On the Trail of the Russian Revolution

History enthusiasts and novices alike will love learning about the Russian Revolution, with your feet on the ground where history happened.

July 2018 • Jules Verne

On the Trail of the Russian Revolution

History was changed forever by the Russian Revolution, the effects of which are still felt throughout the world to this day. To coincide with its centenary, we have created a special departure of our Russian Capitals tour. History enthusiasts and novices alike will love learning about the Russian Revolution, with your feet on the ground where history happened.

To give you a flavour of the tour, read on to find out more about the historic places where the Russian Revolution’s events occurred.

Note: dates given according to the Gregorian Calendar.

February Revolution – March 8, 1917

With tensions during the First World War coming to a head, strikes across the Russian capital of Petrograd brought the city to its knees. Almost 90,000 men and women striking in the freezing Russian winter refused to leave the streets. The first of these strikes took place on March 7th, and in less than 3 days, virtually every business had been shut down. The industrial workers in the streets were joined by students, administrative staff and teachers.

Peter and Paul Fortress: The oldest building in St. Petersburg, the Peter and Paul Fortress was used to incarcerate political prisoners. The rising political pressures in Russia meant that there were many famous prisoners held for their roles in revolutionary activities, including Lenin’s brother Alexander Ulyanov, and Josip Broz Tito, the communist leader of Yugoslavia. Now it is a museum where you can learn more about Russian history.

Red Square: The February Revolution soon spread throughout Russia. Red Square was one of its key locations outside of St. Petersburg, particularly in the early days, when political speeches and rallies were held outside the Kremlin. As you stand in Red Square, surrounded by the beautiful historic buildings with their iconic Russian feel, you will feel surrounded by history.   

Provisional Government Established – March 15, 1917

Following the February Revolution, a Provisional Government was established amidst a general feeling of elation in the capital. This government stayed in power for around eight months, with plans for overseeing the organisation of elections and the creation of a Russian constitution. The Provisional Government was rife with political factions; the deep divide between the centre left and socialist parties, as well as others, rendered the government functionally useless.

Tauride Palace: The Provisional Government briefly met in the historic Tauride Palace & Gardens. This regal building was built by Catherine the Great, and still has an air of imperial power, despite its sunny yellow exterior. During the Soviet era, the gardens were opened to the public. They are the perfect place to relax amongst locals as they enjoy the lake, cafés and gorgeous landscaping.

The Winter Palace: The Winter Palace in St. Petersburg was the home of the Provisional Government. Today this impressive building is home to a modern art museum, and the calm space belies its troubled past. Throughout the whole museum, visitors are able to see the history of Russia laid out in the paintings and objects on display.

October Revolution – November 7, 1917

Led by Vladimir Lenin and his Bolshevik party, the October Revolution marked the beginning of the spread of communism in the 20th century. Lenin, who famously disguised himself as a postman to be smuggled back into Russia for the Revolution, led his leftist Bolshevik revolutionaries against the Provisional Government.

Finland Station: As you travel through St. Petersburg, time is set aside to visit the Finland Station where Lenin returned after his exile in Switzerland. The station has been rebuilt since the Revolution and now contains statues commemorating the event.

The Aurora: The October Revolution was timed to coincide with the return of a pro-Bolshevik naval fleet. In fact, it is the Aurora battleship that famously fired the first shot of the Revolution. Keen historians can visit the Aurora, which today houses a museum, in the centre of St. Petersburg. The Aurora is still part of the Russian Navy, albeit under the care of the Central Naval Museum.

The Smolny Institute: This historic building was chosen by Lenin as a headquarters for the Bolshevik party during the October Revolution, and was Lenin’s home for several months until the seat of Government was officially moved to the Kremlin. Today the building houses a museum about Lenin. Visitors can tour his office and even see where the victory of the October Revolution was proclaimed.

Russian Civil War – November 1918

In the wake of the October Revolution, the Russian Civil War began. It was fought between the Red Armies, led by Lenin, and a diverse range of opposing forces known as the White Armies, made up of a whole spectrum of political and socio-economic beliefs. The Red Army, bolstered by Leon Trotsky’s efforts and forced conscripts from the Russian provinces, ultimately emerged victorious, despite the aid the White Armies received from Western powers. Following the war, the USSR was formally created in 1922.

Lenin’s Mausoleum: Lenin was only able to enjoy his place in the USSR for a few years. In 1924, he died of a blood condition, possibly caused by bullets from a failed assassination attempt in 1918. Visitors to Moscow can visit the body of the father of the Revolution outside the Kremlin, and satisfy any morbid curiosity they might have.

Museum of Political History: The Museum of Political History tells the story of Russia’s recent history, and the displays try to reveal the secret history of the Soviet Union. This is a fascinating way of finding out more about the results of the Revolution and Civil War. There are many artefacts gathered by key players in the Revolution on display. The building itself is also a key site for historians: Lenin gave speeches from the balcony.

The Art Muzeon Park of Fallen Statues: When the USSR collapsed in 1991, the busts of Lenin and Stalin and other major names of the Soviet Era were pulled down. Piles were left on the grass and eventually made their way to the Muzeon Park of Arts. Today visitors can see these relics of the USSR for themselves in the Art Muzeon Park of Fallen Statues.

If you’ve been inspired to travel to Russia to discover more about the Russian Revolution and explore the Russian Capitals for yourself, get in touch with our experts today.