Traditional Items to Buy as Souvenirs of Your Time in Saint Petersburg
At my work in a hotel, on forums and tourist portals, I was frequently asked what one can bring from St. Petersburg as a gift, or which local foods and products to buy. Many travelers want to try typical local foods, beverages, cosmetics…
If you are one of those people who want to go beyond the ordinary Russian nested dolls and vodka, pay attention to these typical St. Petersburg trademark items. All of them have a long, reputable history and have been popular for decades.
Pastry from Sever
Sever brings the sweetest childhood memories to local grown up kids. The factory and retail chain were founded in Saint Petersburg more than a hundred years ago. Before the revolution, the company was called Nord; its very first coffee shop is still open on Nevsky, 44. The most famous pastries are called Leningradskoe, Sever and Alie Parusa. Sever cakes are the traditional holiday regale in many St. Petersburg families. All these sweets can be bought in branded retail stores and also in almost every supermarket in the city.
During Soviet times, locals were not as spoiled with a great variety of make-up and perfume as they are now. Nevskaya Cosmetics were one of the few trademarks used by Russians during those years. Nowadays the company’s production is underestimated because of the flood into new foreign markets, which began after the fall of the USSR.
Recently, Nevskaya Cosmetics had a rebranding and renewed its packaging, but all the traditional products remained in the range including Barkhatistoe, Diagternoe and Khvoinoe soaps, Zhemchug toothpaste and creams for kids and adults with natural components.
Baltika is the most famous St. Petersburg beer. The company has existed for just 20 years, but it’s popular not only in Russia but also abroad. Baltika offers a wide array of choices. Among the most famous brews are Baltika №3 and Baltika №7. One can find them almost in every Russian shop or bar.
There is a Baltika factory near Parnas subway station where tours are arranged in English. A gift shop is also open there where one can buy not only a beer but also a souvenir.
Nevskaya Palitra Artist Colors
Most of the Russian paintings are composed with these paints. They were used to repair many Hermitage and Tretyakov Gallery’s masterpieces and other works of art.
Nevskaya Palitra manufactures oil and watercolors and acrylic paints, as well as brushes and a great variety of decorator’s supplies. High-quality paints named Master Class – oil colors and gouache – are widely known. One can also buy paint sets, which are a great gift for a child. All of these can be bought in a Gostiniy Dvor and in special painter’s shops.
Imperial Porcelain Factory Ceramics
Imperial Porcelain Factory (also known as Lomonosovski) in Saint Petersburg is one of the oldest in Russia, created after the order of Elisabeth, daughter of Peter I. The factory produces stunningly beautiful thematic dish sets and porcelain remembrances in a Russian theme. Historically, design of porcelain wares was created by the most talented Russian artists. Services and remembrances of Imperial Porcelain Factory were always considered as an exquisite and worthy gift. The factory owns its own museum of historical porcelain collections. The museum is controlled by the Hermitage. Porcelain items can be bought in almost every department store in the city.
The watch factory Raketa is located nearby to St. Petersburg, in Peterhof (the city of Fountains) and has a great, interesting history.
The factory was founded by Peter I to create lapidary works and yielded highly artistic products for the royal family as well as technical stones. In 1927 the factory produced veneers of Lenin’s mausoleum, and after that, in 1934, the ruby stars for the Moscow Kremlin. Only after WWII did the factory start making watches. Watches are sold under the brand name Raketa and are remarkable for their own clockwork. Their design features Russian and Soviet themes.
Translation by Leila Ismailova
Edited by Erin Swanson