This morning you will meet your private driver and guide in your hotel lobby and depart for the nearby 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.
Afterward visit the Kunstkammer - the first museum in Russia, established by Peter the Great on the Neva riverfront facing the Winter Palace. It first opened to the public in 1714 with the main purpose of collecting and examination of natural and human curiosities and rarities. Today, the museum’s collections, some of which might seem rather gruesome, contain roughly one million artifacts and reflect the diversity of traditional cultures in the Old and New World.
Following a break for lunch, payable locally in the small village of Pushkin, you will set off for an exploration of Catherine Palace and its fabled Amber Room. This 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 over a century 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 continue.
Exeter International Extraordinary Experience
During the busy summer months, we highly advise to arrange VIP entrance to Catherine Palace. Historically, our guides could skip the lines with groups of two or less, but we are finding this to be increasingly difficult.With the included VIP entrance, you will enter through the main Golden Gates of the palace with your guide avoiding lines that can have a wait time of well over 2 hours. You’ll be met by a palace representative and taken through the main gates to a private reception area before beginning your tour.