St. Basil’s Cathedral and Spasskaya tower
St. Basil’s Cathedral and Spasskaya tower

Archaeological Tours

Russia: Culture, Art & History

From Moscow to St. Petersburg, embark upon an epic journey across Russia. From Moscow’s majestic domes to the magnificence of the World Heritage Site of Yaroslavl, experience the picturesque landscapes and world-class museums of Russia’s Golden Ring — a famous travel route in western Russia. On this panoramic tour, we visit Old and New World cities alike, and take a boat trip on the Volga. 

Russian palaces and kremlins are home to some of the world’s most stunning and detailed architecture, and some of its darkest history. We tour the kremlins of Moscow, Novgorod, and Suzdal, and step inside sumptuous palaces such as Peterhof, known as ‘the Russian Versailles’, and Yusupov, where Rasputin was murdered. We explore monasteries and cathedrals dating back centuries, some of which house the tombs of Russian cultural heavyweights from Glinka to Tchaikovsky. Our tour allows us to walk among some of Russia’s greatest masterpieces in the Hermitage Storerooms, which hold royal carriages, palace furniture, and world-class artworks.

What's included?

  •  Expert scholar & tour manager
  •  Accommodation
  •  A/C coach
  •  Flights (excluding airfare from the US)
  •  Entries & tips
  •  Meals - as per the itinerary
  •  Three lectures from your expert scholar
  •  A study guide, reading list, and other useful tour documentation compiled by your expert scholar and your Archaeological Tours team
  •  A name badge, luggage strap and bag tag

Led by...

Professor Ori Soltes

Professor Ori Soltes Expert Scholar

Professor Ori Soltes is Professorial Lecturer at Georgetown University and has also taught in the Classics Department at Johns Hopkins and Cleveland State Universities.

Full Price
$9,995

Today's Price
$9,795

Saving
$200

Deposit: $1,250 Single supplement: $1,700

Tour highlights:

  • Meet Pavel Palazhchenko; a high-level Soviet conference interpreter and principal English interpreter for Mikhail Gorbachev. As one of the leading interpreters of his time, Palazhchenko participated in all US-Soviet summit talks leading to the end of the Cold War
  • Discover the Kremlin, the fortified complex in the heart of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River
  • Explore the newly opened Wood Museum, which displays medieval wooden architecture as well as restores and conserves artifacts
  • Visit the metropolis of St. Petersburg and encounter high art, impressive architecture, and extraordinary history
  • Travel to Vladimir, former capital of medieval Russia and home to the impressive five-domed Assumption Cathedral

Tour details

Dates July 31 2020 - August 12 2020
Duration 13 days
Cost
Full Price
$9,995
Today's Price
$9,795
Saving
$200
Deposit: $1,250 Single supplement: $1,700 Balance due by May 8 2020
Activity Level
Tour code A20RUS

Call for availability

July 31 2020: Itinerary

Upon arrival into Moscow, we transfer to our hotel. This evening we enjoy a lecture and a welcome dinner as a group.

Meals include: Dinner

Hotel: Metropol Hotel, Moscow

We begin our exploration of Moscow at the State Historical Museum in the Red Square. From here, we explore the Red Square and its surrounding area. Admire its prominent landmark of St. Basil’s Cathedral, whose architects were supposedly blinded by Ivan the Terrible so that they could never again recreate such splendor. We have lunch at the Tsereteli Art Gallery restaurant, which is decorated with frescoes, bronze bas-reliefs and mosaics by the famous Russian sculptor, Zurab Tsereteli. Over lunch, we meet with Pavel Palazhchenko, a high-level Soviet conference interpreter. After this privileged experience, we pay a visit to the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. This is one of Russia’s most important cathedrals, which was destroyed in Stalin’s time and restored in 1990. After, we travel to the Novodevichy convent and its cemetery – the final resting place of Nikita Khrushchev, Raisa Gorbachev, and Boris Yeltsin.

All meals included

Hotel: Metropol Hotel, Moscow

For centuries, the Kremlin has witnessed many well-known and tragic events in Russia’s past and is considered a treasure trove of Russian history. Our tour starts at the extraordinary State Armory – the oldest museum in Russia and home to a vast selection of precious stones, 18th and 19th century jewelry, and other priceless artifacts dating as far back as the 14th century. This is a before-hours visit and then we proceed with the dazzling exhibition of the royal jewelry at the State Diamond Fund. After, we visit two of the Kremlin’s cathedrals: Assumption, the cathedral of coronations and the burial place of religious leaders, and Archangel, the royal burial. Lunch is at the Ruski restaurant, located on the 85th floor of OKO tower and boasting stunning views over the city. Our sightseeing this afternoon also takes in the highlights of the world’s best collection of Russian icons and pre-Revolutionary Russian art at the eye-catching Tretyakov Gallery, whose collection today consists of over 100,000 works of art. We end our day with a trip on the Moscow metro, known for its elaborate stations.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Metropol Hotel, Moscow

This morning we check out of our hotel and proceed to the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, which will be opened exclusively for us on its official day off. Here, we can see what is known as “Priam’s Treasure,” the spoils of the ancient city of Troy. Later, we drive to Sergiev Possad, where we visit the remarkable Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius, the Russian Orthodox equivalent of the Vatican. The town itself claims to be the birthplace of the matryoshka, the ubiquitous nesting doll. From here, we continue on to the town of Suzdal.

