Saint Petersburg was the capital of Imperial Russia for a little more than two centuries. During this time, more or less uninhabited swampland was turned into one of the grandest cities in all Europe. Palaces and monuments, parks and fortifications from this time were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list as "Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments" in 1990. Also some older and newer sights are included.
It's a very spread out world heritage site, made up of 36 components around the city and some in Leningrad Oblast. Moreover some these are divided into subcomponents, and as such there are, depending on how one counts them, more than a hundred individual places to visit.
The names for the attractions follow the spelling used by UNESCO. Icons in blue denote cities, towns or districts, red the forts in the Gulf of Finland, green buildings, parks and other individual attractions, and yellow routes.
Get in and around
Most of the places on land are accessible by public transport – train, bus or if there's a body of water nearby – sometimes boat. Getting in by driving is also possible, though not necessary.
Central Saint Petersburg
The 1 Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg is the heart of this world heritage site. It covers most of the central parts of the city from Krestovsky Island in the northwest to the Alexander Nevsky Monastery in the southeast. The classical landmarks of the city such as the Winter Palace, Peter and Paul Fortress, and Gostiny Dvor shopping arcades are all part of this component.
Kronstadt and forts
The island of Kotlin is in the middle of the Gulf of Finland outside Saint Petersburg and as such one could hardly think of a better place for forts to defend the city from naval attacks. Kronstadt, the city covering the island, was built simultaneously with Saint Petersburg for defensive purposes, and the world heritage component named 2 The Historical Part of the Town of Kronstadt is all about the sea, with the impressive Naval Cathedral, many museums, the tide gauge, former naval hospitals, admiralty, arsenal, dockyards, foundries, statues of admirals, and the school of marine engineering. Forts are dotted across the bay and on both shores, though some of them have been used for the Saint Petersburg Dam, protecting the city from flooding from the sea and doubling as the western part of the city's ring road.
Forts of the Island Kotlin
- 1 The Coastal fort “Shanetz” (“Alexander and Nikolai Shanetz”)
- 2 The Coastal Fort «Reef» - at the island's western tip, where the Swedish actually landed, and were repelled, in 1704. It was constantly upgraded throughout the years. The remains seen nowadays are mostly from the Soviet era.
- 3 Fort Konstantin - nowadays, home to a museum of lighthouses. The remaining granite structures are picturesque.
Forts of the Gulf of Finland
- 4 Fort «Obrutchev» («Krasnoarmeysky»)
- 5 Fort «Totleben» («Pervomaysky»)
- 6 Northern battery No. 1
- 7 Northern battery No. 2
- 8 Northern battery No. 3
- 9 Northern battery No. 4 («Zverev»)
- 10 Northern battery No. 5
- 11 Northern battery No. 6
- 12 Northern battery No. 7
- 13 Fort «Paul I» («Riesbank») - the site of a mysterious explosion during the Russian Revolution, is nowadays very derelict, with only a staircase still standing.
- 14 Fort «Kronshlot» - the "Crown Lock", Peter The Great's brainchild, guarding the main fairway's southern flank, was reputedly built in record time, during the winter, and caught the Swedish by surprise in the 1704 spring. Peter's building was swept by the 1824 flood, but it was reconstructed and modernized by orders of Nikolai I, a military engineer by heart, in the 1830s. It's well worth the visit.
- 15 Fort «Alexander I» - a "concrete battleship" type of sea fort at the fairway's entrance, it became famous as "Plague Island", when a vaccination lab worked in isolation at the beginning of the 20th century.
- 16 Fort «Peter I» - as of 2020, still an active military installation, with restricted access.
- 17 Southern battery No. 1
- 18 Southern battery No 2 («Dzichkanets»)
- 19 Southern battery No 3 («Milyutin»)
- 20 Tolbukhin Lighthouse on Tolbukhin Island
Forts of the Coast of the Gulf of Finland
- 21 Fort «Ino»
- 22 Fort «Seraya Loshad»
- 23 Krasnaya Gorka - a coastal artillery fortress, decommissioned in 1960 and partially demolished. Now a World War II informal memorial site, full of vintage military hardware, a must-see for aficionados. The local authorities of Leningrad Oblast are discussing whether to convert the site into a military museum.
- 3 Schlisselburg. Old Ladoga and New Ladoga canals - Shlisselburg (German: "Key Castle") is where the Neva flows out of Lake Ladoga, and has a considerably older history than Saint Petersburg. The Oreshek (Russian: "Little Nut") fortress was built here in 1323, and in the same year a peace was made between Novgorod and Sweden at this fortress. Peter The Great conquered and renamed it, and later on used it as a prison. Along the southern shore of the lake, from here up to Svir river goes two canals; the Old Ladoga canal which was opened in 1731, and a bigger New Ladoga canal opened in 1866. The reason was to provide a safe shipping route for boats and log driving between Svir and Neva also during bad weather which meant rough seas on Lake Ladoga.
- 1 The ensemble of the Oreshek (Shlisselburgskaya) fortress
- 2 Koltushskaya Elevation
- 3 Scientific Town-Institution of Physiologist I. P. Pavlov - In the settlement of Pavlovo is the laboratory of 1904 winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine, Ivan Pavlov. He conducted research on dogs to learn about their reflexes. It's set in the "Koltushi Elevation" one of the landforms around Saint Petersburg listed.
