Sights in Kiev, Ukraine

Kiev is the capital of the Ukraine and is home to nice museums, beautiful churches, monuments, and cultural institutions worth checking out.

  • Sophia’s Cathedral—the city’s oldest standing church with original mosaics and frescoes dating back to 1017-1031, gold domes, a high bell tower, cast-iron tile floors which date from the 18th century, and art galleries containing ancient icons and fragments of original frescoes rescued from St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery; pl. Sofiyska
  • Kyevo-Pecherska Lavra—a monastery with a collection of gold-domed churches founded in 1051 by the Greek St. Anthony that was a series of underground catacombs at the time where monks worshipped, studied, and lived and was destroyed by Tatars in 1240; it then went through a series of fires and renovations before being rebuilt in the 18th century and made a museum in 1926; vul. Lavrska 9
  • Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery—a gold-domed blue church named after Kiev’s patron saint with new cupolas installed in 2001 and a remodeled church built the same year after the original church built in 1108 was torn down by Soviets in 1937, the church includes a museum that explores the church’s history; vul. Tryokhsvyatytelska 6
  • Pinchuk Art Centre—a renowned gallery with rotating exhibits on modern European art and design financed by billionaire mogul Viktor Pinchuk with works by Antony Gormley, Damian Hirst, and Ai Weiwei; Arena Entertainment Complex, vul. Baseyna 2A
  • Rodina Mat—a statue of a female warrior inaugurated by Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in 1981 with the site also including the Great Patriotic War Museum; vul. Lavrska 24
  • Izolyatsia—a series of art galleries featuring works by international and local artists that holds workshops, discussions, and presentations; vul. Naberezhno-Luhova 8
  • Khanenko Museum of Arts—a museum with the city’s greatest collection of European paintings by artists such as Bosch, Velasquez, and Rubens; an Eastern Art wing with Buddhist, Chinese, and Islamic art; and a Western Art wing with antique furniture, ancient Greek sculptures, porcelain ceramics, and paintings; vul. Tereschenkivska 15 and 17
  • Pyrohiv Museum of Folk Architecture—an open-air folk museum with 300 traditional structures moved from various parts of the country such as churches, cottages, farmsteads, and windmills; vul. Akademika Tronko
  • Chornobyl Museum—a museum that serves as a tribute to those that died after the explosion of Chornobyl on April 26, 1986 with signs representing cities evacuated from the area after the disaster and touch screens funded by the Japanese government that display every village evacuated and people who died after the explosion; prov. Khoryva 1
  • National Museum of Ukrainian History—a large modern museum which provides an overview of Ukraine’s past from the Stone Age to the eastern war with Russia with displays on modern Ukrainian revolutions and the war with Russia, a large collection of medieval armor, and a diorama of the city at the time of the Kyivan Rus; vul. Voldymyrska 2
  • National Art Museum—a museum situated within an historic neoclassical building that displays Ukrainian paintings from various eras including a collection of Ukrainian Avant Garde from the early 20th century and has nicely curated exhibitions; vul. Hrushevskoho 6
  • Holodomor Victims Memorial—a monument located at the end of Vichnoy Slavy Park that is dedicated to the 4 million victims of the induced famine caused by Soviet forces led by Stalin; vul. Ivana Mazepy 15A
  • Hryshko Botanical Gardens—a 130-hectare series of gardens with well-manicured plots; vul. Tymiryazevska 1
  • Museum of Microminiature—a museum that has microscopic creations by Russian artist Nikolai Siadristy such as the world’s smallest book; Kyevo-Pecherska Lavra
  • Museum of One Street—a museum that lays out the histories of buildings within the Andriyivsky uzviz neighborhood by detailing the lives of a rabbi, an Orientalist from Syria, a circus performer couple, and the Bulgakov family; Andryivsky uziz 2B
  • Historical Treasures Museum—a museum located behind the Dormition Cathedral that has a great collection of precious stones and metals found or made in the Ukraine including gold Scythian jewelry
  • Aviation Museum—an open-air museum with dozens of Soviet aircraft; vul Medova 1
  • Kyiv National Museum of Russian Art—a museum located within a Tsar-era mansion that has the largest collection of Russian artwork outside Moscow and St. Petersburg; vul. Tereschenkivska 9
  • Volodymyr’s Cathedral—a cathedral built in the late 19th century to commemorate 900 years of Orthodox Christianity in the city with a yellow exterior and seven blue domes and an interior featuring large murals with gold accents depicting scenes such as Volodymyr the Great’s baptism into Orthodox Christianity; bul. Tarasa Shevchenka 20
  • Fomin Botanical Gardens—landscaped gardens featuring a bronze statue dedicated to professors and students who died defending the city in World War II; vul. Tarasa Shevchenka
  • Friendship of Nations Monument—a parabolic monument that celebrates the unification in 1654 of Russia and Ukraine with an arch and an elevated plaza providing nice views of the Dnipro and Kiev’s left bank
  • Michael’s’ Monastery Museum—a museum that explores the history of St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery and is located in the monastery’s bell tower
  • National Museum of Literature of Ukraine—a museum that is located in the former main building of the Pavlo Galagan Collegium that provides an overview of the history of Ukrainian literature from the 9th century to the present; vul. Bohdana Khmelnytskoho 11
  • Ivan Honchar Museum—a museum that is dedicated to preserving Ukrainian folk culture and has permanent ethnographic exhibits of clothing, textiles, musical instruments, decorative Easter eggs, traditional art, and fashions; vul. Lavrska 19
  • Museum of Hetmanship—a museum dedicated to Ukrainian hetmans, military commanders of the Ukrainian Cossack State, with exhibits about the most famous of these commanders, Ivan Mazepa, Pylyp Orlyk, and Pavlo Skoropadsky; vul. Spaska 16B
  • Water Museum—a museum originally funded by the Dutch that is located in a 1980s water pump that allows visitors to take a walk through a rainwater collector or sit on a giant toilet and stand inside a bubble; vul. Hrushevskoho 1V
  • Church of Mykola Prytysk—the oldest structure in the Podil district that was built in 1631 and is surrounded by pastel colored brick buildings; vul. Khoryva 5A
  • Taras Shevchenko Memorial House Museum—a restored 19th century wooden house where the namesake major Ukrainian author lived that has drawings he made on ethnological expeditions of the country and gardens; prov. Tarasa Shevchenka 8A
  • Chocolate House—a neo-Renaissance mansion in the city’s affluent Lypky district built in 1901 that has sumptuous interiors with large rooms, sculptures, and meticulously carved Moorish ceilings and chandeliers; vul. Shovkovychna 17
  • Museum of Ukrainian Folk Decorative Arts—a museum located south of the Assumption Cathedral that has a large collection of clothes, carpets, jewelry, ceramics, and other items produced by Ukrainian craftsmen
  • Taras Shevchenko Museum—a spacious museum dedicated to Ukraine’s national poet that has interactive touchscreens, glass cases of first editions, and engravings of the poet

