This program is recommended for lovers of history; architecture and art of Russia, for those who want to get acquainted not only with the two capitals of Russia, Moscow and St Petersburg but with one of the northern stars of Russia, Novgorod the Great.
The northern city of Russia, in Novgorod, first mentioned in 856, remains one of the most important cities in Eastern Europe during the Middle Ages, the cradle of Russian statehood and the first dynasty of Russian tsars.
Moscow, which is sometimes called the “third Rome”, ancient and modern, one of the most beautiful capitals of the world, and magnificent St. Petersburg, the former capital of the Russian Empire during its heyday, protected by UNESCO for its architecture and artistic heritage and Novgorod the Great, authentic with its numerous medieval churches, monasteries and the local Kremlin are waiting for you in this tour!
This tour is one of the options how you can enjoy Moscow, St Petersburg and Novgorod the Great but it can be modified according to the number of days you have and preferences about cultural content you would like to see in these 3 Russian cities. Please feel free to share with us your ideas and we will do our best to prepare a tailor made itinerary for you. Thank you for choosing Nordic travel!
Day 1, St Petersburg
Day 2, St Petersburg
Our big city tour is the best way to know the history of St Petersburg through its gorgeous palaces and classic buildings of museums, wide avenues and granite embankments, big squares and little streets, cathedrals and drawbridges and feel the vibe of a European city in a country with two thirds of a territory lays in Asia.
We will see Nevsky Prospekt with its numerous palaces and the mighty Kazan Cathedral, admire the water panoramas of the Neva river from the Palace, Admiralty and University embankments, have a photo stops at the Palace Square, see the word famous Winter Palace, the former tsars’ residence and the Alexander’s Column and at a Spit of the Vasilyevsky island with well-known Rostral columns, heading towards the monument to Peter I, the founder of the city, the Bronze Horsman at the Senat Square. Several rivers and numerous canals cross the city and we will see Moika and Fontanka rivers, the Summer Garden, first park of the city and the mysterious Michael’s castle.
Another well-known places like the Theatre Square and the Mariinsky Theater, Arts Square and the Russian Museum, Naval Cathedral of St Nicholas, Church of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood and St Isaac’s square with the largest city cathedral of the same name, the battleship Aurora, symbol of the revolution will definitely impress you!
St Isaac’s Cathedral was the main cathedral of the Russian Empire and now is the fourth largest cathedral in the world. It was named after Saint Isaac, the patron saint of Peter the Great on whose day the emperor was born. In 1710 the first wooden church of Saint Isaac was laid, it was later rebuilt several times and by 1858 after 40 years of construction the cathedral how you will see it now was finished. It stands at the same name’s square close to the Neva river surrounded by the building of the Senat and Sinod, Mariinsky Palace and the monument to Nicolas I during whose reign it was built. This architectural and engineering marvel will impress you both from inside and outside. 48 columns weighted 114 tones each frame the cathedral from all sides, 14 types of marble and precious stones like malachite and lapis lazuli were used for interior decoration, mosaic icons and gilded elements are covering inside walls. The cathedral’s main dome rises 101.5 meters (333 ft) and is plated with pure gold.
Wow-thing! Take a challenge, climb 260 steps to reach the Colonnade of St. Isaac’s Cathedral and enjoy one of the most breathtaking panoramas of the historic center of St. Petersburg!
Church of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood is both an Orthodox church and a memorial monument, reminiscent of one of the tragic pages in the history of Russia, the fatal wounding of the Tsar Alexander II in March 1881 done by terrorists. The regicide shocked the whole country and soon it was decided to build a church on that site. The temple’s construction was started in 1883 and by 1907 it was completed. Despite the fact that the Savior on the Spilled Blood was built as a memorial temple in honor of the murdered tsar, its appearance is rather festive and bright and its architectural style can be called pseudo-Russian. To some extent, the temple resembles St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. The church is decorated with numerous figured platbands, kokoshniks, tiles, multi-colored tiles. The mosaic plays a special role inside the temple, occupying an area of 7065 square meters and this exhibition is one of the largest in Europe. It is not surprising that the Savior on the Spilled Blood is called the “mosaic museum”. Mosaic panels on evangelical subjects almost completely cover the walls, pylons, ceilings. The famous view of the temple opens from the Griboyedov Canal.
Day 3, St Petersburg
Peterhof is the first suburban Tsar’s residence built in European style ever in Russia. Today it’s the world famous Grand Palace of Peter I and parks architectural ensemble with a unique fountain system. Peter the Great founded it in 1710 after the victory over the Swedes at Poltava anticipating getting an access to the Baltic Sea as a result of the Russian victory in the Northern war. Later Peterhof was loved and cherished by many Russian Emperors and Empresses.
