St. Petersburg, Russia | Cruise port of call | CruiseBe
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St. Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg is a world-class destination and Russia's second largest city situated at the eastern tip of the Baltic Sea and the Neva River.
The city was formerly known as Petrograd, and later Leningrad.
This is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places on earth and virtually any building in the large historic center, threaded with canals dotted with baroque bridges, can be considered an attraction—and indeed, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. This is a magical city, with a long list of major attractions. Its Hermitage Museum, housed in the Winter Palace of the Romanov Dynasty, is both one of the world's greatest and oldest collections of art, treasure, and antiquities, and one of its most beautiful buildings. 

Climate

There is a huge seasonal variation in day length due to the city's position at 60°N.

Days are less than 6 hours long at the... Read more

St. Petersburg, Russia

Destination:
Saint Petersburg is a world-class destination and Russia's second largest city situated at the eastern tip of the Baltic Sea and the Neva River.
The city was formerly known as Petrograd, and later Leningrad.
This is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places on earth and virtually any building in the large historic center, threaded with canals dotted with baroque bridges, can be considered an attraction—and indeed, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. This is a magical city, with a long list of major attractions. Its Hermitage Museum, housed in the Winter Palace of the Romanov Dynasty, is both one of the world's greatest and oldest collections of art, treasure, and antiquities, and one of its most beautiful buildings. 

Climate

There is a huge seasonal variation in day length due to the city's position at 60°N.

Days are less than 6 hours long at the end of December, but it never gets darker than twilight during the White Nights season in June. Not only are the days very short in late autumn and early winter, but the weather may be overcast for weeks, without a hint of blue sky, which may feel depressing. The driest season with least precipitation is early spring. July and August are usually the rainiest months, though the difference is usually not big enough to worry about. But if you care about this, it is a good idea to have an umbrella or raincoat handy.

In November–March there are hardly any tourists at all so you won't see the long lines of the summer at the Hermitage. Saint Petersburg's neoclassical streets are also simply gorgeous in the snow. Temperatures can range from slightly above the freezing point to bitterly cold. From time to time it may get to -25°C (-13F) and below, often with high humidity and wind, so be prepared to dress warmly. Most major tourist attractions, except those relying on the water, are still open. The ground is usually covered in snow and the rivers and canals are frozen during this time. Snow is not always removed from streets in time and may exacerbate traffic problems. There is danger of slipping on ice or getting hit by falling icicles. Wear good boots, take small steps, and watch your feet!

In April, the streets are covered in sludge as the snow melts.

June is peak tourist season during the famous White Nights (roughly 11 June–2 July), when the sun sets only for a brief period of twilight, and the streets stay alive around the clock. Book early.

July and August are usually the warmest months. This is a rather northern city, and it rarely gets really hot, but even more modest warmth can be hard to bear in summer because of the high humidity. Rain showers usually come and go throughout this time, so it is always a good idea for one to have an umbrella or rain jacket at all times, even on sunny clear days.

Late September—early October is a lovely time in the city. The temperatures drop to moderate, often with strong winds, and the tourists are all gone. Rain is still common.

Fountains operate from May through mid-September. Most trees are in leaf from May through October.

Note the days of school holidays, when museums and other similar venues can become considerably more crowded. School holidays are in early November (autumn break), the first half of January (winter break) and late March (spring break). Moreover, general holidays are held around the New Year into early January, as well as in early May.

 


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St. Petersburg, Russia: Port Information


Passenger Port of St. Petersburg “Marine Façade" is the main boat terminal in St. Petersburg, and is where 90% of cruise ships dock. It was built on reclaimed land on the western shore of Vasilyevsky Island at the mouth of the Neva River, 8km west of the city center. With its 7 berths and 4 terminals, Marine Façade is able to handle 7 large cruise ships and more than 15,000 passengers per day. Bus #158 operates between terminal 3 and the Primorskaya (Примо́рская) metro station.

Smaller cruise ships sail up the Neva river and dock at either English Embankment (Англи́йская на́бережная; Angliyskaya Naberezhnaya) or Lieutenant Schmidt Embankment, both of which are closer to the city center.

A visa is not required for a trip of fewer than 72 hours if you arrive in St. Petersburg by ferry or by cruise liner and you have a pre-arranged program of excursions by an approved local company. This kind of visa for cruise passengers is called Blanket visa and can be ordered online at the Russian travel agency.

Get around St. Petersburg, Russia


By metro
Saint Petersburg's metro is the second largest underground railway system in Russia, second only to Moscow. The subway is a cheap and effective way to get around the city, and also a major tourist attraction in itself thanks to the beautiful decorations of the stations. Taking pictures was once prohibited, but amateur photography (without a tripod, etc) is now allowed.
The trains are fast and run frequently (during rush hour, there are often only 30 seconds between trains). Brass tokens (жетон – zheton) can be purchased from kiosks at station entrances and vending machines, but they no more need to be stocked since metro now allows to use Mastercard PayPass or Visa PayWave cards as train ticket - all you need is to put your card on the white circle near to turnstile. You have to pay an extra token if you have big baggage.
Metro maps can be found in every train car and always have station names in the Latin alphabet. The station names on the platforms are also in the Latin alphabet, and many other signs are in English. Station announcements on the train are only in Russian, but if you listen carefully you will hear the conductor announce the current station name and the next station as the doors are closing. 
Stations are deep, and transfers between stations also involve long walks. There is little time saving to be made traveling between adjacent stations in the historic center.
The Saint Petersburg metro can be unbelievably crowded during rush hour. Avoid traveling during this if not accustomed to big crowds. Be aware of your belongings and expect to have to push your way out upon arrival.

By tram
A more scenic, but slower, way to see Saint Petersburg is by tram (трамвай – "tramvai"). In recent years, due to traffic problems, some tram lines were removed from the center of the city. Tickets are sold by a conductor sitting in the tram.

By bus or trolleybus
Buses (автобус - avtobus) and trolleybuses (троллейбус - trolleibus) are cheap and frequent. They cover many areas of the city that the metro doesn't. There is no map for the trolleybuses, but Google Transit comprehensively shows all the routes making it easy to navigate using the buses with this service.
Trolleybuses are indicated by the letter 'm' (actually it is an old-school Russian 'т') on the stops, and diesel/gas buses by the letter 'A'. Both buses and trolleybuses may show the same route number, but the trolleybus route, in this case, is frequently shorter and can vary in some minor respects.
Tickets are sold by a conductor sitting in the bus. Every bus has its own conductor. The conductor will work their way up and down the aisle of a crowded bus, and just handing them the correct change is sufficient. The conductors don't like giving much change and only speak Russian.
Buses and trolleys on main routes are frequently overcrowded. If you are caught without a valid ticket you will be fined.
Since July, 1 (2012) night buses have been introduced. They have the same routes as the metro has, but the problem of the bridges is not resolved.

By taxi
Route taxi (маршрутка - marshrutka) is sometimes the fastest way to get somewhere. Taxis are 14-20 seat vans, usually white or yellow, always with a letter K and route number plate (K-28). Often they are small Chinese or Turkish buses. There are no regular stops; you must tell the driver when you want to get out or wave while on the roadside to stop one. You must pay to the driver at entry. If you cannot reach the driver on your own, pass the money through the other passengers and be ready to pass other's money if you sit close to the driver. The Marshrutka experience may seem exciting sometimes, especially when you see some brave driver counting change while steering with his knees at 110km/h (70mph). Many marshrutka drivers are illegal immigrants and speak Russian poorly (if any at all).
Another interesting means of transportation is a special taxi for tourists and visitors. The service runs 24/7 and offers English language support, low fares and online booking before landing (Pulkovo 1, 2). The service is new and operates through community friendly social networks like Couchsurfing and Facebook.
Regular taxis are available, but drivers do not usually speak English. Watch out for overpriced taxis outside Hermitage museum. They have meters that run four times faster than those of regular taxis. Negotiate a flat fare before getting on the taxi. If the driver insists on using the meter you should walk away.

By Uber
Uber exists in St Petersburg and is cheaper than the taxis the hotel will call for you by about 20-25%. It may be hard to find the address you are at however so picking one up from a major hotel or restaurant is a good idea.

By local train
A commuter train (электричка, elektrichka) may be an option in areas distant from metro stations. Fares are based on travel distance. Speeds are moderate, but trains may be rare (1-2/h).

