St. Petersburg, RussiaLocation: Europe
St. Petersburg is Russia's second largest city and one of the exciting ports of call on a Disney Cruise Line European Cruise vacation. Located on the eastern shore of the Gulf of Finland in the delta of the River Neva, the city is situated approximately 400 miles northwest of Moscow and was founded by Peter the Great. Today, the city limits span a series of islands, spread out over an expanse of rivers and canals crisscrossed by hundreds of bridges.
Things to See and Do
Visitors to St. Petersburg and their families will find a bustling, dazzling port city with an endless array of sights to see. Tourists flock to the Nevsky Prospekt, Russia's most famous street—lined with magnificent palaces, churches and breathtaking landmarks.
Downtown on Nevsky Prospekt, discover the main shopping district. Local crafts like Matrioshka dolls (Russian nested dolls), lacquer boxes, painted wooden spoons and other carved items can be found throughout the markets here.
If you and your family would prefer to venture farther, the Peterhof palace is approximately 22 miles from St. Petersburg, on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland. It once served as private residence for the tsars, and is well worth a visit for its astounding opulence and ornaments preserved to this day. Its formal French Upper Gardens hosts the Grand Palace, while the Lower Gardens feature a 300-acre park with the Grand Cascade—the largest fountain ensemble in the world.
Seventeen miles south of St. Petersburg is Pushkin, the site of Catherine's Palace. The palace was completed in 1723 and is considered one of the masterpieces of world architecture, with an aqua fašade decorated with gleaming statues, gold-and-white ornaments and topped with gilded onion domes. Inside is an immense collection of fabulous art work and furnishings. The palace resides on 1,400 acres, which include many other wonderful sights: Admiralty, Chesma column, Turkish baths, Marble Bridge, Chinese pagoda, Grotto pavilion and the Hermitage Pavilion.
Local Culture and Flavor
St. Petersburg—a Russian gem—has retained much of its historic architecture. As Peter the Great was inspired to build a metropolis like the cultural centers of Western Europe, the city is, even today, dotted with colorful gilded monuments that make a stroll an experience steeped in history.
Modernity, however, is also well represented in St. Petersburg, with its financial and industrial center serving as home to a wide variety of business sectors, including shipbuilding, electronics, heavy machinery and medical equipment.
Past and Present
St. Petersburg has had a turbulent past, once serving as the capital of Russia before losing the designation to Moscow during Lenin's reign. As Russia entered World War I in 1914, St. Petersburg was renamed Petrograd. In 1917's Bolshevik Revolution, Lenin's Communist Party seized power, the Soviet State was established and Petrograd soon became Leningrad, symbolizing its transition to Socialism.
The 1970s and early 1980s were a period of stability for the Soviet Union and Leningrad, though political freedom was very limited. Still, most of the city's population enjoyed relative prosperity until the government initiated economic reforms known worldwide as Perestroika.
In 1991, after a city-wide referendum, the city of Leningrad returned to its original name of St. Petersburg and has since become a modern, rapidly growing commercial center, as well as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
Today, St. Petersburg brims with opulence and stately majesty. A visit provides unforgettable experiences in a city that is a beautiful product of history's transitions.
Guests taking part in a Disney Cruise Line Port Adventure are not required to obtain a Russian Tourist Visa for the duration of the scheduled excursion. Guests wishing to go ashore on their own are required to obtain and carry a valid Russian Tourist Visa.
Fun Facts & Tips
Bargaining is expected when dealing with street vendors or in the market.
Short pants and tank tops are not acceptable in churches, cathedrals and other spiritual centers.
The Hermitage's Rococo-styled, green-and-white Winter Palace has 1,786 doors and 1,945 windows.