All meals included

Hotel: Pushkarskaya Sloboda, Suzdal

An exploration of the ancient town of Suzdal awaits us today. We visit the most famous sights, such as the Museum of Wooden Architecture and Peasant Life, the Church of the Transfiguration, the Monastery of Our Saviour, the Church of the Annunciation, and the Church of Nativity. In keeping with this town’s traditional feel, part of our sightseeing will be done from horse-drawn carriages. After lunch at a local restaurant, we continue to Vladimir, a town founded by Vladimir Monamakh in 1108 as a fort in the Rostov-Suzdal municipality. The most significant building made during his reign is the stunning 12th century Cathedral of the Assumption, which houses frescoes created by the greatest of old Russian painters, Andrei Rublyov. The remainder of our day is spent at leisure.

All meals included

Hotel: Pushkarskaya Sloboda, Suzdal

Today, we make our way to Moscow via Vladimir. Here, we visit Church of the Intercession on the Nerl – an Orthodox church and a symbol of medieval Russia. Next, we board a flight to Kazan and transfer to our hotel. Our evening meal will be at a traditional Russian restaurant.

All meals included

Hotel: Kazan Palace

The 15th century island-town of Sviyazhsk, which was witness to Ivan the Terrible and a Soviet gulag camp, is our first destination today. Ivan the Terrible erected this island town, which – according to legend – was praised by Pushkin in “The Tale of Tsar Saltan”, after several attempts to conquer Kazan. Museums here tell us about the town’s past during the times of the Civil and Patriotic Wars, in which 70% of local residents died, as well as the locals’ way of life in the Middle Ages. Next, we discover the Wood Museum, Russia’s first dedicated solely to archaeological wood, which was opened here in September 2018. We enjoy a tour from the museum’s curator and, after lunch, we return to Kazan to visit its ancient Kremlin. Dinner follows later at a local restaurant. 

All meals included

Hotel: Kazan Palace

Early this morning, we transfer to Kazan’s domestic airport for a flight to St. Petersburg, where we have some time to rest in our hotel. Upon arrival at the hotel, however, there will be a welcome cocktail and traditional Russian balalaika entertainment waiting. Later, we experience this city in the manner Peter the Great intended, with a private journey aboard a canal boat. The boat will bring us to the Peter & Paul fortress, which Peter the Great built in 1703 to provide protection from the Swedes. The Fortress Cathedral is the burial place of most of Russia’s Tsars and Tsarinas, including Peter the Great himself, the great architect of our destination. 

All meals included

Hotel: Belmond Grand Hotel, St Petersburg

Today we enjoy a city orientation tour, which sees us visit the Church of the Resurrection of Christ (known as the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood). This church was built on the spot where Alexander II was fatally wounded in 1881, hence the more commonly used name. From here, we visit St. Isaac's Cathedral, whose gilded dome dominates the skyline. Sculptures and massive red granite columns ornament the façade, while the interior is even more lavishly decorated with mosaics, icons and columns of malachite and lapis lazuli. Lunch will be at Korushka restaurant, in Petropavlovskaya Tower. In the afternoon, we will tour the sumptuous Yusupov Palace, also known as Moika Palace. This long yellow building was once the residence of the wealthy and respected Yusupov family, and saw one of the most dramatic episodes in Russia's history - the murder of Grigory Rasputin the "mad monk", advisor to the last Romanov Tsar and Tsarina. Visit the basement room where Rasputin drank poisoned wine while Yusupov and his conspirators sat upstairs plotting his demise. His story is a gruesome yet fascinating one.

 

All meals included

Hotel: Belmond Grand Hotel, St Petersburg

This morning we make our way to Tsarskoe Selo (the Tsar's Village), more commonly known as Pushkin. Peter the Great gave the estate to his wife Catherine, who started to develop the royal country residence, but it was her daughter Empress Elizabeth who was largely responsible for the construction of the beautiful Catherine's Palace. Set in landscaped parkland, one of the baroque palace's highlights is the famous Amber Room, a chamber decorated with amber panels backed with gold leaf and mirrors which has been restored to its original glory. There are numerous other architectural delights, such as the Hermitage Pavilion and the neoclassical Alexander Palace, the favourite residence of Tsar Nicholas II. Lunch follows at the Podvorie restaurant, and then we move on to the new Faberge Museum. Founded by Russia’s fourth wealthiest businessman and billionaire, Viktor Vekselberg, it was opened in St. Petersburg to display a glittering collection of eggs as well as about 4,000 jeweled objects d’art.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Belmond Grand Hotel, St Petersburg

