Moscow and Saint Petersburg are the two principal cities of Russia. While Moscow is the ancient and modern capital of Russia, Saint Petersburg was purpose-built to be the capital for the opulent Tsars. Both of these cities are richly rewarding and are some of the most popular destinations in all of Russia. Both are famous for their amazing architecture. While Moscow has the Red Square and the Kremlin, Saint Petersburg has vast palaces built for the emperor of the former Russian Empire - the Tsar.

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Moscow is the largest city in Europe today (excluding Istanbul) and is serviced by a very good metro system. Moscow feels much more like a developed city than many other parts of Russia. Indeed often people living in Moscow and Saint Petersburg consider themselves to be living in a different Russia to the rest of Russia. While in Russia consider visiting Russia's many other extreme destinations.

Moscow

The history of the "modernish" state of Russia can be traced to the Grand Duchy of Moscow. After the invasion of the Mongols and the destruction of the Kievian Rus, the area of Ukraine and Russia was deeply fragmented. Kind of like the initial growth of Rome, it was the small Grand Duchy of Moscow that gradually expanded and incorporated the other city-states and principalities. It continued to expand into the Russian Empire.

  • When To Go: Summer (Unless You Want The Russian Winter Experience)

The architecture of Moscow is fantastic. Fortunately, the city was spared the ravishes of war as the Germans in World War Two were stopped just short of the city (right on the city's edge). WW2 was the destruction of many of Europe's finest cities all across the continent.

Related: Myth & Legend: Exploring Russia's Strange 'City Of The Dead'

One may regard ground zero for exploring Moscow to be the Red Square. Even the body of Lenin is preserved here in a special mausoleum. This area is packed with landmarks, old architecture, museums, and history. This is where the famed Saint Basil's Cathedral is located - no picture of Moscow is complete without this cathedral and its elegant onion domes! Other cathedrals here are the Cathedral Of Christ the Savior and the Seven Sisters. Then there is the Kremlin and the halls of power of the Russian state.

  • Fun Fact: Ivan The Terrible Was The Longest Reigning Russian Tsar And "Terrible" Is Older English Back Then Meaning "Great" And Not "Awful"

What To See

Saint Basil's Cathedral

The Saint Basil's Cathedral was built from 1555 to 1561 by the order of Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible.

  • Opening Hours: 11.00 am - 18.00 pm (Autumn Hours)
  • Entry Ticket: 700-1000 Roubles $10-14 Depending On The Season)

One of the most lavish and impressive museums in Russia is right here and it's the picturesque red building and called the State Historical Museum. Everyone should visit this impressive museum and learn about the history of Russia. It is the largest national museum in Russia and it now boasts over 4.5 million items. You are sure to lose yourself in this building for hours (pictured below).

  • Opening Hours: 10.00 am - 21.00 pm (Depending On Season)=
  • Days Open: 7 Days Per Week
  • Admission Fee: 700 Roubles - $10 (Summer Price) / 500 Roubles - $7 (Winter Price)

Other must-see museums in Moscow are:

  • The Museum Of The Patriotic War Of 1812: (Aka Napoleon's Invasion Of Russia)
  • Chambers Of Romanov Boyars: Furniture, Clothes Etc. Of The Ruling Tsars And Family

Saint Petersburg

Saint Petersburg is the second-largest city in Russia and was founded by Tsar Peter The Great in 1703 on land he had conquered from the struggling Swedish Empire. He wanted to modernize Russia and wanted a port in the Baltic Sea. It is also home to some of Russia's most Instagrammable locations.

  • Tip: "Hi" In Russian Is "Privet," and "Thanks" In Russian Is "Spasibo"

Saint Petersburg is named after Saint Peter of the Bible and is Europe's fourth most populous city. It was the capital of the Russian Empire from 1713-1918 (except for two years from 1728 to 1730. After the Bolshevik revolution capital was moved once again to Moscow.

  • Fun Fact #1: The Soviet Era Name For Saint Petersburg Was Leningrad, Saint Petersgrad Has Also Been Used
  • Fun Fact #2: You Can Buy Beer In McDonald's And KFC In Russia
  • When To Go: Summer (Winter Can Be Cold Humid)

Saint Petersburg is known as the "Cultural Capital of Russia" and remains the center of various branches of the Russian government. There are many historical buildings to see in this city. Here you can see the sheer pomp and luxury of the former Tsars of Russia with their many ornate palaces and other buildings.

Related: 10 Mistakes All Rookies Make During Their First Time In Russia

What To See

Just a few of the must-see destinations in Saint Petersburg include:

Church: The eye-catching Church of the Resurrection (Savior on the Spilled Blood)

Palace: The Winter Palace

Cathedrals: The Resurrection Smolny Cathedral, and Saint Isaac's Cathedral

Of these perhaps the Winter Palace is one of the most well known and popular.

  • Opening Hours: 9.00 am To 9.00 pm
  • Days Open: Tuesday to Sunday (Closed Monday)
  • Entrance Fee: 600 Roubles ($8.00)

In short, if you have the chance, you should not choose between Saint Petersburg and Moscow, you should visit both of them and allow around 4 days for each.

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