logo
logo

Study Trip

Discovering Russia’s Historic Capitals: Moscow and St Petersburg

Wednesday, 9 – Friday, 18 August 2017
Leader: Khun Pikulkeaw Krairiksh, President of the Siam Society

 

 

With an area of 17 million sq km, stretching from Europe to the Pacific Ocean, Russian is the world’s largest country, with an unparalleled ethnic and geographical diversity. The country’s epic history is reflected in its rich culture of arts, literature, music, ballet and drama. The bustling cities of Moscow and St Petersburg are vanguards of Russian culture as well as being home to iconic onion-domed cathedral, stunning imperial palaces and superb museums.

In most old Russian cities is a kremlin (fortress), a reminder of the land’s many invasions and conquests, with a glittering skyline of gilded cupolar and red stars symbolizing the fusion of Holy Russia and Soviet power.  Moscow’s Kremlin serves as the seat of the Russian government. For over 200 years, however, the Tsarist Empire was ruled from St Petersburg, a splendid city aptly described as the Venice of the North. The decline of the Tsarist Empire marked the beginning of the Soviet era, with Russia as the leading constituents of the Soviet Union born of the October Revolution of 1917. As the world’s first socialist state, it boasted of overthrowing capitalism and establishing a classless communist utopia. However, the Soviet system failed to satisfy its citizen’s material aspirations and fell behind its Western and Asian competitors. Its dissolution in 1991 led to Russia’s transition from communism to capitalism. Today’s Russia comprised three-quarters of the territory of the former Soviet Union. Russian is home to a great diversity of ethnic minorities, from camel-riding Kalmyks in southern Russia and reindeer-herding Nenets in Siberia to Tatars fishing on the Volga and Sakha in the Far East.

Of the country’s 160 recognized ethnic groups, nearly 81 percent of citizens identify themselves as Russians. Tartars (4%) Ukrainians (1%), Baskkir (1%), Chechens (1%) and Armenian (1%) and over 100 languages are spoken across the country.

Russians are intensely proud of their culture, language and arts, and tourism is now a major industry in the country. Outside the booming urban hubs of Moscow and St Petersburg are charming historic cities, spa towns and a diverse landscape of the great lakes, beaches, rolling plains and icy wastes. This vibrant mix of mesmerizing attractions, amazing landscapes and fascinating culture makes a visit of Russia a truly enriching experience.

Moscow: The capital city Russia, lies at the heart of European Russia. Spread over an area of 2,510 sq km, the city grew up around a hilltop citadel, or Kremlin. In medieval times, the adjacent quarter of Kitay Gorod was Moscow’s commercial hub. In 1812, almost the entire city was burnt to the ground in the great fire, lit deliberately by Muscovites to deny Napolean possession of the city. Home of around 10 million today, Moscow is a mix of beautiful pre-Revolutionary architecture and communist landmarks from the Soviet era. Most of the sights are situated in the city centre, within the area bounded by the Garden Ring and the Boulevard Ring.

St Petersburg: Located at the head of the Gulf of Finland, St Petersburg covers an area of 650 sq km. Founded by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703, this 300-years-old settlement has gradually evolved into a modern European city, straddling a series of islands in the Neva delta. It has a magnificent waterfront panorama of baroque and neo-classical palaces, which are reflected in the water of its canals. A network of bridges affords splendid views of the city, which can often be seen like a gigantic stage set for real-life historical dramas. St Petersburg has many faces; it was a magnificent city reflecting the majesty of the Russian Empire. Then it was the “Cradle of the Revolution”, where Lenin came to power. During World War II it was a symbol of national pride. Today it is Russian’s cultural capital, with a wonderfully preserved heritage and the centre of an international arts programme.

St Petersburg boasts more than 90 museums, many of them housed in palaces or other builgings of historical importance. Some are well known throughout the world. There are many stunning imperial palaces, each one of them offers splendid interiors as well as beautiful laid out parks and gardens with lakes. St Petersburg is one of the most important cultural enters in Europe.

 

The tentative programme will be as follows:

Day 1: Wednesday, 9 August:  Bangkok - Moscow

7:30 a.m. Meet at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport, check in counter for Emirates Airlines, Row T
9:55 a.m. Depart Bangkok for Dubai by Emirates Airlines, flight EK375
1:00 p.m. Arrive Dubai Airport, transit for flight to Moscow
4:50 p.m. Depart Dubai for Moscow by Emirates Airlines, flight EK131
9:05 p.m. Arrive at Moscow Sheremetyevo International Airport, transfer to Hotel National.
Evening: Overnight at the Hotel National in Moscow.

