April 13-20, 2018
October 5-12, 2018
April 13-20, 2018
October 5-12, 2018
Arrival into Moscow. This flight is not included in program cost. You will be met by your Exeter International driver who will be waiting for you just outside of Customs after you pick up your luggage. Please look for a sign with your name or Exeter International on it.
You will be transferred to your hotel, the Four Seasons Moscow Hotel, located in the former Hotel Moskva building directly next to Red Square.
After some time to rest, our guide will meet us near the concierge desk in the lobby, for an overview walking tour of the neighborhood, including Red Square! Be sure not to miss the newly rebuilt church and Imperial Gates at the south end of Red Square- they were both destroyed under Stalin and only recently have been rebuilt in their original splendor. Our guide will also show you the stunning St. Basil’s Cathedral. This magnificent church-museum was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible and was completed in 1561.
Note: All services today are on foot. Please wear comfortable footwear.
Tonight we welcome you to Moscow with a dinner at one of Moscow’s leading restaurants.
This morning we will meet our guide in the hotel lobby to depart for today’s touring.
Today our guide will take us on the short walk to Red Square before our visit to the Kremlin and its expansive grounds. Here we will see the largest bell in the world – as well as the largest canon. Neither was ever used due to their enormous size! We will also stop into one of the most historic churches in Russia, the Assumption Cathedral, where all Russian tsars were crowned.
Next, our guide will take us into the famed Armory Museum, including its vast collection of Imperial Russian artwork. Also in the Armory are many of the most important Imperial thrones and crowns, including the most historic, Cap of Monomachus. This is also where the famed Imperial Faberge Eater Eggs are kept.
We have made special arrangements to see the Diamond Vaults inside the Kremlin. We will see Catherine the Great’s scepter with its famous Orlov Diamond and one of the largest collections of diamonds and gem stones in the world!
We will lunch at a local restaurant.
Later we will have the opportunity to experience the fascinating interiors of the Moscow Metro stations, ornately decorated with beautiful paintings, carvings and chandeliers! The Moscow Metro was created as complex of monumental structures featuring designs of the very best Soviet architects.
This evening is at leisure. We highly recommend that you try one of the wonderful restaurants near the hotel. Our particular favorites right now are the Dr. Zhivago Grand Café in the Hotel National (reservation needed!) and Strana Kotoroi Net, which is located in the same building as the Four Seasons.
This morning we meet our guide in the hotel lobby to depart for today’s touring.
This morning we will visit the vast Tretyakov Gallery. The Tretyakov is located in one of Moscow’s most interesting neighborhoods. The Tretyakov Gallery is situated in the former home of Pavel Tretyakov. Your guide will take you through the museum, which houses only Russian artists - from Andrei Rublev’s icons to famous 20th Century Russian painters. Here you can see a timeline progression of Russian icons starting from the 16th century through to the 20th century. Each century of icons is arranged in separate halls to convey a clear insight into the development of Russian Icon painting.
This afternoon we return to the Kremlin as VIP guests!
Exeter Extraordinary Experience: Grand Kremlin Palace
Later today we will be among the few ever allowed into the Grand Kremlin Palace to see the Grand Kremlin Palace proper, the Faceted Chamber, and the Terem. The ancient Terem was home to the very earliest tsars, and was the official residence of the Romanovs. The Faceted Chamber, the oldest building in the complex, was constructed in the fifteenth century by the order of Ivan the Terrible. Today, these palaces have been completely renovated at the cost of over $300 million dollars in the 1990’s and are now used by the Russian President for entertaining and hosting State visits and meetings. Some of the rooms, including the Romanov’s Throne Hall and St. Alexander’s Room are unique in the world.
This morning we meet our guide in the hotel lobby. We will visit the grand Christ the Holy Redeemer Cathedral, which towers over historic Moscow.
The cathedral was demolished under Stalin’s reign for a planned Lenin skyscraper, but eventually became an enormous outdoor swimming pool after construction failed repeatedly. After the fall of Communism, it was decided to reconstruct the cathedral and so Christ the Holy Redeemer was completely rebuilt by Mayor Luzhkov of Moscow in 2001- at the budget of over 350 million dollars! It is a beautiful cathedral and it now stands as it did at the turn of the 20th Century. Of particular note are the stunning frescoes that fill the interiors.
Exeter Extraordinary Experience: VIP Redeemer
A very special guide from the cathedral will join us for a private visit to the dome of the church. After ascending to the top via elevator, we will have the opportunity to view the city of Moscow at 360 degrees, from all four sides of the dome. Standing at 300 feet above the city, the dome provides a fantastic view of the city’s most significant sites including the Kremlin, St. Basil’s, Pushkin Museum, Red October Chocolate Factory and the Moskva River. Turn a corner and you are awarded with views of several of the Seven Sisters buildings. We may even witness the ringing of the bells in the Bell towers located just above your head! It's the ultimate Moscow city tour from the top of the highest peak of central Moscow.
Later today we will transfer to the train station to catch the luxurious Sapsan high speed train, departing for St. Petersburg at 1:30PM. Lunch is served onboard the Sapsan. Business class train tickets are not included and will be arranged 45 days prior. Your 4-hour journey will take you through the picturesque Russian countryside.
Upon arrival into St. Petersburg at 6PM, our Moscow guide will be waiting for us on the platform. Transfer to the Four Seasons Lion Palace Hotel.
Tonight we welcome you to St. Petersburg with a dinner at one of St. Petersburg’s leading restaurants.
