St. Petersburg 

St Petersburg is often called the Northern Capital of Russia, the Palmyra of the North, or the Northern Venice. The city is situated on 42 islands that are surrounded by 90 rivers, tributaries of the Neva River and other water channels. There are over 300 bridges in St Petersburg that form an integral part of the city landscape.

St Petersburg is a world cultural phenomenon. With its architectural complexes created by famous Dutch, Italian, French and Russian architects, the embankments of the Neva River with many canals, palaces and parks, all leave an unforgettable impression on everyone who comes here. Guests of the city are presented with endless possibilities to explore the historic and cultural heritage of Russia, so magnificently visible in this sublime city.

Sestroretsk

Originally founded by Peter the Great in 1714 in the suburbs of St. Petersburg, Sestroretsk is acknowledged as a health-enhancing balneologic and climatic resort. The town and surrounding neighbourhoods also contain many monuments recognized by UNESCO. Charmed by the Northern coastline of the Gulf of Finland and its beauty, Peter the Great ordered at once to begin construction of a palacial residence to complement the Peterhoff palace. The residence was finally finished in 1724, but after just one year the Emperor passed away, and 60 years later the construction was disassembled. The only surviving attraction remaining from the times of Peter the Great is the magnificent oak grove. 

In the 19th century Sestroretsk was above all known for its famous weapons factory, the oldest in Russia. But in 1896, Peter Avenarius took the decision to establish a resort here. Within two years a sanitarium, a luxurious hotel with the largest covered swimming pool in Russia, and a concert hall for 1700 seats with electric lighting was built. A special railroad was constructed to connect this special retreat with the capital. 

In 1907, Sestroretsk Resort was awarded the Grand Prix at the world healthcare exhibition in SPA, Belgium. Along with it, a fashion of visiting northern dachas swept St. Petersburg. 

One hundred years ago, Sestroretsk was a hub of social life and activity. Korney Chukovsky, Alexander Blok, Leonid Sobinov, Maksim Gorky, attorney Anatoly Kony, and Michael Fokin were renting dachas in the area. Later, in 1920, Michael Zoschenko also became a resident. The famous musician Feodor Shalyapin performed at the concert hall. Even after the Revolution of 1917, the resort survived a period of tumultuous decline and gradually saw its fortunes revived. In the 1920s it was an orphanage, in 1940 – a hospital, and after the Second World War, Sestroretsk became a recognised national health centre of the Soviet Union. The health resort constructed in the 1970s was ranked on a par with other world leading resort treatment centres. The only thing lacking was a sophisticated aristocratic spirit that implies privacy, individual entertainment programs, and natural comfort in the very sense of the word.

 
In addition to the dramatic Northern coastline of the Gulf of Finland, Sestroretsk can also offer notable places of interest to those wishing to go on sightseeing tours. First, the old oak grove in the city, still remaining from the time of Peter the Great.

Also located not far from the city is the artificial Razliv Lake and the nearby village by the same name, where Lenin and Zinoviev spent time in hiding in the summer of 1917 before the revolution. Furthermore, the famous satirical writer Mikail Zoschenko is buried in Sestroretsk Cemetery.

Dubki Park, Sestroretsk

Nowadays, the only surviving attraction from the period of Peter the Great is the magnificent oak grove in park ‘Dubki’. With an oak grove the most northern of its type in Russia, today the park is a popular place for recreation, sports and provides entertainment for residents and visitors. Several sports facilities, playgrounds, and a horse riding club are located in the park. In winter, local residents can be found skating on the ice rink and even cross-country skiing here. At the edge of the park territory you can also find the marvelous, sandy ‘Dubki’ beach, from where beautiful views of the Gulf of Finland can be enjoyed.

Sestroretsk Beach

Sestroretsk is the home of one of the most well-known, and popular beaches on the Gulf of Finland. A wonderful sandy beach stretching beyond 2km is famous for its shallow, sandy floor. Outside of the summer time the resort is also a popular location for extreme sports enthusiasts, who can often be found parasailing or windsurfing here.

Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, Sestroretsk

In its original incarnation, the Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul was the first wooden church in Sestoretsk, built from the materials left over after the destruction of Peter the Great’s first residential palace. In fact, it was here in 1721 in the lake surrounding the church, that a genius peasant craftsman named Efim Nikonov, first showed the Emperor a “secret vessel” which could travel underwater. Therein, the first prototype of the submarine was born and visitors can observe  a replica in the church. Many visitors simply enjoy the tranquility of the surrounding lake, best enjoyed during the long summer “white nights”.

Exhibition Сentre “Sestroretsk rubezh”, Sestroretsk

The museum complex of “Sestroretsk rubezh” is an open air memorial commemorating the defense of the city in the Great Patriotic War (World War II, 1941 – 1945). The main exhibit is the enormous artillery weapons which were part of the Karelian Fortified Region – a 60km wide Soviet defensive fortified district that protected the Western areas of the USSR.

Kronstadt, Kotlin Island

Also founded by Peter the Great, Kronstadt (from the German Krone for “crown” and Stadt for “city”) is famous naval town located on Kotlin Island 30km from St. Petersburg, near the head of the Gulf of Finland. Seized from the Swedes in 1703, nowadays it now serves as St. Petersburg’s main seaport, and in 1921 was the site of the Kronstadt Rebellion. Kronstadt is a fascinating port city, with lines of canals running in and out amongst the island’s most striking landmark, the golden-domed Naval Cathedral of Saint Nicholas. Among other public buildings are the Naval Hospital, the British Seamen's Hospital (established in 1867), the Civic Hospital, the Admiralty (founded 1785), the arsenal, dockyards and foundries, the School of Marine Engineering, and the English Church. The port is ice-bound for 140–160 days in the year, from the beginning of December to April and is still home to a large number of sailors.

Naval Cathedral of Saint Nicholas, Kronstadt

Located in the centre of Kronstadt, the Naval Cathedral is one of the most well-known landmarks in the suburbs of St. Petersburg. It was built in 1903 – 1913 and considered to represent the culmination of Russian Neo-Byzantine architecture. Consequently, the cathedral is often compared to Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, but with slightly modified proportions, and its spectacular golden dome dominates the Kronstadt skyline from afar. Consecrated as the main church of the Russian Navy and dedicated to all fallen seamen, the cathedral was closed by the Soviets in 1929 and subsequently converted to a cinema. Nowadays it serves as a museum of the Navy (1980 onwards). In the 20th century, the cathedral underwent extensive repairs and was reconsecrated on May 30th 2013 by Patriarch Kirill, in time for the cathedral’s centennial anniversary.

Museum-Estate of I.E. Repin, Repino

In nearby Repino, 8km from Sestroretsk, you can find “Penati”, the former residence of the well-known artist Ilya Repin. A beautiful Russian country manor, the original house was reconstructed after the Second World War, and now contains museum artifacts, original household pieces, paintings, the well-kept gardens, and the grave of Repin himself.

Museum of classic cars, Zelenogorsk

Opened on July 26th 2008, the museum of classic cars contains over 150 special exhibits. Located in the Zelenogorsk Park of Culture and Relaxation, the collection of special automobiles includes those which once belonged to prominent politicians, actors and sportsmen. It is the only museum in Europe with a dedicated exhibition for 'fender cars'.