Mikhailovsky Castle (St. Michael's Castle)
The late 18th-century Mikhailovsky Castle was designed to appease Emperor Paul I’s fear of being assassinated—an impenetrable fortress, protected by fortified ramparts, drawbridges, secret tunnels, and a moat. The Emperor’s paranoia was well-placed; in an ironic twist of fate, the Tsar was murdered in his sleep barely a month after moving in.
Some of the best views of Mikhailovsky Castle are from the water. Set sail on a cruise of St. Petersburg’s canals and admire the castle’s orange-brick façade, which looks out over the meeting point of the Fontanka and Moika Rivers. The castle now serves as part of the State Russian Museum, hosting permanent and temporary exhibitions in its former staterooms. Most notable are the Portrait Gallery, showcasing Russian portraiture from the 18th-century up until Soviet times, and the collection of 19th- and 20th-century sculptures.
Things to know before you go
- Mikhailovsky Castle is one of the less-visited buildings of the State Russian Museum and makes a great choice for art lovers and those looking to get off-the-beaten-track.
- You can purchase an individual admission ticket for Mikhailovsky Castle or a general entrance ticket to all of the Russian State Museums, which is valid for three days.
- The castle is accessible for wheelchairs and strollers.
How to get there
Mikhailovsky Castle lies along the banks of the Fontanka and Moika Rivers in central St. Petersburg. It’s just a 5-minute walk—through the Mikhailovsky Garden—from the State Russian Museum and the Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood. The closest metro stations are Nevsky Prospekt (Line 2) and Gostinyy dvor (Line 3), both about a 10-minute walk away.
When to get there
The museum at Mikhailovsky Castle is open daily except on Tuesdays. On Thursdays, it is only open in the afternoon but stays open late. It rarely gets crowded, so it’s a good spot to visit at peak periods when the lines for other attractions are long. Sunset or evening cruises afford the best views when the castle is dramatically illuminated.
Visiting the State Russian Museum
The State Russian Museum is among St. Petersburg’s leading art museums, home to the largest collection of Russian fine art in the world. The huge museum is spread over a complex of historic buildings. After admiring the Portrait Gallery at Mikhailovsky Castle, take a stroll through the tree-lined paths of the Mikhailovsky Garden to the nearby Mikhailovsky Palace to browse the main collection, then head next door to visit the Benoit Wing, housing the collections of 19th- and 20th-century art.
- Yusupov Palace (Yusupovsky Dvorets)
- Russian Museum of Ethnography
- Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
- State Memorial Museum of Leningrad Defense and Siege
- State Russian Museum (Russkiy Muzey)
- Summer Palace of Peter the Great (Letniy Dvorets)
- Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines
- Fabergé Museum
- The Anna Akhmatova Museum
- Nevsky Prospekt
- Anichkov Palace
- Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan (Kazansky Sobor)
- Pushkin Museum
- Alexandrinsky Theatre
- Neva River (Reka Neva)