Day 2: Thursday, 10 August:  Moscow - The Kremlin & Armoury Chamber

- Breakfast at the hotel.
Morning: Visit the Kremlin. Citadel of the tsars, headquarters of the Soviet Union and now residence of the Russian president. The Kremlin has been a symbol of the power of the State for centuries. In 1156, Prince Yuri Dolgorukiy chose the confluence of the Moskva and Neglinnya rivers as the site for the first wooden Kremlin (mean fortress). Later, in the 15th century, Tsar Ivan the Great organized a large-scale reconstruction project, inviting several Italian masters to build a sumptuous new complex. They designed the present magnificent ensemble of cathedrals and other buildings in a fascinating fusion of early-Russian and Renaissance styles.
Today, parts of Kremlin are accessible to the public, and highlights including the Armoury Chamber, the Patriach’s Palace and the churches in Cathedral Square are open to visitors. Christians have worshipped at is site for more than eight centuries, but their early stone churches were demolished in the 1470s to make way for the present magnificent ensemble of cathedrals. In imperial times, these were the setting of great state occasions such as coronations, baptisms and burials.
Noon: Lunch at local restaurant.
Afternoon: Visit Red Square. Red Square was created as a market square beside the Kremlin in the late 15th century. Today, it is a major cultural and historic area.
- Visit St Basil’s Cathedral, commissioned in 1552 by Ivan the terrible to celebrate the capture of the Mongol stronghold of Kazan, and completed in 1561, the Gum (the covered market), and Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, built in 2006, it is one of the largest cathedrals in Russia. Facing the main square and with its brilliant white marble façade and golden domes, this cathedral is testament to the bold resurgence of the Orthodox faith in Russia.
Evening: Dinner at local restaurant.
- Overnight at Hotel National in Moscow.

Day 3: Friday, 11 August:  Moscow

- Breakfast at the hotel.
Morning: Proceed to the south of the city centre and visit the most spectacular and probably the most beautiful of the semi-circle of fortified religions institutions of south of Moscow is Novodevichiy Convent and its Cemetery, founded by Basil III in 1524 to commemorate the capture of Smolensk from Lithuanians. The only building to be built at this time was the Cathedral of the Virgin of Smolenk. Most of the other buildings were added in the late 17th century by Peter the Great’s half-sister, the Regent Sophia. Many famous Russians are buried in this Novodevichiy Cemetery. Among the leading cultural figures are playwright Anton Chekhov, writer Nikolai Gogol, composes Sergei Prokofiev. The cemetery is also the final resting place for numerous military and political dignitaries from the Soviet era, including the former Russian premier Nikita Khrushchev and the first President of the Russian Federation, Boris Yeltsin. The cemetery has a park-like ambiance, dotted with small chapels and beautiful monuments.
Noon: Lunch at local restaurant.
Afternoon: Visit Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. Founded in 1898, the Pushkin State Museum houses a fine collection of works from antiquity to the early 19th century. The ground floor houses all of the works from ancient civilizations as well as Byzantine art, Italian, Dutch and Flemish art from the 13th to the 17th centuries. Spanish, Italian and French art from the 17th to the early 19th century is upstairs. The displays are spread over two floors. The design of the museum building borrows from Ancient Greece, Italy, France and Germany to create impressive looking.
Early evening: Visit the Moscow Metro. See the splendid decorations of its station, which are often called “the underground palaces of Moscow”.
- Dinner at own arrangement.
- Overnight at Hotel National in Moscow.

Day 4: Saturday 12 August:  Moscow - Vladimir & Bogolyubovo – Suzdal

- Breakfast at the hotel.
Morning: Check out and proceed to visit some magnificent monasteries and historic sites in the surrounding region of Moscow, Vladimir and Suzdal. Vladimir was founded in the late 10th century. The city began to flourish under Prince Yuri Dolgorukiy’s son Andrey Bogolynbskiy, who made it the capital of the new principality of Vladimir-Suzdal.
Noon: Lunch at local restaurant.
Afternoon: Visit the Cathedral of the Assumption. It was built in 1158-60 and originally decorated with prodigious quantities of gold and silver, gems and majolica tiles. Craftsman came from all over Russia, Poland and Holy Roman Empire to contribute to what was then the tallest building in Russia.
- Visit the Golden Gate. Constructed in 1164, it combines the functions of a triumphal arch and defensive bastion (over the centuries the gate has sunk 2 m. into the ground due to the weight).
Then visit Bogolyubovo, a town located in the outskirts of Vladimir meaning “loved by God” in Russian. This ancient town was founded in 1158 by order of prince Andrey Bogolyubsky. According to a legend, the prince spent the night on this spot and saw Virgin Mary who ordered him to found the settlement and build a monastery. See the main UNESCO sites of the area: the Church of the Intervention, the ruins of Prince Bogolyubsky’s castle with its Staircase Tower, the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin and the Church of the Intercession on the Nerl.
Late afternoon: Continue to Suzdal (35 km.) Nestling on the banks of the Kamenka river, Suzdal is the best preserved of the Golden Ring towns. Its clusters of 17th century and 18th century churches, built by local merchants, and its low wooden houses with traditional carved caves and windows, make this the most attractive town in the Vladimir region.
Evening: Dinner at local restaurant and overnight at Hotel Heliopark in Suzdal.

