9 Days / 7 Nights
Additional sites that can be included are:
St. Daniel Monastery
St. Isaac’s Cathedral
Museum of the History of Religion
Alexander Nevsky Lavra Monastery
*Itinerary can be customized according to number of days and inclusions desired.
*Itinerary subject to change
(Breakfast = B, Lunch = L, Dinner = D)
Day 1: USA / MOSCOW
Depart for your flight to Moscow.
Day 2: MOSCOW
Arrival in Moscow. Transfer to the hotel. Welcome dinner and overnight in Moscow hotel. (B, D)
Day 3: MOSCOW
Morning city sightseeing tour of Moscow. Moscow is the biggest city in Europe and the Capital of Russia founded in 1147. The population of 11, 5 million people makes it the largest city in Europe. Moscow is one of the fastest growing economical centers in the world. The tour will take you around the main center and the fortified Kremlin and inside the Garden Ring. During the orientation tour of Moscow we will acquaint ourselves with the main tourist attractions of the city. Passing the famous Tverskaya Boulevard, the Red and Manege Squares as well as Arbat (the capital’s commercial center), we will stop at Vorobyovy Gori – the highest point of Moscow with a breathtaking view at the city and Moscow-river. The building of Lomonosov’s Moscow State University (one of the seven famous Stalin’s Age skyscrapers) is located just in a short walk from here. Luzhniki Stadium (honored the final UEFA Champions League match 2008), is situated right in front. In winter, Vorobyovy Hills are popular among ski- and snowboard fans in the winter time.
Drive to the famous Red Square. You will visit St. Basil’s Cathedral situated in the very heart of Moscow, On Red Square. This richly decorated cathedral and one of the symbols of the city was built in the period of 1555-1561 by the order of Tsar Ivan the Terrible in commemoration of the Capture of Kazan. The Cathedral has a symmetric composition of nine churches- towers. Each Church is named after a patron saint’s day and represents the greatest victories of the Kazan Campaign in 1558. The museum has unique a collection of icons from the XVI-XIX centuries as well as relics of decorative art.
Also visit Lenin’s Tomb. The Mausoleum serves as the current resting place of Vladimir Lenin. His embalmed body has been on public display there since shortly after his death in 1924. There, you will see Lenin’s body preserved.
Continue with a visit to the State Tretyakov Art Gallery, the National Treasury of Russian fine art. The Gallery’s collection consists of Russian artists who have made a contribution to the history of Russian art. The collection contains more than 130,000 works ranging in date from the 11th century to the early 20th century. Included are exhibits from Theotokos of Vladimir and the famous Russian iconographer Andrei Rublev’s Trinity to the monumental Composition VII by Wassily Kandinsky and the Black Square by Kazimir Malevich.
Continue with a visit the Andrey Rublev Central Museum of Ancient Russian Culture and Art. The museum is located in the ancient Adronikov Monastery, in an old section of Moscow suburb on the bank of the river Yauza. The monastery was found in the mid – 14th century by Metropolitan Alexy. The first abbot of the monastery was Andronik, whose name the hermitage still bears. Famous iconographer Andrey Rublev was a monk in this monastery in the late 14th -early 15th centuries. The Andrey Rublev museum was founded in 1947 and opened to the public in 1960. During the 50 years of its existence, a collection has been gathered in the museum that includes several thousand icons, items of applied art, hand-written and old-printed books, and fragment of frescoes. This collection presents a complete and exhaustive idea of the art of old Russia. The icon collection is the most interesting. The museum exhibits include renowned icons by Moscow’s, Tver’s, Rostov’s iconographers of the 15th -17th centuries and the works of various 17th -18th century masters from the capital and provinces, which have made the museum extremely well-known. Overnight in Moscow. (B)
Day 4: MOSCOW/ ZAGORSK/ MOSCOW
This morning, visit the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, the main Cathedral of Russia. Barbarously destroyed in 1931, it was reconstructed to its original beauty in 1994-2000 with the joint work of architects, builders, artists and sculptors. Its construction was sponsored by Moscow Government and citizens. The Cathedral is a perceptible memorial to the battle of the Russian people against the Napoleonic hordes. The names of the renowned heroes, whom God chose as instruments to save His people are engraved on marble boards in its main gallery.
