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St. Petersburg

Couple walking around Peterhof in St. Petersburg, Russia
Couple walking around Peterhof in St. Petersburg, Russia
The coach for walks on the winter palace square in St. Petersburg, Russia

The jewel in the Baltic crown and Russia's most European city, elegant St Petersburg was the imperial capital for two centuries, and Tsar Peter the Great's 'Window on the West'. The sheer grandeur of the city, and its revolutionary spirit, never fail to impress.

Founded in 1703 by Peter the Great – immortalised by the city's iconic Bronze Horseman statue – St Petersburg remains Russia's cultural centre. The Mariinsky Theatre hosts world-class opera and ballet, and the State Russian Museum showcases a wide collection of superb Russian art.

St Petersburg is utterly captivating, with baroque palaces, wide elegant streets, ornate bridges and broad curving canals – the city is built on 40 islands at the mouth of the River Neva. The main street, Nevsky Prospekt, is 5km long and lined with cafés, bars and restaurants mixed in with upmarket hotels and sumptuous shops.

On Neva embankment, the Winter Palace, with over a thousand rooms, is the most magnificent of six buildings that make up the Hermitage Museum. It is one of 125 museums and galleries, including the imposing seafront Peterhof Royal Palace and Park. The city is enchanting during the “White Nights” of midsummer, when a brief twilight blends into dawn, and street entertainment lasts throughout the long days and short, white nights.