Moscow and St. Petersburg Art Adventure

Over the years, Amy has developed and operated trips to a variety of destinations including this one, but not all trips are offered every year. If you are interested in joining a scheduled departure of this trip in the future, please send us an email and let us know. Click to send us an email or use the form at the bottom of this page.

We can organize and operate this trip as a private group departure with a minimum group size of 8 persons.
Start organizing your private Russia art adventure here.

Best time to travel: June for the “White Nights”
Best gateway city: Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia
Moscow and St. Petersburg Slide Show

Experience the art treasures of Moscow and St. Petersburg with guide, Amy Osaki. Begin in Moscow, continental Europe’s largest city, the seat of the government of Russia, and now home to over twenty billionaires! View iconic sites such as the Kremlin (which began as a fortress in the eleventh century), Red Square, and the sixteenth century St. Basil’s Cathedral. Then explore the art masterpieces at the Tretyakov Gallery, the National Museum of Russian Fine Art encompassing works from the eleventh to the twentieth century. Visit the Armory at the Kremlin filled with Imperial treasures including Faberge eggs once exchanged by the tsar and tsarina at Easter. Conclude your Moscow experience at the quiet seventeenth century Novodevichy Convent, one of many World Heritage sites included in the trip.

After a short flight, continue the trip with five days in St. Petersburg where you’ll be immersed in the opulence of Imperial Russia. Established by Tsar Peter I in 1703, St. Petersburg (known as Petrograd and Leningrad for most of the twentieth century) was the capital of the Russian empire for over two hundred years until the Russian Revolution of 1917. The Hermitage—said to be the largest art museum in the world with a collection of over three million objects housed in four main buildings—rivals the Louvre in Paris for both the quantity and quality of its treasures. Founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great, and open to the pubic for over two hundred years the museum is so vast that we’ll spread our visit out over several days and organize it by different themes. Also on the schedule is a visit to the Peter and Paul Fortress—the original citadel above the river founded in 1703—as well as some of the Imperial palaces in and around St. Petersburg such as Peterhof, a World Heritage Site. Peter I hired French architects to work on his many palaces, including Jean Baptiste Le Blond who worked with Andre Le Notre at Versailles. Consider enhancing your Russian experience by purchasing tickets to a performance—perhaps a ballet at St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre (also known as the Kirov).

Day 1
Overnight in Moscow
Arrive in Moscow and transfer to your centrally-located hotel, your base for the next two nights. Enjoy an afternoon and early evening walk through Red Square (Krasnaya Ploshchad) past St. Basil’s Cathedral, and GUM department store all of which are back-dropped by the walls of the Kremlin fortress. Remember that we are here during the fabled “White Nights” when the summer days linger with light-filled evenings.

Day 2
Overnight in Moscow
Within the walls of the Kremlin fortress, visit the Armoury Museum, one of Moscow’s oldest museums established at the start of the nineteenth century. The Kremlin Armoury was the royal arsenal; it produced and stored the weapons, jewelry and other regalia of the tsars. The museum’s collection encompasses four thousand items of applied art from Russia and elsewhere dating from the early fourth century to the twentieth century. Later in the day, visit the collection of masterpieces of the renowned Tretyakov Gallery. The Tretyakov collections were begun by the philanthropist Tretyakov brothers in the early nineteenth century. The gallery is recognized by many as a key repository of Russian art spanning the nation’s artistic tradition from early Orthodox icons to art nouveau, impressionist, and avant-garde works.

Day 3
Overnight in St Petersburg
Enjoy a morning visit to the sixteenth century Novodevichy Convent named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2004. The convent’s name is sometimes translated as “New Maidens’ Monastery” to differentiate is from the convent within the walls of the Moscow Kremlin. Surrounded by white crenellated walls, this complex of churches has remained essentially intact since the seventeenth century. Here you’ll find the five-domed Cathedral of Our Lady of Smolensk with its spectacular iconostasis and the tall, red and white Gate Church of the Transfiguration which is often cited as a fine example of “Moscow Baroque” architecture. The neighboring Novodevichy Cemetery is the final resting place of the likes of Anton Chekhov, Sergei Prokofiev, Dmitri Shostakovich, and Boris Yeltsin. This afternoon fly to St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city situated on the banks of the Neva River where it empties into the Gulf of Finland.