Drive (1 ½ – 2 hours) to Zagorsk (Sergiev Posad), outside from Moscow, to the Trinity – St. Sergius Lavra Monastery founded in the 14th century by Sergei Radonezhski. Enjoy lunch near the Monastery.
Since its foundation the town has had a few names including Posad (from 1782), Sergiev (from 1919), Zagorsk (from 1930), and, finally, Sergiev Posad (since 1992). It is the historical center of Zagorsk, which, for ages, has been the largest religious and cultural center of Russia. The History and Art Museum-Reserve in Sergiev Posad is a major treasure of Russian art. The world-famous architectural ensemble of the Monastery includes more than fifty edifices constructed by craftsmen from Moscow, Pskov and Yaroslavl. In 1993, the museum’s complex was inscribed by UNESCO into the list of the World Cultural Heritage. Now theMuseum’s collection comprises More than 120.000 items: ancient icons, medieval manuscripts and old printed books, church utensils, paintings, engravings, pieces of national and contemporary art. This ancient art collection attracts great attention due to its close connection with important events of Russian History,such
as Kulikovskaya Battle of 1380, struggle for independence against invasions, and various events of Peter the Great’s Age. Overnight in Moscow at the hotel. (B, L)
Day 5: MOSCOW / ST. PETERSBURG
After breakfast this morning, check out of the hotel. First enjoy a tour of the Kremlin Territory and then, we will be driven to the airport for our flight to St Petersburg. The Moscow Kremlin is the chief architectural ensemble of the city. Along the South wall of the Kremlin, overlooking the Moscow River, you will find the Grand Kremlin. Within the Kremlin there is a Cathedral Square, the so-called “City of God. For centuries, the Cathedral Square was the symbolic heart of Tsarist rule. Six buildings, including three enormous Cathedrals, edge the square. Most of them are the work of Italian architects during the late 15th and early 16th Century.
The square is centered on the impressive Cathedral of the Assumption, built in the 1470’s by Ivan the Great as the seat of the Russian Orthodox Church. Until Peter the Great moved his capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg in 1710, it was the focal point of political power in the country–coronations, assemblies of the nobility and ceremonial rituals of state took place here.
Dominating not only Cathedral Square, but the entire Kremlin, is the gleaming gilt dome of the Ivan the Great Bell Tower, the tallest structure in all of Russia. Constructed of bright white stone and soaring to a height of over eighty meters. In the adjacent belfry hangs the massive 64-ton Resurrection Bell, dating from the nineteenth century.
The Assumption Cathedral is the oldest, largest and most important of the Kremlin’s many churches and notable for its accomplished architectural and decorative elements. Its historical significance as the primary church of Russian Orthodoxy is evident as it is the site of all of the coronations, funerals, victory services and intrigues of the Tsars.
The Cathedral of the Archangel Michael is the most “Italianate” of the Kremlin’s churches and is the last of Ivan the Great’s contributions to Cathedral Square. Its notable features include the scallop-shell decoration of its gables and the ornate Corinthian capitals of its columns.
The Cathedral of the Annunciation is the golden-domed cathedral which served as the private chapel of the Tsars. It was built by Ivan III in the late 1440. The Grosnenskiy Porch was built by Ivan the Terrible in 1572 after he disregarded church doctrine by marrying for a fourth time. While the Church Council accepted the marriage, they expressed their dismay by asking the Tsar to refrain thereafter from entering the Cathedral to attend services. The porch was the compromise between them, and from there, Ivan was able to carry out his religious devotions.
We will also visit the Armory. The Armory building built in 1851 as a factory for making weapons nowadays houses a museum. It house an enormous collection of Russian national treasures including the chalice of Yuri Dolgoruky, to the helm and armor of Boris Godunov, a stupendous collection of over fifty Faberge eggs, carriages, cookware, jewelry, etc. is on display. Transfer to the airport for your St Petersburg flight. Dinner and overnight in St Petersburg. (B, D)
Day 6: ST. PETERSBURG
Today, begin your tour with a visit to Yusupov Palace to see the Rasputin exposition. The past residence of the wealthy and respected Yusupov family saw one of the most dramatic episodes in Russia’s history- the murder of Grigory Rasputin. In 1916, a group of the city’s noble elite, including one of the Grand Dukes, and led by the prominent anglophile Prince Felix Yusupov, conspired to kill the one man who they felt threatened the stability of an already war-torn Russian Empire, Grigory Rasputin, a peasant and self-proclaimed holy-man, who had gradually won favor with the Tsar’s family through his alleged supernatural powers. His control over the decisions of the family, and the Russian ruler himself, put him in a potentially manipulative position and posed a very real threat to them. Consequently, Rasputin was murdered at the Palace on the night of December 16-17 1916. His death proved to be an almost greater mystery than his life had been.
