure inspiration. Thank you for sharing!

    Ksenia,
    thestylejungle.ru

    Reply

  4. May 14, 2016 @ 8:30 pm Shing Yoong

    St Petersburg is a pool of inspiration for people with all kinds of interests, eh? I’d love to go back!

    Reply


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