State Hermitage Museum (St. Petersburg; 1 Palace Sq.; tel. 812/710-9079): The museum holds one of the world's best and biggest collections of fine art, from Egyptian carvings to Rembrandt to Impressionist masterpieces. A controversial hall holds so-called trophy art seized from the Germans after World War II. The museum is located in the Winter Palace, stormed in 1917 by revolutionaries arresting Czar Nicholas II's government.
Peter and Paul Fortress (St. Petersburg; Hare's Island or Zaichy Ostrov): This island fort holds the cathedral where the remains of Russia's last royal family are interred, as well as a former mint and several small galleries. It was here that Peter the Great started his project to build this northern capital.
Literary Museums: St. Petersburg has wonderful small museums devoted to Pushkin, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Bulgakov, Gorky, and scores of other Russian writers, though signage is often in Russian only.
Kunstkamera (St. Petersburg; 3 Universitetskaya Naberezhnaya; tel. 812/328-1412): Peter the Great's museum of 18th-century scientific curiosities is not for viewing after lunch. Among exhibits of the foremost technical developments of his day, the museum boasts pickled animals and human heads.
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