Enjoy a cruise along the Neva River. See this beautiful city’s impressive buildings and skyline from the river passing under the many bridges that help define this city. Pass by the many canals and see the beautiful palaces facing the Neva River. The city was created in 1703 as a small fortification (the Peter & Paul fortress), on a flat march of land by architects and prisoners of war. It is the fourth largest city in Europe and resembles one of the beautiful old European cities.
The last stop is “The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood” built as a historical and memorial center of all Russian people. It was built in the memory of Emperor Alexander II, and his reforms, and served as a symbol of repentance of the Russian people. It is also a historical monument to the tragic events of March 1, 1881. The Church was commissioned by Alexander III to commemorate the death of his father, Alexander II, and is built on the exact spot where Alexander II was assassinated. The Cathedral boasts a luxurious and rich decor, ornamental architraves, frames, corbels, ceramic tiles and colored glazed tiles. Five cupolas of the church, some 1,000 square meters in area, are covered with jewelry enamel. The belfry is decorated with mosaic coats-of-arms of cities and regions of the Russian empire. The facades of the church are lined with ceramic tiles and colored glazed bricks; in the interior decoration, Italian marbles and different sorts of semi precious Russian stones were used. Overnight in St. Petersburg. (B, L)
Day 7: ST. PETERSBURG
This morning, visit the Kazan Cathedral constructed between 1801 and 1811 by the architect Andrei Voronikhin. It was built to an enormous scale and boasts an impressive stone colonnade, encircling a small garden and central fountain. The cathedral was inspired by the Basilica of St. Peter’s in Rome and was intended to be the country’s main Orthodox Church. After the war of 1812 (during which Napoleon was defeated) the church became a monument to Russian victory.
Captured enemy banners were put in the cathedral and the famous Russian Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov, who won the most important campaign of 1812, was buried inside the church.
The cathedral was named after the “miracle-making” icon of Our Lady of Kazan, which the church housed till the early 1930s. The Bolsheviks closed the cathedral for services in 1929, and from 1932 it housed the collections of the Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism, which displayed numerous pieces of religious art and served anti-religious propaganda purposes. A couple of years ago regular services were resumed in the cathedral. A couple of years ago regular services were resumed in the cathedral, though it still shares the premises with the museum, from whose name the word “atheism” has now been omitted.
After lunch, the last stop today is the famous Hermitage State Museum, comprised of six magnificent buildings situated along the embankment of the River Neva right in the heart of St Petersburg. The leading role in this unique architectural ensemble is played by the Winter Palace, the residence of the Russian Tsars that was designed by Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli. The Winter Palace was built between 1754 and 1762 for Empress Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great. Unfortunately, Elizabeth died before the palace’s completion, and only Catherine the Great and her successors were able to enjoy the sumptuous interiors of Elizabeth’s home. Many of the palace’s impressive interiors have been remodeled since then, particularly after 1837, when a huge fire destroyed most of the building. Today the Winter Palace, together with four more buildings arranged side by side along the river embankment, houses the extensive collections of the Hermitage. The Hermitage Museum is the largest art gallery in Russia and is among the largest and most respected art museums in the world. The basic display areas of the State Hermitage occupy 365 rooms in the Main Museum Complex. The Winter Palace, the Small Hermitage, the Old Hermitage and the New Hermitage display the collections of monuments of culture and art of the ancient world, Western Europe, Russia and the countries of the Orient, as well as archeological and numismatic collections. The Hermitage Theatre and the Reserve House also form part of the Main Museum Complex. The museum was founded in 1764 when Catherine the Great purchased a collection of 255 paintings from the German city of Berlin. Put together throughout two and a half centuries, the Hermitage’s collections of works of art (over 3,000,000 items) present the development of the world culture and art from the Stone Age to the 20th century. The Hermitage’s collections include works by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and Titian, Rembrandts, Rubens, Renoir, Cezanne, Manet, Monet and Pissarro, Van Gogh, Matisse, Gaugin and several sculptures by Rodin. The experts say that if you were to spend a minute looking at each exhibit on display in the Hermitage, you would need 11 years before you would see them all. Overnight in St. Petersburg. (B, L)
Day 8: ST. PETERSBURG
Today, depart for Tsarskoe Selo to visit Catherina Palace and the Park, Empress Elizabeth’s summer residence. The extravagance of Russia’s Imperial rulers is evident in the fact that in less than two centuries, the Romanov Tsars established two suburban estates – at Tsarskoe Selo and Peterhof. In terms of grandeur and excess, they surpassed Versailles in France. The Palace is truly exceptional and surrounded by extensive landscaped gardens with diverse and fascinating decorative architecture and is particularly renowned for the extraordinary Amber Room. The Catherine Palace is named after Catherine I, the wife of Peter the Great, who ruled Russia for two years after her husband’s death.
