Russian Winter Wonderland
Be enchanted by the beauty of Moscow and St Petersburg in the wintertime, and drink a warm draught from Russia’s centuries-old artistic traditions.
In Moscow, discover a city that merges the serenity of a Russian Orthodox monastery with the dynamism of one of Europe’s major economic centres. In St Petersburg, wander through Russia’s imperial capital, bejewelled with the palaces of Grand Dukes and Empresses – all of it without the summer crowds.
By day, revel in the glories of Russia’s art, architecture and palaces. By night, immerse yourself in the sumptuous world of opera, ballet and concerts at legendary venues such as the Bolshoi Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet, Novaya Opera and the Stanislavsky & Nemirovich-Danchenko Theatre.
This tour is part of the World Art Tours program organised by the Art Gallery Society of NSW in partnership with Renaissance Tours.
Suggested departure from Australia on Emirates / Qantas flights (via Dubai). Overnight in flight.
Mid-afternoon arrival in Moscow and transfer to your hotel.
This evening, join Alan and fellow travellers for a welcome briefing and dinner.
Depart the hotel for a morning tour of Moscow. Visit the tranquil enclosure of the Novodevichy Convent and the nearby Novodevichy Cemetery where many famous Russian political and cultural figures are buried (including Russia’s first president, Boris Yeltsin), and enjoy a panoramic view of Moscow from the Sparrow Hills.
In the afternoon, take a ride on Moscow’s iconic and efficient Metro System. The Metro stations themselves, Stalin’s so-called ‘Palaces of the People’, are surprising gems of art, architecture and design – furnished with paintings, sculptures, and some even with chandeliers!
This evening’s performance (opera, ballet or a concert) will be at one of Moscow’s famous theatres – the Bolshoi Ballet, Novaya Opera, or the Stanislavsky & Nemirovich-Danchenko Theatre (performance details announced 3-4 months prior to travel).
Begin with a visit to a Russian Orthodox Church, followed by a guided tour of the Old Tretyakov Gallery, a comprehensive collection devoted to the history of Russian art, ranging from precious Mediæval icons to the Russian School of the late 19th century. After the tour, enjoy a private choral performance in the church of St Nicholas the Wonderworker.
After free time for lunch at the Museum Café, continue your journey through the history of Russian art with a visit to the New Tretyakov Gallery, whose collection of 20th and 21st century art and sculpture spans abstract art, modernism, socialist realism and contemporary art.
Following a talk on the museums of Moscow and the Russian Orthodox religion, join a walking tour of Red Square, surrounded on four sides by the Kremlin, St Basil’s Cathedral, GUM Department Store and the State History Museum. Finish with a visit to the State History Museum which houses a fascinating collection covering the whole Russian Empire from the time of the Stone Age.
After lunch at a local restaurant, visit the famous Kremlin with its many treasures including the sumptuous interior of the Cathedral of the Assumption, the more intimate Cathedral of the Annunciation and the Bell Tower of Ivan the Great. Finish with a visit to the Armoury Museum with its collection of Fabergé eggs and an astonishing array of glittering jewels, robes, thrones and carriages – a telling reminder of the pre-revolutionary opulence of the Romanov Dynasty.
Take a day trip to the hauntingly beautiful Trinity Lavra in Sergiev Posad, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed monastery outside Moscow whose beautiful, chocolate-box churches are still home to over 300 monks – one of whom will be your guide for the day. Walking through the entry gate, gaze at murals depicting the life of the monastery’s 14th Century founder, St Sergius of Radonezh, whose peaceable demeanour even managed to tame the bears and wolves in the forest around his remote cottage. Enjoy lunch in the refectory of the monastery, and see the church under which lies the tomb of Tsar Boris Godunov, the last tsar before Russia was beset by the Time of Troubles in the early 1600s. Visit the studio of an icon-painter, and wander from one beautiful church to the next in this cloister of calm away from the capital.
Spend this morning at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, with an impressive collection of Western Art, particularly its substantial holdings of luminous Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings.
Tonight, enjoy a concert at either the Moscow Conservatory, House of Music or Tchaikovsky Hall (performance details announced 3-4 months prior to travel).
Morning checkout and transfer to the station for departure on the high-speed train ‘Sapsan’ to St Petersburg (travel time 4 hours). On arrival in St Petersburg transfer to your hotel.
Tonight join Alan for a talk on the history of St Petersburg followed by dinner.
Enjoy a full day introduction to this magnificent city, first planned by Peter the Great and later embellished by his imperial successors to become one of the truly great European capitals.
