Already this year, we’ve taken trips to 12 different cities and we’ve got a few more stops in our journey around the world. This month let’s explore all that St. Petersburg, Russia has to offer.
St. Petersburg is known as the cultural capital of Russia. With a heady mix of striking beauty and turbulent politics, the city looms large in the lives and works of the country’s greatest writers, including Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy and Nabokov. Russia’s first music conservatories were founded here, and The Mariinsky Theatre and Hermitage Museum are both internationally renowned. Known as “the Venice of the North,” St. Petersburg bears much more in common with western European cities than most other major urban areas in Russia.
In addition to the world-class museums and theaters, visitors to St. Petersburg will not want to miss the magnificent Peterhof Palace, the Peter and Paul Fortress (burial site of many Russian tsars, including Peter I himself), or the incredibly colorful Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood.
Despite depictions to the contrary in western literature and film, Russians are actually quite friendly and engaging people—just don’t expect them to smile for any pictures! Guests are especially well-treated, and don’t be surprised if your local hosts offer to bombard you with drinks, special culinary dishes, or other tokens of hospitality (a small return gift is always considered polite). Residents of St. Petersburg are especially proud of their city and may even offer to serve as a guide to some of their favorite sites.
When in doubt, trust the locals, and discover a beautiful city which Pushkin said was created to “cut a window into Europe.”
HOW TO GET THERE
The 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad, Harrison Salisbury • Balalaika: Russia’s Most Beautiful Tunes, Stars of St. Petersburg • The Bronze Horseman: Selected Poems of Alexander Pushkin • The Captivating Star of Happiness • The Collected Works of Nicolai Gogol • Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky • Music in the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral, The Male Choir of St. Petersburg • Peter the First • Petersburg, Andrei Bely • Piter FM • Russian Ark • The Stroll (Progulka) • Symphony No. 7 “Leningrad,” Dmitri Shostakovich • Tchaikovsky: Symphonies Nos. 4, 5 & 6, Leningrader Philharmonie
DID YOU KNOW?
- Composers Modest Mussorgsky, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky are among the famous Russians entombed in the cemeteries of the Saint Alexander Nevsky Monastery in St. Petersburg.
- Sennaya Square and the neighborhood surrounding it are the setting for Dostoyevsky’s 1866 novel Crime and Punishment as well as The Nose, a short story by Nikolai Gogol published in 1836.
- The F.M. Dostoyevsky Literary Memorial Museum, which opened in 1971, is located in the apartment where the writer lived when he wrote some of his most famous works, including The Brothers Karamazov.
If you don’t want to miss a stop on this journey, join the Half Price Books Booklovers Survey Club and we’ll send you an email each month with a new city alongside a quick survey. Plus, you’ll receive coupons to save throughout the year when you travel to your favorite Half Price Books.
Justin is an avid reader and travels the world whenever he can afford it (and even sometimes when he can’t). You can follow him on Twitter @JustinJosevich. His brother, Jason, works in the Marketing department of Half Price Books Corporate.