Nowadays Peterhof is the most popular museum in Russia due to a mix of diverse architecture represented by the Grand Palace and the smaller palaces like Monplaisir and Marli and entertainment and joy that more than 150 fountains together with a magnificent Grand Cascade bring. This man-made splendor is framed by the beauty of nature, the Upper and Lower Parks, as well as the Gulf of Finland, where the palace faces reminding us about its founder’s strive for freedom, openness and drive.
Also during the tour to Peterhof we will visit a the Royal Baths site.
Day 4, St Petersburg
Before sharing with you details of the tour to Tsarskoe selo let us tell you a joke about the place we invite you to visit) The palace in Tsarskoe selo was built mainly by Empress Elizabeth but got a name of Catherine, wife of Peter the Great but was extremely cherished by another Catherine, a German born but very Russian by spirit Catherine the Great)
During the Northern War, these lands were conquered from the Swedes and Peter the Great presented them to his wife, the future Catherine I. She ordered to build a small palace here and it became an official tsar’s summer residence after her coronation in 1712. Under Empress Elizabeth, Peter’s daughter, the palace was seriously expanded by Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli and by 1756 acquired the look that you can admire today.
The Grand Palace is the brightest example of Russian Baroque. It is striking that with the length of the facade of 310 meters, it does not seem monotonous. The alternation of the protruding and recessed parts of the facade, the abundance of columns, the powerful figures of atlantes, the contrast between the white stucco decorations and the azure coloring of the walls create a harmonious rhythm of the entire structure. The halls of the palace amaze with their decoration, of different styles – baroque, neoclassical, but all extremely elegant and luxurious. During the guided visit you will adore the Big throne room, White and Chevalier dining rooms, Arabesque and Lion halls, the Palace chapel with its unique Prussian blue colour opened recently after the restoration and of course the famous Amber Room, a gift from Frederick I to Peter I, consisted of amber panels with diverse ornaments was placed in the Catherine Palace and was already considered the pearl of this summer residence. Unfortunately, its interior disappeared without a trace during the Great Patriotic War and was recreated and opened to public only in 2003.
During the construction of the palace, large-scale work on the breakdown of the park continued. The upper park adjacent to the facade of the Grand Palace was made regular, the rest is a classic English landscape park, completely man-made, but creating the illusion of the natural one. After a palace tour you will walk through the parks and gardens, enjoying beautiful landscapes and water panoramas of the big ponds.
The Alexander Palace was nother summer residence for the Imperial Family in the 19th century, but it became a real home for the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra Fiodorovna during the last 13 years of their reign. Walking through the rooms of its residential half, open to the public, you can get an idea how Nicholas II worked from here, from his Study room, decorated in the Art Nouveau style and feel how this palace became a sweet home for him, his wife and 5 children, daughtres Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and son Alexey. Unfortunately the palace became their last home where they were arrested by the Bolsheviks in 1918.
Day 5, St Petersburg
A tour to the Hermitage, one of the largest museums in the world, is actually a combination of two tours in one, on the one hand you will admire the masterpieces of painting and sculpture, on the other the ceremonial halls of the Winter palace, the former Tsars’ residence like the Throne room, The Nicolas hall, Field marshal’s hall, The Armorial hall, Malachite room, The White hall, Small dining room, Rutanda and many others.
The history of the Hermitage collection goes back to the times of Catherine the Great when she bought 225 paintings by Flemish and Dutch artists from the German merchant Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky in 1764. Now among the thousands of paintings, we can distinguish the following internationally recognized masterpieces as Rembrandt’s “The Return of the Prodigal Son”, Leonardo da Vinci’s “Madonna Litta” and “Madonna Benoit”, Raphael’s “Madonna Connestabile” and “The Holy Family”, Caravaggio’s “Lutenist”, paintings by Titian, Murillo, El Greco and many other famous painters. Also the Hermitage is proud to have one of the world’s best collections of French paintings of the late XIX – early XX centuries.
Special evening program!
Yusupov Palace on Moika river is one of the most famous and luxurious palaces in St. Petersburg, belonged to the family of princes Yusupov, one of the most well-known aristocratic families in Russia whose wealth was estimated higher that the Tsar’s family. The interiors of the palace amaze with their decoration, style and luxury but the most unique about the palace is the home theater looks like a miniature copy of the French Grand Opera where Zinaida Yusupova, the last owner of the palace could perform her soprano in front of the guests including the Tsar’s family. A part of the palace exhibition is devoted to the story of the conspiracy against Grigoriy Rasputin and his murder organized by Feliх Yusopov in 1916. The palace was visited by the Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain while her official visit to Russia.
Day 6, St Petersburg
The Peter and Paul Fortress is famous for being the first building of St. Petersburg. It was founded on May 16, 1703 as the citadel of St. Petersburg, and this date is considered the birthday of the city. The lands where Peter the Great began to build the new capital of the Russian Empire were recently recaptured from the Swedes in the Northern War, and the fortress was supposed to protect the new city from possible attacks. The fortress is located on a small island in the Neva delta, has 6 bastions connected by brick walls 20 meters thick, and these characteristics made it very advanced for that time. For almost 300 years, Peter and Paul Cathedral standing in the center of the fortress was the highest building in the city with a 122-meter-high golden spire topped with an angel-shaped weathervane. It was the first cathedral of the new capital of Russia, and its interiors amazed people with the luxury of decoration, gilded wood carvings of the altar and crystal lamps, all this was very different from ancient Russian churches. In addition, the cathedral became the pantheon of all Russian tsars from Peter the Great to the last tsar Nicholas II.
The Fabergé Museum was opened in 2013 when Russian entrepreneur and philanthropist Viktor Vikselberg bought the Faberge collection from the heirs of Michael Forbes. The most famous 9 Easter eggs, commissioned to Carl Faberge by Alexander III and Nicholas II as the gifts for the most significant dates in Russian history, are of unprecedented value. The palace of the Shuvaloff-Naryshkins on Fontanka river was specially restored to accommodate the collection. Currently, the collection has more than 1,000 items. These exquisite pieces are not only examples of the highest artistic skill in jewelry art, but also illustrate all aspects of Fabergé’s oeuvre, including objects of fantasy, jewelry and accessories, silverware, precious haberdashery and decorative objects for interiors.
Tour program includes
In St Petersburg
St Isaac’s Cathedral
Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood
The Hermitage museum
Peter&Paul Fortress and cathedral
Peterhoff residence, the Grand Palace and the Lower Park with Fountains
Boat trip over rivers and canals
Russian dance folk show
Tsarskoye Selo, Catherine’ Palace and Amber Room
Tsarskoe Selo, Alexander’s palace (optional)
lunch in traditional Russian cuisine restaurant «Podvorie»
Yusopov palace on Moika river
Fabergé Museum in Shuvaloff Palace
Day 7, Novgorod the Great St Petersburg and then transfer to Moscow
Novgorod the Great, a charming medieval city located on the ancient trade route between Central Asia and Northern Europe and part of the famous Hanseatic League, was the first capital of Russia in the 9th century and is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1992.
The city of Novgorod or Novgorod the Great is located 190 kilometers southeast of St. Petersburg, on the banks of the Volkhov River. In Russia it became famous since the 9th century and was the cradle of the Russian state system.
The city played an important role in Eastern Europe and was one of the most important european art centers with its architectural traditions, icon painting schools, jewelry stores and applied arts and crafts in the Middle Ages.
It is not surprising that until 1478 the city officially called in Russian “Vladyka Novgorod the Great” or «The Master Novgorod the Great».
We will visit the Novgorod fortress called the Kremlin with its 1,487-meter walls and nine towers. Inside of the Novgorod Kremlin we will see the famous monument devoted to the the 1000th anniversary of the Russian state, will go inside of the ancient Cathedral of St Sophia built under the protection of the Kremlin walls in 989. The Cathedral is functioning as a church and as museum and is famous for being the oldest Orthodox Church in Russia.
We continue our tour visiting the 12th century Yuriev Monastery located on the banks of the Voljov River, the Perynsky hermitage with the Nativity Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary built in the early 13th century on the site of one of the pagan temples of the eastern slavs, the Holy Female Monastery of the Transfiguration Varlaam of Khutyn founded by Varlaam of Khutyn, one of the saints most revered in northern Russia.
After seeing so much of the religious and stone architecture from the medieval times we invite you to the unique open air musem of wooden architecture and a very picturesque place, a Russian village of Vitoslavlitsy, where you can not only see different types of wooden architecture, but also find out what the life of Russian peasants of the 16-19th centuries.
First when we arrive here first we will go for a lunch in a traditional Russian cuisine Yuriev Podvorie restaurant located here.
After lunch you will see real «izbas» (village houses), chapels and churches form streets like those in old Russian villages in the Novgorod region. Restorers managed to preserve the unique works of old Novgorod’s carpenters and you will have the oportunity to come inside of the houses and chapels and also buy local souvenirs.