What to see in St. Petersburg, Russia


The Historic Center of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments are UNESCO world heritage, so definitely worth your while. 
  • The Hermitage Museum/The Winter Palace is Saint Petersburg's prime attraction, a massive palace-museum showing the highlights of a collection of over 3,000,000 pieces spanning the globe. The Hermitage is truly one of the world's great museums, with an imposing setting displaying priceless works by Rembrandt, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Rubens and more. Getting a tour guide is recommended; the additional information they impart can be well worth the price, and they can readily take you directly to the items you want to see.
Ticketing is complex, and they do check if you have a Russian passport, even if you speak Russian. Students of all nationalities get in for free, but don't forget your student card with photo (the 'administration' will likely reject your ID if it doesn't have a date on it). Entrance is free on the first Thursday of every month. Large bags aren't allowed in the museum, and a massive cloakroom downstairs (no charge, as usual in Russia) exists to assist with jackets and bags. Some rooms and all temporary exhibits prohibit all kinds of photography. 
You can buy tickets online, and have a confirmation emailed to you. It is currently slightly more expensive than a local ticket as they charge in dollars at an old exchange rate, you just walk straight to the front of the queue. Hand your booking confirmation and passport to the information desk. She will get the ticket office to check your details and issue the tickets.
The queues at the ticket office can be long, and purchasing a ticket online can help you bypass this queue first thing in the morning. However, at other times the museum can limit the admission rate because of the numbers already in the museum. In this case, having purchased your tickets in advance won't save you as much time. There are also ticket machines just before you get to the cash desk which has much shorter lines.
The museum has a cafe and a large shop near the entrance, and numerous small shops throughout the galleries. Audio guides are available in English, and most signs in the gallery are in English and Russian.
  • Russian Museum, Inzhenernaya Ul. 4 (Across Ploshad Isskustv from the Grand Europe Hotel), 595 42 48. 10 AM to 6 PM daily ex. Tuesday. An extensive collection of Russian paintings and sculpture. People who are disappointed that the Hermitage is mainly western European art love this museum since most of the artists are relatively unknown to non-Russians. The main building, the Mikhailovskiy Palace houses the main exhibits, and the Russian Museum also oversees the permanent and temporary exhibits at the Stroganov Palace, Marble Palace, and Mikhailovskiy Castle. Tickets to each can be purchased separately or as a universal pass. 
  • Peter and Paul Fortress. You can go in for free, but to enter the church and exhibitions you need tickets. You can get a combo ticket for everything, or you can just enter the church. Other than the church, which is where the all of the Romanov Czars of Russia from Peter the Great (bar two or three) are buried, the other things on the island aren't terribly impressive so it might be worth it to just see the church. Note that if you buy a combo ticket for everything, you still need to have a 'special ticket' for a lot of exhibitions within the fortress! No tickets on Wednesdays and maybe not Monday either.
  • The Admiralty, North end of Nevsky Prospekt (Next to the Hermitage). Not open to visitors, but worth seeing from the outside. 
  • The bridges on the Neva. Open 2 times per night to allow boats to pass.
  • Museum of Artillery, Combat Engineers and Signal Troops. Housed in old Arsenal fortress-like building near the Peter and Paul Fortress and surrounded by a moat. HUGE collection of weapons from the beginning of history until the present, including an extensive collection of Soviet weaponry from WW2 and the Cold War. Tanks, ballistic missiles, Katuscha trucks, countless Kalashnikovs. Personal note: Absolutely awesome, one of the highlights of all my European travels. Closed Mondays, Tuesdays and the last Thursday of the month.
  • Ethnographic Museum, (Next to the Russian Museum Mikhailovskiy Palace). An interesting and educational display of the traditions and costumes of various ethnic groups found in the lands of the former Russian Empire. 
  • Alexander Nevskiy Monastery. Located at the Eastern end of Nevskiy Prospekt next to the River Neva. The site also has the Tikhvin Cemetery which houses the tombs of some of the world's most famous composers; Tschaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky and Borodin, and also the author Fyodor Dostoevsky, along with many other famous Russian figures.
  • Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, Canal Griboedova, 2a (Between Nevsky Prospekt and the Neva), (812) 315-16-36. A traditional style Russian church built on the spot where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881. The interior is elaborately decorated with over 6000sqm of mosaics. Photography without a tripod and extra lighting permitted for free. 
  • Our-Lady-of-Kazan Cathedral (Казанский собор, Kazansky Sobor), Nevsky Prospekt and Canal Griboedova (Metro: Nevsky Prospekt). Impressive neoclassical exterior, richly decorated interior. Includes the tomb of Gen. Kutuzov, hero of the war of 1812. Free entry.  
  • Saint Isaac's Cathedral, St. Isaac's Square, 4, (812) 315-97-32. 11 am to 7 pm daily ex. Wed. Located near to the Admiralty. It was built in 1818 and is a major attraction in the city. It is the third highest cupola cathedral in the world. There are night time visits, too, and the view from the colonnade (observation deck) is one of the best views of the city, for those who are willing to climb 400 steps.
  • Peter the Great's Cabin. Peter the Great's men built the small wooden cabin in a matter of days for him when he planned the city and it has been preserved in a small brick building in the district Petrogradskaya. It is located close to the Cruiser Aurora on Petrovskaya Naberezhnaya.
  • Narva Triumphal Arch (Narvskie Vorota), prospect Stachek 1, +7 812 786 87 92. You have just come out of Narvskaya metro station, and here it is! The arch was built to meet and greet Russian soldiers who came home having defeated Napoleon Bonaparte's army. It is made of bricks and plated with copper. The chariot reined by Pheme is running atop. Many tourists and citizens misbelieve that the arch is monolithic. Nope, it's inhabited! You might have seen a lot of arches in your life. But you've hardly been within any. You come to the left door, enter the arch and buy a ticket. Then you climb a very high spiral ladder which pierces the pier (not for those who are prone to dizziness!). Eventually, you are in the crown of the arch. Here, at a height of 15 meters above the ground, a small exhibition hall is. Usually, they exhibit something related to wars and battles Russia and USSR participated in. In August 2015 they were exhibiting things and photos telling about World War I.
  • Loft Project ETAGI, Ligovsky prospekt, 74. Culture center located in five-story former bakery building with several exhibition spaces (combined surface around 5000 square meters). Contemporary art exhibitions, concerts, events (flea markets). Parts of Etagi loft are two art galleries, four exhibitions spaces, a cafe (with great interior and outside terrace), a hostel and a bookshop.  
  • Kirov's museum, Kamennoostrovskiy prospect 26 (Gorkovskaya or Petrogradskaya metro stations). Daily: 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Wednesdays: closed. A good museum is never just a set of items. It speaks to people and answers their questions. This museum will answer these ones: How did Soviet people live in the 1930s? What did their flats look like? What beds did they sleep on? What bathrooms did they go to? Where did they keep their food? What pens did they write with? How did Soviet people regard "luxury"? What sweets did Soviet children want their parents to buy them? The museum is the flat of Sergey Kirov who was the mayor of Leningrad in 1927-1934. But it isn't about Kirov only. It's about the epoch he lived in. It was the time between the World Wars when Joseph Stalin headed the USSR.
  • Jangseung spirits. 15 guardian spirits came from Korea and gathered in the southwest corner of Park Sosnovka (the intersection of prospect Toreza and Svetlanovsky prospect - 60°00'41.3"N 30°20'50.7"E). It's believed that these 4-meter-high wooden spirits radiate positive energy and frighten demons away. Hurry up! Humid climate and vandals have destroyed 12 poles of the 15!  
Vasilievsky Island
  • Andreyevsky Cathedral, 6 line V.O., 11, +7 (812) 323-34-18. Perhaps the most beautiful religious building on the island, built in 1780. The main cupola is framed by three narrow towers and is topped by a two-tiered belltower. The gilt, three-layered iconostasis inside is an impressive 17 meters tall.  
  • Church of the Assumption of Mary, Naberezhye Leitenanta Schmidta, 27. This five-domed church was built in 1897. In 1935, as happened to many churches in Russia, it was converted by the Soviets into a warehouse, but in 1993 it was reopened for services. The ongoing careful renovations began in 1996. 
