These themed excursions are for those with a special interest in some aspect of St. Petersburg, Russia or Russian life.
During the years 1941-1944 St. Petersburg survived the most destructive siege in the history of human warfare. More than 800,000 citizens lost their lives to starvation, cold, artillery shelling and air raids.The Siege of Leningrad tour offers you a unique opportunity to go beyond the city's tourist facades and visit the battlefields and memorial sites of the most dramatic siege of the second world war.
The tour's itinerary features the monuments built along the Road of Life - the only supply route to starving Leningrad, the Nevsky Bridgehead - one of the bloodiest battlefields of the Second World War, and two museums - the Road of Life museum and the Siege of Leningrad Breakthrough diorama. You will also see the Broken Ring memorial on the coast of the Ladoga Lake, and the Oreshek island fortress that was heroically defended by the Soviet troops throughout the whole Siege.
The tour lasts for one full day (approx. 8 hours) and starts with driving along the Road of Life - the only supply route to the besieged city along which dozens of trains shuttled constantly from the lake shore to the city's supply depots. The bus will stop by a cemetery where the victims of war are buried and two memorials built in the 60s to commemorate the vital role the railroad played in saving the city from starvation.
The first big stop of the tour is the Road of Life museum which displays wartime relics telling us of the heroic feat of the truck drivers that braved the lake's frozen expanses under harassing fire of enemy bombers and artillery. Next to the museum building there is an exhibition of military and transport vehicles complete with a Soviet-made C-47 airplane (Li-2) that delivered food supplies to the city.
On the way to Kirovsk the bus will stop by the shore of Ladoga lake in Morozova, where you'll get a good view of the Oreshek fortress. Located on a tiny island at the very source of Neva River, it was heroically defended by the Soviet troops throughout the whole siege.
Our bus will stop in the little provincial town of Kirovsk for a meal.
Nevsky Bridgehead, nicknamed "pyatachok" - "five kopeck coin" - this tiny patch of land about 1 kilometer square became a common grave for almost 50,000 Soviet soldiers, making it one of the bloodiest battlefields in the world. A network of trenches you'll be able to walk alongside is still clearly visible to date. Several memorials and a church were built on the site.
The Diorama Museum is located inside a big bridge across the Neva River, on exactly the same place where the German fortifications and trenches along the river were successfully stormed by the Soviet infantry on January 12, 1943, opening the six-day offensive that broke the Siege. The diorama features the most crucial events that took place on that day on an impressive 40 x 8 meter canvas. Several Soviet tanks that sank during the river crossing are standing in front of the museum's entrance.
He first came to St.Petersburg when he was 10 years old and studied here for 9 years at the prestigious Imperial School of Jurisprudence and nearly three years at St. Petersburg Conservatory. He filled his life here with music and kept returning back to this city. The first public performance of any of his works took place in August 1865, when Johann Strauss the Younger conducted Tchaikovsky’s Characteristic Dances at a concert in Pavlovsk, near St. Petersburg.
Tchaikovsky died in Saint Petersburg on November 6, 1893, nine days after the premiere of his Sixth Symphony, the Pathetique. Though only 53 years old, he lived a long life compared to many Russian 19th century composers. He is buried in Tikhvin Cemetery at the Alexander Nevsky Monastery St.Petersburg, near the graves of fellow-composers
For those who admire Tchaikovsky St.Petersburg presents a great chance to turn over the pages of his biography visiting places connected with him.
A Russian novelist and short-story writer whose psychological penetration into the darkest recesses of the human heart, together with his unsurpassed moments of illumination, had an immense influence on 20th-century fiction.
Born in Moscow Dostoyevsky moved to St Petersburg to attend a military academy when he was aged 16. Overall Dostoyevsky lived in St.Petersburg for 28 years before his death in 1881. He grave is in Tikhvin Cemetery at the Alexander Nevsky Monastery in Saint Petersburg.
He never had his own apartment: he moved 20 times, never living in one place longer than 3 years. We will visit both places described in his novels, such as "Crime and Punishment" - and those connected with him personally. The relationship between a man and his city environment was one of the Dostoyevsky trump themes - so walking along his routes we will try to perceive St.Petersburg the way he saw it.
Communist USSR was perceived as the main danger for a long period of time, but how was such a society created? What were its first leaders like? What made soviet people different from the rest of the world? What did they put their trust in? Why did they supported a regime which the rest of the world considered terrifying?
I suggest looking at the communist regime from the Russian point of view: visiting the places connected with revolution, speaking about the ideas which inspired Russian people to create a society of a new type - their dreams and how they turned out in reality.
The Museum of Political History, located in the Kshesinskaya Mansion, is the first stop on this 7-hour tour. Once a love nest of the famous ballerina, this charming Style Moderne house was occupied by the Bolsheviks in 1917 and turned into their headquarters. In 1955 it was made into the Museum of the Great October Socialist Revolution, and with the fall of Communism its collections were redesigned to reflect the whole Russian political history since 1700s. There you will see unique items related to the history of the Soviet Union: Comissars' outfits, Stalin's execution lists, Trotsky's letters, NKVD investigator uniforms, Lenin's private study and much more. You will learn how the Soviet system was shaped, how it degenerated into a bureaucratic dictatorship and what were the reasons for its imminent collapse in the 1980s, and get an insight into the life of ordinary Soviet people and Communist party bosses.
The next stop is the legend and icon of the Revolution - the Aurora cruiser. Its front gun that "heralded a new era in the history of mankind" is still well preserved, and the whole ship is a floating museum, permanently moored to the embankment.
The tour continues to Finlandsky railway station where Lenin made his historical speech to a crowd of thirty thousand on the night of his return to Russia in April 1917.
On our way to the Tauride Palace which housed the first Russian parliament in 1906-1917 you will see the dreaded Big House - an imposing constructivist building that was the local KGB HQ throughout the Communist era.
Taking a break from our long hike along the embankment, we'll stop for a coffee break in the Coffee Museum, located in the building which once belonged to the Kresty political prison. The open terrace on the second floor offers a great view of the Neva river and the somber red brick buildings of the famous prison where Russia's leading dissidents were locked in the times of Nicholas II and Stalin.
Depending on the day of the week (i.e. which museum will be open on the day we visit) our final stop will be either Smolny Palace or Kirov museum.
Smolny Palace is where Lenin proclaimed the victory of the Revolution and the first Bolshevik government was formed in the Red October of 1917. You will see the place where the victory of the Revolution was proclaimed, walk along the corridor where the prominent Soviet party boss Kirov was assassinated in 1934 and get an insight in the life of St. Petersburg ruling elite in the last 100 years.
The Kirov museum is the former private apartment of Kirov. We'll see how this top communist leader really lived - his home office, library, dining room, bedroom, recreation room and kitchen where a unique collection of his personal belongings is on display. We will also see an exposition "Leningrad in 1920s-1930s", which shows the social, economic, political and cultural aspects of Leningrad life at that time.To