Formerly known as the Winter Palace and home of the tsars, today this is one of the most splendid museums in the world.
Built by the Empress Elizabeth, daughter of Peter I, the palace became part of the Hermitage, originated in 1764 when Catherine the Great began her private art collection.
Today, you'll see the charms that lure one in five Swedes to live in the capital city, as you enjoy an included sightseeing tour here.Today, more than 1,000 lavishly adorned rooms house nearly three million exhibits and displays representing some of the world's greatest art from ancient Egypt to early 20th-century Europe.After your visit to the Hermitage, return to your ship in the afternoon.This morning, enjoy an included excursion to the magnificent summer residence of the Russian royalty at Peterhof, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.In 1714, Peter the Great asked for a “Versailles by the Sea.” The site evolved into a stunning palace atop the hill surrounded by a park.
This afternoon, after a light lunch at a local restaurant, continue exploring St.Petersburg, with an included visit to the Hermitage Museum.Helsinki is built over peninsulas, curving around bays and spilling out across islands that are linked by bridges, causeways, and boats of all descriptions. Petersburg, founded as the new capital of the Russian Empire more than 300 years ago, was the vision and creation of Tsar Peter I, who named it after his patron saint.This beautiful showcase of a city, covering 150 square miles, is a synthesis of both European and Russian styles, with elements of East and West.After breakfast, embark on a panoramic city tour, including a visit to St. The the largest church in the city, it was originally built to serve as the main church of the Russian Empire.
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The dome of the cathedral, which dominates the city's skyline, is gilded with more than 200 pounds of gold, and the interior is elaborately decorated with exquisite mosaics, icons, malachite, and lapis lazuli. Although the church was closed after the 1917 Revolution, it reopened as a museum in 1931, and services for worshippers resumed in 1990.You'll visit the Stadshuset, the romantic City Hall building famous for hosting the annual Nobel Prize banquet.Designed in 1923, City Hall was constructed using eight million red bricks and 19 million chips of gilt mosaic.Grow acquainted with the area around your hotel with an orientation walk before an afternoon free to explore Stockholm independently, with lunch and dinner on your own.After breakfast this morning, you'll begin your European Small Ship Cruise Tour by taking in the sights of Stockholm, Sweden's capital city.