Tour program includes
In Novgorod the Great
Novgorod city tour
The Kremlin of Novgorod
St Sofia Cathedral
monument devoted to the the 1000th anniversary of the Russian state
a village of Vitoslavlitsy, a museum of Russian wooden architecture
lunch in a traditional Russian cuisine «Yuriev Podvorie» restaurant
Day 8, Moscow
During this big Moscow city tour you will see and enjoy the most famous and interesting attractions of the Russian capital, its avenues and squares, modern scyscrapers and its predecessors, Stalin’s «vysotki», iconic Red square and great panoramas of the Kremlin, elegant Bolshoi Theatre and the Triumphal Arch, the Novodevichiy Convent, the main building of Moscow University at the Sparrow Hill, the White House and a former KGB building at Lubyanka street, the memorial complex dedicated to the Victory in the 2nd World War on Mount Poklonnaya and much more.
You will also visit Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, the largest Orthodox Cathedral in Russia that has a very big and challenging history. Being constructed in the 19th century, it was the main Cathedral of the Russian Empire but at Soviet times, it was demolished and rebuilt at the end of the 20th century.
Novodevichy Convent is one of the most visited tourist sites in Moscow. Its walls remember the brilliant ups and sorrowful falls, court intrigues and prayerful sighs of royal nuns, gloomy troops of «oprichniks» in the times of Ivan the Terrible and executions of rebellious archers in 1682. The decline of the Rurik dynasty, the accession of Boris Godunov in 1598 and the Great Turmoil after his reign, the beginning of the reign of the Romanovs in 1613, Nikon’s reforms and Peter’s “coup” in 1689, the invasion of Napoleon in 1812 and the “cultural revolution” of the early 20th century – all the main milestones of the country’s life have left their mark on the history of the convent.
Day 9, Moscow
You can’t imagine the Russian capital without iconic Red Square, St.Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin. We will have a walk at the territory of the Kremlin and visit inside the ancient churches of the 15-16th centuries (The Archangel, The Assumption and the Annunciation Cathedrals), where Russian tsars were crowned, near the 81 meter high Bell Tower of Ivan the Great built in the beginning of the 16th century we will listen to its 22 famous bells. The Big Kremlin Palace, a residence of the Russian President we will see from outside. In the famous Armoury Chamber that houses a unique collection of crown jewels, stunning coronation finery, hand-forged armor and weapons, royal carriages and sleighs, and world-famous Fabergé eggs you also will have a guided tour.
Arbat Street is located in the very center of Moscow and is one of the most famous streets of the capital. We can say that this is one of the symbols of Moscow, like the Kremlin or Red Square. It is a pedestrian street with many shops and cafes. Here you can see numerous artists depicting pedestrians, singers. There are several memorial museums of Russian writers, picturesque old mansions with interesting decoration
The Moscow metro is famous for its unique decoration resembling real underground palaces with walls lined with marble, bronze and granite sculptures, mosaics and lamps of rare shape. By 2010, 44 stations were recognized as objects of cultural heritage. Among the most interesting and fascinating are Ploschad Revolutsii, Mayakovskaya, Novoslobodskaya, Komsomolskaya, Arbatskaya, Kievskaya, Teatralnaya, Dostoevskaya stations.
Bunker-42 is tightly connected with the name of Joseph Stalin, a Soviet leader from 1929 till 1953 and the times of Cold war between the US and Soviet Union.
Bunker was built between 1950-1956 by direct order of Stalin and was a top-secret military object used until 1986 as a command center for strategic nuclear missile bombers of the Soviet Air Force. It is located 65 meters underground (corresponding to 18 floors) in the centre of Moscow, near Taganskaya metro station, just in 13 km from the Kremlin, and the location of the bunker was not accidental: it was assumed that in case of nuclear attack, Joseph Stalin would be able to quickly get from the Kremlin to the shelter and the facility would become a reliable place for the top officials of the Soviet Union to work and would be completely protected from all the damaging factors of a nuclear explosion.
Day 10, Moscow
Kolomenskoye is a former Tsar’s summer residence famous for a wooden palace of Alexei Mikhailovich (father of Peter I) and the Church of the Ascension of the Lord, the first stone tent church in Russia and one of the few surviving monuments of Ivan the Terrible era in Moscow. The temple was built on a hill at the place where, according to legend, the miraculous spring beat, so area around is considered holy. The wooden palace of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich which we visit inside will impress you with its interiors in Russian style with wood carving elements, traditional patterns typical for the interiors of nobility of the pre-Petrine times.
Day 11, Moscow