  • Erarta Museum and Galleries of Contemporary Art, No 2, 29th line, Vasilyevsky Island, +7 (812) 324 0809, 10 am-10 pm, Tuesday closed. Erarta project brings under one roof Russia's largest private Museum of Contemporary Art (with over 2,300 works in its collection as of the time of writing) and one of the branches of its international Galleries (other branches located in London and Hong Kong). The building has a café (3rd floor), a restaurant, a gift store, and a print shop. It has an overall floor area of 10,000 square meters. The Museum especially is worth visiting for its creativity, not only exhibiting other artists' works but also acting as an author itself. 
  • Exchange Building (Naval Museum), Birzhevaya Square, 4, +7 (812) 328-27-01 (museum@mail.admiral.ru, fax: +7 (812) 328-27-01), 11 AM-6 PM Tu-Su. As of spring 2016, this building appears to be completely defunct. The Naval Museum is now in a brick building at Truda Ploschad The Exchange Building, which houses the Naval Museum, is the centerpiece of the Strelka ensemble. It was built in 1816 in the Neoclassical style. The Naval Museum, one of the largest in the world, contains historical displays of the Russian navy from its founding to the present day, including weaponry, models of ships, and even some original mastheads. Extensive World War II display, and also (not directly related to Naval history) a diorama box of the storming of the Winter Palace.
  • Ivan Kruzenshtern Statue, Across from Naberezhye Leitenanta Schmidta, 17. A statue of Admiral Ivan Kruzenshtern, was built in 1870 in honor of the 100-year anniversary of the renowned Admiral's death.  
  • Kunstkamera (Room of Curiosities), Universitatskaya Embankment 3 (Close to the Palace Bridge; enter around the corner on Tamozhenny Pereulok), +7 (812) 328-07-12 (museum@kunstkamera.ru), 11 AM-6 PM Tu-Su, closed every last Tuesday of the month. This museum is primarily famous for its one-room freak show collection of 300-year-old deformed fetuses in formaldehyde (of which you are not allowed to take pictures). The rest of the museum consists of trinkets from various world cultures (over one million exhibits). It's of interest mainly as it is the oldest state museum in Russia, established by Peter the Great in 1704—consequently, it has a very dated feel.
  • Menshikov Palace, Universitatskaya Embankment 15, +7 (812) 323-11-12. 10:30 AM-5:30 PM Tu-Su. Operated by the Hermitage, this museum displays some art and an exhibition on life in the early 18th century, in a palace built for the first governor of St. Petersburg, and before him Peter the Great. The Baroque palace was built in 1721 and was one of the first grand stone constructions of the city. Look especially for the grand staircase, and the Walnut, Naval, and Chinese rooms. Note: you will be given and required to wear special woolen "slippers" over your street shoes as to not damage the flooring.  
  • Mikhail Lomonosov Statue, Mendeleevskaya St. A statue of the famous 18th century Russian Renaissance man himself, famous for his contributions to mathematics, literature, painting, natural science, chemistry, physics, mineralogy, history, philology, and art.  
  • Mining Institute Museum, 21st line V.O., 2, +7 (812) 321-40-82 (museum@spmi.ru, fax: +7 (812) 327-73-59). By appointment for group tours only. One of the largest and oldest geological museums in the world, containing more than 230 thousand items, collected from more than 80 countries. Even if you don't make it inside on a tour, it's worth passing by to admire it's imposing 1811 Imperial-style facade.  
  • Narodovolets (the People's Will) Submarine D-2, Shkipersky protok, 10, +7 (812) 356-52-66 (info@navalmuseum.ru), W-Su 11 AM-5:15 PM. A small museum aboard a WWII submarine, dedicated to the actions of the submarine throughout the war (run by the Naval Museum).  
  • Naval Institute, Naberezhye Leitenanta Schmidta, 17. The oldest naval academy in Russia, founded by Peter the Great in 1701. Some of its most famous graduates include Ivan Kruzenshtern, Rimsky-Korsakov, and many others. The building was completely rebuilt in 1798.  
  • Rostral Columns. The first monuments you'll immediately notice on the Strelka, the Rostral Columns are yet another symbol of the city. Constructed in 1810, the columns are each adorned with six rostra (traditionally, the prows of captured ships), symbolizing the might of the Russian Baltic Fleet. At the base of the columns, you'll see sculptures representing the great rivers of European Russia, the Volga, Dnieper, Neva, and Volkhov. In addition to their decorative purpose, the columns also served as lighthouses, and to this day the gas flames are lit on holidays.  
  • Rumyantsevsky Park and Obelisk, between the 1st and 2nd lines along Universitetskaya naberezhye. The big obelisk in the center of the park was moved here from Mars Field in honor of Count Peter Rumyantsev's victory in the Russo-Turkish War of 1791. On the southern end, look for two statues of the famous Russian painters Repin and Surikov.  
  • Russian Academy of the Arts, Universitetskaya naberezhye, 17. Russia's largest center for advanced study in the arts, founded by Lomonosov and Shuvalov, and was until the 20th century the only school of its kind in Russia. The impressive neoclassical building was built in 1788.  
  • Research Museum of the Academy of the Arts, (Inside the Academy of the Arts), +7 (812) 323-35-78, W-Su 11 AM-6 PM. A huge collection of drawings, prints, paintings of both Russian and Western artists, as well as casts and sculptures, all on display across three floors of the Academy. The models of great Petersburg architecture, of the Smolny Monastery, St Isaac's Cathedral, Mikhailovsky Castle, etc., are especially worth seeking out.  
  • Theban Sphinxes, (across the road from the Academy of the Arts). You wouldn't expect it, but these two granite sphinxes are three thousand years older than the city itself! They were excavated in 1820 in the temple of Amenhotep III near Thebes. Upon seeing them, the Russian writer and diplomat Muravyev wrote to the Tsar and convinced him to purchase the statues for display in Petersburg. They were installed in 1834. Oddly enough, sphinxes seem to be popular in the city - there are another six made by Russian sculptors lurking about.  
  • The Twelve Colleges, Universitetskaya naberezhye, 7/9. One of Domeniko Trezini's many neoclassical buildings in Petersburg, built in 1742. The ensemble is comprised of twelve identical, connected, three-story buildings. The main facade faces Mendeleevskaya St, rather than the Neva, because, at the time of construction, there was a canal in place of the street, across from which was the main market on the island. Today the ensemble houses the Geological and Agricultural departments, as well as Admissions.  
  • Zoological Museum, Universitetskaya naberezhye, 1, +1 (812) 328-01-12 (museum@zin.ru, fax: +1 (812) 328-29-41), 11 AM-6 PM daily. A wild lesson in taxidermy, the museum contains over 17 million species, stuffed, mounted, and fossilized (although due to constraints of finitude, the building "only" displays some 500 thousand). The collection began at the Kunstkammer and grew into its enormous state under the later Imperial period. You won't have to look hard but look for the complete blue whale skeleton, as well as the world's only stuffed mammoth.  
Churches and Temples
If you have seen the top tourist destinations but still have enough time, turn off the tourist highway and see some more churches and temples scattered throughout St. Petersburg. Many of them do have something unique to show!
  • Church of the Holy Trinity, prospect Obukhovskoy oborony, 235. Old Russian prince had a farm... And he wanted his village to have a church. He decided that it would resemble two Russian Easter dishes - kulich and paskha. The idea made the church outstanding before it was built. Then the prince found the architect who would bake the dishes. The Easter table is laid just across from Proletarskaya metro station. The church is round and yellow like a well-baked pie. It departs from the tradition (most Russian Orthodox churches are cross-shaped). The bell tower isn't a tower at all. It's a pyramid plated with metal. The church is well-lit. The architect used windows and walls to direct sunbeams and then let them play inside. On clear days icons, candlesticks and chandeliers seem to be floating in the air! Ironically, along with the church, wherefrom people send messages to God, the architect built the Main post office of St. Petersburg, wherefrom people send messages to each other. The latter made him famous. The ways of God are inscrutable!  
  • Politechnical University Church of the Intercession, Politekhnicheskaya ulitsa, 29. Technical University. What can sound more secular? The church breaks the stereotype. It was drawn by the teacher who taught drawing in the university. Initially, the church was to be a part of the library. The scientists even invented an iron curtain (long before it turned into a metaphor) to split the altar from the reading room. Then it was decided to attach the church to the university hostel as a separate building. God and students became neighbors. The church mishappened to be opened on the brink of World War I and everything which followed it. That's why it was frescoed only in the mid-'90s. But it saved the church from being ordinary. It's the rarest place where one can see the Last Judgement Scene frescoed in modern times. God is painted as a large and mighty hand. The Scales of Justice are weighing human souls. The sinners are being dragged to hell by the demons. In hell, they are turning into the silhouettes. But some of them are being pardoned. God's mercy is painted as the spring which is cooling hell. Four kingdoms Babylon, Macedonia, Persia, and Rome are painted as a square above hell to make visitors google, why. In the corridor, God is painted neither as God the Father nor as God the Son but as the Dove (God the Holy Spirit). It's also the rarest case in Russia!  

