Stylized Don Quixote Art

Sand Sculptures at Peter Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg, Russia

Published: July 24, 2018

Just outside the walls of the mighty Peter Paul Fortress, on a Neva River beach, is a different kind of architectural grandeur. The Sand Sculpture Festival (Фестиваль песчаных скульптур) takes places every summer here in central St. Petersburg.  

Once you’re at Peter Paul Fortress, look for this sign and follow the arrows

Each year has a theme; this year (2018) the theme was “World Masterpieces,” and the festival gave guests and residents of the city alike a chance to ‘admire the culture heritage of different countries.’ I first learned about this festival from the SRAS Facebook page, and decided it was unique enough to go and take a look.

Once getting to Peter Paul Fortress, my friends and I did have a little trouble finding the festival. We tried to head around the south west corner of the fortress, but were turned back. Eventually we found a sign and headed out the southeast side of the fortress onto a small dock, and turned towards the beach. Just as the beach opened up we spotted signage, the ticket office, and the entrance to the festival. Upon showing our Student IDs we paid the student admission, 300 rubles.

As I rounded the corner of the high opaque fence, I was struck by the first view of the sculptures inside. I had seen pictures of some of these sculptures, but the amount of detail in them was almost unbelievable when I saw them in person. The centerpiece was a re-creation in sand of Kizhi Pogost, a world heritage sight in Northwest Russia.  Both the magnitude and detail of the sculpture were magnificent. Our favorite, though, was the Mayan Pyramid. The pyramid itself was good, but the best part was the tiny figures at the top depicting a battle scene. It was impressive how minute and detailed these sand figures were. Other sculptures included depictions of Peter The Great, a beautiful sphinx, the Mona Lisa, and more.

Kizhi Pogost
Mayan Pyramid; At the top of the steps you can spot the tiny figures doing battle.

While each individual sculpture was splendid, the number of sculptures was not enormous (perhaps 15). This festival is certainly worth checking out, but not big enough to make a day  of it. Adding this festival to the end of a day exploring the Peter Paul Fortress would be a fine idea, and something I would recommend.


Sand Sculpture Festival at Peter Paul Fortress
Located: south beach of Peter Paul Fortress
Hours of Operation: 10am – 10pm everyday from late May to early September
Time spent: 15-30 minutes
Cost of Entry: 350RUB ($5.50) or 300RUB ($4.75) with student ID.
Websites: Russian:; English:

About the author

James Taylor

James Taylor is a Junior studying Software Engineering and Linguistics, with a minor in Russian Studies, at Iowa State University. During his summer abroad in St. Petersburg, he hopes to greatly improve his language skills and learn a lot about the culture (and food!). His study abroad experience will contribute to his future goals of combining his love for software, linguistics, and Russian to work in the field of computer assisted language learning.

Program attended: Challenge Grants

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