Day 5: Sunday, 13 August:  Suzdal -  Yaroslavl

- Breakfast at the hotel and check out.
Morning: Sightseeing in the city of Suzdal. The first records of Suzdal date from 1024, a century after which, Moscow’s founder Prince Yuri Dolgorukiy built Suzdal’s Kremlin on a grassy rampart above the river. Today, it is one of the several historic buildings that constitute the Vladimir & Suzdal Museum of Historical, Art & Architecture. The Kremlin’s dominant building is the Cathedral of the Nativity with its blue, starspangled dooms. Although it was built in the 13th century, most of the current building dates from the 16th century. Suzdal also contains five important religious foundations, including the Monastery of the Savious and St Euphemius, once the richest monastery in the area. On the southwest edge of town is the Museum of Wooden Architecture – an open-air exhibition of wooden buildings brought from across the Vladimir region. Particularly impressive is the 1756 Church of the Transfiguration.
Noon: Lunch at local restaurant.
Afternoon: Proceed to Yaroslavl (194 km.) Founded in 1010 on the banks of the Volga river by Prince Yaroslav the Wise. Yaroslavl later became a wealthy commercial and industrial town that rivaled Moscow until the 17th century. Yaroslavl’s merchants endowed it with splendid churches, many of them within the complex of the Monastery of our Saviour and Transfiguration.
- Visit the Spassky Monastery and Church of Elijah the Prophet.
Evening: Dinner at local restaurant and overnight at Hotel Park Inn in Yaroslavl

Day 6: Monday 14 August:  Yaroslavl – Sergiev Posad - St Petersburg

- Breakfast at the hotel.
Morning: Short visit Rostov Kremlin.
Noon: Lunch at local restaurant.
Afternoon: Proceed to visit Sergiev Posad (147 km.) known as “Russian Vatican” for its magnificent blue and golden cupolas scattered all around the town.
- Visit the Trinity Monastery of St Sergius in Sergiev-Possad is one of Russia’s most important religious centres and places of pilgrimage. The huge complex is enclosed by white walls around 2 km. in length, and its stunning churches are among the most beautiful in Russia.
Late afternoon: Transfer to Moscow Sheremetyero International Airport.
Enroute: Dinner at local restaurant and proceed to the airport.
8.25-9.45 p.m. Depart Moscow to St Petersburg by Aeroflot, flight SU0010
- Arrive at St Petersburg Airport and transfer to Hotel Crown Plaza.
Evening: Overnight at Hotel Crown Plaza in St Petersburg.

Day 7: Tuesday 15 August:  St Petersburg

- Breakfast at the hotel.
- St Petersburg founded by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703, within ten years St Petersburg had become capital of the vast Russian Empire and quickly gained a reputation as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. Like its waterbound sisters, Amsterdam and Venice, St Petersburg is built around a network of canals and rivers which are still the lifeblood of the city. A walk or a boat trip is the best way to enjoy the sightseeing of the city.
Morning: We will depart the hotel to visit Peterhof Park by Hydrofoil. The grounds at Peterhof include the Upper, Lower and Alexandia park, covering an area of around 1,500 acres. As well as the numerous palaces and fountains, there are tree-lined advenus, wooded paths and the Baltic shore. Peterhof stands at the centre of a magnificent landscaped.
Noon: Lunch at local restaurant.
Afternoon: Visit Tsarskoe Selo (Catherine Palace) The lavish imperial palace at Tsarskoe Selo was designed by the Italian architect Rastrelli in 1752 for Tsarina Elizabeth (The architect came to Russia with his father in 1716 to work for Peter the Great. His rich Baroque style became highly fashionable and he was appointed Chief Court Architect in 1738). Tsarina Elizabeth named it the Catherine Palace in honour of her mother, Catherine I, who originally owned the estate. The next ruler to leave a mark on the palace was Catherine the Great, and during her reign she commissioned the Scotsman Charles Cameron to redesign the Baroque interiors according to her more Neo-Classical taste. Cameron also built an ensemble of buildings for taking traditional Russian cold and warm baths, containing the Agate rooms, and the Cameron Gallery. Post-war restoration continues and 35 state rooms are now open, as well as the beautiful park.
Evening: Return to the hotel and dinner at local restaurant.
- Overnight at Hotel Crown Plaza in St Petersburg.