What to do in St. Petersburg, Russia


Opera and Ballet
No trip to St. Petersburg is complete without seeing an opera or ballet performance. The Mariinsky is perhaps the most well-known institution, but it is by no means the only theater in the city. Tickets are sold throughout the city at kiosks and shops called Teatralnaya Kassa, which charge a nominal fee for "insurance," which is theoretically optional. The theater box offices themselves sell tickets directly, too, and usually for the same price. Sometimes blocks of tickets sell out at the kiosks but tickets are still available at the theater or vice versa, so it is worth checking both places if you have your heart set on a particular performance. It is possible to take not-so-small children into some performances if you take a private box, although you will need to ask when you buy your tickets.
Do not buy your tickets "online". "Online" prices are 10x higher than the actual price and are geared for foreigners who don't know Russian. 
  • Mariinsky Theater, Theater Square 1, 326 41 41. The Mariinsky Theater (formerly the Kirov, which is the name the troupe still uses when touring abroad) is world-class for both opera and ballet. There are English supertitles for operas sung in Russian; operas in other languages have Russian supertitles. Performances are offered in two halls: the main theater, and the newly-built Mariinsky Concert Hall. Tickets can be purchased on the theater's website.  
  • Mikhailovskiy Theater, Ploshad Isskustv 1 (Between the Russian Museum and the Grand Hotel Europe), 595 43 05. The exterior is not as recognizable as the Mariinsky, but the interior is nearly as grand, and the theater hosts both Russian and foreign headliners in opera and ballet.  
  • St. Petersburg Opera, Galernaya Ul. 33 (West of the Bronze Horseman), (812) 312 3982 (spbopera@comlink.spb.ru). An intimate theater (half-sized stage, and only about 150-200 audience seats) which puts on the major repertory operas at a lower price than the major theaters and has a fascinating foyer - one has to see it to believe it.  
  • Conservatory Theater, Theater Square 3 (Across the street from the Mariinsky Theater). While the hall itself is not lavish - quite sterile, really - a good option for seeing Russian and repertory operas cheaply, performed by faculty and students of the conservatory where Tchaikovsky (and many other famous figures from the Russian music world) studied.  
Drama Theaters
  • Theater on Vasilyevsky Island, Sredny prospect 48, +7 812 323 02 84. If it were in New York City, it would rather be an 'off-Broadway' theater. But being in St. Petersburg it's a big but cozy theater on a big but cozy island. They stage Russian and foreign drama, e.g. The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Without a Dowry by Alexander Ostrovsky, Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov. They neither turn plays into 'performances for schoolchildren' nor into manifestations of underground art. They don't change dramatists' texts but choose the angles to show that a 150-year-old play isn't just a 'piece of art from the gorgeous past' and is still reflecting human life.  
  • Youth Theater, Pionerskaya ploschad 1, +7 812 712 41 02. Don't take the theater's name literally! They do stage Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by Brothers Grimm, The Moomins by Tove Jansson, The Emerald City by L. Frank Baum and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. But the theater isn't for children and teenagers only. Here you can see Plays by Samuel Beckett, King Lear by William Shakespeare, Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury, Poor Folk by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, A Profitable Position by Alexander Ostrovsky and Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev. Leave your age outside the theater but remember to take your heart and mind with!  
  • Theater of St. Petersburg State Theater Arts Academy, Mokhovaya 35, +7 812 273 04 32. The theater inherits the building from Tenishev School where Vladimir Nabokov studied. It obliges it to... Frankly speaking, it obliges the theater to nothing but does create a specific atmosphere. It's a theater and a school simultaneously. The auditorium is a deep wooden amphitheater with long and armless benches. The directors' talent is to combine this antique interior with fresh stage ideas. The actors are the students who are finishing the academy. As a part of their finals, they make a performance. They stage Odyssey, Don Juan, Romeo and Juliet, A Street Car Named Desire and many other plays. The repertoire changes every year. The actors often regard the house as a part of the stage. Don't be shocked when somebody suddenly jumps from nowhere to the bench next to you. Here you have a unique chance to see the actors who have learned everything to perform well but aren't influenced by any theater with its intrigues and other paraphernalia yet. It's the theater where actors not only can show their best. They have to do it. Otherwise, they will flunk their final exams.  
Concerts
The music scene in St. Petersburg is diverse, with several classical, jazz, and pop concerts to choose from each week. Tickets are available at the same Teatralnaya Kassa locations as ballet and opera tickets, although tickets to pop concerts - especially the US and European stars on tour - sometimes use exclusive distributors. For pop and rock concerts, unless you buy tickets for the dance floor (tanzpol), you are expected to sit quietly in your seat as if you were at a ballet - ushers are vigilant about keeping the audience from standing up, dancing, or cheering (polite applause is allowed, but that's about all).
  • Several of the ballet and opera theaters above also offer orchestral and recital performances, so those are not repeated below. Also, don't forget the many small clubs where up and coming bands play.
  • St. Petersburg Philharmonic Grand Hall, Mikhailovskaya Ul. 2 (Entrance across from the Grand Hotel Europe). A world-class orchestra which records and tours abroad. The Small Hall (Maliy Saal) hosts excellent chamber music performances and recitals.  
  • St. Petersburg Philharmonic Small Hall, Nevsky Prospekt 30 (Next to the Metro station on Nevsky Prospekt). The Small Hall (Maliy Saal) of the Philharmonic hosts excellent chamber music performances and recitals.  
  • Jazz Philharmonic Hall, Zagorodny Pr. 27 (South of Nevsky Prospekt, use Vladimirskaya Metro Station). Offers a variety of jazz performances several times per week.  
  • Ice Palace (Ledoviy Dvorets), (At Prospekt Bolshevikov Metro Station). One of several sports arenas that also serves as a concert hall for pop and rock concerts.  
  • Oktyabrskiy Concert Hall, Ligovskiy Prospekt 6 (Near Ploshad Vosstaniya). Pop and rock concerts in an auditorium close to the city center.  
Film
Most cinemas in St. Petersburg show Hollywood films dubbed in Russian. Art cinemas like Dom Kino often show independent American or British movies subtitled in Russian. DVDs of American/European films are also often dubbed. There have been crackdowns on sellers of bootleg DVDs so it may be difficult or expensive to find DVDs in English these days. There are several DVD stores in the city - often near Metro stations - and it is worth asking about films in English.
Annual Message to Man international documentary, short, and animated films festival takes place in June or July, screening many films in English.
  • Dom Kino, 12 Karavannaya Ulitsa (Near Gostiniy Dvor Metro Station), 314 56 14. Sometimes shows films in their original language.  
  • Avrora Cinema, Nevksy Prospekt 60.  
Modern cultural centers
St Petersburg is considered to be a cultural capital of Russia not only because of Hermitage but also because it attracts people working in creative industries.
There many young artists, musicians, designers, etc. This kind of people has their own places, so-called "creative spaces" (креативные пространства in Russian). It's interesting to see young designers and programmers working or tourists sleeping in ex-palaces on the river bank.
  • Loft project Etagi (Этажи), Ligovsky prospekt, 74. The oldest and biggest cultural center. Cafe, hostel, designer shops, book store, etc.  
  • Taiga (Тайга), Dvortsovaya naberezhnaya, 20. Cultural center on the river bank. Good view over Petropavlovskaya fortress. Designer shops, offices, hostel, bar, ping pong, etc.  
  • Fligel (Флигель), ulitsa Vosstaniya, 40. Recently opened cultural center. Bars, cafes, hostel, shops, etc.  
  • Creative spaces tour, ploschad Vosstaniya. Tour over cultural centers listed above run by Olga Polyakova, a local activist in the creative industries.
Rooftops of St Petersburg
St Petersburg is a beautiful city. But there is no observation platform like in Paris or London. Because of the constructions law that forbids building skyscrapers in the historical center. So there are few options where you can get a great view.
  • St Isaac's Cathedral, Isaakievskaya ploschad. The highest church in St Peterburg has so-called Colonnaded Walkway at 43 meters height.  
  • Rooftop tour, Nevsky Prospekt. There are many young people in St P, who call themselves roofers. The roofer guide offers a rooftop tour right on Nevsky prospekt. This one is safe and legal. And it has very unique location. 
  • Rooftop restaurants. Moskva, Makaronniki, Mansarda, Terrassa and some others. There are usually very expensive.
Canal tours
A tour of the canals by boat is a great way to see the city in the summer. The typical tour is through the Moika, out to the Neva to see the Peter and Paul Fortress and the Cruiser Aurora, then in through the Fontanka (sometimes as far as the Mariinsky Theater). Tours start at many points along the route and return to their starting point - hawkers for different boat companies abound - and the boats may or may not have a cafe and toilet on board. Almost all tours are in Russian. 
  • Anglotourismo Boat Tours, Fontanka Embankment 21, +7 921 989 47 22. Canal boat tours in English, departing from near the Anichkov Bridge (Nevsky Prospekt and Fontanka) in season (May 2 - Sept 30).  
  • You can also walk along the canals and admire the numerous bridges, some of them very interesting (like the Bank Bridge).
Walking around with locals
The alternative way to explore St Petersburg is to know it from inside, walking and talking with locals and trying local activities. Those people who have lived here for years would like to tell you plenty of stories, open some secret places (as roofs or courtyards, etc.) and treat you as a friend.
  • Sputnik (Tours by locals), +7 (950) 028 0370 (hi@sputnik8.com). Tours by locals for 1 to 10 people. Some tours are free and others are cheap. Many of them are unique like Russian cooking classes, rooftop, flea market, Uzbek food tours, art galleries, lofts, etc.   
  • Petersburg Voyage (Tours by locals), +7 (967) 513 26 80 (tours@petersburg-voyage.com). Daily Tours in English in small groups. A good way to find out about St. Petersburg more!
  • Discover Walks St Petersburg, Sytninskaya st. Saint Petersburg 197101, (spb@discoverwalks.com). Meet actual Native of St Petersburg in addition to exploring major landmarks. Join a walk with locals who will "decode" the city with you, and also learn from an insider about local events and festivals, about where to shop, good places to eat or drink, secret places locals keep to themselves. Several tours to join every day.

What to eat and drink in St. Petersburg, Russia


Eat

Russian cuisine is famous in the world, and high-quality authentic Russian dishes are available all over Saint Petersburg. But there is other interesting food in the city.
1) Central Asian (Uzbek/Tajik) food. There is a huge Uzbek immigrant community and they have unique culinary traditions. Very cheap and very tasty. Most of the places are a hole in the wall type and hard to find. There are many places inside Sennoy market. Also, foodies can sign up for Uzbek food tour.
2) Georgian food. Very unique and tasty cuisine. Georgian restaurants are scattered all over St Petersburg. It's more expensive than Uzbek. But worth trying.
It's hard to find Uzbek/Georgian food outside of ex-USSR. Try it here.

