In the court of the Tsar
When you’re cruising the Baltic Sea with MSC Cruises, St Petersburg is the port of call for you.
A sophisticated capital of the tsarist Empire, the cradle of the Communist Revolution of 1917, and a symbol of Russian stoicism due to the city’s heroic endurance of a three-year Nazi siege during World War II, present-day St Petersburg has eased into modernity without sacrificing any of its old-world magnificence and charm, with shopping malls sitting alongside opulent palaces. You’ll find a great city when you step ashore from your MSC cruise ship, maybe the most beautiful in the whole of Russia.
MSC Northern Europe cruises offer excursions to the centre of St Petersburg on the south bank of the Neva, with the curving River Fontanka marking its southern boundary. The area within the Fontanka is riven by a series of avenues fanning out from the golden spire of the Admiralty on the Neva’s south bank.
Many of the city’s top sights are located on and around Nevsky prospekt, the backbone and heart of the city for the last three centuries, stretching from the Alexander Nevsky Monastery to Palace Square. Sited on the banks of the River Neva, the 200m-long Baroque Winter Palace is the city’s largest and most opulent, and was the official residence of the tsars, their court and 1500 servants until the revolution of 1917.
Today the building houses one of the world’s greatest museums, the Hermitage, launched as Russia’s first public art museum in 1852. The Hermitage collection embraces over three million treasures and works of art, from ancient Scythian gold and giant malachite urns to Cubist pieces. After the elaborately decorated staterooms and the Gold Collection, the most popular section covers modern European art from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.