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  • Griboyedov Canal, St. Petersburg, Russia
    Griboyedov Canal

St. Petersburg

Once a swamp, then an imperial capital, and now a showpiece of vanished aristocratic opulence shot through with the dingy ruins of communism, St. Petersburg is Russia's most accessible and most tourist-worthy city. (It's also, arguably, European Russia's least "Russian" city.) Palaces, gardens, statues, and arched bridges over graceful waterways bring back the time of the czars, and two of the world's greatest art museums and some sumptuous Orthodox churches top it off. Beyond its venerable sights, St. Petersburg gives first-timers a perfect peek into the enigmatic Russian culture.