The chance to enjoy the beauty of one the oldest cities in northern Russia is ours today. Novgorod is rare in not having suffered the full weight of the Mongol-Tatars invasion, which is why many of the ancient monuments are still intact. Our tour of the city includes a visit to one of the ancient architectural ensembles, the Kremlin. The main sight here is St. Sophia’s Cathedral, built in the early 11th century to imitate the famous St. Sophia’s Cathedral in Kiev. We also visit the Vitoslavitsy Open-Air Museum of Wooden Buildings, which occupies 30 hectares and contains restored churches, houses, and peasant huts from the Novgorod region.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Belmond Grand Hotel, St Petersburg

We take a drive to Peterhof this morning, the great summer estate and artistic gem of Peter the Great, nestled on the shore of the Gulf of Finland. After his victory over the Swedes at Poltava in 1709, Peter decided to build a palace "befitting of the very highest of monarchs" and a visit to Versailles in 1717 furthered these ambitions. Over 5,000 labourers, serfs and soldiers were employed in the creation of this magnificent estate, which was officially opened in 1723. The park features numerous palaces, summer houses and pavilions; a prominent highlight is the Grand Cascade, a delightful sequence of 37 gilded bronze sculptures, 64 fountains and 142 water jets descending from the terraces of the Great Palace to the Marine Canal and the sea. To avoid the crowds, the Grand Palace is opened for us before the official opening hours begin. We return to St. Petersburg for lunch at the Russian Vodka Room No.1, a classic restaurant with the widest selection of vodka in the city. In the evening, the Hermitage Museum, situated in the lavish Winter Palace, will be opened exclusively for us. It occupies six magnificent buildings and houses 3 million pieces of artwork from the Stone Age to modern times. The main building and largest part of the museum is the rococo-style Winter Palace, residence of the Czars from 1762 to 1917. The museum was commissioned by Catherine the Great, and she and her successors built the Hermitage collection in large part with purchases of the private collections of the Western European aristocracy and monarchy. By the time Nicholas II ascended the throne in 1894, he was heir to the greatest collection of art in Europe. A farewell dinner rounds off this memorable final day. 

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Belmond Grand Hotel, St Petersburg

Today, we return to the airport for our individual flights home or independent onward travel.

Meals include: Breakfast

July 31 2020: Additional Info

July 31 2020: Accommodation

Opposite the Bolshoi Theatre in the heart of Moscow, this historical hotel features a pool and gym. It offers free parking, as well as free WiFi throughout the property.

The historic Metropol has Art Nouveau-style rooms with large windows, chandeliers and antique ornaments. All rooms and suites are air conditioned and include a flat-screen TV, bathrobes, free toiletries and slippers.

Guests enjoy a large breakfast buffet and European dishes in Metropol Restaurant. Drinks and desserts are available in the stylish Shalyapin Bar.

For relaxation, the Metropol offers a sauna, massages and a beauty salon.

Within a 3-minute walk are the Kremlin, the Red Square and the Teatral’naya Metro Station.

Modern spa and leisure facilities, international cuisine, and rooms with panoramic views of the River Kamenka and Suzdal Kremlin are offered by this 4-star hotel. It has a 24-hour reception.

Pushkarskaya Sloboda Hotel consists of several 19th-century buildings, traditional Russian log cabins, and a modern annex. All rooms and suites feature a flat-screen TV, minibar, and private bathroom. Wi-Fi is free.

Spa facilities at the hotel include hammam and beauty salon. A games room with billiard table and a children’s playground are also available.

Russian specialities and varied European dishes are served in Pushkarskaya Sloboda’s à la carte restaurants. Each day starts with a varied buffet breakfast.

Kazan Palace by Tasigo features a garden, fitness centre, a bar and spa and wellness centre in Kazan. Among the facilities of this property are a restaurant, a 24-hour front desk and room service, along with free WiFi. The hotel offers an indoor pool, hammam and an ATM.

At the hotel, all rooms are fitted with a desk, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom. The units at Kazan Palace by Tasigo feature air conditioning and a wardrobe.

The accommodation offers a buffet or à la carte breakfast.

The property has an on-site sauna, hairdresser's and business centre.

The Belmond Grand Hotel has played a central role in the St Petersburg for 140 years. A truly iconic building, it stands on Nevsky Prospekt among the city’s great architectural treasures.

Located next to Arts Square, it is one of the most glamorous hotels in St Petersburg. Deeply connected with the worlds of theatre, music and dance, a stay here shows you the true spirit of the country, especially during the White Days of winter—when snow lies outside and a warm welcome awaits within.

The hotel has 266 rooms and suites, five restaurants and bars and is 17km from Pulkovo Airport.

July 31 2020: Enquiries

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