Sights in Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul is a major city in Turkey and was actually the capital until 1923. It has a rich history dating back to the days of the Ottoman Empire and is home to renowned museums, historic sites, beautiful mosques, and landmarks such as Topkapi Palace and the Hagia Sophia.

  • Ahrida Synagogue—Istanbul’s oldest synagogue located within Balat, the city’s historic Jewish district, that dates back to the 1430s and was renovated in 1992 to an Ottoman baroque style with a boat-shape reading platform inside; Kurkcu Cesmesi Sok 7
  • Topkapi Palace—an historic palace with a rich history that was the court of the Ottoman empire between the 15th and 19th centuries with the rococo-style Fountain of Sultan Ahmet III outside in the square; inside are four courts featuring:
    • First Court or Court of the Janissaries with the Byzantine church of Hagia Eirene
    • Second Court or Middle Gate which was used to run the empire and is a park-like setting with a series of pavilions, kitchens, barracks, audience chambers, kiosks, and sleeping quarters and a collection of Chinese celadon porcelain used to detect poison in food, clocks, and a large collection of Ottoman and European arms and armor
    • Harem or the imperial family quarters where concubines were taught Islamic and Turkish culture and language, makeup, dress, behavior, music, reading, writing, embroidery, and dancing and featuring a floor with 16th and 17th century Iznik tiles
    • Third Court which was the sultan’s private area and consists of an audience chamber where important officials and foreign ambassadors conducted state business; the Library of Ahmet III built in 1719; the Dormitory of the Expeditionary Force with a large collection of imperial robes, kaftans, and uniforms; Dormitory of the Privy Chamber with an exhibit of portraits of 36 sultans; the Imperial Treasury with a great collection of objects designed or decorated with gold, silver, rubies, emeralds, jade, pearls, and diamonds
    • Fourth Court where pleasure pavilions were housed and has a Turkish restaurant