Begin with a visit to the Peter and Paul Fortress, built by Peter the Great in 1703 to defend Russia from Swedish attack. Visit the impressive Peter and Paul Cathedral, the burial place of all the Russian Emperors and Empresses from Peter the Great to Nicholas II. Continue to St Isaac’s Cathedral, the largest Russian Orthodox cathedral in the city.
After lunch, visit the lavishly decorated Yusupov Palace, once the primary residence in St. Petersburg of the immensely wealthy Yusupov family. The palace was the site of Rasputin’s (eventually successful) murder in 1916.
Following a talk on the museums of St Petersburg, enjoy a guided visit of the main branch of the State Hermitage Museum housed in the Winter Palace, the former principal residence of the Romanov Emperors. The rest of the day is free to continue your own exploration of the museum.
This evening, attend the first of two included performances at the Mariinsky Theatre complex, comprising the historic theatre (1860) a modern concert hall (2006) and the Mariinsky II theatre, opened in 2013 (performance details announced 2-3 months prior to travel).
This morning, in the company of Hermitage Curator Alexei Leporc (tbc), visit the newly opened second wing of the State Hermitage Museum, located in the former Imperial General Staff Building.
Afternoon at leisure.
Drive out of St Petersburg to the town of Pushkin, formerly known as ‘Tsar’s Village’ (Tsarskoye Selo), renowned for its remarkable ensemble of palaces and parks. It is particularly famous for its impressive Baroque Catherine Palace, where Empress Catherine the Great lived and died.
After a troika ride through the snow-filled landscape, enjoy a special lunch at a traditional Russian restaurant in the countryside.
In the late afternoon, return to St Petersburg, stopping to pay a visit to the powerful and impressive Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad, commemorating the heroic efforts of the residents of Leningrad and the soldiers on the Leningrad Front to the repel the Nazis in the 900-day Siege of Leningrad during World War II.
Following a morning talk, visit the Church of Our Saviour on the Spilled Blood (Resurrection of Christ Church), erected between 1883 and 1907 on the site where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated in 1881. Built in the flamboyant Russian Revival style, both the interior and exterior of the church are richly decorated with colourful mosaics, designed and created by the most prominent Russian artists of the day.
Continue to the Russian Museum, housed in the Mikhailovsky Palace, built between 1819 and 1825 for Grand Duke Mikhail, the brother of Emperors Alexander I and Nicholas I. Established in 1895 under the decree of the Emperor Nicholas II and opened in 1898, the Russian Museum is today the world’s largest collection of Russian fine arts from the 10th to the 20th Centuries. It performs much of the restoration work of classic Russian art, and is one of the country’s major cultural, educational and research centres.
Following a guided introduction to the highlights of the collection, the rest of the day is free to continue your own exploration of the museum.
This evening, attend a concert at the St Petersburg Philharmonia, home of the St Petersburg Philharmonic and Symphony Orchestras (performance details announced 2-3 months prior to travel)
Pay a morning visit to the Fabergé Museum at the Shuvalov Palace, one of the newest museums in St. Petersburg. The museum houses the world’s largest collection of Fabergé eggs along with a galaxy of other items made by Gustave and his son Peter Carl Fabergé, as well as their contemporaries.
Enjoy an afternoon at leisure to wander along bustling Nevsky Prospekt, the ‘Champs des Elysees’ of St Petersburg, or explore the quieter, canal-lined streets to each side.
This evening, attend the second of two included performances at the Mariinsky Theatre complex (performances details announced 2-3 months prior to travel).
After a morning at leisure, tour arrangements conclude with a transfer to St Petersburg Airport for suggested departure on Emirates / Qantas flights (via Dubai).
Arrival in Australia on the evening of Tuesday 23 January (or the morning of Wed 24 January).
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.
Final payment due
09 November 2017
Please see Terms & Conditions for fitness levels definitions.
Emirates / Qantas
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.
Australian and New Zealand passport holders require a visa for Russia. The visa will be obtained by Renaissance Tours and is included in the tour price.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in a centrally located five-star superior hotels with daily breakfast (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L=Lunch, D=Dinner). Wines with meals
- A-reserve tickets (or best available) for 5 performances
- Historical and cultural talks with Alan Dodge
- Sightseeing, including entrance fees as per itinerary, in comfortable air-conditioned coaches
- Business class train Moscow – St Petersburg
- Transfers on arrival and departure
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- International airfares
- Items of a personal nature, including telephone, laundry, room service etc.
- Travel insurance (recommended)
- Airport porterage
Moscow – Ararat Park Hyatt Hotel
St Petersburg – Astoria Hotel
NB. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted