Travel Under Quarantine: Tour St Petersburg from Home
With the outbreak of COVID-19, governments are encouraging people to self-quarantine and practice social distancing. Cruise lines have cancelled cruises, governments have shut down borders, and air travel has been restricted. Cruises and flights to St. Petersburg have been cancelled for at least a month, affecting early Summer travel plans.
If your tour of St. Petersburg has been affected or you’re just dreaming about life outside of quarantine, we’ve prepared a list of online resources to help you get through this. Below, we’ve organized a collection of virtual tours, interactive panoramic views, and even a few full ballets, to allow you to “Experience Russia” from the comfort of your own home. All without risking your safety or the health of others.
If you like what you see, be sure to check out our wide-range of visa-free tours of St Petersburg. Even if you’re not ready to start planning your next Baltic cruise or vacation, it’s a great way to “window shop” and escape from your everyday routine.
Virtual Tour of The Hermitage Museum
Originally serving as the Russian Royal family’s winter palace, the Hermitage is St. Petersburg’s largest and most famous museum with a fantastically rich history.
The museum’s official website hosts a series of panoramic views of nearly every one of the Hermitage’s many rooms. Within each room, you can click on the exhibits featured there to find out more about them.
Apple recently filmed a five-hour journey through the Hermitage, to showcase what its new iPhone is capable of. You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49YeFsx1rIw
Virtual Tour of The State Russian Museum
The State Russian Museum is one of the best and most extensive galleries of Russian art, second only to The Tretaykov gallery in Moscow. In it, you can find icons dating back to the 12th century, art from the 19th century and everything in between.
Like the Hermitage Museum, their website features an amazing series of interactive panoramic photos, where you may learn more about the museum’s exhibits.
Here’s the Academic Hall to get you started: link https://virtual.rusmuseumvrm.ru/mikh_palace/pano.php?onstart=loadpano(hotspots/15_2.xml)
To view more about an exhibit, click on the white square below the painting or sculpture and then click on the “about exhibits” at the bottom-right of your screen.
Here’s a link to the virtual tour’s main page to choose where to begin on your own: https://virtual.rusmuseumvrm.ru/benois_wing/?lang=en
Virtual Tour of Peterhoff Palace and Gardens
Peterhoff Fountain Park, often referred to as “Russian Versailles”, boasts hundreds of fountains and antique statues displayed amongst the park’s hedges. Did you know that Peterhoff’s Grand Cascade holds the world record for having the tallest natural fountain in the world?
The museum’s official website offers several panoramic aerial photos for you to take in. Click on the “image icons” to see a ground-level view: https://en.peterhofmuseum.ru/about/tour
Their website also has an interactive timeline covering the palace’s extensive history (click on the button at the top left that says “РУС” to switch to English: https://peterhofmuseum.ru/media/petergoph/
Google Earth also hosts many unofficial photos of the palace’s interiors. For example, here is a link to a 360 degree photo of the Peterhoff Palace ballroom.
Faberge Museum Audio Tour
The Faberge Museum in St. Petersburg is home to the largest collection of Faberge eggs in the world. With a total of 11 gorgeous Easter eggs that were created for the families of two last Russian Czars.
Just imagine, each of the Easter Eggs took royal jeweler, Karl Faberge, and his team a whole year to complete! Each egg made with gold and decorated with diamonds, pearls and various jewels is a work of art valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Faberge museum’s website has high-resolution photos of all of the museum’s exhibition halls and Faberge eggs for you to enjoy in the comfort of your home.
The museum’s complete exhibit index is available here: https://fabergemuseum.ru/faberge_expo_en.pdf .
Tired of looking at the pictures and want to hear a part of the English tour of the museum? No problem! The museum also generously offers a great collection of the audio guide tracks dedicated to the best exhibits of the collection.