Location: Babihumayun Caddesi

  • Suleymaniye Mosque—one of the grandest and most beautiful Ottoman mosques with gardens; a three-sided forecourt with a central domed ablutions fountain; four minarets with ten balconies; an interior featuring iznik tiles and décor such as window shutters inlaid with mother of pearl, stained-glass, painted honey-comb corbels and a persimmon-colored carpet and medallions with fine calligraphy and an exterior with a tea garden and café; Professor Siddik Sami Onar Caddesi
  • Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia, Church of the Holy Wisdom)—a landmark in Byzantine architectural design that was completed in 537 AD and was the world’s largest and most significant religious monument for almost a thousand years with an impressive dome that is almost 18 stories high and over 100 feet across and an interior featuring four minarets, a prayer niche, imam’s pulpit, and large black medallions inscribed with the names of Allah, Muhammad, and the early caliphs; it was transformed into a museum in 1935 and extensively restored with galleries featuring imperial portraits and intricate mosaics; Aya Sofya Square
  • Beylerbeyi Palace (Beylerbeyi Sarayi)—the former summer residence of Sultan Abdulaziz with ornate painted ceilings, baccarat crystal chandeliers, gold-topped marble columns, and carved wooden furniture; Cayirbasi Duragi
  • Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii)—a beautiful mosque with an interior featuring 20,000 blue-green Iznik tiles interspersed with 260 stained glass windows and calligraphy and floral patterns on the ceiling; Sultanahmet Square
  • Borusan Contemporary—a mix between an office building and an art gallery open to the public on weekends and featuring the company owners’ collection of contemporary art and temporary exhibitions that highlight multimedia works; Baltalimani Hisar Cad. 5
  • Dolmabache Palace (Dolmabahce Sarayi)—a grand palace built during the reign of Abdulmecid I whose spending bankrupted the Ottoman empire that is a mix of Turkish and European architectural and decorative styles with rococo marble columns with gilt Corinthian capitals, large mirrors, finely painted ceilings, parquet floors, and rich brocade and formal gardens, a conservatory, and clock museum outside; Dolmabache Cad
  • Galata Mevlevihanesi (Galata Mevlevi Lodge Museum)—Istanbul’s oldest whirling dervishes lodge that is now a museum with displays of dervish clothing, handicrafts, and artifacts along with information about the Mevlevi order and Sufism, exhibits on calligraphy, marbling art, and musical instruments; Galip Dede Cad
  • Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi)—a massive shopping district with 65 winding covered streets filled with 4,000 small shops, cafes, restaurants, mosques, and courtyards with shops selling leather goods; carpets; fabric; clothing; brassware; ceramics; and jewelry; Yeniceriler Cad and Cadircilar Cad
  • Great Palace Mosaic Museum—a small museum with a display of early Byzantine mosaics from the Great Palace of Byzantium some dating back to the 6th century and include images of animals, flowers, hunting scenes, and mythological characters; Torun Sok
  • Gulhane Parki—a park that was once the private gardens of the adjacent Topkapi Palace with tall plane trees, paved walkways, grassy areas, gazebos, and flowers; Alemdar Cad
  • Istanbul Archaeology Museums—a three-building complex located in a forecourt of Topkapi Palace that illustrates the history of the various civilizations that have existed in Turkey with artifacts such as the Alexander Sarcophagus, a piece found in Lebanon carved with scenes from Alexander the Great’s battles; artifacts found during excavations at Troy including gold jewelry; ceramics from the early Seljuk and Ottoman empires and tiles from Iznik, the renowned city that produced some of the best ceramics in the world during the 16th and 17th centuries; reliefs from the ancient city of Babylon; and pieces from Anatolia, Mesopotamia, and other parts of the Arabic world; located at Alemdar Cad
  • Istanbul Modern—an art museum located in a converted warehouse along the Bosphorus that features contemporary paintings, sculptures, photography, and other works from Turkey and around the world with a permanent collection that provides an overview of Turkish art from the late 19th century to the present; Meclis-i-Mebusan Cad
  • Istanbul Museum of the History of Science and Technology in Islam—a museum located within the former stables of Topkapi Palace that discusses the role played by medieval Muslim scientists, inventors, and physicians in advancing scientific knowledge and technology during the Dark Ages; Gulhane Parki
  • Jewish Museum of Turkey—a small museum located in the Zulfaris Synagogue that provides an overview of the history of the Jews in Turkey with museum exhibits featuring photographs, documents, and ethnographic information; Karakoy Meydani
  • Kariye Muzesi (Kariye Museum or Church of the Holy Savior in Chora)—a beautiful former church filled with mosaics and frescoes considered to be some of the best Byzantine works in the world with some of the mosaics dating back to the 14th century featuring scenes from the New Testament; Kariye Turbesi Sok
  • Military Museum—a large and interesting museum with an impressive collection of swords, daggers, armor, and other weaponry and exhibits on the history of Turkic armies, the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul, and recent Turkish military activities; Harbiye, Valikonagi Cad
  • Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts—a museum located within a large stone palace that was built for Ibrahim Pasha, a grand vizier, that has a large collection of Islamic art and artifacts dating from the 7th to 20th centuries with illustrated Qurans, calligraphic manuscripts, metalwork, wood and stone carvings, ceramics, religious relics and artifacts, and antique carpets; Atmeydani 46
  • Naval Museum—a recently renovated museum that was founded in 1861 and has been at its current location since 1961 and features over a dozen kayiks or long slim wooden boats rowed by oarsmen that were the main method of transportation for royals in Istanbul for several hundred years decorated with patterns and intricate carvings as well as an underground level with several exhibits of paintings, naval coats of arms, and other objects; Besiktas Cad
  • Pera Museum—a private museum situated within a former hotel built in 1893 that is known for its permanent collection of Orientalist paintings by European and Ottoman artists dating from the 17th to 19th centuries and also features smaller permanent exhibits on Kutahya ceramics and tiles and the history of Anatolian weights and measures from the Hittite period to the early 20th century; Mesrutiyet Cad 65
  • Rahmi M. Koc Museum—a museum located on the grounds of a former Ottoman-era shipyard with a collection acquired by one of the country’s top industrialists that includes aircraft, boats, a submarine, a tank, trucks, trains, a horse-drawn tram, engines, and antique cars as well as interactive displays on science and technology; Haskoy Cad
  • Sakip Sabanci Museum—a private museum located within an historic villa that overlooks the water with a permanent collection of late 19th century Orientalist and Republican Turkish paintings, Ottoman calligraphy, and antique furnishings and temporary installations that have included retrospectives on Picasso, contemporary artwork, exhibits on Anatolian archaeology and masterpieces, and masterpieces of Islamic art; Sakip Sabanci Cad
  • Yerebatan Sarnici—a system of aqueducts and cisterns built during the reign of Justinian in the 6th century that takes visitors through dimly lit walkways that are surrounded by 336 marble Byzantine columns; Yerebatan Cad

Sights in Ankara, Turkey

Ankara is the capital of Turkey and is home to historic sites, monuments, ancient ruins, and interesting museums worth exploring.

