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St. Petersburg: 12 best sights in the city of the czars Live

Within the cathedral at the Peter and Paul Fortress lie sarcophagi containing the remains of most of the Romanov rulers. 

By Bruce Holmes, for CNN

Editor's note: This story was originally published in March, 2013 and updated June 19 to coincide with the International Economic Forum.

(CNN) -- Several thousand of the world's most powerful people are in St. Petersburg this month for the city's annual International Economic Forum.

The only problem? While we at CNN Travel would be the last to deny that macroeconomics can be a thrilling subject for discussion, there also happens to be a bulbous onion-shaped dome's worth of once-in-a-lifetime type touristic distractions in Russia's spectacular "Paris of the East."

St. Petersburg showcases a vivid history from czarist Russia, through Communism (it was long called "Leningrad") to the present day.

Established in 1703 by Czar Peter the Great, Russia's second-largest city lives up to its reputation as the country's cultural capital, with astounding palaces, churches and museums.



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