- 4 The Ensemble of the Zinoviev's Dacha (Estate «Bogoslovka»)
- 5 The Neva River with Banks - Rivers tend to be important to cities next to them, even more so back in the day when water transport was the fastest way for long distance travel, and Neva is no exception.
- 4 The Palace and Park Ensembles of the Town of Pushkin (Tsarskoye Selo) - Pushkin was known as Tsarskoye Selo, the "village of the czar", until the Russian Revolution. There are several palaces here, complete with parks, and the country's first railway connected the "village" to the capital in 1837.
- 6 Historical Centre of the Town of Pushkin, including the Catherine Palace -the Catherine Palace, named after Catherine I, Peter the Great's wife, is the location of the infamous "Amber Room", stolen during the war, and later restored.
- 7 Alexander Palace and park, including the Park of Farm - the main residence of the last tsar Nikolai II and his family, heavily damaged during World War II, and still undergoing restoration.
- 8 The Babolovsky Park
- 9 The Otdelny Park
- 5 The Palace and Park Ensembles of the Town of Pavlovsk and its historical centre - Pavlovsk is right south of Pushkin, and famously associated with tsar Paul I, with one imperial palace and several parks.
- 15 Pulkovskaya Observatory - the Russian Imperial equivalent to Greenwich Observatory.
- 16 The Palace and Park Ensemble of the Village of Ropsha - reputedly, here took place the murder of emperor Peter III by accomplices of his wife Catherine (the Great). During the World War II siege, a German command post was set up here and the area was heavily mined. As of 2020, it's still off-limits to visitation.
- 17 The Palace and Park Ensemble of the Village of Gostilitsy
- 18 The Palace and Park Ensemble of the Village of Taytsy. The Waterline Taytsky (system and equipment)
- 6 The Palace and Park Ensembles of the Town of Gatchina and its historical centre - Gatchina is known for its palace, famous as the main residence for tsar Alexander III and later his widow.
- 22 Izhorsky Bench (Glint)
- 26 The Monastery Troitse-Sergieva Pustin
- 7 The Palace and Park Ensembles of the Village of Strelna and its Historical Centre - The settlement of Strelna is famous for the Konstantin palace. Created as a smaller summer place for Peter the Great, halfway between capital and Peterhof, it's nowadays the presidential Saint Petersburg residence.
- 30 The Palace and Park of the Mikhailovskaya Datcha («Mikhailovka»)
- 31 The Palace and Park of the Znamenskaya Datcha («Znamenka»)
- 8 The Palace and Park Ensembles of the Town of Peterhof - Home to probably the grandest and most famous of the palaces in the region (aside of the Winter Palace), Peterhof Palace, also known as the Russian Versailles. There are multiple palaces and pavillions, lined by impressive parks and fountains. The complex served as the main summer palace for czars until the revolution.
- 40 The Palace and Park Ensemble «Sobstvennaya Datcha»
- 41 The Palace and Park Ensemble «Sergievka»
- 9 The Palace and Park Ensembles of the Town of Lomonosov - Known as Oranienbaum until 1948, and the palace still retains the name. The name means orange tree in 18th century German, and back in the day it had greenhouses where orange and other exotic trees were grown. It wasn't a one of the czar's palaces, but was built for his right hand man Alexander Menshikov, and afterwards other high nobility resided here.
- 42 Historical Centre of the Town of Lomonosov (Oranienbaum), including the Palace and Park Ensemble of the Upper Park and Lower Garden
- 43 The Mordvinov's Estate
- 44 The Maximov's Datcha
- 45 The Zubov's Estate «Otrada»
- 46 The Ratkov-Rozhnov'a Estate «Dubki»
- 47 S.K.Grieg's Estate «Sans Ennui»
- 48 The Datcha of the Hospital
- 49 The Shuvalov's (E. A. Vorontsova-Dashkova) Estate «Pargolovo»
- 50 The E. I. Lopukhina's (Levashov's, Viazemsky's) «Osinovaya Roshcha»
- 51 The I. Repin Estate «The Penates» - residence of master Russian painter Ilya Repin.
- 52 The Cemetery of the Village of Komarovo
- 53 Lindulovskaya Roshcha
- 54 Yukkovskaya Elevation
The Northern Coast
- 55 The Steinbok-Fermor's Estate
- 56 The Village of Olgino
- 57 The Park «Nearest Dubki»
- 58 The Park «Dubki»
- 59 Sestroretsky Razliv
- 60 Terioki (Zelenogorsk)
Roads and fairways
- 1 Moskovskaya Road (Highway)
- 2 Kievskoe Highway
- 3 Railway Saint Petersburg - Pavlovsk
- 4 Highway Pushkin - Gatchina
- 5 Volkhonskoe Highway
- 6 Tallinskoe Highway
- 7 Peterhofskaya Road (Highway)
- 8 Ropshinskoe Highway
- 9 Gostilitskoe Highway
- 10 Primorskoe Highway
- 11 Vyborgskaya Road (Highway)
- 12 Koltushskoe Highway
- 13 Ligovsky prospect (former Ligovsky canal)
- 14 Kronstadtskoe Highway