As a child, I was always fascinated with the mystery around Anastasia Romanova’s death and unfound (at that time) body. Going to Saint Petersburg was the perfect opportunity to see where she had lived until going into exile in Siberia.
Catherine and Alexander Palaces
Catherine Palace may be the most famous palace in all of Saint Petersburg – although it is located in Pushkin – and for a reason. The Palace is one of the most gorgeous buildings you will ever visit, with its decadent baroque architecture and its golden details. The golden ballroom inspired the Anastasia animated movie, although the duchess herself never lived in Catherine Palace. Tsarina Alexandra found it way too bling to raise a family.
Instead, the last of the Romanovs lived in Alexander Palace, a mere five-minute walk away from Catherine Palace. All five children grew up and lived there, until their arrest by the Bolsheviks in 1918 and their forced exile to Siberia.
Alexander Palace has been under restoration for years now, so visiting it is impossible. I highly recommend visiting Catherine Palace, then wandering around the Alexander Palace park.
All the Romanov children were born in Peterhof Palace, as Tsarina Alexandra loved the seaside and the quiet of the place, far from loud and busy Petrograd. If it used to be off the beaten tracks and far from the city, now it is a UNESCO protected site and one of the most visited places in Petersburg.
Its gardens are what make Peterhof Palace so famous, what with their golden statues, multiple fountains and never-ending parks. You can also visit the inside of Peterhof Palace, but the park is what makes it most interesting as a touristy spot.
Peter and Paul Fortress
Peter and Paul Fortress is the citadel of Saint Petersburg, located on a small island on the Neva river. It was used as a military fortress by the Tsars, then as a prison by the Bolsheviks, and is now a state museum.
Although the Fortress holds many buildings that are all interesting to visit and discover, our main interest is the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral. Not only is it one of the most strikingly beautiful cathedrals you will ever visit, but it also houses the tombs of most of the Tsars and Emperors of Russia.
You will find the tombs of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, but also – quite obviously – that of Tsar Nicholas II and his family. Anastasia, her parents and her siblings were given their own alcove in the cathedral, their remains brought from Yekaterinburg to Petersburg. Maria Fedorovna, Anastasia’s grandmother, is also buried here.