St Petersburg subway
October, 22/2016

St Petersburg subway

As in many other big cities, one of the primary means of transportation in St. Petersburg is subway. 67 stations located along 5 lines each day transport more than 2 million people all over the city. Take a look at some interesting fact and St Petersburg subway history below.

St Petersburg subway history

Its history dates back to the XIX century, when the plans for a subway in St Petersburg first emerged. At that time, it was impossible to build a comprehensive subway system in the city due to technical difficulties. Therefore, those plans were stalled till later. More precisely, 1938, when the Soviet government acknowledged the need for a subway. It wasn’t until later, after World War II, that the project started to come to life. Eventually, 1955 marked the beginning of the official St Petersburg subway history. The work over the next 37 years would result in 4 lines, 54 stations and 94 kilometers (=58 miles; see more about metric differences here) by the time of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. This was, however, enough to cater to the needs of most citizens and create an extensive net of tunnels and rails.

Interesting facts about St Petersburg subway

St. Petersburg metro
“Horizontal elevator” of Mayakovskaya station

Due to its location and technical features, St Petersburg subway can boast quite a few «mosts» and «firsts». For instance, the average depth of its stations is the biggest in the world, with Admiralteyskaya station being the deepest in Russia (86 meters below the surface, or 282 feet). It is also the first subway to try platform screen doors completely isolating people on the station from the train. Sometimes this system is called “horizontal elevator”. It was introduced not only to completely avoid any suicide attempts or accidental falls onto the rails, but also to improve the whole St. Petersburg subway experience, minimizing noise, wind and the amount of litter on the rails. St. Petersburg was the first city to introduce single-vault stations in Russia and a two-tier station – for the first time in the world.

Nowadays St Petersburg subway continues to be the most popular choice of transportation. It is open from 5:30 am till 12:15 am every day with a few exceptions of all-nighters during national holidays. There are, however, night buses that operate from 1 am till 3 am with their routes falling along the lines of the subway.

Metro beauty

St. Petersburg metro
Kirovsky Zavod station

Although St Petersburg subway is renowned for its efficiency and transparency in terms of transportation, it is also extremely beautiful. It was constructed with the St. Petersburg whole architectural feel in mind, therefore, some of the stations are no less than works of art. Avtovo subway station with its glass colonnade, marble decoration and enormous chandeliers was rightfully named one of the most beautiful stations in the world. Narvskaya station is dedicated to all the work done by Soviet people and its alto-relievos represent different occupations that were common during the time, from doctors and constructors to collective farmers and seamen. Another impressive station is Kirovsky Zavod, which boasts 62 columns representing various industries, from oil to electricity. For a contemporary feel visit Obvodny Kanal, which was built in 2010 in a more modern style, retaining panoramic images of the area before the 1917 revolution. For an unparalleled experience, book your private tour of St Petersburg metro right now.

Mariinsky Theatre
October, 16/2016

Mariinsky theatre

The history of Mariinsky theatre

Rivers, imperial architecture, rainy days and white nights – there are many must-see’s and must-do’s in St. Petersburg. One of, if not the most important – a visit to a classic St. Petersburg theatre for a ballet or an opera. With many options to choose from, you can never go wrong with the most famous one, the Mariinsky Theatre.

Mariinsky TheatreIts history dates back to 1783 when, at the behest of Catherine the Great, the St. Petersburg drama, opera and ballet troupe was established. Its first performances were held at the «Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre». Almost a hundred years later it relocated into a new building that emerged in the place of the burnt-down circus; this new building was named after Maria Alexandrovna, the first wife of Emperor Alexander II. Eventually, all performances were moved to this building, while the original one became home for the St. Petersburg conservatory.

Ever since, the Mariinsky Theater has hosted the most exquisite, inspiring and unique ballet, opera and theatrical performances. Among many, they include premieres of the following operas: Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s «The Queen of Spades», «Iolanta», «The Enchantress», Modest Mussorgsky’s «Boris Godunov» and «Khovanshchina», Richard Strauss’s «Elektra», Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s «The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh», Anton Rubinstein’s «Demon» and many others. Ballets include most famous «Swan Lake», «La Bayadére», «Giselle, ou les Wilis», etc.

