When it comes to the St. Petersburg suburbs, many people think of the luxurious palace complexes in Peterhof and Tsarskoye Selo. Meanwhile, even there there are hidden treasures – not so widely known, but amazingly beautiful palaces and parks. We have collected TOP 7 places near the Northern capital where you can spend an interesting, romantic and just fun weekend.
ALEXANDRIA PARK: “ANOTHER PETERGOF”
We are sure: all tourists know about the famous fountains in Peterhof, but only a few have heard about the wonderful Alexandria– a park located near the complex of fountains. It got its name from the name of its first owner, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, wife of Nicholas I. Alexandria is also called “Peterhof's most homely park.” more sincere. There are beautiful flowers, comfortable walking paths, an old oak grove, streams, meadows and palaces, designed in the strict neo-Gothic style of an English park.
Peterhof, Alexandria Park. This Gothic chapel is actually the Church of the Holy Prince Alexander Nevsky. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Today, several palaces and pavilions are open for tourists in Alexandria: the Farm Palace and the Cottage Palace, the Gothic Chapel, the Courier House and the Palace Telegraph Station museums. You should definitely take a look at this “other Peterhof”.
Alexandria is a great place for a leisurely walk with the whole family. Children will be able to feed squirrels here and collect all the most beautiful shells on the coast of the Gulf of Finland.
ALEXANDER PALACE IN PUSHKIN: THE MOST UNTYPICAL RESIDENCE OF EMPERORS
Pushkin is not only the world-famous Catherine Palace and Yantarnaya a room where long queues of tourists line up. In the summer of 2021, after restoration, several halls of the Alexander Palace, one of the imperial residences of Tsarskoye Selo, were opened in Pushkin.
The palace was built by order of Empress Catherine II as a gift for the marriage of her grandson, Grand Duke Alexander Pavlovich. Later, it was this palace that became the most beloved summer residence of Emperor Nicholas I. Alexander II and Alexander III were brought up and spent their youth here. By the way, the family of Nicholas II regularly spent summer holidays in the Alexander Palace.
Alexander Palace, interiors. Photo: ATOR
Restorers have done a great job to restore the historic interiors. The employees of the Tsarskoye Selo Museum-Reserve collected bit by bit the furnishings of the apartments and personal belongings of Nicholas II in order to recreate the cozy and homely atmosphere in which the last Russian emperor lived with his family.
Alexander Palace can be called the most atypical and “home” imperial residence. Photo: ATOR
Let's say right away: there will be nothing like the rich decoration of the Winter Palace in the Alexander Palace. Perhaps this is the most atypical imperial residence in St. Petersburg and its environs. The more interesting it is to visit here.
PRIORATE PALACE IN GATCHINA AND EARTH WALLS
Would you like to see a castle built… out of earth? Then go to Gatchina, where the Priory Palace is located. This small castle with peaked roofs and a tall Gothic tower was built in 1798.
The Priory Palace on the shores of the Black Lake, Gatchina. The only palace with earthen walls in Russia. Photo: shutterstock.com
By the way, this is the only completely preserved historical object in our country, built by earth-moving.
The walls of the castle were created by “stuffing” the earth into special wooden machines – formwork. Having compacted the earthen layer with a thickness of five to six centimeters, it was moistened with lime mortar. As a result, the monolithic wall dried out and became as strong as a stone one. It is worth paying attention to the unusual ceiling: this original plank-coffered structure was invented specifically to lighten the load on the earth-beaten walls.
Inside there are two floors of an exposition telling about the Order of Malta, the history of the construction of the palace and its fate. The nature around the unusual castle is amazing at any time of the year. If you happen to visit here at night, it will be especially atmospheric: the palace glows in the dark like a fairy-tale house.
KONSTANTINOVSK PALACE: FROM HISTORY TO PRESENT
The Konstantinovsky Palace, which is now officially called the Palace of Congresses, is interesting to visit both as a historical site and as the current residence of the President of Russia. The palace complex was restored for the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg in 2003.
By the way, it was here, on the territory near the Strelka River on the coast of the Gulf of Finland, that Peter I originally planned to place his “Russian Versailles”. But it did not work out: a 31 m high hill did not allow organizing a sufficient supply of water.
Konstantinovsky Palace in Strelna. Photo: visit-petersburg.ru
Konstantinovsky Palace survived a lot both during the war years and in Soviet times. The building was badly damaged, but the restorers managed to do the impossible. According to old drawings, the facades and interiors of the palace, the park, and the canal system were completely restored. In addition, bridges and fountains were built here, which previously existed only in projects.
Today you can get to the Konstantinovsky Palace only with a guided tour. Separately, you will have to book a tour of the park, separately – in the palace. There will be no crowds of tourists anywhere, so you can slowly look at the interiors in which statesmen and foreign politicians are now being met.
ISLAND OF FORTS IN KRONSTADT: MUSEUM, PARK, ART SPACE
This the first and largest museum and historical park in Russia dedicated to the Navy. It successfully combines entertainment facilities, monuments and historical sites.
Island of Forts, aerial view. Photo courtesy of the Isle of Forts press office
Greatly landscaped protected area with a stunning design, benches in the shape of boats, sails rustling in the wind with scales, even the tiles are laid out so that they resemble a deck!
The island of forts is great for family walks, especially with children: there is enough space for everyone on large playgrounds. The park itself is very picturesque – with embankments, viewing, photo locations and information stands. Be sure to take a photo on the panoramic swing overlooking the sea.
Those panoramic swings. Photo provided by the press service of the Island of Forts.
ORANIENBAUM: NORTHERN VERSAILLES IN THE ROCOCO STYLE
Construction in Oranienbaum began in the 18th century, after Tsar Peter I presented these lands to Prince AD Menshikov. In 1711, the prince decided to build the Grand Palace here, which still bears his name.
Lomonosov (Oranienbaum) is worth a trip for the sake of the palace and park ensemble with the Menshikov and Chinese palaces, exquisite pavilions, ancient bridges and very unusual landscape solutions. No wonder Oranienbaum was once compared to Versailles.
Skating Hill Pavilion in Oranienbaum. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Oranienbaum is a magical place for leisurely walks: there are wide alleys, palaces and pavilions, even enclosures with beautiful birds and animals. The pavilion of the Rolling Hill in soft blue shades is one of the masterpieces of the Rococo style, and such a combination of colors with northern nature is not found anywhere else.
Be sure to walk through the Upper and Lower Parks. In the Lower Park, real labyrinths have been created from high trimmed bushes, where children will like to run and hide.
REPINSKY PENATES ON THE BALTIC COAST
Repino is one of the best resort towns on the coast of the Gulf of Finland along with Solnechny, Komarovo and Zelenogorsk. In addition to the beach, there are several other interesting places in Repino.
For example, the Ilya Repin Museum “Penates” is a manor built according to the plan of the artist himself, with a beautiful landscape garden.
Museum-Estate of Ilya Repin, Repino, Leningrad region. Photo: shutterstock.com
There's a lot going on here, from a custom-built home with glass roofs, plenty of light and quirky decor, to an educational tour that sees a pre-recorded voice broadcast from speakers in every room.
It is worth visiting the estate with children: they will also be impressed by this amazing place.
Recall that you can learn more about the tourist opportunities of St. Petersburg, interesting places in the city and the calendar of events on the official city tourism portal Visit-Petersburg.ru , on his official VKontakte page and Telegram channel. And also – in the special project #DiscoverYourPetersburg.