Explore the iconic highlights in the magnificent cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg on this adventure through Russian culture and history. Take in the wonders of Kremlin, Red Square and the Hermitage Museum. Also get an exclusive look at a private art collection that holds some of the fables Faberge Eggs.
No visit to Moscow would be complete without exploring the Kremlin Territory. For centuries, the Kremlin has been witness to many well-known and tragic events in Russia’s past and so it is a treasure trove of Russian history. Your morning tour begins with the extraordinary State Armory; the oldest museum in Russia and home to a vast collection of precious stones, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century jewelry and other priceless artifacts dating as far back as the fourteenth century.
Russian and European masters, precious fabrics, royal gala clothes and a fine collection of Faberge eggs. Your tour also includes one of the Kremlin’s cathedrals: Assumption, the cathedral of coronations and the burial place of religious leaders, or Archangel, the royal burial church.
You’ll also experience the magnificent Red Square. Admire its prominent landmarks – Lenin’s Tomb and St Basil’s cathedral, a colorful multi-domed complex whose architects were supposedly blinded by Ivan the Terrible so that they could never recreate such splendor again.
End your day with exploring the Moscow metro, which is considered to be the most beautiful in the world. In the evening you might wish to visit world famous Bolshoi Theatre to admire a ballet or opera performance.
The next day you’ll begin with a visit to the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, one of Russia’s most important cathedrals, completely destroyed in Stalin’s time and restored in 1990. You’ll also visit the Novodevichy cemetery, the final resting place of Nikita Khrushchev, Raisa Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin amongst many other famous names. Drive through the Moscow State University campus and marvel at a panoramic view of Moscow from an observation platform on Vorobiovy (Sparrow) Hills, the highest spot in Moscow.
Once arriving in St Petersburg, you’ll embark a drive through the historical city center, seeing highlights such as Nevsky Prospect, Palace Square, the Winter Palace, the Admiralty and Vasilevsky Island. Visit the fascinating Peter & Paul Fortress, which Peter the Great built in 1703 to provide protection from the Swedes. The Fortress Cathedral is the burial place of most of Russia’s Tsars and Tsarinas from the eighteenth century onwards, including Peter the Great himself, the great architect of St Petersburg. Afterwards visit St Isaac’s Cathedral, whose gilded dome dominates the city skyline. The cathedral’s construction began in 1818 and was not completed until 1858. Sculptures and massive red granite columns ornament the façade, while the interior is even more lavishly decorated with mosaics, icons and columns of malachite and lapis lazuli.
The next morning you’ll experience one of the most famous museums in the world with your expert guide who accompanies you to the awe-inspiring Hermitage, housed in the lavishly decorated Winter Palace. The Hermitage occupies six magnificent buildings and houses 3 million pieces of artwork from the Stone Age to modern times. The main building and largest part of the museum is the rococo-style Winter Palace, residence of the Tsars from 1762 to 1917. The museum was commissioned by Catherine the Great and she and her successors built the Hermitage collection in large part with purchases from the private collections of the Western European aristocracy and monarchy. By the time Nicholas II ascended the throne in 1894, he was heir to the greatest collection of art in Europe! The whole museum complex was bombarded during the siege of Leningrad in WWII but re-opened to the public in 1945.
Afterwards enjoy a delicious afternoon tea at the home of a well-known artist, Yuri Petrochenkov, who will be delighted to show you his wonderful collection of portraits, icons, antique furniture and other unique pieces of Russian art. Yuri is perhaps best known for his exquisite porcelain eggs, two of which have been bought by Malcolm Forbes for his collection of Faberge Eggs. During your afternoon tea, Yuri and his wife, Nelly, entertain you with many stories about this intriguing country. End your day admiring the stunning treasures at the Fabergé Museum with your expert guide.
Next day, you’ll head south out of the city with your expert guide to Tsarskoe Selo (‘the Tsar’s village’), more commonly known as Pushkin. Peter the Great gave the estate to his wife Catherine, who started to develop the royal country residence, but it was her daughter Empress Elizabeth who was largely responsible for the construction of the beautiful Catherine’s Palace. Set in landscaped parkland, one of the baroque palace’s highlights is the famous Amber Room, a chamber decorated with amber panels backed with gold leaf and mirrors, which has been restored to its original glory. There are numerous other architectural delights, such as the Hermitage Pavilion and the neoclassical Alexander Palace, the favorite residence of Tsar Nicholas II. Later in the day, you’ll visit the basement room where Rasputin drank poisoned wine while Yusupov and his conspirators sat upstairs plotting his demise. His story is a gruesome yet fascinating one.
On your final day, you’ll spend the morning sightseeing with your expert guide takes you out of the city to Peterhof and the great summer estate of Peter the Great, nestled on the shore of the Gulf of Finland. After his victory over the Swedes at Poltava in 1709, Peter decided to build a palace ‘befitting of the very highest of monarchs’ and a visit to Versailles in 1717 furthered these ambitions. Over 5000 laborers, serfs and soldiers were employed in the creation of this magnificent estate that was officially opened in 1723. The park features numerous palaces, summer houses and pavilions; a prominent highlight is the Grand Cascade, a delightful sequence of 37 gilded bronze sculptures, 64 fountains and 142 water jets descending from the terraces of the Great Palace to the Marine Canal and the sea. To avoid the crowds, the Grand Palace is opened for you before official opening hours. Afterwards you are whisked back to St Petersburg by hydrofoil (high speed boat).