Combined, with the tracks from its audio guide, available in the following link, you can enjoy learning about the museum’s treasures in near-live tour conditions. Link: https://soundcloud.com/fabergemuseum/sets/english-voice
The Faberge Museum has also uploaded a fascinating video of a professional gently and meticulously showcasing all of the features of each of the eggs. This video is displayed in the museum’s café, but it is far more enjoyable from a comfy chair. Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUQW9TztA_A
Pay attention to the details of the Coronation Egg with a little golden carriage hidden inside the egg, and the Pink Lily of the Valley Egg with portraits of Nickolas and his daughters, hidden inside the egg.
Virtual Church on The Spilled Blood
Your introduction to St. Petersburg wouldn’t be complete without the Church on the Spilled Blood. Its ancient-styled mosaic-lined interiors, marbled floors, and enamel-covered onion domes will take your breath away.
Constructed as a memorial for the emperor Alexander II assassinated by terrorists on that very spot, this cathedral is home to the largest collection of mosaics ever made in the World! Just imagine, it took 24 years to complete this church.
We’ve included a link to a 360-degree panoramic view from a drone, where you can “click and drag” to pan during this flyover of the church. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pxJscTzPWU
Note the differences between the domes’ designs. The tallest Golden dome marks the location of the assassination, which happened where the cathedral now stands.
Here’s a panoramic view of the magical mosaic-lined interior, taken from underneath the church’s central dome— it’s our favorite perspective. Link: https://www.360cities.net/image/inside-church-of-the-spilled-blood-st-petersburg-russia
Peter and Paul’s Fortress and Cathedral
Peter and Paul’s Fortress is the birthplace of St. Petersburg. Built as a fortress to defend the lands from Swedes, it was later repurposed into the most harsh and secure prison in the country.
The cathedral within the fortress, assigned the status of the burial place of the Russian Royal family, has become the final resting place to all czars, czarinas and emperors who ever ruled the country.
Here is a 360-degree panoramic video taken with a drone, where you can “click and drag” to pan during this flyover of the fortress and cathedral church. Here’s the ink: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNBV-GPi430
By the way, Peter and Paul’s cathedral is the tallest historical building in the city, extending for more than 400 feet (122 meters) into the sky!
Here’s a link to a panoramic view of its interior, just in front of the iconostasis: https://www.360cities.net/image/saints-peter-and-paul-cathedral-st-petersburg
Stand Under the Dome of St. Isaac’s Cathedral
St. Isaac’s Cathedral is the fourth largest cathedral in the world and has one of the world’s largest domes. This cathedral was constructed by the Italian architect Auguste Montferrand who migrated to Russia to take over the job assigned to him by the Russian empress Catherine the Great. It took him 40 years to perfect the design of the cathedral, bring marble from Italy, and gild the domes with more than 400 pounds (200 kilos) of gold.
“Stand” under its dome and take in the views all around for yourself in the following link: https://www.360cities.net/image/st-isaacs-cathedral-in-st-petersburg-russia
If you look closely, at the very center of the dome, you will see a beautiful white dove “soaring” over the building, representing a holy Spirit and the idea that the God is looking over Russia.
Mariinsky Theater Ballets
The Mariinsky theater’s website has virtual tours of both the original and new buildings. In these tours, you can explore the theater’s interior and enjoy the views from every angle. You can even “climb” on stage!
Here’s a link to the Mariinsky Theater virtual tour: https://www.mariinsky.ru/en/about/virt . Make sure to look out for the Emperor’s box decorated with a gigantic golden crown.
In addition to the virtual tours, you can also watch full ballets which have been uploaded to YouTube. The first one is an official recording from the Mariinsky, while the other two were uploaded by other users of performances held in the same theater.
An added bonus of enjoying the ballets this way is you won’t have to worry about making it back to your seat by the end of the intermission!
Here are links to the ballets:
Romeo and Juliet in the Mariinsky:
Swan Lake Ballet in the Mariinsky
Nutcracker Ballet in the Mariinsky
We hope that you and your family stay safe during these uncertain times. Should you decide to tour St. Petersburg in the future, whether it’s as a shore excursion from a cruise ship or a private tour, we’d be more than happy to host you. In the meantime, enjoy these links and contact us if you’d like more information about St. Petersburg’s best sights or how to enjoy them for yourself.