  • Museum of Anatolian Civilizations—a museum that provides a great introduction to Turkey’s past with exhibits featuring artifacts from major archaeological sites in Anatolia and halls with reliefs, statuary, and ancient artifacts from Paleolithic, Neolithic, Chalcolithic, the Bronze Age, Assyria, Hittites, Phrygian, Urartian, and Lydian periods; Gozcu Sokak 2
  • Anit Kabir—the large mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, situated within a complex that also includes museums and a ceremonial courtyard; one of the museums has Ataturk memorabilia, personal belongings, gifts from admirers, and recreations of his childhood home and school as well as exhibits about the war of independence and the formation of the republic of Turkey; Genclik Caddesi
  • Erimtan Archaeology and Arts Museum—the newest museum in the city with artifacts collected over the years by Turkish businessman and archaeology enthusiast Yuksel Erimtan that includes Roman, Bronze Age, Hittite, and Byzantine pieces such as ceramics, jewelry, a large coin collection, and cuneiform tablets; Gozcu Sokak 10
  • Rahmi M. Koc Industrial Museum—a museum located within the restored Cengelhan building that also has a hotel and restaurant and features three floors of exhibits on transportation, science, music, computing, Ataturk, and carpets; Depo Sokak 1
  • Vakif Eserleri Muzesi—a museum with a large collection of Turkish carpets, textiles, Ottoman manuscripts, tiles, metalwork, and carved panels; Ataturk Bulvari
  • Ethnography Museum—a museum located within a white marble building that once served as Ataturk’s mausoleum and now has a collection with displays on henna ceremonies, Anatolian jewelry, rug-making, Seljuk ceramics, early 15th century doors, and coffee; Turkocagi Sokak
  • Haci Bayram Camii—the most sacred mosque in Ankara named in honor of a Muslim saint who founded the Bayramiye dervish order around 1400 with the mosque built in 15th century and tilework added in the 18th century; Haci Bayram Veli Caddesi
  • Painting and Sculpture Museum—a museum that highlights Turkish artists with 19th and 20th century pieces; Turkocagi Sokak
  • Genclik Parki—a Middle Eastern style park with tea gardens, colorful water fountains, and an amusement park; Ataturk Bulvari
  • Cer Modern—an artists’ park and gallery that displays modern art from across Europe and has a café and shop; Altinsoy Caddesi 3

Sights in Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich is another major city in Switzerland and has a wealth of museums, churches, parks, and historic sites to explore.