See the elaborately decorated blue-and-white facades featuring gilded atlantes, caryatids and pilasters designed by German sculptor Johann Franz Dunker, who also worked with Rastrelli on the palace’s original interiors. In Elizabeth’s reign, it took over 100kg of gold to decorate the palace exteriors, an excess that was deplored by Catherine the Great when she discovered the state and private funds that had been lavished on the building. The interiors of the Catherine Palace are also spectacular. The so-called Golden Enfilade of state rooms is particularly renowned. Enter via the State Staircase with its ornate banisters and reclining marble cupids. The Great Hall, also known as the Hall of Light, occupies the full width of the palace. The large arched windows provide enough light to relieve the vast quantity of gilded stucco decorating the walls, and the entire ceiling is covered by a monumental fresco entitled The Triumph of Russia. Using similar techniques but on a smaller scale, the White Dining Room is equally luxurious but its grandeur is softened by the presence of a beautiful traditional blue-and-white tiled stove in the corner. Other highlights of the Grand Enfilade include the Portrait Hall, the Picture Gallery and, of course, the legendary Amber Room. Rastrelli used the panels of amber mosaic originally destined for an Amber Cabinet at Konigsberg Castle and presented to Peter the Great by Friedrich-Wilhelm I of Prussia, and surrounded them with gilded carving, mirrors, more amber panels created by Florentine and Russian craftsman (comprising a total of 450kg of amber), and further mosaics of Ural and Caucasus gemstones. The room was completed in 1770. Due to the fragility of the materials used, a caretaker was employed constantly to maintain the decorations. In 1941, when German troops took Tsarskoe Selo, the Amber Room was dismantled in 36 hours, and shipped to Konigsberg in pretence to preserve them. As the Nazi war machine crumbled, the panels were crated up and moved out of danger, but their eventual fate is unknown. In 1982, the order was given to begin the recreation of the Amber Room, a process that took over 20 years and cost more than $12 million. Opened in 2003 by President Vladimir Putin and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, the restored Amber Room is a truly unique monument.
Enjoy a farewell lunch. Return to St. Petersburg for some free time. Overnight in St. Petersburg. (B, L)
Day 9: ST. PETERSBURG / USA
Transfer to the airport for your flight home.
ADDITIONAL SITES THAT COULD BE INCLUDED FOR A LONGER TOUR:
An architectural complex dating from the 16th-17th centuries till today remains among the best in Russia. Located in the old stone building of the Smolensk Cathedral there are 16th century frescoes and fantastic icons created by the greatest tsars’ masters of that time. Main buildings are the Gate Church, the Cathedral of the Virgin (1524), the Refectory, Assumption Church, Bell tower and Necropolis within the walls of the convent (burial places of heroes of the 1812 war and Decembrists), well-known Novodevichy Cemetery where the graves of many Russian and Soviet celebrities are, among them singer Feodor Chaliapin, writers Gogol, Chekhov, Bely, Bulgakov, Shukshin, poets Mayakovski and Bryusov, etc.