Day 8: Wednesday 16 August:  St Petersburg

- Breakfast at the hotel and enjoy a great day in St Petersburg.
Morning: Visit St Isaac’s Cathedral. St Isaac’s, one of the world’s largest cathedrals, was designed in 1818 by the architect Auguste de Montferrand. The cathedral opened in 1858 but was deconsecrated and became a museum of atheisism during the Soviet era. Officially still a museum today, the church is filled with hundreds of 19th century works of art.
- Visit the Church of Spilled Blood, also known as the Resurrection Church of Our Saviour, was built on the spot where on 1 March 1881 Tsar Alexander II was assinated. In 1883 his successor, Alexander III, launched a competition for a permanent memorial. The foundation stone was laid in October 1883.
- Visit the Peter and Paul Fortress. The founding of Peter and Paul Fortress in May 1703, on the order of Peter the Great, is considered to mark the founding of the city. It was first built of wood and was later replaced section by section with stone. The fortress and its bastions were later used to guard and torture many political prisoners. The cells where prisoners were once kept are open to the public, alongside a couple of museums and the magnificent cathedral which houses the tombs of the Romanovs.
Noon: Lunch at local restaurant.
Afternoon: Visit the Hermitage Museum, one of the largest museums in the world. Catherine the Great purchased some of Western Europe’s best collections between 1764 and 1774, acquiring over 2,500 paintings, 10,000 carved gems, 10,000 drawings and a vast amount of silver and porcelain with which to adorn her palaces. After the Revolution, the nationalization of both royal and private property brought more paintings and works of applied art, making the Hermitage one of the world’s leading museums. It is impossible to absorb the Hermitage’s vast collection in one or even two visits. The most impressive building is the Winter Palace which is a superb example of Russian Baroque. Built for Tsarina Elizabeth, this opulent winter residence was the finest achievement of Bartolomeo Rastreli. Though the exterior has changed little  the interiors were altered by a number of architects.
Evening: Enjoy a private boat ride along the rivers and canals of St Petersburg and see the city from a completely new perspective.
- Dinner at own arrangement.
- Overnight at Hotel Crown Plaza in St Petersburg.

Day 9: Thursday 17 August:  St Petersburg – Bangkok

- Breakfast at the hotel.
Morning: At leisure at the hotel.
11:30 a.m. Check out
1:30 p.m. Transfer to St Petersburg Airport.
5:00 p.m. Depart St Petersburg Airport for Dubai by Emirates Airlines, flight EK176
11:59 p.m. Arrive at Dubai Airport, transfer for connecting flight to Bangkok.

Day 10: Friday 18 August:  Bangkok

3:00 a.m. Depart Dubai for Bangkok by Emirates Airlines, flight EK384
12:30 p.m. Arrive at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Booking

Bt. 125,500.- (or Bt. 128,500.-  for non-members). Single room surcharge Bt. 16,000.- A deposit of Bt. 30,000.-  and photocopy of passport much accompany the booking. Payment in full is required one month before the start of the trip (i.e. by Friday, 7 July). Please pay by cash or cheque payable to ‘The Siam Society”. Alternatively you can deposit/transfer the money to the Siam Society travel account at the Thai Military Bank, Asoke Branch saving account no. 053-2-18000-7. Please fax or e-mail the deposit or transfer docket to us.

Your reservation will be confirmed as soon as the deposit has been made. There is a 4% surcharge for credit/debit card payment to cover bank charges.

Includes/Excludes:

The contribution includes domestic airfares: Moscow – St Petersburg (economy class), 8 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 6 dinners, accommodation for two persons per room, entrance fees, tips to local guide and driver and other costs incurred to make this trip possible.

It excludes international airfares on Bangkok – Dubai - Moscow, St Petersburg - Dubai – Bangkok, visa fee, personal expenses, tips for additional service, any chargeable beverages/ drinks (e.g. hotel minibar), payment or offering for photographing and video shooting, individual service apart from the group, other expense of personal nature like telephone calls, laundry etc.

We have decided to offer this trip without including the international airfare but for those who would like us to book and buy international airfare can be arranged for the price at the date of booking.

Cancellation charge:

30 days before the start of the trip:                       No cancellation charge
30 – 15 days before the start of the trip:                50% of the tour cost
Less than 15 days or cancellation without notice:    No refund

The Siam Society reserves the right to change the programme as necessary. Seats are limited. Please book your place as soon as possible. For further information and bookings please contact Khun Prasert or Khun Supanut.