St. Petersburg is called a second capital of Russia. This magnificent city has several other informal names that reveal travelers’ admiration and a passion for visiting it. The Cultural Capital, the Northern Capital, the Venice of the North, the Northern Palmyra, Peter’s City, the City of White Nights, the City on the Neva River – all this is said about brilliant St. Petersburg. The city is recognized as one of the largest economic, cultural and scientific centers of Russia, Europe and the whole world. The city of Saint Peter was founded by Peter the Great in 1703 and was set to be the “window to Europe”. Today the city combines Russian and European cultures and traditions in the most extraordinary way. Just 10 years after the city was founded, St. Petersburg became Russia’s new capital city in 1712. The city would remain the country’s capital for the next 200 years. It was only during the Revolution of 1917, when the country started to cut itself off from its imperial history, that Moscow regained its title as Russia’s capital city. St. Petersburg is one of the most visited cities in Russia, attracting tourists for many reasons. Some come for the architecture, some for the history and others to experience the rich culture.
St. Petersburg arrival, embarkation, dinner and overnight.
Enjoy the extravagant baroque architecture of the city center, Nevsky Prospect, Palace Square and Smolny Convent.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
More of the city & Hermitage tour today. This morning, visit the many wonders of the elegant Winter Palace, which today houses the Hermitage Museum, one of the largest art and cultural museums in the world. The Hermitage is one of the world's largest and most prestigious museums, and is a must-see for all first-time travelers to the city. With over 3 million items in its collection, it also definitely rewards repeat visits, and new-comers can only hope to get a brief taste of the riches on offer here, from Impressionist masterpieces to fascinating Oriental treasures. Breakfast, lunch and dinner aboard.
The small mill town of Upper Mandrogi was settled in the 18th century on the banks of the Svir River. Today this river village, with its ginger-bread houses, is a living fairy tale. Destroyed during WWII, Mandrogi was restored to its former glory at the end of the 20th century. Today this cozy little toy-like village is a pearl! Modern Mandrogi is a unique complex of museums located between the Ladoga and Onega lakes. Each museum features a different aspect of Russian folk life. Each museum is located in a separate building decorated with traditional carving. Several little hotels and a good restaurant of Russian cuisine, called Gostiny Dvor, make Mandrogi a great holiday village. Passengers of cruise ships that shuttle between Moscow and St. Petersburg are frequent guests here. Ships’ stops last for quite a while, so everyone has enough time to wander along the cobbled streets of Mandrogi. The Museum of Russian Vodka is one of the most popular museums here. It contains a collection of approximately 3,000 different types of vodka brought from all over Russia. Vodka tasting is included with the entrance ticket. It also has displays showing guests the ways vodka is produced.
Arrival at the river village. This is a recreational stop, specially designed for you to enjoy the relaxing rustic atmosphere and famous Russian cuisine and hospitality. Lunch. Captain’s cocktail followed by dinner.
Kizhi is an island in the Lake of Onega with homonymous pogost located on this island. The Russian word “pogost” defines a territorial district with a single or several villages that has a church and a graveyard. The word was borrowed by several neighboring nations, like Latvians and Finns. The architectural ensemble of the Kizhi Pogost includes two 18th century wooden churches: the Church of the Transfiguration – the one with 22 onion domes – and the Church of the Intercession, and an octagonal wooden bell tower built in 1862 considerably reconstructed in 1874. Original the Kizhi churches burned down after being struck by lightning in 1693 and the currently existing churches were built on the very site of the former ones. Kizhi is evidence of the highly developed carpentry skills of the Russian people. Nowadays it is the only ensemble with two multi-domed wooden churches preserved in Russia. The Church of the Transfiguration is a monument with exceptional architectural and structural features. It has no parallel in either Russian or global wooden architecture. Local legend says that Master Nestor built the 37m high nail-less church, a true wonder of the world, using nothing but an axe.
Kizhi is one of the real Russian wonders and a UNESCO World Heritage site. There will be a walking tour around this open air museum of amazing wooden architecture. Wooden houses that are traditional for the Russian North are also visited during the tour. Travelers get to know traditional way of life and learn about crafts of the locals. This also includes the production of so called “plowshares” – that wooden “squama” covering onion domes of Kizhi. Breakfast, lunch and dinner aboard.
Goritsy and its surroundings are definitely a site to see for anyone with an interest in Russian history. The only way for a foreign traveler to get to Goritsy is along the river, between St. Petersburg and Moscow. While touring here, visitors seem to forget reality under the influence of the medieval atmosphere of this town and the area. It is the place of deep spiritual life of monks and of many ancient monasteries. Goritsy is a tiny settlement on the bank of the Sheksna River. The Goritsy Convent of Resurrection is located nearby on the Sheksna banks as well. The idyllic view of the monastery is especially perfect in quiet waters when observed from the ship. This convent was founded in 1544. It suffered several times in history, but now it is an active nunnery. Goritsy survived during WWII because there were no battles here. The front line stopped some 200 kilometers from it. The main attraction of the city, the Monastery of St. Cyril of the White Lake, is located 7 kilometers away from Goritsy. It is one of the oldest and most famous monasteries in Russia. It dates back to the 14th century, and is home to one of the most exquisite icon collections in the world. In the 16th century, the monastery was the second richest landowner in Russia.
