The swampy territory of the Leningrad region with thousands of lakes was little populated until the foundation of Saint Petersburg. With the advent of royal power, magnificent palaces worthy of the best architectural ensembles in Europe began to built on its land. But along with them, ancient cities and villages continue to live, where the history of the region was going on: Staraya Ladoga, Koporye, Vyborg, Tikhvin ... Dozens of manors, monasteries, forts and natural landscapes await you here!
Top 10 interesting places to visit:
Catherine Palace, Tsarskoye Selo
Palaces and fountains of Peterhof, Peterhof
Vyborg Castle, Vyborg
Kronstadt Naval Cathedral, Kronstadt
Ivangorod Fortress, Ivangorod
Oreshek Fortress, Shlisselburg
Gatchina Palace, Gatchina
Pavlovsk Palace, Pavlovsk
Korela Fortress, Priozersk
Bogoslovka Manor, Nevsky Parkleshoz
Sights map of the Leningrad region
Detailed map of all places in the region can be seen on the website of the national tourism portal of Russia:
Travel around the Leninrad region
The Leningrad region (or Saint Petersburg region) was historically inhabited by Finno-Ugric tribes who owned the territories of neighboring Finland and Estonia. In the 8th century AD, the settlement of Ladoga (now Staraya Ladoga) was founded - the first settlement of Russians in these lands, which was an important stronghold. In the 10th century, the city of Novgorod, which begins to recapture local lands from the Finno-Ugric peoples, becomes more important. By the 12th century, Veliky Novgorod became the center of a strong Novgorod principality, which owned vast spaces along the shores of the Baltic Sea and Lake Ladoga. However, with the invasion of the Knights of the Livonian Order, the Novgorod and neighboring Pskov principality began military operations against the Livonians and the Swedes; the result was the famous Battle of the Neva on Lake Ladoga, in which Prince Alexander Nevsky smashes the Swedish and Livonian squads and protects the lands of the Russian princes. After the outbreak of hostilities with the Livonians and the Swedes, several military fortresses were founded to protect the lands, among which Oreshek (or Shlisselburg), Korela, and Ivangorod, still preserved to this day. The first one, located on an island in Lake Ladoga, is definitely worth seeing with your own eyes - this is a complete story in every stone. And the last one till this day “guards” the borders of Russia with Estonia.
At the end of the 15th century, the lands of the Novgorod principality were seized by Ivan III, the head of the Moscow principality. So began the history of these lands under the control of Moscow, however, short. At the end of the 16th century, Swedish troops invaded here, with whom the Moscow principality led several long-lasting wars and battles. In the middle of the 17th century, this territory finally fell to the Swedish kings, and for the next half century became the domain of the Swedish governors. But at the beginning of the 18th century, the Great Northern War with the Swedes declared by Peter the Great was succesful, and the territory returned to the Russian Empire. New territories of Vyborg district were also added and became the country's border in the north. The Castle of Vyborg, rebuilt during the time of the Swedish governorship, still rises above the city. A little further south, at the confluence of the Neva River into the Baltic Sea, the city of St. Petersburg was founded - the new capital of the empire.
Since the transfer of the capital to St. Petersburg in the local lands came the heyday. Since the entire princely couple and its retinue moved here, luxurious palaces and estates began to built in the surrounding lands, the similar of which cannot be found anyware else in Russia. Peterhof Palace was built with its famous park and fountain ensembles - at that time the largest building of this type in the world. Peter the Great wanted to make an impression on the Western rulers, actively inviting them to visit his "country residence". In many ways, Peterhof laid the foundations for close cooperation between Russia and the Western monarchies, especially with the Austria.
Further, each Russian monarch took into the tradition of building his own palace for himself, and the richer the ruler was, the more luxurious his residence was to rebuild himself. No wonder that all was eclipsed by Empress Catherine II, whose famous palace in Tsarskoye Selo is a world-class example of architecture. In the neighborhood, the palaces of other relatives of the royal family were rebuilt: the Alexander Palace in Pushkin, the Pavlovsk Palace, the Gatchina Palace, the Oranienbaum Palace ... The Leningrad region was literally flourished.
And then the Russian Empire fell apart. During the October Revolution in the city of St. Petersburg, the Bolsheviks seized power, the remnants of the White Army were defeated or repressed. One of the most severe punishments was imprisonment in the fortress Oreshek, where to this day the skeletons of ancient prisons is presented. St. Petersburg was renamed to Petrograd, and many palace complexes were closed or reequipped for public use. In 1924, the city of Petrograd was renamed to Leningrad, and the region into the Leningrad region, which saves the name since that time.
During the Russian Great Patriotic War in the Leningrad region were one of the most difficult military campaigns. The besieged Leningrad endured a perennial Nazis siege, but did not surrender to the enemy, and the difficulties and trials of local residents entered into biographical works and heroic novels of those years. The history has made the trial of this place, however, most of the monuments of architecture and the heritage of art were saved thanks to the evacuation to the Urals and to Siberia. Some of them were lost, and some of the palaces and castles were destroyed, but the latter were restored in the course of a couple of decades after the war. When I visited Pavlovsk Palace in Pavlovsk, on the second floor there was an armory gallery, where broken walls and the lack of plaster also testified to gun salvoes and bullet holes left during the war. Nevertheless, difficult times were left behind, and today the Leningrad region is gradually recovering its great wealth.
Today, the majority of Russian and foreign tourists come to the capital of the region, the city of St. Petersburg. But for some reason, most often they remain there, although there is a great area of incredible beauty of nature and architecture around St. Petersburg that can not be seen even after a week of active leisure! Directly on the outskirts of St. Petersburg is the Bogoslovka Manor, where there is an analogue of the wooden church in Kizhi - Church of the Pokrova Presvyatoy Bogorodicy. A little further on the island in Lake Ladoga rise the walls of the Oreshek Fortress, whose history goes back over 600 years. North on the guard of history are the ancient fortresses of Korela and Vyborg. Not far from St. Petersburg, the famous palaces of the imperial couple and nobles are ready to receive tourists and show the magnificent heritage of the greatest masters of art. Gatchina, Pavlovsk, Oranienbaum, the Catherine Palace and Peterhof ... well, the latter are always full of tourists, but what about the rest? They are also part of the story, and often - no less significant and beautiful.
On the border of the Neva Bay stays the skeletons of a system of military forts that defended Leningrad from the German troops. In their surroundings, on the island is the small town of Kronstadt stands the largest naval cathedral in Russia (and Europe) - the Kronstadt Naval Cathedral. This is a real miracle in reality! And on the border with Estonia, the massive Ivangorod Fortress, the guard line of the Russian Empire in the era of Ivan III, rise. Finally, in the Leningrad region there are a large number of lakes, wild forests and natural beauties of Russian North that create a pacific atmosphere at any time of the year.
I am convinced that everyone who comes to St. Petersburg should take the time to explore its surroundings. This will allow you to learn more about the history of Russia and its heroic feats, bring a lot of new impressions and open the northern "capital" of Russia from a new side.
Welcome to the Leningrad region - a fount of palace architecture, ancient history and heroic military feats of Russia.