Palace Square contains some of Russia’s most famous buildings, all just a stone’s throw away from each other. Well connected to some of St. Petersburg’s main thoroughfares, it is hard to resist the draw of its architectural treasures. So give in and spend a few hours admiring the iconic structures.
The square was designed by Carlo Rossi and was completed in 1829. It has witnessed its fair share of important events over the years, including Bloody Sunday, the massacre of weaponless protesters by the Czar’s forces in 1905, as well as a Bolshevik attack on Winter Palace in 1917.
Upon arrival at the square, be sure to check out the Winter Palace, which was erected on the site in 1762. The extravagant green and white building boasts 1,057 rooms and 1,945 windows. Once home to Catherine the Great, it now hosts the comprehensive collections of the vast State Hermitage Museum.
Walk over to the General Staff Building, an equally impressive sight. Its huge yellow archway takes you to Nevsky Prospekt, one of St. Petersburg’s main streets. The General Staff Building was once meant for the army, but is now a state building. Its breathtaking wings stretch out across the square, making it impossible to miss.
Inspect the façade of the Admiralty Building and garden on the square’s eastern side. Its towering weathervane looks over the city and has become something of a St. Petersburg emblem. A naval college, this building is not open to the public, but the gardens are a great spot to picnic in when the sun is out.
In the center of the square is another important landmark: the Alexander Column. Standing 155.8 feet (47.5 meters) tall and weighing in at 1,322,760 pounds (599, 994 kilograms), it amazingly took less than 2 hours to erect in 1834. It is dedicated to Alexander I whose forces drove out Napoleon. Look up to see the angel on top of the column, whose face was apparently based on that of Alexander I. Lower down, the shield of Prince Oleg of Novgorod, a helmet belonging to Alexander Nevsky and Emperor Alexander I’s breastplate, all symbols of Russia’s power, decorate the column.
Palace Square is within walking distance of the Nevsky Prospekt and Gostiny Dvor metro stations. Some of the adjoining attractions have admission fees.