In between the sprawling Nevsky Prospekt and Palace Bridge, the vast Palace Square was once the centre of imperial St. Petersburg, and one of the city’s most iconic buildings still occupies the northern end of the square: Winter Palace and State Hermitage Museum. The distinctive pale-green Baroque palace was the home of the Russian royal family since Catherine the Great’s reign in the mid-18th century, right up to the 1917 revolution.
The Winter Palace now houses the fascinating collections of the State Hermitage Museum. It can take a couple of days to get round the museum’s 360 rooms of antiques and artworks from around the Western world, which include pieces from Van Dyck, Michelangelo and Rembrandt. The original wooden palace created for Peter the Great is accessible through a tunnel from the main Hermitage building, believed by many historians as the site of the Tsar’s death.
Hotels Close to St. Petersburg’s Palace Square
The area around Palace Square features some of St. Petersburg’s most exclusive and sought-after rooms in stately five-star hotels. The central location places visitors within walking distance of the majority of St. Petersburg’s renowned sights and attractions. Nevsky Prospekt, the city’s busiest boulevard, is minutes away on foot, and studded with a range of restaurants, bars and many architecturally significant buildings.
Things to Do around Palace Square
Just along from Palace Square on the wide embankments of the River Neva, the Bronze Horseman is a popular statue of Peter the Great, the city’s namesake, and attracts many tourists as well as being a favourite spot for locals’ wedding pictures. On the other side of the River Neva, Vasilyevsky Island has a hub of renowned museums, including the anthropological collections in the Kunstkamera and the nearby Zoological Museum.
While the golden spire of the Admiralty Building is visible all across St. Petersburg, you can get up close to the many statues of famous Russians dotted around the building’s well-pruned garden. Many people walk through the gardens on their way to Palace Square. See if you can find the statue of 19th-century explorer, Nikolai Przhevalsky, with a metallic camel.