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Splendours of St Petersburg - Art and architecture of the Tsarist capital

An open museum of 18th- and 19th-century architecture: vast, evocative, magnificent.

An imperial world of staggering wealth and privilege: from glittering palace interiors to exquisite Fabergé eggs.

The treasures of the Hermitage are worth the trip on their own, and include important works by Leonardo, Rubens, Goya, Cézanne, Picasso and Matisse.

The setting for some of the greatest episodes in Russian literature and history – from the opening chapters of War and Peace to the October Revolution.

21 - 26 Sep 2018 £1,380 Book this trip

  • St Petersburg, Winter Palace.
    St Petersburg, Winter Palace.
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Built from scratch in the 18th century, St Petersburg was intended as the grandest city in Europe – an unanswerable declaration of Russia’s modernity and power. Against all the odds, the heroic vision of its early planners survives, and has been embellished by extraordinary collections of art. We give both the Russian Museum and the Hermitage their due, as well as driving out to Tsarskoye Selo to marvel at the opulence of the Catherine Palace. But ultimately it is the sum of St Petersburg’s parts that really dazzles. There are, of course, many European cities with fine Rococo and Neo-Classical buildings, but none can match its architectural integrity, or its monumental scale.

Day 1

Meet at the hotel at 5.30pm for our first lecture followed by dinner together.

Day 2

Russian art, 18th-century palace, and tombs of the Tsars are all on the menu as we tour the Peter and Paul fortress, the Menshikov Palace, the Kunstkamera and the Russian Museum. The dazzling 19th-century Church on Spilled Blood provides the final flourish.

Day 3

We begin beneath the gilded spire of the Admiralty building, but the main focus of the day is the Hermitage Museum, and its world-class collection of fine and decorative art. We finish with the Cathedral of St Nicholas.

Day 4

A day of royal palaces. We drive to Tsarskoye Selo, on the outskirts of the city, for a tour of the vast and opulent Catherine Palace. We also visit the Pavlosk Palace, designed by Scotsman Charles Cameron, and the exquisite Chesme Church.

Day 5

After our second lecture, the morning is spent in the monumental General Staff Building, now home to the Hermitage’s magnificent collection of 19th- and 20th-century art. A free afternoon is followed by a group dinner.

Day 6

The Neo-Classical Shuvalov Palace was once the social hub of St Petersburg, and now houses the Fabergé Museum. It is our last port of call before the trip ends at the hotel by 12pm.

Andrew Spira

Since graduating from the Courtauld, Andrew has worked as a specialist in Russian icons at the Temple Gallery in London, a curator at the Victoria & Albert Museum and Programme Director at Christie’s Education. His book The Avant-Garde Icon: Russian Avant-Garde Art and the Icon Painting Tradition was published in 2008. He has led numerous study tours to Russia and elsewhere.


£1,380 per person sharing in a double room £1,595 for one person in a double room

Flights are not included.


Accommodation and meals

The hotel: Original Sokos Hotel Olympia Garden, St Petersburg (4 star).

Included meals: daily breakfasts and two dinners (with wine).


Getting around

Many of the palaces and museums are vast as well as magnificent. Expect to be on your feet for extended periods. Distances by coach are short, but traffic can cause delays.



Most nationalities need to obtain a visa before travelling to Russia. For more information, visit or telephone +44 (0)20 7985 1234.


Guaranteed departure

There is no minimum number of clients required for this trip to run. 


Maximum group size

25 participants.


Joining and leaving the trip

Flights are not included, you make your own way to and from the starting and finishing point of the trip. British Airways flies directly to St Petersburg from London Heathrow. Several carries fly from the UK to St Petersburg with a connection in Europe. Private transfers from the airport to the hotel can be booked with CTC. Or you can take a bus (line 39) from the airport to Moskovskaya bus station, and walk to Moskovskaya metro station. From there, take the metro to Tekhnologicheskiy Institut (line 2, in the direction of the city centre). It is a 7-minute walk from the station along Moskovsky Avenue to Original Sokos Hotel Olympia Garden. Please note CTC does not arrange flights or domestic travel, other than airport transfers in St Petersburg.


Travel advice

Please check before you book to make sure you are happy with the advice for the places you are visiting.