London - St Petersburg
Titan’s VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home, for your journey to London Heathrow Airport and a direct, scheduled British Airways flight to St Petersburg. On arrival, we take a short orientation tour of this grand city before we check in to the Novotel St Petersburg (4T).
Spend today looking at St Petersburg in greater detail as we take an orientation tour that includes the Peter & Paul Fortress. As the first structure built in St Petersburg, when Peter the Great decided to create a new capital on the Neva River in 1703, this grand landmark is considered the city’s birthplace. This defence structure has some sinister tales as a military base, the headquarters of the ruthless secret police and a feared prison that held some of Russia’s political prisoners, including conspirators in the 1825 Decembrist Uprising, ministers of the Tsarist government in 1917, and then ministers of Krensky's Provisional Government, but its use has been far wider. It became home of government departments and the Mint, the oldest money-printing company in Russia. Today it holds a number of museums detailing the history of the fortress and the city. It is worth visiting the cathedral, the grandest building in the complex and the burial place of all Russian Emperors from Peter the Great to Nicholas II, along with his family. Later, we visit the Museum of Political History located in the art nouveau Kshesinskaya Mansion built for Nicholas II's mistress, Mathilda Kshesinskaya. In 1917, the seized building became the Bolsheviks’ headquarters for revolutionary activities, and the museum displays their documents, posters, pamphlets, and banners, and reveals secrets of the Soviet Union’s past. We also visit Yusupov Palace, a monumental residence of the wealthy Yusupov family. See the incredibly ostentatious reception rooms and theatre, plus the basement where Grigory Rasputin was assassinated in 1916, before the house was seized by the Bolsheviks the following year.
In November 1917, Lenin and his wife took a two-room flat within the Smolny Institute and this morning we visit the State Historical and Memorial Museum to view these. Exhibitions here offer an insight into all the building’s functions - see the hall where the Great October Social Revolution victory was proclaimed in 1917, the headquarters of the War Council of Leningrad Front and the ground-breaking Smolny institute for noble girls. We also view Finland Station, where Vladimir Lenin arrived by train from Germany on 3 April 1917 to start the October Revolution; and the Russian cruiser, Aurora, the memorial ship which played an important role in this Revolution, giving the signal to the rebellious workers, soldiers and sailors to storm the Winter Palace. The afternoon is free for you to continue exploring this incredible city.
Today we visit the magnificent Catherine Palace and park, named after Catherine I, wife of Peter the Great. Originally a modest two-storey building, their daughter, Empress Elizabeth, redesigned the palace to rival Versailles and form the summer residence of the Russian emperors. It is a true spectacle of wealth, with the exterior alone decorated with over 100kg of gold. Highlights within include The Great Hall, with its gilded stucco walls and incredible frescoed ceiling reaching the full length of the palace, and the unique Amber Room, decorated entirely with the gemstone. The three parks adjoined to the estate compliment the palace with 100 architectural monuments. Enjoy a lunch of traditional Russian specialities at Podvorye before we visit Pavlovsk Palace. This fine neo-classic palace and extensive landscaped gardens were developed on land given to Tsar Pavel by Catherine the Great. It may not possess the pomp of other palaces, but is certainly no worse for it, and filled with treasures from European travels.
St Petersburg - Sapsan train - Moscow
We start today with an early visit to the Hermitage Museum, located in the beautiful Winter Palace and surrounding buildings. The collection founded by Peter the Great in 1697, continued to grow as his successors purchased thousands more paintings, sculptures, silver, porcelain and furniture by many of the world’s greatest artists. Today, across 350 rooms, around 65,000 objects of the more than three-million piece collection are on display. Later, we transfer to the station to board a Sapsan train to Moscow, travelling through the countryside at speeds of up to 155mph. On arrival, we transfer to the Azimut Hotel Olympic (4T).
Moscow is one of the world’s largest and most influential cities, and has seen more than its share of attacks by rival empires and revolutionaries. Our tour of the capital takes in some of the most important sites, including Red Square, an area that started as a slum for those unworthy of life within the medieval boundaries, and became the site of public executions long before it gained its mark as the site of official military parades. At one end sits the unmistakable St Basil’s Cathedral. Our tour takes us inside this colourful icon to fully appreciate Ivan the Terrible’s ultimate symbol of Russia. We then pause at the immense Russian Orthodox Christ the Saviour Church and New Maiden Convent, where many noble women, including Peter the Great’s first wife, lived out their lives and laid at rest in the cemetery, amongst many of Russia’s most famous poets and public figures. We take a journey on the Metro, to admire splendid architecture and continue to the Moscow State University, the most impressive of Moscow’s distinctive seven Stalinist-style skyscrapers, and take in the magnificent views from Sparrow Hills. This afternoon we visit the Museum of Modern History of Russia, which includes a comprehensive collection of photos, posters, medals and documents that detail the country’s political development over the last 150 years, outlining the 1905 and 1917 revolutions, Stalin's rise to power and post-Soviet history.
Day 7 Moscow - London
We complete our tour at one of Russia’s greatest symbols and administrative centre - Kremlin Territory. Admire the magnificent palaces and cathedrals and discover the changing function of the Kremlin through the centuries, including the surrender to Napoleon’s army and the disposal of Imperial treasures when the Bolshevik leaders made it their residence. We transfer to Moscow Airport for a direct, scheduled British Airways flight to London Heathrow Airport. On arrival you will be met and guided to your Titan vehicle, for the journey home.