The tsars are remembered for their lavish palaces – monuments of decadence that encouraged peasants and factory workers to take up arms in the Russian Revolution. But Peter the Great, the tsar who built St. Petersburg and put Russia on the path of Westernization in just 30 years, did not live in the lap of luxury. His first palace in Petersburg was a mere 710 square feet, smaller than the average one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan.

Today, this palace is most likely the smallest palace in the world.



In New York City, most subway stations are only a few stories below ground (although some of course do go down further, as we’ve shown). In St. Petersburg’s subway, getting from the street to the trains can take up to five minutes. Or at least it does at Admiralteyskaya station, the deepest subway station in Russia and among the five deepest metro stations in the world.

With the typical platform lying 187 feet below ground, St. Petersburg boasts the deepest subway system in the world. Admiralteyskaya is 282 feet deep. For some perspective, this is about a fifth of the height of the Empire State Building. And it is almost a hundred feet lower than New York City’s deepest subway station.



In cities, courtyards are often places to wind down or discover hidden nuggets of local history. In St. Petersburg, they’re a space for imagination.

Venture into the alleys between buildings and every so often you’re rewarded with a garden of art. The interior walls of buildings are covered in colorful mosaics or four-story paintings. Sculptures of characters from classic Russian fairy tales stand impishly in flowerbeds.