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Off-the-Beaten-Path Attractions in St. Petersburg, Russia

If you have several days in St. Petersburg and have already visited all the typical tourist attractions, it's time to see the real St. Petersburg. For a great look into the history of the city, visit these less-known attractions.

For a trip down memory lane, head to the Cruiser Aurora. A survivor from the Russo-Japanese war, the Aurora was intentionally sunk during WWII and later refloated and converted into a museum. Six halls house technical and mechanical devices, the radio deck house, and boiler compartment. For a small fee, you can tour the engine-room; otherwise, admission to the Aurora is free.

Another must-see attraction is the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography in the city center. While the museum houses an impressive collection of cultural artifacts, most people come here for something else - Peter the Great's collection of curiosities. The equivalent to America's sideshow, the collection includes everything from unusual bugs to preserved body parts and deformed fetuses. Be warned, though - This is not a place for the faint of heart.

If you want to spend some outdoor time, St. Petersburg is full of parks and gardens - Over 200 at last count. The most impressive include the Alexander Garden, with its illuminated musical fountain, and the Summer Garden, St. Petersburg's oldest park, created in 1704 by order of Peter the Great. There are very few botanical gardens in Russia, of which the one in St. Petersburg is certainly the best. It houses over 10,000 species of plants and flowers, including the rare Queen of the Night, which blooms just one night a year.

Finally, don't miss the Artillery Museum. The history of weaponry is well represented here, starting with weapons from the Middle Ages and ending with an astonishing display of heavy artillery that includes big tanks, rocket-launchers and Lenin's armored car.


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