  • Fraumunster (Church of Our Lady)—a beautiful church known for its delicate spire added in 1732 with a Romanesque choir, 1970 stained-glass windows by Marc Chagall, and painted window by Augusto Giacometti; Stadthausquai
  • Graphische Sammlung (Graphics Collection)—the large collection of the Federal Institute of Technology that has a library of woodcuts, etchings, and engravings by Durer, Rembrandt, Goya, and Picasso; Ramistr. 101
  • Kunsthaus—a renowned fine-arts gallery of European art that spans from the Middle Ages to modern times with Old Masters, Alberto Giacometti stick figures, Monet and Van Gogh masterpieces, Rodin sculptures, and 19th and 20th century art; Heimplatz 1
  • Schweizerisches Landesmuseum—an eclectic museum with a permanent collection that provides an overview of Swiss history with objects such as carved painted sleds, domestic and religious artifacts, and an archaeology section; Museumstrasse 2
  • Zoo Zurich—a zoo with over 380 species in natural enclosures such as elephants, lemurs, chameleons, camels, yaks, and penguins; Zurichbergstrasse 221
  • Botanical Garden and Museum—a botanical garden with 8000 plant species including flowers, trees, and mosses as well as 25,000 plants displayed in rotating exhibitions; Zollikerstrasse 107
  • Sukkulenten-Sammlung—a plant collection that consists of one of the largest succulent collections in the world with 4,500 species from more than 78 families, seven greenhouses, and a rockery; Mythenquai 88
  • Focus Terra—an interactive university museum which allows visitors to learn about the earth’s treasures, volcanic eruptions, origins of gems, fossils, and earthquakes; Sonneggstrasse 5
  • Grossmunster—a twin-towered cathedral that sits directly across the river from Fraumunster with an interior featuring stained-glass work by Augusto Giacometti and great views of the city from the southern tower; Grossmunsterplatz
  • Beyer Museum—a small museum located within a watch shop that provides an overview of the history of timekeeping; Bahnhofstrasse 31
  • Haus Konstruktiv (Museum of Constructivist Art)—a museum located within a former electrical substation that provides an overview of the history of constructivist art with a highlight being the Rockefeller Dining Room, a 1963 salon designed by Fritz Glarner, and a collection featuring minimalist art, concept art, and neo geo work; Selnaustr. 25
  • Helmhaus—a museum that has rotating exhibitions of modern and experimental art by Zurich-based artists; Limmataquai 31
  • Kunsthalle (Center of Contemporary Art)—a modern art venue located on one of the top floors of a former brewery with exhibitions of innovative and cutting-edge artwork; Limmastr. 270
  • Migros Museum Fur Gegenwartskunst (Migros Museum of Contemporary Art)—a lofty museum funded by the Migros department store chain, Switzerland’s largest such chain, with exhibitions from the large Migros collection including pieces by Andy Warhol; Limmastr. 270
  • Zoological Museum—a museum featuring some 1,500 stuffed animals including dinosaur skeletons, giant mammoths, and sloths with interactive exhibits that provide visitors with the chance to listen to whale songs and see insects close-up; Karl-Schmid Strasse 4
  • Museum Rietberg—a museum located in three villas in a leafy park with an emerald glass entrance featuring Switzerland’s only collection of African, Asian, and ancient American art including pieces such as a shaman eagle mask, Persian wall hangings, and Chinese cloisonné enameling; Gablerstrasse 15
  • Ethnographic Museum—a museum run by the University of Zurich that has temporary exhibitions on non-European cultures; Pelikanstrasse 40
  • FIFA World Football Museum—a newer museum opened in 2017 that takes soccer enthusiasts through the history of FIFA and the World Cup with hands-on displays, the original World Cup trophy, and a pinball machine; Seestrasse 27
  • Archaeological Collection—a museum run by the University of Zurich that has a large collection of original pieces and plaster casts that allow visitors to learn about neo-Babylonian kings, ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans; Ramistrasse 73
  • Museum fur Gestaltung—a museum dedicated to graphic and applied arts with works by classic photographers and advertising for old furniture designs; Pfingsteweidstrasse 96
  • Schweizer Finanz Museum—a museum that opened in 2017 that provides insights into the economy, stock exchange, and financial security of Switzerland; Pfingsteweidstrasse 110
  • James Joyce Foundation—a museum with Europe’s largest James Joyce collection as Zurich was where Joyce spent most of World War One; Augstinergasse 9

Sights in St. Petersburg, Russia

St. Petersburg is another major city in Russia and has a rich cultural, religious, and literary history. It is home to grand palaces, museums, cathedrals, and other sights worth exploring.

