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Fodor's Exploring Guides are the most up-to-date, full-color guidebooks available. Covering destinations around the world, these guides are loaded with photos, essays on culture and history, descriptions of sights, and practical information. Full-color photos make this a great guide to buy if you're still planning your itinerary (let the photos help you choose!) and it's a perfect companion to a general guidebook, like a Fodor's Gold Guide.
All the great sights plus the history and anecdotes that bring them to life
• Extraordinary coverage of history and culture
• Itineraries, walks and excursions, on and off the beaten path
• Architecture and art
Practical tips and full-color maps and photos
• Getting there and getting around
• When to go and what to pack
• Quick tips on where to sleep in every price range
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Read an Excerpt
MOSCOW AND ST. PETERSBURG ARE
Opera lovers still rightly regard a visit to Moscow's Bolshoy or St. Petersburg's Mariinskiy Theater as a treat. Both companies are finding it difficult to cope with recessionary times and tend to rely on standards like Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin and Moussorgsky's Boris Godunov. Nevertheless, the brilliant setting and the audience's infectious enthusiasm still make an evening at the opera an occasion to savor.
For concert lovers, the return from American exile of the great cellist Mstislav Rostropovich was a major event as too was the return, in 1994, of another legendary exile, the writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
There are major orchestras in both cities, but for a real flavor of Russian music of the past, try to hear the old court choir, the St. Petersburg (Glinka) Kapella.
Jazz has a long and highly respectable tradition in Russia, surviving decades of Communist persecution to emerge as vibrant and challenging as ever. Rock music has received a great deal of publicity in recent years in the West, and the scene is as multifarious and fast-changing as anywhere else. Moscow's Rock and Jazz Laboratory and St. Petersburg's Rock Club are good starting points.
Such is the reputation of the Bolshoy and Mariinskiy Ballet companies that visitors to Russia still gasp with pleasure when the tour representative announces that tickets are available for Swan Lake. Recent tours of the West suggest that nowadays that reputation is somewhat inflated. Nevertheless, the schools continue to produce dancers of supreme virtuosity, in spite of desperate shortages of funds, which limit the introduction of new, more experimental works into the repertoire.
St. Petersburg's Hermitage ranks with the Vatican and the Louvre in holding one of the world's finest international art collections. But Russian art itself also has a lot to offer, as visitors to St. Petersburg's Russian Museum and Moscow's Tretyakov Gallery soon realize. The socialist realist art of the Communist era has now been ousted by the work of previously banned artists with an international reputation like Malevich and Chagall. A thriving commercial art market provides a showcase for the work of young contemporary artists in private galleries in both cities.
Theater continues to thrive with contemporary companies like St. Petersburg's Maly Theater, which toured Western Europe with a highly acclaimed production of Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard. A more unusual theatrical development was the opera singer Galina Vishnevskaya's triumphant return to the Russian stage 12 years after her retirement as a singer in the acting role of Catherine the Great in Yelena Gremina's comedy Behind the Mirror.
Russians revere their writers above other cultural figures, and in June 1994 an international festival, "Pushkin and St. Petersburg," heralded five years of festivities in the city of Pushkin's birth, which will culminate in his bicentennial year, 1999.
New writers are also given encouragement, with the creation of an annual and lucrative prize awarded for the best new work of fiction. Entries are judged by a distinguished panel, and the publicity which the short-listed novels receive gives them a good chance of future publication in the West.
The "Russian Winter" festival traditionally begins on December 25 and is a secular celebration involving family parties, concerts, New Year trees, fireworks, and the Russian Santa Claus Ded-Moroz (Grandfather Frost). Nowadays Christmas is also a religious celebration, marked on the Orthodox calendar as January 7. In February and March there is a folklore festival, "Farewell to the Russian Winter," with concerts and troika rides.
The long hard winter ends dramatically in April with the cracking of the ice and the appearance of the first spring flowers. During the spring there are several public holidays: March 8 International Women's Day; May 1 and 2 Labor Day/Spring Holiday; May 9 Victory Day (end of World War II). The Spring Music Festival held in April focuses on Russian classical music, ancient and modern. Easter is a solemn religious occasion in the Orthodox Church and is celebrated in April, but rarely on the same date as in the West.
The summer months in Moscow and St. Petersburg are generally sunny and hot: bands play in the public parks and outside palaces. It is the season of outdoor rock concerts and boat parties. A new public holiday is Russian Independence Day, June 12. Also in June, St. Petersburg celebrates the White Nights. For a week or so, when the sun dips below the horizon for no more than 40 minutes in every 24 hours, the city doesn't sleep: the place to be is on the river, where special boat parties and celebrations are organized by the major hotels.
This season tends to be short, and by the Day of National Reconciliation on November 7, temperatures are already near freezing.
Table of Contents
Our Moscow and St. Petersburg, by Christopher and Melanie Rice
St. Petersburg Is
Moscow and St. Petersburg Are: Discusses life and living in Russia's two greatest cities, from the new economic order to art and architecture.
Rich and Poor
St. Petersburg Was
A Window on the West
Moscow and St. Petersburg Were: Places the cities in their historical context and explores those past events whose influences are felt to this day.
A to Z: Covers places to visit, with suggested walks and excursions. Within this section fall the Focus-On articles, which consider a variety of topics in greater detail.
Kreml (The Kremlin)
Krasnaya Ploshchad (Red Square)
Vorobyovie Gory (Sparrow Hills)
Out of Town
Specialist Museums in Moscow
Vasilevskiy Ostrov (Island)
Specialist Museums in St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg Excursions
Entertainment and Nightlife
Eating Out and Accommodations
The Kremlin Towers
The Moscow Metro
The Secret Police
Tolstoy's Country Estate
The Orthodox Church
The Street of Churches
The Red Arrow
Canals and Waterways
The Death of Tchaikovsky
Dostoevsky's St. Petersburg
The Moskva River
Exploring the Arbat
Sergiev Posad (Zagorsk)
Zolotoe Koltso (The Golden Ring)
St. Petersburg Excursions
Tsarskoe Selo (Pushkin)
Travel Facts: Contains the strictly practical information that is vital for a successful trip.
Vaccinations and Medical Facilities
Tourist Information Offices
Hotels and Restaurants: Lists recommended establishments in Moscow and St. Petersburg, giving a brief description of what they offer.