Budget
Nothing, absolutely nothing, tastes better than hot Russian crepes with caviar, mushrooms, caramel, berries, or what have you with a cup of tea on a cold winter street.
  • Chainaya Lozhka (Чайная ложка), Has around 50 restaurants all over the city (Nevsky Pr. 44 is one of the most centrally located). These fast-food restaurants serve blini (Russian crepes) with a variety of fillings - you choose your own at the counter. They also have a wide selection of teas. Some restaurants have wifi. 
  • Yolki-Palki Traktir (Ёлки-Палки Трактир), Has 6 restaurants in the city, mainly in the center (Nevsky Pr. 88 is right on the main street). Some open until late, some open 24h. Decent food with very affordable prices, smoking and non-smoking sections. Staff in some restaurants may actually serve you in English. 
  • Kroshka Kartoshka (Крошка Картошка), Has over 25 restaurants all over the city. It is a big European chain of fast food restaurants that offers baked potatoes with your choice of topping but also has salads, soups, and desserts. 
  • Teremok (Теремок), Several locations. This blini chain began with street-corner kiosks throughout the city (many are quite easy to find), and they have expanded to include counter-service restaurants serving not only blini, but also kasha, salads, and other quick, inexpensive fare. Some central locations are Bolshaya Morskaya Ul. 11, Nevsky Pr. 60, and Nevsky Pr. 106. The restaurants have menus in English if you ask. 
  • U Tyoshi Na Blinakh (У тёщи на блинах). Cafeteria-style Russian and Ukrainian food for a reasonable price with faux-rustic decor, not like a Soviet-era stolovaya. Has more than blini: soups, salads, meat dishes, desserts, etc. Those who know the Mu-Mu chain in Moscow will recognize this, although on a smaller scale.  
  • St. Petersburg, kan. Griboyedova 7 or 9. Good and cheap food in the very center (next to the "Saviour on the Spilled Blood" church). Pay attention, there are two restaurants called St. Petersburg next to each other and the second one is more expensive.
  • Pirogi (ПирО.Г.И.), Nab. reki Fontanki, 40 (наб. реки Фонтанки, 40). Open 24/7. A cozy and charming cafe-restaurant ambiance during the day, turning into a cute and relaxing bar in the evening as well as a vibrant music venue at night. A variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages at a very reasonable price. Good and moderately priced food served 24 hours a day. The menu comes in both English and Russian. Friendly and helpful English-speaking staff. Free Wi-Fi. Separated smoking/non-smoking sections. A good selection of traditional Russian pies filled with meat, chicken, fish, mushrooms or cabbage served with three different salads (big enough to be the main course).
  • Pirogov dvorik (Пироговый дворик) (Pie Courtyard), kan. Griboyedova 22 and many other, 329-09-09. Open 9-22 daily. Tasty pies with meat, fish, vegetables or fruits and berries. Different styles and sizes. Traditional russian cuisine like Borscht or roast beef. NB: a "pie" is not made with pastry in Russia, but with a bread-like substance. 
  • Saint-Petesburg Metro office eatery, metro Primorskaya, ul. Odoevskogo 26 (on an Odoevskogo St. Walk 100 meters along the high building of Metro Office. Second entrance with stairs is eatery). During daytime. closes early. Open during day time. You can freely come and have lunch. Choice is not wide: 3 to 5 salads, couple of soups and few mains with tea or juice or fruit drink. 
  • V Meste (В Месте), Just off ulitsa Vosstaniya (From Ploshad' Vosstaniya, wander north towards Chernishevskaya checking every side road to the right until you find one with a giant concrete and glass building at the end, second or third right turn. Head down that road, and it's on your right, but the sign is just an A4 piece of paper laminated and stuck to the open door). generally 9-23, but varies. Done out like an old Soviet apartment. Has a HUGE range of board games and a decent range of food. The food is simple but filling and delicious. Pirogi and simple sandwiches are the name of the game here. Beer is also cheap, and coffees are bottomless. There are also a few old Soviet era videogames for you to try your hand at for a nominal fee. If you've never visited a Russian flat that belongs to someone over the age of 30, then it's worth visiting just for the experience. The staff speak English, and are friendly enough to help you navigate the menu - unlike a lot of Russians! 
Mid-range
  • Ristorantino Carducci, Sezzhinskaya Street, n. 37 (ул. Съезжинская, д.37), 8 (812) 235-64-40 (info@carducci-spb.com). Lunch: Monday - Saturday, 12:00 - 16:00; Dinner: Monday - Saturday, 16.30 - 23.00. Fine cuisine in a romantic atmosphere in the center of St. Petersburg. The menu includes the classic recipes of the Italian and European cuisine prepared in accordance with the highest traditions.  
  • SCHASTYE (СЧАСТЬЕ), M. Morskaya, 24 (close to Isaakiyevsky cathedral), (812) 680 24 44. Sun-Thu 09 am-01 am, Fri-Sat 09 am-06 am. Breakfast, Dinner, English menu. Menu in SCHASTYE present dishes by French and Italian cuisine in the author's interpretation by chief Dmitriy Reshetnikov, its always original and nobody can stay indifferent after these dishes. In SCHASTYE serve many different desserts by chief-bakery Ekaterina Kiselkova and cookies, chocolate, candies or different homemade dessert in original packing can be a good present or compliment.  
  • La Baguette, Grazhdanskaya ul 27. Very nice, cozy little tea and cake shop near Griboedova canal with a sweet faux-French atmosphere. You can also have tasty meals there. Mains approx. 
  • Kavaleria, Kavalergardskaya ul 20, (info@kavaleria.ru). A great family-run place just a block away from the spectacular must-see Smolniy Monastery and Tavricheskiy garden. Fresh local and foreign beers, great cuisine (huge portions), English menus and English-speaking staff. Great for watching sports events too.
  • 1,001 Nights (Тысяча и одна ночь), ул. Миллионная, 21. noon-23:00 daily, live music & belly dancing F-Su 20:00-23:00. This would be but an ordinary undistinguished Uzbek restaurant were it not within one block of the Winter Palace. Given the location, the place is spectacular in that it maintains decent service and very good food. 
  • Acquarel, (next to the Birzhevoy bridge), +7 (812) 320-8600. Right on the water, this restaurant offers Italian food alongside a French/Asian fusion menu. Friendly people, delightful atmosphere, and a wonderful view, Acquarel is a wonderful and delicious dinner option or even a great place to relax and get a drink in their lounge chairs.  
  • Barrel Bar, Kazanskya st. 5, +7 812 9-298-298, 12 PM-2 AM. Restaurant in the cultural heart of the city with a varied menu and superior wine list A great place for lunch and dinner. 
  • Cafe Old Tbilisi (кафе Старый Тбилиси), В.О. 4-я линия, 5 (near the Vasilieostrovskaya metro station). 11:00-23:00 daily. You'll probably be the only foreign visitor to this small unassuming place on Vasilievsky Island, but the great Georgian food is absolutely worth the short metro trip. The quality for the price here is just outstanding. 
  • Caravan-Sarai (Караван-Сарай), ул. Некрасова, 1, +7 (812) 272-7153. In a city with plenty of Uzbek food, this may outshine the competition. Not for the service or the decor, but for the very long menu of top-notch Uzbek cooking. 
  • Clean Plate Society (Общество чистых тарелок), Гороховая ул., 13, +7 (812) 934 97 64 (gorohovaya13@gmail.com). After the enormous success of opening bar "Mishka" last year, avant-garde musician/heartthrob Kirill Ivanov and budding chef-mogul Alexander Berkovksy have ventured into the restaurant, or more precisely "cafe-club," business. "Obschestvo Chistykh Tarelok", or "Clean Plates Society" in English, is named after a children's fairy tale alleging that Lenin told children that those who finish all the food on their plate would become members of the Clean Plates Society. Quality burgers, cream soups, and vegetarian dishes with worldwide influences. Recommended for hipster-watching in St. Petersburg.  
  • Gin-no Taki (Гин-но Таки), пр. Чернышевского, 17. 11:00-06:00 daily. A very reasonably priced Japanese chain restaurant just across the street from the Chernyshevskaya metro station. The interior is very stylish, even if the fashion shows on the TVs are a bit much, and you can control your service with the aid of a call button. The food is good, but the sodas might be even better—free refills! It's also a very solid choice for a place to unwind late-night after a wild night. 
