Arts and Culture

St. Petersburg

Arts and Culture Activities

Students on the Princeton in St. Petersburg program may participate in a number of cultural activities. Excursions led by English-speaking guides will introduce them to St. Petersburg’s rich cultural heritage and complement the students’ course work. In the past, options have included the following:

Dostoevsky Memorial Museum

Dostoevsky disliked the Imperial neo-classical beauty of St. Petersburg. Unlike the poet Alexander Pushkin, he did not appreciate the solemn side of the Northern capital of Russia. He preferred the somber aspects of the city, and he always resided in the darker areas of it, where his own characters lived.

We will visit Dostoevsky's apartment on Kuznechnyi Lane, where the writer lived during the last three years of his life with his wife and children, and where he wrote his last novel The Brothers Karamazov. This apartment is located near the bustling Haymarket Square, where Raskolnikov makes a symbolic gesture of repentance for his crime by kissing the earth.

From the balcony of Dostoevsky's apartment one can see St. Vladimir cathedral, the church Dostoevsky regularly visited during the last years of his life. Like other places in St. Petersburg where he lived, the location of this apartment was meaningful for him. It faces an intersection, essential for Dostoevsky, for whom thresholds, gates, and crossroads symbolized human freedom and the possibility of choice.

Learn more about the Dostoevsky Memorial Museum.

St. Petersburg Bus Tour 

Giving students a brief overview of the sights, this tour, which is recommended near the beginning of the program, is a great way to orient oneself in St. Petersburg.

Crime and Punishment Walking Tour 

Learn about the St. Petersburg cityscape in the time of Dostoevsky on this tour, which includes Haymarket Square, the house in which Sonya, had a room, Raskolnikov’s path to the pawnbroker and two possibilities for the location of Raskolnikov’s garret room. Try to solve the mystery by counting the steps it takes to get between these places as described in Crime and Punishment.

Above: The staircase of the Old Pawnbroker's house

Peter and Paul Fortress

When St. Petersburg was founded in 1703, the Peter and Paul Fortress was one of the first completed structures. Today, it contains the Peter and Paul Cathedral, where Russia’s tsars from Peter the Great to Nicholas II are buried, the Trubetskoy Bastion Prison, in which Dostoevsky, Gorky and Trotsky were at various times incarcerated, and other buildings housing exhibitions on St. Petersburg history. Take a stroll along the Southern Wall for great views of the city.

Student Trip to Novgorod

Students will be able to compare first-hand the Western-oriented northern capital to other Russian cities. In the past, they have celebrated the mid-point of the program (after completing one semester’s worth of instruction) with a one-day trip to the ancient Russian city of Novgorod. Visitors to the city can see the 11th century St. Sophia Cathedral, along with numerous other churches and an extremely well-restored Kremlin. Sampling traditional Novgorodian cuisine at the restaurant Detinets in one of the Kremlin towers is a particular treat. Students in the past have also visited a nearby working monastery and an outdoor museum of peasant life and architecture. In the evenings in Novgorod one can stroll through the Kremlin grounds or take cruise on a river boat. 

Derzhavin Institute

The Derzhavin Institute is a non-governmental educational institution. It was founded in 2003 with the participation of the All-Russia Pushkin Museum, the largest literary museum in Russia.

The Derzhavin Institute became a full-fledged academic institution because of its outstanding Russian language instruction. All Derzhavin instructors are experienced in teaching Russian to foreign students.

Princeton in St. Petersburg Program

Princeton in St. Petersburg Program