St. Daniel Monastery
Unique opportunity to visit oldest Moscow Orthodox Monastery and the way of Monastery’s Brethren life. Tour around monastery takes about 1 hour. It is very good to finish Monastery tour by lunch in Monastery refectory. St. Daniel Monastery is the first one in Moscow, founded by Saint Prince Daniel of Moscow. He was the youngest son of famous in the history of State and Church saint Prince Alexander Nevsky and his wife – the righteous princess Vassa. Now the monastery looks like it was created in XVII-XIX centuries. The oldest cathedral – The Cathedral of Holy Fathers of Seven Ecumenical Councils – includes several churches. After the period of restoration there is iconostasis of the Kostroma school, which dates back to the XVII century. On the ground floor there is the Church, named after the Protecting Veil of Mother of God. The St. Trinity cathedral is the largest one in the monastery. It was built in 1838 by the architect O.Bove in the style of late classicism. The main altar was sanctified by saint metropolitan of Moscow Filaret (Drosdov). After the restoration the interior looks like the original one. There are two miracle-working icons there: “Three – handed Mother of God” and the icon of the Rightean John of Rome. The St. Trinity Cathedral is used for Sunday and festive services. There are other new-built and reconstructed churches in the monastery: the Church of Simeon Stylite over the gates (1732); the Church of the Nativity of John the Baptist; the Church of St. Seraphim of Sarov; The Chapel over the St. Well and the Funeral Chapel. The monastery is subordinate directly to His Holiness Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexiy II. Father Superior (Archimandrite Alexiy) rules every-day life of the monastery. Services take place every day. The brethren of the monastery take part in charity and mercy in hospitals, schools, children houses and prisons. They are also teachers in seminaries, academies and secular educational establishments. There are different workshops, Sunday schools, lectures on spiritual education for adults, monastic publishing house, and pilgrim service in the monastery.
St. Isaac’s Cathedral
St. Isaac’s Cathedral was once the main church of St. Petersburg and the largest church of Russia. It has the fourth highest domed construction in the World (the diameter of the dome is 21.8m). A French-born architect Auguste de Montferrand built the Cathedral, a prime landmark of the Russian Imperial capital, in 1818-58. The facades are decorated with sculptures and massive granite columns (made of single pieces of red granite), while the interiors dazzle the eye with mosaic icons, paintings and columns made of malachite and lapis lazuli. The church, designed to accommodate 14 thousand standing worshipers, was closed in the early 1930s and reopened as a museum.
Museum of the History of Religion
The collection of the Museum of the History of Religion contains over 180,000 items on Russian Orthodoxy, Western Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism and other religions. The library contains 183,000 books. But the Museum is not only the museum of religious art. It is the prominent institute of world significance engaged in purposeful collecting of items of religious cult and art of different epochs and people, making vast research work. The collection of West European painting on religious theme is the second in St. Petersburg and in Russia also after that of the State Hermitage. Museum boasts an exhibition entitled “The Gold Embroidery of the Russian Church”.
Alexander Nevsky Lavra Monastery
Visit the Alexander Nevsky Lavra Monastery. It is situated at the end of Nevsky Prospect. Peter the Great who founded the Lavra in 1710 as “the Monastery of Holy Trinity and Grand Duke, St. Alexander Nevsky to honor the victory of the Grand Duke of Novgorod over the Swedish troops in the Neva battle in 1240. The construction of the stone Monastery town began in 1717. On August 30 1724 by the order of Peter the Great the remains of St. Alexander Nevsky were transferred to the new church of the Annunciation and St. Alexander Nevsky. Peter the Great conceived the Monastery as the chief Orthodox Monastery of Russia. Started by Trezzini, it was completed by Starov who built Trinity Cathedral. In 1797 the monastery was given the title of Lavra, the highest rank of Orthodox monasticism. The monastery complex comprises the Tikhvin and Lazarus cemeteries where the outstanding figures of Russian culture as Dostoyevsky and Tchaikovsky are buried. There are also the graves of Alexander Suvorov, celebrated general; scholar Mikhail Lomonosov; architects Giacomo Quarenghi and Carlo Rossi; composers Glinka and Chaikovsky. The Highest priests of the Orthodox Church hierarchy were educated in the Theological School located in the territory of the Lavra. The Printing-house appeared here in 1720 at the Monastery, where such famous books “The Primer Book “of F. Prokopovitch, “The Praise of the Russian Fleet”, “On Poltava and Gangut victories” of G. Buzhinsky were printed.