This morning we will have a brief overview city tour. We will see the Peter Paul Fortress: the birthplace of St. Petersburg. After walking through the many gates and across the bridges and moats, you can begin to feel the late 18th century era that required such fortification. As Peter’s original outpost against the Swedes, St. Petersburg was born from this fortress and its historical significance is felt to this day by the presence of every Romanov tomb from Peter the Great.
Later today our guide will take us into the stately St. Isaac’s Cathedral. Its malachite and lapis lazuli columns are not to be missed! St. Isaac’s was built between 1818 and 1858, by the French-born architect Auguste Montferrand, to be one of the most impressive landmarks of the Russian Imperial capital. During World War II, the golden dome was painted gray to avoid its being targeted by Nazi fire.
The rest of the afternoon is at leisure before we meet again at 4PM.
This afternoon our visit to the Hermitage will start with the General Staff Building, the Eastern Wing of which is now a part of the Hermitage. Designed by Carlo Rossi, one of the central architects that conceived St Petersburg, the General staff building was the headquarters of the army in Imperial times. At just under 2,000 feet it is the longest building in Europe. The triumphal arch in the centre is topped by a spectacular statue of a chariot of Glory to commemorate the victory of Russia over Napoleon in 1812. (Ask the guide to tell you the story of the fire on January 2001 that virtually melted and destroyed the statue). This is now the home of the Hermitage’s contemporary art collection, including its collection of French Impressionists.
Exeter International Extraordinary Experience: After hours at the Hermitage
This evening the museum will be opened specially for us after the general public has left. Our visit to the Hermitage Museum will take us to another world; a time when Catherine the Great commissioned whole buildings to house her ever growing collection of the world’s finest art. We will be one of the few ones to see the winding of the famous Peacock Clock as well!
The former Winter Palace now spans just about every artistic period from Greek and Roman collections to Matisse. This museum holds the largest collection of art in the world. Our guide will escort us through the highlights of the collection, from Rubens to da Vinci and beyond!
Exeter Extraordinary Experience: The New Fabergé Museum
This morning we will visit St. Petersburg’s first Fabergé Museum. The palace houses the celebrated Fabergé collection of the Link of Times Foundation owned by Russian Entrepreneur Viktor Vekselberg, which, with it’s over 1500 choice pieces, now easily outranks the comparatively small collection of the Kremlin Armoury Museum. Mr. Vekselberg has assembled the most formidable collection in the world of works by this great Russian master craftsman.
Later we will stop into the famous Yusupov Palace on the banks for the Moika Canal. We will have a private tour of the palace including its famous theater and Arabian Room. Our guide will recount the story of Rasputin’s murder.
We will have light lunch today at a local restaurant.
This afternoon, we will visit the famous Matilde Kshesinskaya’s mansion – the very first prima ballerina assoluta who was famously the lover of Nicholas II. The mansion became the Political History Museum after the Russian Revolution. Lenin gave one of his earliest and most famous speeches from the balcony of the second floor during the early days of revolution and thus, the political tie for this mansion was bound. The mansion actually became the Bolshevik headquarters for several years before turning into the Museum of the Revolution (and later the Political History Museum). We will find a large collection of personal items from leading 20th century leaders, including Nicholas II, Lenin and Gorbachev, as well as banners, flags and posters from the Communist era. The museum displays the political history of Russia from as far back as Catherine the Great to today's Russia, with an unsurpassed collection of Soviet-era exhibits.
Today we meet our guide in the hotel lobby to depart for today’s touring.
This morning we will visit the ornate Church on Spilled Blood on Canal Griboyedova. The Church on Spilled Blood is so named because it stands on the spot where the Emperor Alexander II was assassinated on March 1, 1881. Its unique design was actually inspired by St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. This is the only church in the world covered completely inside and out by mosaics of tiles and precious and semi-precious stones. This is one of the most extraordinary buildings in St. Petersburg and is well worth the visit. During the Bolshevik revolution the church fell into a state of decline, and only recently has it been fully restored to its former glory.
Next we will head out into the Russian countryside to see one of the city’s most elegant and beautiful palaces- Catherine Palace (formerly Pushkin).
Before entering Catherine Palace we will have lunch in the village of Pavlovsk.
Exeter Extraordinary Experience: VIP Entrance to the Catherine Palace
We will enter through the main Golden Gates of the palace with our guide avoiding all the lines. We will then be met by a palace representative. Our guide will walk us to the main entrance from the gates, and take us into the private reception area where we will be able to use the facilities and leave our coats. Our tour of the palace will then begin.
Catherine Palace was originally designed in the 1750s in the Rococo style by the famous architect Rastrelli (who also designed many of St. Petersburg’s grandest buildings like the Winter Palace, parts of Peterhof, the Stroganoff Palace, and the Smolny Cathedral) for the Tsarina (Princess) Elizabeth, who named it after her mother Catherine I – Peter the Great’s second wife. Later, Catherine II (the Great) commissioned the Scottish architect Charles Cameron to re-design the palace’s interiors in the then-fashionable Neo-Classical style. After Catherine the Great’s death, the palace remained largely unchanged for centuries until the Second World War when the Nazi army, retreating after the unsuccessful siege of Leningrad, destroyed the palace almost completely. After the war, the magnificent palace and its interiors were thoroughly and painstakingly rebuilt, but renovations at some parts still continue.
Exeter Extraordinary Experience: Amber Room Workshop
While visiting Catherine Palace, we will be invited into the Amber Room workshops where craftsmen rebuilt the famous amber panels lost in World War II. This tour is by appointment only and cannot be moved to another time or day.
Tonight’s Farewell Dinner will be in one of St. Petersburg’s leading restaurants.
Your driver and English-speaking assistant will meet you in the hotel lobby at transfer you privately for your onward flight. This flight is not included in program cost.