Since its foundation in 1703 by Peter the Great, St Petersburg has been a city of fable and legend. It has been an Imperial city, the city of revolution, the cultural capital. In St Petersburg you feel history at every step.
Successive Tsars and Tsarinas all contributed to the architecture and culture of the capital. If we do not remember them for their politics, or how successfully or otherwise they ruled such an enormous empire, we can still see today all over St Petersburg the legacy of each and every one of them; Empress Anne set up the first School of Dancing, which became the foundation of the Imperial Russian Ballet, which in turn became the Kirov Ballet; Empress Elizabeth ordered into being the Academy of Fine Arts, the Winter Palace, and the Catherine's Palace in Tsarskoe Selo; the unfortunate Paul I, son of Catherine the Great, built the Mikhailovsky Castle, surrounded it with water to protect himself from his many enemies, and was murdered in his bedroom.
St Petersburg has been defined by its writers: Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Nabokov, Akhmatova, Brodsky. Dostoevsky set "Crime and Punishment" here.
Russian music had its flowering in St Petersburg , and every evening somewhere in the city one can hear the melodies of Glinka, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev...
St Petersburg past is a mosaic of three-hundred years of politics, empire, culture; so many layers of different lives waiting to be discovered.
St Petersburg has been variously called the city of palaces, the city of 300 bridges and the Venice of the North, but when you visit us during White Days we want it to be your city. Perhaps you have come with your guide book in hand, and you know what it is that you want to see; then the concierge at your hotel will be more than happy to tell you how best to get to the places on your list of “must-see” things.
But when the pale winter sun is shining on the glittering snow, and you decide that it's not a museum day, why not put your guide book away and let the mood take you where you will. No doubt you will start your walk on Nevsky Prospect, which for generations of Petersburgers has been the place for a promenade. Perhaps you will be resolute and walk the whole way (although we have to tell you that it's four kilometres!), but there are so many side streets to explore, and so many interesting and individual shops and cafes. Perhaps you will see an antique shop, and go in to browse; inside you can often find objects d'art by Faberge', and delicate Lomonosov porcelain. Perhaps on a canal side you will come upon a second-hand bookshop with coffee table albums of your favourite artists. And when it's time for a stop perhaps you will discover the smart Apricot cafe on Nevsky, with its hand-painted Chinese interiors from 1905, or one of the many homely cafes selling traditional Russian borsch soup, and pancakes with black and red caviar, or with sweet fruits and sour cream.
One can say that there are many different cities of St Petersburg, but no matter which one you have come to visit during the season of White Days - imperial St Petersburg, literary St Petersburg, ballet St Petersburg, art St Petersburg - we feel certain that you will find in our city everything that you have always wanted to see, and so much more.