  • Gastronom (ресторан Гастроном), наб. реки Мойки, д. 7 (close to Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood; вход с Марсового поля), (812) 314-3849 (info@gastronom.su). Sun-Thu: 12 PM-12 AM; Fri, Sat: 12 PM-3 AM. Excellent desserts (tiramisu is really great); good reviews for dinner. A wide selection of international fare: Thai, Italian, Russian, steaks. Rare place with 5 varieties of Caesar salad. An outdoor terrace is comfortable for a baby stroller but closes before late Sept.
  • Jean Jacques (Жан-Жак Руссо), Ул. Марата д.10 (very close to Moskovsky vokzal), +7(812)315-49-03. Decent lower-end French cuisine. Nothing-special breakfasts: either omlet or croissant or porridge.  
  • Kafe Ket, 22 Ul. Stremyannaya. Kafe Kat is tucked into a rather unassuming location, just off Nevsky. This little restaurant serves what might be the best Georgian food in St. Petersburg. There is an English menu and the staff is friendly. 
  • Kafe Tbilisi, Sytninskaya ul, 10 (Metro Gorkovskaya behind the market), +7 (812) 232-9391. Georgian food. The dishes prepared in pots are excellent.  
  • The Idiot (Идиот), 82, Moika Emb, +7 (812) 315-1675. Named after the Dostoevsky novel, and offering a wide variety of very tasty vegan, vegetarian, and seafood dishes at prices higher than what you'd expect. All served in a very cozy and attractive cellar stocked with books, ex-pats, and intellectuals.  
  • Montana Saloon, 20, Kirochnaya str. or 19, Izmailovsky pr. American cuisine, wonderful steaks (best in S-Petersburg), good wine and pleasant atmosphere. A bit expensive, but it is worth it.  
  • Harbin, ул. Жуковского, 34/2. 12:30-23:30 daily. Chinese in Saint Petersburg is often better than in most parts of Europe. This restaurant is cozy and overcrowded (show up early or late if you want to ensure that you get a table), and has an extraordinarily long and complex menu. If you have no native speaker with you, bring a food dictionary, or you will have no idea what you are ordering. 
  • Giuseppe Park (Парк Джузеппе), 2B Canal Griboyedova (just next to Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood and Russian Museum), (812) 571-7309; (812) 973-0943, 11 am-1 am. Excellent Italian food in a white nearly-luxury setting. In peak hours, choose easier-to-cook dishes to minimize risk of mistake. Great gaspacho, "quatro formagio" pizza. Good for a late breakfast as well (although no breakfast-time menu: only omlets). Heated outdoor terrace open until at least end of Sep. No wifi, for a reason: it's a place to eat
  • Mama Roma. A chain of Italian restaurants; free wifi. Malaya Konyushennaya, 4/2: outdoor terrace is open heated until at least end of Sep; terrace perfect with toddler: spacious enough for baby strollers; has children-safe wide couches.  
  • Oliva (Олива), 31 Bolshaya Morskaya ul. Kitchen closes at 11:30 pm. Greek restaurant with a genuine Greek chef; popular with expats.  
  • Oriental Express (restaurant/buffet) (Восточный Экспресс), ul. Marata 21 (close to Moskovsky train station). Tourists-oriented and doesn't hide it, the place has a good selection of traditional Russian dishes. Buffet and restaurant share the same building and kitchen and have few common dishes, but are otherwise very distant from each other (at least in prices). Free wifi (ask a waiter for instructions).
  • Tepló (Тепло), B. Morskaya, 45 (close to Isaakiyevsky cathedral), (812) 570 19 74, Mon-Thu, Sun 9 am-12 am, Fri-Sat 1 pm-1 am. Still TripAdvisor #1, it's currently loosing its charm and excellent service. Still, quite charming good value for money, although drinks are quite expensive. Fireplace in winter and courtyard with umbrellas and flowers in summer. Most staff speak English, those who don't are still helpful at navigating the English menu. Lunch set menu from 1 pm. Equally good for breakfast (from 9 am, Mon-Fri only) with omlets, pancakes, a weekly rotation of porridges and fritters. Free wifi (ask waiter for instructions); childrens playroom; separate non/smokers; outdoor terrace open until at least 5ths of Oct (but no gas heaters). Same owners as a nearby Zoom Cafe.
  • Traveling Sack for a Pregnant Spy (Саквояж для беременной шпионки), ул. Б. Конюшенная, 17 (close to Kazansky cathedral), +7 (812) 570-06-37. M-F 11 am-01 am, kitchen closes at 11:30 pm; Sa-Su noon-02 am. A very fun Russian restaurant, that would be worth visiting as a gallery of weird spy-kitsch, but the food is also decent. No wifi. 
  • Vostochny Ugolok (Восточный уголок), Гороховая ул., 52 (close to Isaakievsky cathedral), (812) 713-57-47 (ooo-dvit@mail.ru). 24 hours. Good-quality Caucasian cuisine in a vivid interior. Excellent shashlik and manty.
  • Zazhigalka (Зажигалка), Невский проспект, дом 74 (Nevsky Prospekt 74) (Opposite McDonald's (Rubinshteyna Street), next to Red Tower Chinese Restaurant. Walking distance from Anichkov Bridge over Fontanka River), (812) 272-24057, 24 hours. Located just opposite McDonald's (the one near ul. Rubinshteyna), this restobar is open 24 hours a day. They serve business lunch from 12-5 PM with 3 options. Food was very good. Looked classy and tasted great. Very great cool, lounge feel atmosphere. Menus have English translation and several staffs can speak English. Great service too.   
  • Zoom, Gorohovaja str. 22 (close to Isaakiyevsky cathedral), (812)448-5001. Until 24; last order until 22:30. Same owners as Tepló, but much more intimate; not a victim of top TripAdvisor positions.
Splurge
  • Austeria (Аустерия), Iohann Alley, Peter & Paul Fortress (Near the entrance to the fortress), +7 812 230-03-69, 12 PM-12 AM. This restaurant, offering a very European setting with mostly Russian high-quality food, nabs a lot of tourists visiting the fortress. But nonetheless, the service and food remain phenomenal - while tourists are trapped here, it is no tourist trap. Offseason, particularly during the snowy winter months, this place can be almost magical, as you get the beautiful restaurant more or less to yourself.
  • Baku, +7 812 941-37-56. 12 PM-2 AM. One of the city's more impressive interiors, modeled after the palaces of the Shirvan Shahs (imagine eating in Sheki's Khan-Saray). Only opened in 2006, but has received rave reviews from all quarters since. A great place to try out Azeri cuisine.
  • Grand Hotel Europe Restaurant. The Sunday Jazz Brunch here is a "Not to Miss" if you are looking for a real splurge. There is also bottomless champagne glasses (and the champagne is quite good) and a huge frozen ice sculpture that is tapped where you can refill your glass with iced vodka as many times as you'd like. The jazz is very good and the pace is relaxed and enjoyable. The only caveat: As with most Russian eateries, there is no non-smoking section, so if you are not a smoker, ask for table away from the majority or risk having to inhale cigarette smoke while you dine.
  • Kalinka-Malinka (Калинка-Малинка), Ital'yanskaya ulitsa, 5. Overdone and overpriced Russian-kitsch tourist trap for foreigners (Russians wouldn't be caught dead here). But if you're staying nearby, they'll treat you fine and you can eat some bear meat. 
  • Na Zdorovye! (На здоровье!), П.С. пр. Большой, 13/4 (3 blocks up Bolshoy Prospect from the Sportivnaya metro station). 12:00-23:00. This is the kitschiest kitchen in town, but it's no tourist trap, not by a long stretch. It is a way off on the Petrograd Side north of the stadium and is frequented mostly just by Russians, who come to enjoy the fun over-the-top decor, and the delightful "tastes just like babushka makes it" cooking. Sending the kitsch even further over that top are the performances of Russian/Gypsy folk music and singing 19:00-23:00 daily. Come here for a full meal or the vodka shots + zakuski, and you'll have a memorable night. 
  • Sunduk (Сундук), ул. Фурштатская, 42. M-F 10:00-24:00 Sa-Su 11:00-24:00. A great, small, cozy, and very stylish brick-walled Russian restaurant, with excellent food, and good enough service. Live entertainment comes often and is often surprisingly good—imagine sitting down and only then seeing a solo jazz guitarist sit down to play some beautiful music. It's been open for more than a decade, and there's a reason why it's a fixture of the local restaurant scene around Furshtatskaya. 
  • Terrassa, Kazanskaya, 3 (Highest floor of the shopping center behind Kazansky cathedral). Offers a magnificent view to Kazansky cathedral from the terrace. Pastries are well worth the price.

