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St Petersburg proudly holds the title of Russia’s cultural capital. In the summer, when the snows of winter have melted away, a walk around the city will lead you on a real adventure, from landmarks and architectural marvels to tucked-away restaurants and boutiques.
You’re going to need to fuel up for a busy day’s exploring – so start your day right and enjoy breakfast in bed at Corinthia Hotel St Petersburg. Be sure to prepare for rain or shine as the weather can be unpredictable; it’s not unheard of to experience four seasons in a day.
The city’s main artery, Nevsky Prospekt, is right outside Corinthia St. Petersburg’s front door so is the perfect place to start your walk. One of the longest avenues in the historic centre, it connects the Admiralty (former imperial navy headquarters) in the west with Alexander Nevsky Monastery in the east. If you’re looking to try some authentic Russian food, check out Tsar, a restaurant near the corner of Sadovaya street.
Wander among the busy crowds on Nevsky Prospekt and keep walking westwards. You’ll soon reach Anichkov bridge, which crosses the Fontanka river, one of the hundreds of rivers and canals that run through St Petersburg.
Turn right along the embankment, escaping the hustle and bustle, and enjoy the sun glistening on the river. Soon you will spot an unusual building surrounded by a moat – this is Mikhailovsky Castle, one of the city’s most famous haunted landmarks. If you’re not too afraid, go on the hunt for the ghost of murdered Emperor Paul I (or just visit his statue outside the castle gates).
Behind the haunted castle, you’ll find Mikhailovksy Garden, which is a perfect place to shelter from the midday sun. Right across the garden, another famous landmark awaits; the Church of the Saviour on Blood, with thousands of intricate mosaics that form a design like no other in the city. This cheerful-looking church has a dark past: it was built on the spot where Tsar Alexander II was brutally assassinated.
In front of the church, there are usually numerous market stalls selling all sorts of souvenirs. Local artists will also have stands displaying their paintings. This is the perfect moment to try your hand at haggling, so that you can bring home a traditional matryoshka (Russian nesting doll) or a watercolour of your favourite landmark.
Walking along Griboedov Channel Embankment, you’ll find yourself once again on Nevsky Prospekt. Continue walking westwards until you see the grand gates of the General Staff building.
On the other side of the gates, Palace Square affords views of the iconic Hermitage Museum, where you can find the works of Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Titian and Rubens, among others. Make sure to spend time wandering through the galleries; their exquisite interiors offer a glimpse into the Russian Empire.
Just on the other side of the Hermitage is the Palace Embankment, which makes for a beautiful photo opportunity. Following the embankment to the left, you will reach a large green space leading towards St Isaac’s Cathedral, once the largest cathedral in Russia. Climb up the building’s colonnade for a bird’s-eye view of the historic city.
On the journey back, stop at Eliseev Merchants’ Shop and discover their selection of mouthwatering Russian delicacies. Round off the day’s exploring with a well-deserved dessert or cocktail back at Corinthia Hotel St Petersburg, all served with a generous sprinkling of Russian hospitality.
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