The Mariinsky is St. Petersburg’s most notable theater, home to the Kirov Ballet (now known as the St. Petersburg Mariinsky Ballet in Russia, and a venue for opera and classical music. As well as the 19th-century building, modern additions have added to the performance space. Arts and culture lovers shouldn’t miss seeing a performance, such as Swan Lake or Anna Karenina.
The theater was founded in 1783, and then named the Bolshoi Stone Theatre, but what exists today has been rebuilt and remodeled many times since that year. The original structure was badly damaged by fire a couple of times in the early 19th century. The basis for the current building was rebuilt by Italian-Russian architect Alberto Cavos, who also designed Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre, in 1859. At this time it was given its current name, after Empress Maria Alexandrovna, wife of Alexander II. Many travelers to St. Petersburg stop outside the theater to take a look at the fabulous architecture, and this can be done independently or on a group tour. Attending a ballet, opera, or other performance at the Mariinsky is also a must-do for arts and culture lovers. Tickets can be purchased independently, or part of a tour package.
Things to know before you go
- If you’re attending a performance, arrive early so you have enough time to go through security checks and drop your coat and belongings at the cloakroom.
- Beware of counterfeit tickets sold online and by street peddlers. Purchase tickets from approved merchants only.
- The Mariinsky Theatre has a designated amount of seating for wheelchair users because of architectural limitations.
- Observe proper etiquette when watching a show: food and outdoor clothing are prohibited, you’re not allowed to take photos, videos, or audio recordings, and phones should be silent.
How to get there
The Mariinsky Theatre is in central St. Petersburg, not far from other major attractions like St. Isaac’s Cathedral and the Hermitage Museum. The metro is the most convenient way of getting around central St. Petersburg, and the nearest station to the theater is Teatralnaya.
When to get there
To admire the building from the outside, you can go at any time. Performances are usually held in the evenings, although some matinee shows are also put on.
The Mariinsky Theatre shouldn’t be confused with the nearby Mariinsky Palace, despite the similar names. This former imperial residence was one of the last neoclassical European buildings created in St. Petersburg, commissioned in 1839. Since 1901, it’s been used by the government. While visitors can’t go inside, you can admire the exterior.
- St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral (St. Nicholas Cathedral of the Epiphany)
- Central Naval Museum
- Russian Vodka Museum (Muzey Russkogo Natsional'nogo Napitka)
- Nikolaevsky Palace
- The Republic of Cats Museum and Café
- St. Isaac’s Cathedral (Isaakievskiy Sobor)
- Senate Square (Senatskaya Ploshchad)
- Bronze Horseman
- C-189 Submarine Museum
- The Menshikov Palace
- Menshikov Palace
- Admiralty Building
- Stroganov Palace (Stroganovsky Dvorets)
- St. Petersburg Palace Square (Dvortsovaya Ploshchad)
- The General Staff Building