  • Alexander Column—the 156-foot-tall centerpiece of Palace Square that serves as a memorial to Russia’s victory over Napoleon commissioned by Nicholas I in 1830 in memory of his brother, Tsar Alexander I, and weighs more than 650 tons with an angel crushing a snake atop the column; Pl. Dvortsovaya
  • Alexander Nevsky Lavra—a renowned monastery named in honor of St. Alexander Nevsky, a great military commander who became a national hero due to stopping the drive for Russian territory by Germans and Swedes, featuring:
    • The Gate Church with a walled pathway flanked by two cemeteries known as the Necropolis of Masters of Arts and an exhibition hall with temporary exhibits about urban sculpture
    • The Church of the Annunciation that is a red and white church that now is home to the Museum of City Sculpture containing models of architectural masterpieces in St. Petersburg, gravestones, and memorial sculptures as well as photos of the Imperial family
    • Monastery located at 1 pl. Alexandra Nevskoyo
  • Alexander Pushkin Apartment Museum—the final residence of celebrated Russian poet Alexander Pushkin who died here after a duel to defend his wife’s honor that now is a museum with a model upper-middle-class early 19th century apartment, personal belongings, his wife’s belongings, and his library; 12 nab. Moika
  • Chamber of Art—the home of the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography with Peter the Great’s eclectic collection of rare precious stones and preserved human organs and fetuses; 3 nab. Universitetskaya
  • Egyptian Sphinxes—two grand landmarks in St. Petersburg that are twin statues dating from the 15th century BC discovered during an excavation in Thebes in the 1820s; nab. Universitetskaya
  • Ethnography Museum—a museum that provides an overview of the ethnic groups of Russia with crafts, costumes, and other artifacts; 4/1 ul. Inzhenernaya
  • Labirintum—a science museum with 60 exhibits about physics, chemistry, and nature featuring interactive components such as making lightning, creating a tornado, getting inside a large bubble, or finding the way through a mirror labyrinth; 9A ul. Lva Tolstogo, 6th floor of Tolstoi Skver Design House
  • State Hermitage Museum—a renowned museum with a collection of over 3 million items only some of which are on display in its 360 rooms that was begun by Catherine the Great, expanded by Nicholas I, and opened to the public in 1852 with great pieces of art including post-Impressionist and Impressionist paintings; Dvortsovaya pl. 2
  • Grand Palace—a grand and imposing smaller palace that is only open to international visitors until May and then on a limited basis from June to September with original paintings, furniture, and chandeliers; ul. Razvodnaya
  • General Staff Building—a contemporary art gallery with restored interiors that displays the Hermitage’s collection of Impressionist, post-Impressionist, and modern art; Dvortsovaya pl. 6-8
  • Russian Museum—a museum focused on Russian art from ancient icons to 20th century paintings by artists such as Karl Bryullov, Alexander Ivanov, and Nicholas Ghe; Inzhenernaya ul. 4
  • Peter and Paul Fortress—a large defense fortress that is home to a cathedral where the Romanovs are buried, a former prison, and exhibitions and walls that provide panoramic views
  • Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood—St. Petersburg’s most elaborate church with a Russian Orthodox exterior and an interior decorated with mosaics; Konyushennaya pl.
  • Grand Cascade—a collection of over 140 fountains and canals partly designed by Peter the Great with a center statue of Samson opening a lion’s jaw to commemorate Peter’s victory over Sweden
  • Faberge Museum—a museum situated within the Shuvalovsky Palace that is home to the world’s largest collection of pieces designed by Peter Carl Faberge including nine imperial Easter eggs; nab. Reki Fontanki 21
  • New Hermitage—a museum built for Nicholas II in 1852 that is home to a large collection of ancient art, European paintings, sculptures, and decorative art as well as a gallery on the second floor with the Raphael Loggias, copies of the frescoes in the Vatican in Rome; Dvortsovaya pl. 2
  • Winter Palace—a mint-green and white palace that was an imperial home until 1917 with grand reception halls, chambers, and galleries with Eurasian and Asian antiquities, European and Eastern paintings, sculptures, and decorative works; Dvortsovaya pl. 2
  • Gatchina Grand Palace—a palace in the shape of a graceful curve around a central turret with an impressive façade overlooking a large parade ground and landscaped grounds that has an interior with ten state rooms including Paul I’s throne room featuring large tapestries, his wife Maria Fyodorovana’s throne room filled with paintings, and a balcony collection of sundials; Krasnoarmeysky pr. 1
  • Museum of Political History—a museum situated within the Style Moderne Kshesinsakaya Palace that provides a comprehensive overview of Russian politics with exhibits depicting the capture of Nicholas II with bayonet cuts, street scenes in Ukraine with deceased starving citizens in Ukraine, Lenin’s former office, and the Lenin memorial room; ul. Kuybysheva 4
  • Dostoevsky Museum—the final residence of celebrated Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky that includes the study where he wrote The Brothers Karamazov, the office of his wife who recopied, edited, and sold his books, an image of Raphael’s Sistine Virgin, a clock that shows the hour and time when Dostoevsky died, family photos, and rooms dedicated to his novels, travels, and legacy; Kuznechny per. 5/2
  • Central Naval Museum—one of the city’s best history museums with a large collection of models, paintings, and artifacts from 300 years of Russian naval history; pl. Truda
  • Grand Maket Rossiya—a miniature recreation of Russia featuring mountains, cities, rivers, and lakes; transportation such as trains, helicopters, and cars; Soviet-style apartment blocks; and traditional clothing; Tsvetochnaya ul. 16
  • Treasure Gallery—a branch of the Hermitage with two signature collections including the Golden Rooms collection with Scythian and Greek gold and silver from the Caucasus, Crimea, and Ukraine and the Diamond Rooms collection with jewelry from western Europe, China, India, and Iran; Winter Palace
  • Museum of Decorative and Applied Arts—a museum with medieval furniture, 18th century Russian tiled stoves, and modern works by students of the Applied Arts school; Solyanoy per. 15
  • Kirov Museum—a museum that illustrates the lifestyles of the Bolshevik upper class with the first ever Soviet-produced typewriter, a non-communist GE fridge, personal belongings of Sergei Kirov (namesake of the museum and a Leningrad party boss whose apartment was turned into the museum), a recreated schoolroom, and childhood belongings of Eugeny Porsin who lived in the home until being drafted and dying during World War II; Kamennoostrovsky pr. 26/28
  • Botanical Gardens—a series of 26 greenhouses located on a 22-hectare square; ul. Professora Popova 2
  • Mikhailovsky Castle—a branch of the Russian Museum with nicely restored state rooms and temporary exhibitions; Sadovaya ul. 2
  • Rumyantsev Mansion—this museum part of the State Museum of the History of St. Petersburg has an exhibition of 20th century history including a display dedicated to the 1921 New Economic Policy, the industrialization and development of the 1930s, and the Siege of Leningrad during World War II; Angliyskkaya nab 44
  • Nabokov Museum—a 19th century townhouse that was the childhood home of Vladimir Nabokov, author of Lolita, with artifacts such as family photos, first editions of his books, and some of his expansive butterfly collection; Bolshaya Morskaya ul. 47
  • Sheremetyev Palace—a branch of the State Museum of Theatre and Music with a collection of musical instruments from the 19th and 20th centuries, 18th century mahogany furniture, Italian renaissance paintings, and rare instruments; nab. Reki Fontanki 34
  • Museum of the Imperial Porcelain Factory—a branch of the Hermitage with Russian porcelain displays such as dinner services used by tsars, tea sets created in the 1920s, porcelain statuettes depicting people from Russia and abroad, and a porcelain shop; pr. Obukhovsky Oborony 151
  • Kazan Cathedral—a Neoclassical cathedral whose design is based upon St. Peter’s in Rome with 111-meter-long colonnaded arms that surround a garden studded with statues with an interior featuring an 80-meter-high dome and a copy of the important Russian icon, Our Lady of Kazan; Kazanskaya pl. 2
  • Marble Palace—a branch of the Russian Museum with temporary exhibitions of modern art and a permanent display from Cologne’s Ludwig Museum featuring paintings by Picasso, Warhol, Basquiat, and Liechtenstein that is noteworthy for the 36 kinds of marbles used in its construction; Millionnaya ul. 5
  • Museum of the Arctic and Antarctic—a museum dedicated to polar expeditions, wildlife, cultures, and history with displays of items such as scientific equipment, maps, taxidermy, photographs, clothing, artifacts from polar cultures, stuffed polar bears and penguins, and a 1930s wooden seaplane hanging from the ceiling; ul. Marata 24a
  • Isaac’s Cathedral—the world’s third-largest domed cathedral that was built in a span of 40 years with an interior decorated with malachite, lazulite, marble, and other stones and minerals; 4 pl. Isaakievskaya
  • Zoological Museum—a museum with a collection of over 30,000 species including a stuffed mammoth, tigers, foxes, bears, goats, birds, butterflies, and insects; 1 nab. Universitetskaya