Day 4
Overnight in St Petersburg
Start of your exploration of St. Petersburg with a visit to the Peter and Paul Fortress, the original citadel of St. Petersburg. The fortress was built to the designs of the Swiss Italian architect Domenico Trezzini in the early eighteenth century. Trezzini’s Peter and Paul Cathedral dominates the fortress grounds and its iconic golden spire punctuates into the Baltic sky. Later visit the Yusupov Palace on the Moika, acclaimed as an “encyclopedia of St. Petersburg aristocratic interior design.” The palace was the home of the Yusupov family from 1830 and 1917 and was the place where Grigori Rasputin, a spiritual mentor to Tsar Nicholas II and the Royal Family in the early 20th century, was assassinated. A visit to the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood built between 1883 and 1907 rounds out the day. The church was built in “Russian Revivalist” architectural style by Tsar Alexander III in commemoration of his father, Alexander II. The church occupies a conspicuous location on St. Petersburg’s Griboedov Canal and contains 7,500 square meters of mosaics; the interior walls and ceilings are completely covered by mosaics.

Day 5
Overnight in St Petersburg
Seeing St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum in a day would be like trying to see the Smithsonian in a day! Rather than a forced march through the galleries at a rapid pace, we will slow down and savor the masterpieces. Remember, there are nearly seven miles worth of exhibitions! Today we focus on “Imperial Russia,” touring the rooms decorated for members of the Russian Imperial Family and viewing the art they commissioned and collected. This is the art that influenced the style of the grand palaces of the era. View the Grand Suite of rooms, Peter I’s collection of gold, and the jewelers art owned by the Russian Imperial Family (including Fabergé eggs, gold and diamonds). Here, too, are the rooms of Catherine II and her son Paul I with their fifteenth to eighteenth century French paintings and sculpture (Poussin, Watteau, Fragonard, Chardin, and Houdon).

Day 6
Overnight in St Petersburg
Return for a second dose of the Hermitage! Today is dedicated to the famous European masterpieces exhibited at the Hermitage. Feast your eyes on memorable works by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Tintoretto, Tiepolo, Velazquez, and El Greco. At the Hermitage, you can revel in Rembrandt; there are twenty of his works in the museum’s collection. After lunch, enjoy the eighteenth to twentieth century masterpieces of Monet, van Gogh, Gauguin, Rodin, Picasso, Matisse and Kandinsky. Digest the art and reflect on this unique collection of human creations. Consider an evening performance, possibly at the Mariinsky Theatre.

Day 7
Overnight in St Petersburg
Journey by hydrofoil across the Gulf of Finland to experience Peter I’s palace at Peterhof, a series of palaces and gardens that evoke comparisons with Versailles which Peter visited in 1715. Begun in 1714 with the construction of the Monplaisir palace and expanded by later Imperial generations who added Rococo and Neo-classical elements, Peterhof is now a World Heritage Site. The creative mastery of architects, engineers, artists and craftsmen from throughout Europe is on display here and all is choreographed to celebrate water in homage to Peter, the maritime emperor.

Day 8
Overnight in St Petersburg
Go behind the scenes with an excursion to the Hermitage Museum’s Staraya Derevnya Restoration and Storage Center on the right back of the Neva River north of Kamenny Island. This vast treasure house is only accessible by private tour. Later, travel to Vasilvesky Island across the river from the Hermitage to visit Menishkov Palace completed in 1721 and now the oldest stone building in St. Petersburg. Enjoy a farewell dinner this evening.

About your guide: Amy Osaki holds a master’s degree from the Winterthur Museum. She studied art at the Louvre Museum in Paris and worked as a museum curator for over a decade including six years at the Portland Art Museum. She is an award-winning art educator who has led art trips around the world for the last fifteen years with Walking Softly Adventures. Many of these trips were offered for graduate credit from Portland State University where she is an Adjunct Professor.

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