After Class Activities
Our program allows you plenty of time to discover your new country, culture, traditions and everyday life after your class is over.
The school normally organizes at least two activities per week, such as theater visits (opera/drama/ballet), theme excursions, trips to the Hermitage, shopping tours and weekend excursions to the countryside and to other cities, such as Pushkin, Pavlovsk, Novgorod or Moscow.
During the "summer months" "vetcherinkas", small and pleasant parties with caviar, vodka and Russian folk songs are popular with students or experience a Russian bath. Students will receive a biweekly program of the activities organized by the school, upon arrival.
At the weekend many students can arrange to take optional excursions to local cities or local places of interest: Pushkin (summer palace), Hermitage Art Museum (winter palace) Peter Paul Fortress (burial place of the Czars), Palace Square (Imperial square), Peter the Great Statue, St. Isaac s Cathedral, Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan, The Mariinsky Theater (Kirov Ballet), The Winter Palace (most famous building), The Russian Museum (art collections).
Top Highlights: See What St. Petersburg is Famous For
The Hermitage is one of the greatest art collections of the world, housed in a vast architectural tour de force. At its heart is one of the world’s most luxurious royal palaces, the ornate Baroque Winter Palace, designed by the Italian Architect Bartolomei Rastrolli and perfectly situated looking out over the River Neva at the soaring gold spire of the Cathedral of Sts Peter and Paul.
Khram Spas-Na-Krovi (church of the saviour on spilled blood)
Modelled on the sixteenth-century traditional Russian style of St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, the Church on Spilled Blood was built on the spot where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated on 1 March 1881, and named because of it. The richly ornamented exterior of colourful enamelled domes, gilded mosaic panels, ceramic tiles, columned windows with intricately carved arches is like a confection of bright sugar candy in a sweet shop window.
Main Sights: Get to Know St. Petersburg
Petropavlovskaya Krepost (Peter & Paul fortress)
Peter the Great laid out the plans for the Peter & Paul Fortress on Zayachy Island in 1703 to defend the area from the Swedes. Entered through imposing gates and containing most of the island within its massive defensive walls, the fortress housed part of the city’s garrison and notoriously served as a high-security political jail.
Among the first inmates of the Trubetskoy Bastion was Peter’s own son, Alexei, who was tortured and died here. The bleak cells, which held many famous residents, including Dostoyevsky, Gorky and Trotsky, are now a museum, as is the Commandant’s House where prisoners were tried.
Piskariovskoye Memorialnoe Kladbishche (piskarivskoye memorial cemetery)
Piskarivskoye Memorial Cemetery is a place of pilgrimage for the dwindling survivors of the 1941-44 Siege of Leningrad, rather than a tourist attraction, but is all the more poignant for that. Below large grassy mounds, under the gaze of a massive bronze of Mother Russia, lie the mass graves of 500,000 of those who starved to death in the Nazi blockade. The story is told in the Memorial halls. The suffering and endurance are palpable.
Kreyser Avrora (Cruiser Aurora)
Launched in St Petersburg in 1900, the Cruiser Aurora was significant in the major events of Russian history in the first half of the twentieth century. Active in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5, it fired the shot at the Winter Palace in 1917, which signalled the storming of the palace and the beginning of Bolshevik rule. It was sunk during the siege of Leningrad in 1941 and raised in 1944 to be refitted as a museum in the 1950s. The crew’s quarters and the gun that fired the historic shot are on display, as well as photographs and memorabilia of the ship’s chequered history.
Muzeh-Domik Petra i (Cabin of Peter the great)
The first house built in the newly founded St Petersburg in 1703 was the humble wooden Cabin of Peter the Great from which Peter supervised the construction of his grand imperial city. Now encased in a protective brick enclosure and furnished with period furniture, its spartan simplicity is a strange contrast to the grand cathedrals and palaces that surround it. Peter lived here between 1703 and 1708 and some of his belongings remain, including his boat, his compass and his icon of the Redeemer. The functional minimalism of the possessions emphasises the frugal life he led in this tiny three-roomed house.
Excursions: Explore More of The Region
The Kirovsky Islands - Kamenny, Yelagin and Krestovsky - are popular outdoor escapes for city dwellers. Boating on the canals and lakes around the islands, picnics in the parks or walking or cycling along the leafy avenues, amid the homes of St Petersburg s richer residents, provides a pleasant summer half-day excursion, particularly popular at the White Nights of midsummer.
The Grand Palace of Peterhof (tel: (812) 420 0073) lies around 32km (20 miles) west of St Petersburg. Built by Peter the Great in the style of Versailles, remodelled by Bartolomeo Rastrelli and seriously damaged by the Germans in World War II, it has now been carefully restored to its former glory. Splendid fountains and waterways surge and spout in soaring jets and sparkling sprays through the magnificent palaces, parks and gardens of this 600-hectare (1500-acre) estate. The famous Grand Cascade and Water Avenue connect fountains, gilded statues, water jets and channels from the Palace all the way to the sea. Monplaisir, Peter s original, much simpler home at Peterhof, overlooks the sea, as does the Hermitage, his eccentric private dining room in a tiny red and white Baroque building surrounded by a moat.
Chapels: Step Onto Sacred Ground
Isaakievsky Sobor (St Isaac's Cathedral)
St Isaac's Cathedral was built in 1818-58 by French-born architect Auguste Montferrand. Commissioned by Tsar Alexander I to build a spectacular imperial cathedral, he executed a masterpiece of engineering on the marshy ground.
One hundred and eighty years later, the gilded dome of St Isaac s still dominates the skyline of St Petersburg, but the price was high. Thousands of serfs died in the building, numerous sculptors decorated the pediments, tons of granite columns supported it and Alexander and his successor were dead before it was completed.
The interiors are dazzling with malachite and lapis lazuli columns, mosaic icons, painted ceilings and, in the sanctuary, a large stained-glass Resurrected Christ . The climb to the colonnade of the dome is rewarded by panoramic views over the city.
Khram Spas-Na-Krovi (church of the saviour on spilled blood)
Modelled on the sixteenth-century traditional Russian style of St Basil s Cathedral in Moscow, the Church on Spilled Blood was built on the spot where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated on 1 March 1881, and named because of it. The richly ornamented exterior of colourful enamelled domes, gilded mosaic panels, ceramic tiles, columned windows with intricately carved arches is like a confection of bright sugar candy in a sweet shop window.