Visit Cyrilo-Belozersky Monastery, which has six centuries of glorious history, home to the most exquisite icon collection in the world. Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Yaroslavl’s coat of arms depicts a bear with a gold poleaxe. The city was founded in 1010 on the site of the pagan settlement of “Bear's Corner” by the Prince of Kievan Russ, Yaroslav the Wise and was thusly named after the Prince Yaroslav. In the beginning it was just a wooden fortress but its advantageous location on the river trade route along the Volga River turned Yaroslavl into a thriving city. Over the course of 200 years it became the capital of Yaroslavl Principality. In 1238 the peaceful life of Yaroslavl was ruined by the Tatar & Mongolian invasion. Like many other Russian cities of those times, it was burned and ransacked. The city was recovered from ruins and became a part of Moscow Principality a little more than 200 years after. In the 17th century Yaroslavl becomes the second largest city of the Russian state after Moscow. Once, during times of Polish invasion, the city became the interim capital of the state. Today the city is an important Volga River port with a population of 600,000 that stretches for 18 miles on both its banks. The Historical Centre of the City of Yaroslavl is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Today there will be a guided tour over this great city located at the confluence of the Volga and Kotorosl Rivers. This city is also known for its great 17th century architecture and is an outstanding example of the urban planning reform Empress Catherine the Great ordered for the whole of Russia in 1763. The Church of Elijah the Prophet and Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery are also on the list. Breakfast, lunch and dinner aboard.
Uglich is perfect for any traveler ready to experience the quiet side of Russia. It is one of the oldest, and probably one of the most beloved towns of the Russian province. Once a place of pilgrimage of Russian Czars, Uglich is now known as one of the cities of the Golden Ring of Russia. Although it is still a popular place of pilgrimage, 23 churches and 3 monasteries are located in town and around it. According to a local legend the origin of this town goes back to 937. Uglich has a preserved architectural environment of late 18th – early 19th centuries. The Soviet-era constructions of the Uglich Reservoir and hydroelectric complex harmoniously blended into the urban landscape without disturbing its integrity and historic charm. Much has happened to Uglich, but the main event, which overturned the city's history, occurred on 15 May, 1591. On that very day, in mysterious circumstances, Prince Dmitry, an eight-year-old son of Ivan the Terrible, was killed on this day and found dead in the garden. The view of the town as it is approached by ship from the Volga River is especially lovely with its Transfiguration Cathedral and Church of St. Dmitry on the Blood standing in beauty on the banks.
Take a walking tour of this lovely 10th century town, one of Russia's most ancient. Visit the Uglich Kremlin and its churches and see beautiful Church of St. Dmitry on the Blood also from the inside. Enjoy great singing from a local choir. Explore the infamous Flea Market. In the USSR Uglich was a watch-making center. Millions used the local watch brand, Chayka (Seagull). The manufacturer has now moved to the premium segment, specializing also in silver and golden watches. You can find these well-designed watches in Uglich at the local stores. Breakfast, lunch and dinner aboard.
Moscow has been the capital of Russia since the late 15th century. Some sources call this cosmopolitan city “the northernmost and coldest megacity and metropolis on Earth.” The Moscow Kremlin is located in the city center; it is home to the President and the treasures of the Russian Empire in the Armory and Treasury. The Moscow Kremlin is the world’s largest medieval fortress. The Kremlin and Red Square are UNESCO World Heritage sites. St. Basil’s Cathedral, known for its colorful, onion-shaped domes, is located on Red Square. The Novodevichy Convent in south-western Moscow is another UNESCO World Heritage site that is normally seen while on our city-tour. Moscow, with its population of 12,000,000 (official data), is the largest city in Russia and in Europe. According to some sources the real population of Moscow is about 20,000,000 inhabitants, therefore it is among the top ten largest cities of the world. By the way, Moscow claims the largest number of billionaires in the world. Per Forbes, there are 84 billionaires in the city. Another interesting fact about the city is about McDonald’s: the first restaurant there was opened on January 31, 1990 and the line to the restaurant ran for several kilometers.
Arrival in Moscow. Sightseeing motor coach tour of this ancient Russian capital, including Tverskaya Street, Red Square, St. Basil's Cathedral, Bolshoi Theater and Moscow State University for a panoramic view of the city. Visit Novodevichi Convent.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Breakfast. Morning tour of the Kremlin: Originally a fortress, it comprises beautiful cathedrals, ornate palaces and government buildings. This afternoon free time to explore Moscow on your own. Whatever your interest, our local hosts ease your way by making all arrangements for tours, theater, ballet or opera tickets.
Lunch and dinner aboard.
Time to bid farewell to your new friends after unforgettable journey through this fascinating land. Disembarkation.