Sights in Tirana, Albania

Tirana is the capital of the former Soviet-held Albania and has some interesting museums, a cemetery, and cultural attractions.

  • Bunk’Art—a former bunker that was transformed into a history and contemporary art museum with several floors of exhibits on the modern history of Albania and contemporary artwork and furnished rooms where political figures huddled waiting for invasion; Rr Fadil Deliu
  • National Gallery of Arts—a museum that illustrates the history of Albanian painting from the early 19th century to the present with temporary exhibitions, a collection of 19th century paintings depicting scenes from daily life in Albania, and communist statues; Blvd Deshmoret e Kombit
  • National History Museum—the largest Albanian museum with most of the country’s archaeological finds and a replica of Skanderbeg’s (an Albanian nobleman and military commander who served the Ottoman Empire between 1423-1443) sword as well as information on the history of Albania from ancient Illyria to the post-Communist era; Sheshi Skenderbej
  • Dajti National Park—the most accessible mountain in Albania with a cable car that takes 15 minutes to take visitors to the top of the mountain where there are beech and pine forests and picnic areas
  • Clock Tower—a 35-meter high clock tower completed by Ottoman architects in 1822 that was for many years the tallest building in Tirana and provides great views of Sheshi Skenderbej
  • Martyrs’ Cemetery—a cemetery at the top of Rr Elbasanit where 900 citizens who died in WWII were buried with scenic views of the city and surrounding mountains
  • Palace of Culture—a white stone complex with a theatre, shops, and art galleries; Sheshi Skenderbej

Sights in Chisinau, Moldova

Chisinau is the capital of Moldova, an Eastern European country once part of the Russian Empire. It has some small museums, parks, and monuments.


  • Parcul Catedralei and Gradina Publica Stefan Cel Mare si Sfint—two parks in the middle of the city with one park featuring the Nativity of Christ Metropolitan Cathedral that dates back to the 1830s and has a bell tower built in 1836, the main entrance with the Holy Gates, and on the northwestern side a 24-hour flower market and the other park has an entrance with a statue of Stefan who was Moldova’s greatest medieval prince; B-dul Stefan cel Mare
  • Army Museum—a museum that has a poignant exhibit on Soviet-era repression with stories of the Red Terror, famines, mass deportations, and gulag slave labor told through photos, videos, newspaper clippings, and dioramas as well as interrogation rooms and displays of propaganda posters and military uniforms; Str. Tighina 47
  • Nativity of Christ Metropolitan Cathedral—a Moldovan Orthodox church dating back to the 1830s with beautiful interior frescoes and a bell tower originally built in 1836 and rebuilt in 1997 due to it being destroyed in World War II; Parcul Catedralei
  • National Museum of Ethnography and Natural History—a museum with a life-size reproduction of the skeleton of a dinothere, an 8-ton elephant-like mammal that lived in the Pliocene epoch and dioramas that depict national customs and dress as well as exhibits on geology, botany, and zoology; Str. M Kogalniceanu 82
  • National Art Museum—an art museum with a collection of modern European art, folk art, icons, and medieval pieces as well as temporary exhibitions often focusing on local graphic artists; Str. 31 August 1989, 115
  • National Archaeology and History Museum—a museum that has archaeological artifacts from the region of Orheiul Vechi north of Chisinau including Golden Horde coins, Soviet-era weaponry, and a World War II diorama on the first floor; Str. 31 August 1989, 121a
  • Pushkin Museum—the site where Russia’s national poet, Alexander Pushkin, spent three years in exile between 1820-1823 with his tiny cottage filled with its original furniture, personal items including a portrait of Byron on his writing desk, and a three-room literary museum in the building facing the cottage documenting his dramatic life; Str. Anton Pann 19
  • Repression Memorial—a monument to the victims of mass deportation during Stalin’s rule; Aleea Garii

Shopping in Athens

Athens has interesting shops to browse at and many family-owned businesses which add a cultural appeal to the city. It is definitely a city filled with stores worth checking out.