Repertoire

Valeriy Gergiev
Valeriy Gergiev, director of the Mariinsky Theatre

Nowadays, the theatre continues its traditions, inextricably connecting its heritage with innovations naming the renowned conductor Valeriy Gergiev as its art director. 2013 marked the beginning of the next era in the history of the Mariinsky Theater, with the new building, Mariinsky II, being introduced to the city. Between the imperial marble and Swarovski crystal lights, the new stage opens up endless possibilities to the artistic representation of the classic performances. Latest news about theatrical life of Mariinsky can be found on their official web page.

Hello Russia Tours will be happy to organize tickets to the Mariinsky Theatre for you! Just send us a request through our contact form.

Unknown St. Petersburg
October, 12/2016

Exploring the city: St Petersburg roofs, Russian street art, well courtyards

It is a widely known fact that any city has at least two faces: one for tourists and one for locals. If you are ready to walk off the beaten paths and experience another St. Petersburg, welcome behind the imperial facades. Here, you will find at least three urban sights that open up to those who are ready to wander into the unknown: rooftops, street art and well courtyards.

St Petersburg roofs

St Petersburg roofs are what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris or pizza to Rome – an ultimate symbol of the city. They have, St. Petersburg roofsfor a long time now, drawn many people who wish to enjoy a panoramic view of the city from above. And the view is definitely inspired: due to the strict policy regarding buildings in the city center, it is not obstructed by the XXI century sky-scrapers and is very much preserved in its original condition.
Nowadays finding your way up might present somewhat of a challenge: access to many of St Petersburg roofs is restricted by the people who live in the buildings due to their dilapidated conditions and excessive noise coming from unexpected visitors. A few of them are still open but require an experienced guide familiar with their locations. For those of you who do not want to go through the burden, there are quite a few «official» rooftops with simply a small fee to enter. One of the most popular is located in the loft project Etagi (Ligovsky pr., 74), a multifunctional art space in the center of the city. The view is quite impressive and will help you tick off another box in your St. Petersburg must-see list.

St Petersburg street art

Built as a so-called «window to Europe», St. Petersburg has Street Art Museumalways been a free and liberal city, where self-expression is nothing but welcomed. One of the ways to do it is through street art, which St. Petersburg has plenty of. First comes to mind street art series that includes black-and-white portraits of famous people: Albert Einstein (Liteyniy pr., 37), Rowan Atkinson (Grechesky pr., 8a), Dr. Dre (Marata st., 16) and many others.

Another place to find artistic graffiti is in an «art yard», located at Zhukovskogo st., 6. Three houses have beautiful paintings on their walls including a breath-taking illustration dedicated to one of Alexander Pushkin’s fairy tales. Not far from it, at Italyanskaya st., 29, one can find a vivid image of the Colosseum hidden behind a classic and reserved street facade.

If you, however, are not in the mood for a full-fledged graffiti hunting all across the city, you can simply visit St Petersburg Street Art Museum which is open during summer. A number of installations and contemporary art pieces will most certainly make sure your memories of St. Petersburg as of an artistic capital of Russia.

Well courtyards

An architectural feature so typical for St. Well courtyardsPetersburg is most easily translated literally: well courtyards in St Petersburg – an enclosed area formed by the walls of two buildings, front facade and another wall in the back. Since building in St. Petersburg used to be (and still is) extremely expensive, houses were located very close to each other, forming a small square or rectangular area in between.

When you get to the well courtyard, listen closely. Tall and thick walls don’t allow any noise to come through and sometimes there is a chance to enjoy complete silence in the city center. Lift your head: there, you’ll see a small piece of sky, framed into St. Petersburg architectural beauty.

It is easy to come across well courtyards in St Petersburg, but a few of the most popular ones are located at the following addresses. No wonder they are called museums under the open sky:

  • Kirochnaya st., 24
  • Karavannaya st., 14
  • Nevsky pr., 3