Drink

Pubs
The city acts as a beer destination for Moscovites visiting St. Pete for business or vacation reasons--hence its pubs frequently have a much wider choice of beers than an average pub in Moscow (not to mention other cities in Russia). St.Petersburg, being the fatherland of the most popular beer in Russia - Baltica, is considered the beer capital of the country, while Moscow is more of a Vodka Capital.
  • Bristol Pub, ul. Marata, 36/38. Very home-atmosphere and friendly.  
  • Dickens Pub, 108 Fontanka Canal (Near Sadovaya & Technologichesky Institute metro stations, just off Moskovsky-Fontanka bridge), +7-812-380-7888. Dickens Pub offers good service, great food, and a wide range of English and other international beers, with over 15 on tap. There are also many superior whiskeys too! Dickens Pub is a good place to eat. Be prepared for a party - especially on Fridays & Saturdays!  
  • Penguin Pub (Паб Пингвин), Razyezzhaya, 26 (Near Ligovsky Prospect / Vladimirskaya metro stations), +7-812-926-55-27. No longer exists. Now there is a new place "old fashioned". Different name but the description still applies. A low-key gastronomic pub that has Russian crafted beer, a real, two-room "secret" vinyl shop inside, some surprisingly good food, home-made desserts, some amazingly cooked steak at a ridiculously small price, very homely, very cozy. Small TV's over the counter for sports games, but never too crowded or loud. From the guys that brought to Saint Petersburg the hip, trendy & irresistible Clean Plates Society and Mishka, meaning this is not-your-average-pub, but a place with a lot of love put in it. Opened in April 2014.  
  • Tower Pub, Ul. Bolshaya Konyushenaya 14 (Very close to the metro station Nevkij Prospekt), +7 (812) 315 14 31. Open 24 hours. The Tower Pub is a great place to rest, have a quick drink or stay for the whole evening. The bartenders are really nice, do speak English and are in for a chat (on a quiet night). It's located in the basement of a large building but the atmosphere is really nice. No live music.  
  • Gordon & MacPhail's Whisky Bar, Nekrasova St 9, +7 812 579 4059. A lovely place where you can have a couple of whiskeys and a pint in the evening. Lots of brands and a cozy atmosphere.  
  • Hemingway Bar (Хемингуэй-бар), ул. Ломоносова, 3, +7 (812) 310-7007, 12:00-05:00. A comfortable, big bar with upscale drinks and cooking. The biggest draw is the cool clientele and live performances: blues, jazz, R&B. One tip though, if you open the door to a DJ blaring Russkaya popsa—leave because you won't be able to hear yourself think.
  • Conchita Bonita, Gorohovaya 39, metro Sennaya-Sadovaya, Admiralteyskaya, +7 (812) 570 50 60. Very cozy tex mex bar/restaurant with a warm atmosphere and always smiling personnel. Conchita Bonita is well known for its high-quality kitchen, inexpensive prices, unquestionably best strawberry margarita in town and over 300 different cocktails. Restaurant’s staff speaks English and you can also ask for the English menu. Guests of Conchita Bonita are called Donna Conchita’s family and every Saturday they come to the restaurant to celebrate Donna Conchita’s birthday at midnight. On Fridays and Saturdays after 12 pm the floor is open for dancing and to spice things up there is even a dance pole in the center of the floor to give some extra spin.  
Nightclubs
Saint Petersburgers know how to party. There is a wide and excellent selection of great clubs that will satisfy all tourists looking to spend the night out. The city hosts clubs of all music. Rock, pop, jazz, hip hop/RnB, and a lot more. The most popular trend within music and clubbing in Russia at the moment is house/techno.
  • Chroniki, ul. Nekrasova, 26 (Metro: Mayakovskaya; Ploshchad Vosstaniya). "Chroniki" (Chronicles) bar on ulitsa Nekrasova anachronistically yet effortlessly harmonizes the drinking cultures of a modern Scandinavian bar and a classic Leningrad “ryumochnaya” (the traditional Soviet-era watering hole). This is not a rowdy club for dancing to Eurodance all night, but rather a classic bar perfect for intellectual debates of a more cultured public. The stylish interior is very modern yet cozy, simple yet edgy, with white tiled walls, brass windowsills, gilded antique Soviet chandeliers. There is a massive wooden table for larger groups as well as a tall standing (or leaning, if you’ve already had a few) table perfect for slamming down your shot glass or grabbing a quick bite to eat before running off on errands or to your next bar-hopping destination. The beautiful and uniquely stylish wooden bar counter spans across two spaces: smoking and non-smoking. This is one of very few reasonably priced and cool bars in St. Petersburg located above basement-level, allowing its customers to gaze at passersby as well as take in the beauty of the classic St. Petersburg architecture on Nekrasova street. The black-and-white photos on the wall include images of a strict 1970s Leningrad barmaid as well as her jovial clients - a nostalgic reminder that in this beautiful northern city, its inhabitants were always capable of drinking and always loved drinking. The preferred order at Chroniki is, as per tradition at a Leningrad ryumochnaya, hard alcohol (there are a many vodka varieties, from the legendary Stoli to Finnish, Swedish and Danish brands) and the bartenders also recommend Crimean port wine “Massandra”, locally brewed craft beer, and a house-special cocktail “Free Ingria,” inspired by the eternal confrontation between St. Petersburg and Moscow. The snack selection includes sandwiches, distinctive “Northern tapas” served with a choice of the boiled tongue, salmon, chicken, vegetables or, of course, herring (the traditional Russian chaser for vodka). The weeknights are more chilled out for quiet but steady drinking and on the weekends, friends of the owners are invited to DJ and merry revelry almost always inevitably ensues.
  • Dumskaya ulitsa several small, very, very crowded venues (Datscha, BarBarA, Fidel, Belgrad, also near liquor store seems to be part of the complex)), cheap beer, crazy dances, Balkan, ska, punk, disco or whatever the DJ has on his mind. The underground place. Slightly similar to the Hamburg St. Pauli area.
  • Griboedov (Грибоедов), Voronezskaya Ul. 2 (Metro: Ligovsky). A suitably spaced out place for a club whose name can also be interpreted as "the mushroom eater" or a famous Russian's poet surname, the acts here are famously offbeat, especially on weekdays when you're as likely to find a poetry reading as live reggae or a DJ spinning psychedelic trance. This club is hidden in an underground bomb shelter with a new performance space/bar/restaurant atop the bunker's hill. Open daily except Tuesday.
  • Metro Club (Метроклуб), 174 Ligovsky Pr (Metro: Ligovsky). Saint Petersburg's biggest club. Mostly for people from age 16 to 30.  The club is open between 10:00 p.m-6:00 a.m.ry day. The club boasts 3 floors and 6 bars. The preferred music is techno, trance, and house.
  • Mishka, Fontanka, 40 (in the basement) (Metro: Nevsky Prospect; Mayakovskaya; Ploshchad Vosstaniya). A popular DJ bar/cafe for local scenesters, as well as 20 something tourists and ex-pats, located on the most central intersection (Nevsky prospekt and Fontanka). Due to strict dress code don't try to enter with a backpack and be ready to hear that the party tonight is "invitation only". It means the security did not like your look. The place was opened by St. Petersburg avant-garde musician and heartthrob Kirill Ivanov and friends at the beginning of 2011, at the end of 2011 Mishka has already achieved the title of St. Petersburg's Best Bar according to TimeOut magazine. During the daytime, Mishka more of a cafe (with free wi-fi), where you can relax, read and/or chat and enjoy a selection of sandwiches and fresh salads. In fact, it's one of the few places that serves in line with the Western understanding of "salad" - a huge bowl of fresh greens with a choice of other fresh ingredients to add, rather than the traditional Russian understanding of salad which is usually a lot of mayonnaise with other ingredients and often without any greens at all. There are two spaces - the entrance space is the "club" side, generally the rowdier side and the place to get boozed up and drunkenly dance the night away, and the second space is more relaxed, more brightly lit, non-smoking, and a comfortable place to grab a bite to eat (even at 4 am!) and sit and chat with your friends without shouting over the music from the entrance space. At night there is usually a DJ playing (even on weeknights!) whatever hipsters are listening to these days (rather than typical Russian clubs that only play worn-out house and 90s pop) and the bar can get very crowded on weekend nights. Try one of the dozens of specialty shots to get your night started in the right spirit... or to end your night, if you're on a bender.
  • Mod Club (Мод), Kanal Griboedova, dom 7 (in the courtyard) (Metro: Nevski Prospect). Cult club in the St. Petersburg center, next to Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood. Cavernous live music hall with old brick walls and loft bar, separate room with wrap-around bar and small DJ stand, a chill-out room with small concerts and a terrace bar for dancing under the White Nights skies. Very diverse music program: from reggae to punk/metal, but mostly rock. Friendly atmosphere. The crowd is made up of students, musicians, artists, and expats. Space also includes MOD Gallery with local art on display. Design of the club is worth checking out as well. Menus in English, English-speaking bartenders, inexpensive beer.
  • Morrison (МореСон), Lomonosova 2, a DJ bar with a friendly atmosphere, a summer terrace, & an attractive menu including the world's best cocktails and traditional Russian drinks. Evening coffee breaks near Nevskiy Prospekt, free wi-fi, & all-night dancing (until 6 am). Photo reports from all weekends are posted on Facebook. Music: Funk, Disco, Boogie, Hits, Funky house.
  • Produkty, Fontanka, 17 (Metro: Nevsky Prospect; Mayakovskaya; Ploshchad Vosstaniya). Cafe-bar "Produkty" (Russian for "groceries", don't bother trying to google this bar) was opened in the fall of 2011 by Lisa Izvozchikova, a St. Petersburg-born designer and best known as the former bosslady of another very popular DJ cafe-bar "Stirka" on Kazanskaya ulitsa. The space is modest in size, but being one of the rare cafe-bars in St. Petersburg located above basement-level, boasts views of the Fontanka and features local DJs as well as more "amateur" music lovers spinning their favorite tunes, sipping cocktails and occasionally dancing and even singing along if the mood strikes them. "Produkty" features a carefully thought-out range of alcohol - all the makings of any classic cocktail as well as a delicious and dry cider "St. Anton", grog, milkshakes with berries, a homemade hot ginger tea, as well as freshly squeezed orange juice. The food is mainly vegetarian, and the offerings include couscous and sandwiches. The design concept of the bar was conceived by the proprietor, who is also a designer. All the furniture was brought from Berlin: the leatherette-upholstered bar, massive leather armchairs, round bar stools from the 1970s, chairs taken from GDR kindergartens and schools, typewriters and a Wurlitzer jukebox that only accepts Deutschmark (don't worry! you can buy the necessary Deutschmark tokens at the bar). It has been written that Produkty is a bar straight out of the GDR, but this is hard to confirm since there were no bars in the GDR. In any case, the classic hipster-reference to East Germany is not completely lost when it comes to describing the style and clientele of Produkty.
  • Underground (ex-Tunnel) (Undergeound), Zverinskaya Ul (Metro: Sportivnaya). Reputedly Russia's first techno club and certainly its most legendary, Tunnel is back after an extended shutdown. This unused bomb shelter isn't exactly pretty and the crush and "face control" at the entrance when the doors open at 12 midnight sharp are legendary, but the crowd and the DJs are worth it.
Gay & lesbian
  • Central Station. The biggest gay club in Saint Petersburg, it features three floors, plays a selection of house and disco music, performances of drag queens, a dark room and also contains St Petersburg's only all day sushi restaurant. Be aware that gays are not very accepted among the locals and are even targeted once in a while. It is not uncommon for people to wait outside to beat up clubgoers.
Because of the difficulty in operating gay clubs and the social stigma associated with visiting gay clubs, many young men prefer to use gay iPhone applications like Hornet and Scruff to arrange to meet at coffee shops and more discreet locations. This change in technology and the new political issues in St. Petersburg is transforming how gays meet, from nighttime dark watering holes to public straight venues during the day.

