Gatchina is situated at a distance of 43 kilometers from the downtown of St Petersburg (the excursion will take us 5 hours) and Gatchina village was first mentioned in 15th century chronicles. Peter the Great presented Gatchina to his sister Natalya Alexeevna. In 1765 Catherine the Great acquired the land and gave the estate as a gift to her lover Count Grygory Orlov. Between 1766 and 1781 Italian architect Rinaldi created a beautiful palace for him. We believe he took famous Blenheim Palace, residence of the dukes of Marlborough (and birthplace of Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill) in England, as a sample for his future masterpiece.

After Orlov’s death Catherine passed the estate on to her son and heir Paul, whose architect Brenna redesigned it. After Paul’s death the estate remained neglected until Alexander III made Gatchina his permanent residence (Alexander was terrified of revolutionary elements and felt unsafe after his own father was assassinated).

The grounds were badly damaged during WWII when the area was occupied by the German forces for two years. Now only several of the 500 rooms of the palace are open to the public but show a magnificent collection of antique bas-reliefs, porcelain, and wonderful mouldings of Rinaldi. The gem of the rooms is White Hall (see pictures below).

A secret underground passage leads to a grotto on the edge of Silver Lake. Gatchina Park weaves around the estates White, Black, and Silver lakes. The park lands were mainly designed by a pair of Englishmen, Mr Sparrow and Mr Bush. At the end of White Lake there is a lovely little Temple to Venus on the Island of Love. Silver Lake never freezes over in the winter, may be this was the reason that the (see picture) first Russian submarine (which is now on display in Maritime Museum in the downtown of St Petersburg) was tested here in 1879.

Not far from Temple to Venus there is another little pavilion – Birch Cabin (see pictures), which looks just that from the outside, but inside is an unexpected luxurious room lined with mirrors.

The Faberge Museumhas the world-class collection of Faberge Masterpieces (including 14 Easter Eggs), gift boxes, Russian enamels etc.The collection is situated in 9 beautiful rooms of Shuvalov Palace. It was opened in November 2013 and was founded by the “Link of Times” Cultural Historical Foundation, established by Russian entrepreneur Viktor Vekselbergto repatriate lost cultural treasures to Russia.

The fourth tallest dome construction in the world. St Isaac’s Cathedral used to be the main Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Russian Empire. The enormous decoration of the interior of the cathedral, was created in the Russian Academy of Fine Arts.Gilded bronze, malachite and lapis lazuli together with countless paintings, columns, mosaics, will take your breath away.

One of the best private palaces in the Europe .Its real gem is a home theater. Outstanding Russian singers and dancers performed there.In this palace young Felix Yusupov, the heir of the family, and other conspirators assassinated Grigory Rasputin.  During a visit to the palace you will learn about the plot of Felix and how it was brought to life.

Peter and Paul Fortress here our city was founded in 1703.Peter the Great started a fortress to protect the lands won back from Sweden. Now it is one of the most important 18th century fortresses in Russia and Europe.St Peter and Paul Cathedral is the burial place of almost all Russian Tsars from Peter the Great up to the last Russian Tsar Nicholas II and his family.

Many metro station vestibules and platforms are adorned with marble, granite, bas-reliefs and mosaics which makes them look like underground palaces. The very first 10 stations appeared after WWII and have various military and Soviet symbols reminding visitors about the glorious victory over Nazi Germany. Owing to the city’s swampy subsoil, most of the lines were built extremely deep underground.

Peterhof is definitely “a must-see” for any first-time visitor to St Petersburg.It is often called the “Russian Versailles”: it is a real “kingdom of fountains” and true paradise for little children (as well as adults) with amazing cascades, a variety of unique and playful fountains, Grand Peterhof Palace, and other small ones.

Catherine Palace Is a must to visit. Inside you will find a succession of interconnecting rooms in Baroque style and somewhere in the middle of that enfilade is the famous Amber Room which was called by contemporaries “the eighth wonder of the world”. The palace was badly damaged during WWII and amber panels were stolen by the Nazi. But they started restoration in 1979 and finished it in 2003.

St Petersburg Siege Memorialcommemorates the hardship that Leningrad‘s (the soviet name of our city) citizens endured during the siege which lasted 900 days (1941-1943) and took away about 1.5 mln lives. The most striking part of the memorial are the tableaux of soviet citizens facing south towards the enemy. It was designed to be viewed from a distance. In the subterranean memorial hall are relics from the siege.

Offers fresh food from all over the former Soviet Union: melons, tomatoes, farmhouse honey, pickles, sour cream, ham and gherkins, not to mention imports such as kiwi fruit. Most vendors offer the chance to taste a sliver before buying. Outside the market are “babushkas” (pensioners) who sell things they have grown at their dacha (summer cottage) or gathered in the forest.

Hermitage Museum one of the most important and oldest museums in the world. It has one of the largest collections of paintings. If you spent one minute viewing each exhibit of the Museum it would take you11 years to see everything. The collection of the French Impressionists is exhibited in the General staff building which is located opposite the Winter Palace.

Most famous for almost 21,000m² of mosaics that cover both the interior and the façade of the building. The mosaics were created in Russia, which makes them even more valuable. It is the only building in our citybuilt in the style of Moscow churches. The church was built on the place where Alexander II was assassinated, hence the name.

St Petersburg boat tours offer a perfect way to see the city under a bit different angle – sailing under numerous bridges along rivers and canals, and listening to curious stories from your guide. St Petersburg boat tours are especially majestic during the White Nights season in St Petersburg.

Alexander Palace was commissioned by Catherine II for her grandson, future Russian tsar Alexander I and later became the summer home of a succession of Imperial heirs, each of whom left their mark on the building.