  • Andronikos Sagiannos—a family-owned jewelry shop and gallery with modern and unique jewelry inspired by everyday objects; Makriyianni 3
  • Benaki Museum Gift Shop—the museum shop of the Benaki Museum that sells copies of Greek icons, jewelry, folk art, embroideries, ceramics, stationery, art books, reliefs, and sculpture pieces; Koumbari 1
  • Center of Hellenic Tradition—a store that sells handicrafts including ceramics, weavings, sheep bells, wood carvings, prints, and paintings; Mitropoleos 59 and Pandrossou 36
  • Diplous Pelekys—a store run by weavers that have a long family history that sells handwoven pieces, folk art, ceramics, and jewelry; Bolani Arcade, Voulis 7and Kolokotroni 3
  • Ellniko Spiti—run by an art restorer, this store sells picture frames, wooden boats, chairs, and decorative objects; Kekropos 14
  • Fanourakis—a jewelry shop selling gold pieces designed by Athenian jewelry designers under the direction of Lina Fanouraki; Patriarchou Ioakeim 23
  • Fine Wine—a traditional wine shop that sells a large selection of Greek wines and liqueurs; Lyskiratous 3
  • Forget Me Not—a cultural store that sells modern Greek designs such as beach towels with good luck charms, scarves, and sunglasses; Adrianou 100
  • Fresh Line—a beauty shop with shampoo cakes, body oils, face masks, and organic Greek-designed soaps; Ermou 30
  • Kombologadiko—a bead emporium that sells a huge variety of beads to design komboloi (worry beads); Amerikis 9
  • Koukoutsi—a t-shirt store that sells clothes that honor the Greek economic crisis; Skoufa 81
  • Lalaounis—a world-renowned jeweler that has experimental jewelry designs in gold and silver such as decorative pieces inspired by ancient Greek housewares; Panepistimiou 6 at Voukourestiou
  • Martinos—an antique shop selling items such as dowry chests, swords, fabrics, and Venetian glass; Pandrossou 50
  • Museum of Cycladic Art Shop—the museum’s store that sells modern versions of older jewelry designs as well as replicas and ceramics; Neofitou Douka 4
  • Occhi Concept Store—a gallery-style store that sells art, clothing, jewelry, and accessories by modern Greek designers; Ipitou 5 and Voulis 40
  • Old Market—an antique shop with old coins from around the world, stamps, engravings, toys and radios, musical instruments, and medals; Normanou 7
  • Parthenis—a family-owned boutique that sells stylish bohemian-style clothing with fibers such as wool, silk, and cotton along with an eyewear collection and wedding collection; Dimokritou 20 and Tsakalof
  • Pentheroudakis—a jeweler with gold, diamond, and gem designs as well as customizable silver worry beads; Voukourestiou 19
  • Pylarinos—an antique shop with stamps, coins, and 19th century engravings; Panepistimiou 18
  • Taste of Greece—a Greek grocery store with delicacies from the country including mastiha liqueur and truffle-flavored extra virgin olive oil; Adrianou 67
  • The Olive Tree Store—a specialty shop with items made from olive wood like salad bowls and tongs, wall clocks, jewelry, and backgammon sets; Adrianou 67
  • Thiamis—run by an iconographer, this store sells gold-leaf hand-painted icons in wood and stone as well as handmade model ships and custom items; Asklipiou 71
  • Xanthopoulos—a jeweler with pearl, diamond, and ruby pieces; Voukourestiou 4
  • Zoumboulakis Art-Design-Antiques—an art shop inside a private art gallery with silk-screens by famous Greek painters; Kriezotou 6

Shopping in Nairobi, Kenya

  • Westgate Shopping Mall—one of East Africa’s top shopping destinations with family entertainment and events as well as arts and craft kiosks and over 80 stores; Mwanzi Road
  • The Hub Karen—a shopping mall located in the suburbs of Karen Nairobi that is home to both local and international stores and everyday necessities like dining, medical care, offices, and a wellness center
  • Nairobi Gallery—home to the Murumbi collection of African art and artifacts
  • Utamaduni Craft Centre—has a variety of masks, textiles, jewelry, and home goods; Bogani East Road
  • Spinners Web Kenya—a Kenyan crafts store; Getathuru Gardens off Peponi Road
  • Matbronze Wildlife Art—a gallery with sculptures, jewelry, and souvenirs; No. 2 Kifaru Lane

There really isn’t a wealth of shopping venues in Nairobi but the ones featured do seem like they are very cultural and provide a glimpse of daily life in Kenya.