Pub crawls
Saint-Petersburg has a pub crawl for both Russian and foreign tourists. The route of the pub crawl takes the guests around the city center, covering about 6 bars in a row. A good way to make friends with locals, not caring about having a list of drinking spots to visit. Be aware of that they won't take you to nice pretty pubs with fruit beer - the bars they visit are pretty hardcore, but they do play some good music and have lots of youth rockin' it. 

Shopping in St. Petersburg, Russia


There are plenty of ATMs and legit currency exchange booths. ATM and big shops usually accept the following kinds of cards: Visa, Visa Electron, MasterCard, MasterCard Electronic and Maestro. Other cards (e.g. American Express) are rarely accepted. If you plan on using a US-issued 'stripe-only' card (not a European chip & PIN card), be prepared for it to be a hassle - some places (usually the more touristy locations) will run your card without any trouble, some places will ask you for your passport, and in some places the terminals will randomly either accept your card or insist on a PIN. Do not exchange money on the street: the rate won't be any better, and you run a high risk of encountering any of numerous scams.
Small corner stores are not necessarily more expensive than larger stores. The store at the ferry is surprisingly reasonably priced. Souvenirs there can be bought in roubles, dollars, or euros; however, prices vary depending on the currency used. In general, using euros is the cheapest.
Churches often have small souvenir/religious shops with a large variety of items.
  • Raketa wristwatches (Часы Ракета) for over half a century tourists have been hunting for Russian watches in Saint Petersburg. But be aware of many counterfeits. The most wanted Russian watches in Saint Petersburg are the one produced locally by the "Petrodvorets Watch Factory - Raketa" Russian's 300 years watch factory (By the way the Factory, located in Peterhof, is open to visits). Founded by Peter the Great in 1721, this Manufacture is the last one in Russia and one of the very few in the world to produce its mechanisms from A to Z. 
  • Apraksin Dvor (Апраксин двор) — The Apraksin Market (Apraksin Dvor) is perfect for people watching, but keep your purse and camera close since it is a favorite of both shoppers and pickpockets. You can find almost anything here. 
  • Gostiny Dvor (Гостиный двор) — The city's oldest and largest shopping center, dating to the mid-18th century. The name means "Merchant Yard", as its old role was to provide both shops and housing to merchants from far away. It sells almost everything from Playstations to Saint Petersburg Vodka. The prices of goods are the highest in St.Petersburg.
  • Nevsky Prospekt (Невский проспект) — Saint Petersburg's Champs-Élysées, lined with department stores and fancy shops. A recommended shop for souvenir hunters is Nevsky Gifts on the corner of the road entering Palace Square.
  • Udelnaya flea-market take blue metro line northwards from Nevsky Prospect station to "Udel'naya" station, go up the escalator, turn right, cross the railway in front of you and turn right. (You will find it with these instructions.) Starts off with blocks of concrete-steel-glass cubes selling various new goods, turns to roofed flea market stalls with good stock and widely varying wares which turns to non-roofed stalls and ending up with trade-places of blankets and sheetings on placed on the ground up-north where the market ends after running for hundreds of meters. Impossible to rob. Halfway up the flea market on the left side is Middle-Asian style open-fire grill-restaurant-tent with reasonable prices and delicious kebabs, shashliks and pork ribs. Bargaining in Russian will be appreciated as keeping it real.
  • Passazh (Пассаж) — The Harrods of Saint Petersburg, a smaller and very beautiful shopping center for the elite.
  • Souvenirs Market sells a huge variety of cheap souvenirs from Matroyshka (матрёшка) dolls to Soviet Memorabilia. It can be found behind the Church of the Saviour next to the Griboedova Canal. There are also some souvenir stalls in the square across from St. Isaacs Cathedral. Be aware that all the Russian Raketa watches sold in those souvenir markets are counterfeits, to buy original ones refer to the shop list on their official site.
  • DK Krupskoy, Pr. Obukhovskoy oborony 105 (metro Elizarovskaya). Used to be a book market but nowadays you can buy various things there. It's a very well known place among locals but not by foreigners. You can find souvenirs at a very good price there. Literally, 3 times cheaper compared to stores at Nevsky prospect.  

Safety in St. Petersburg, Russia


Saint Petersburg has a somewhat undeserved reputation for being a dangerous city. Things have calmed down since the Wild West (or Wild East) days immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but some common sense is still required.

As with most other major cities, avoid traveling alone at night, and do not get into altercations with drunks. If traveling at night, it is recommended to stay on the main sidewalks and avoid any dark alleys or yards. Gypsy cabs are not recommended under any circumstances, especially those that linger near bars where expatriates and tourists congregate.

Downtown and western parts of the city are safest. Suburbs like Kupchino, Veteranov, Ligovo and Sennaya in the center should be avoided at night time.

As a general rule, the farther you are from the city center, the more dangerous it is.

Saint Petersburg's football club, Zenit Saint Petersburg, is one of the biggest clubs in the country and has its own gang of hooligans. If you decide to visit the football stadium to watch the club play, you should buy tickets to center sectors. If you do not do this and a fight starts, you are likely to get dragged into it by either the hooligans or the police, since both will think you are part of the brawl.

Take care of money, documents, cameras, mobile phones, and anything of value because of pickpocketing. Especially watch out on the Metro during busy times, as people start pushing at the train doors, and pickpockets are frequent, particularly (but not only) at Gostinyy Dvor Metro Station. When riding the Metro, keep in mind that robbery can be a real threat; you should constantly watch what is going on around you and who is standing very close to you.

Thefts of photo equipment are really a big problem in Saint Petersburg. Photo bags probably won't save your camera -- it can be opened in less than 5 seconds. Cameras should be kept in bags slung across the body at all times, with your hands keeping a firm grip on them, and no watches or jewelry should be visible at all. Quite obviously, do not show in public that you have a lot of money. Robberies are not uncommon, and many foreigners have been threatened at gun and knife point. However, foreigners are not targeted specifically, and robbers will attack both foreigners and natives that carelessly reveal their wealth.

Take special care on Nevsky Prospekt, particularly the area with the city tour buses, a favorite spot of pickpockets and particularly of those after photo equipment. On the bright side, "Nevsky Prospekt" sees little mugging.

Russian driving is wild. Drivers attack their art with an equal mix of aggressiveness and incompetence. Guidelines are lax and rarely followed. As a pedestrian, take great care when crossing the roads, as pedestrian crossings are in 99% of cases ignored (even by police). If you are thinking of driving yourself, bear in mind that the Russian traffic police are extremely corrupt, even by Russian standards. Pedestrian crossings with a traffic light are quite safe to use, most car drivers will stop (of course, other cars will either be rear-ended or drive through crossings at ridiculous speeds with no regards for safety). Just like in any other big city always look left and right before crossing the road and make eye contact with the driver if possible.

Bar fights do occur. In the center of the city and around Nevsky Prospekt, they are unlikely to happen. However, in the suburbs and local cheaper pubs, fights occur almost daily. If you are staying with locals living in these areas, it might be a good idea to avoid these bars. Police are unlikely to show up as they consider fights as small, unimportant, regular and a waste of time, and they will probably laugh at you for calling.

Another subtle danger that can affect your trip is the inevitable effect of winter weather. Poor clearance of snow and ice is a big problem in this city. Caution is advised in snowy winters because of falling ice from roofs, and pedestrians should pay special attention to ice on the streets.

Overall, be warned that if you are used to living in the US and/or Western Europe, Saint Petersburg, as well as the rest of Eastern Europe, will seem different, and, at times, a bit intimidating. On the other hand, Russian people are usually friendly, welcoming and interested towards foreigners, and nothing should happen to you unless you put yourself in harm's way. If you don't care about them they don't care about you, and nothing should get in your way of having a great holiday.

Another danger is the bar scams that abound in the city. Please avoid at all costs Crystal bar on Griboyedov channel embankment, right next to the Savior on the Spilled Blood church. Here's how the scam works:

Girls approach you and invite to have drinks together, and then even offers to pay for those drinks. They build trust and take you to other bars. After those bars, they talk to a friend on the phone that says that whatever club you want to go is closed and so they take you to Crystal club. There you immediately start being served drinks and food without showing you the menu and then they charge you a ridiculous amount. Calling the police is pointless as they will not show up.

Stay healthy

The city's water system is not ideal because of a number of old pipes and as a result, does not provide 100% clean water. Some locals boil or also filter tap water before use; you might want to buy it bottled if water quality affects you.

In Saint Petersburg, cold water is cleaner than hot.

There are numerous public toilets. It is a good idea to take your own toilet paper, as it is not always provided. The toilets are typically extremely dirty by Western standards. If you are a Westerner, you can get away with wandering into the Western hotels, which have lovely bathrooms— the Grand Hotel Europe in particular. Just don't ever push your luck with suit-clad men guarding the hotel entrances, they are tough as nails if provoked. Many restaurants also allow tourists to use the toilet without being a customer.

Language spoken in St. Petersburg, Russia


Russian is the official language. English is widely understood in tourist places.

LOCAL TIME

9:34 am
November 12, 2019
Europe/Moscow

CURRENT WEATHER

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broken clouds
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light rain
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6.7 °C/44 °F
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Sat

3.46 °C/38 °F
overcast clouds

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