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St. Petersburg, Day Two

Our second day in St. Petersburg was highlighted by a visit to the Hermitage.  Russia’s largest museum, and one of the oldest in the world, it has over 400,000 works of art.  And that includes such famous artists as Rembrand, Michelangelo, and Raphael. Commissioned by Catherine the Great in 1714, it has been open to the public since 1852. Our 2 hour visit was just enough to get an idea of the depth of works that are on display here.

The Church of the Savior of Spilled Blood was a memorial erected on the site where Tsar Alex II was murdered in 1881.  However, the actual burial place is in the Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral.  The latter is the oldest landmark in St. Petersburg, it was started in 1717.  The gilded spire is the tallest in the world.  The cathedral now contains the remain of most all the Russion emperors and Czars.

We also had a canal crcuise, notable that when Peter laid our the plans for the city the intent was to make all transportation via boat.  Hence the multiple rivers and canals, and the title of “Venice of the North”.  Finally, a ride in the subway was most interesting. the tracks are the deepest and the escalator down was almost scary.


 

St. Petersburg, Day One

May 14, 2017 1 comment

St. Petersburg is Russia’s 2nd largest city, with a long and difficult history.  It has had three different names, depending on the government in charge (Petrograd, Leningrad, St. Petersburg).  Curenr population is around 3 million, and the city is considered the cultural center of Russia.   Our tour was fascinating for its history, and the rich diversity of the buildings and historical sites.  A few highlights:

The Yusupovs were the richest Russian family and the Palace was considered the center of Russia in the 18th century.  It was the site of Rasputin’s murder in 1916.

St. Isaac Cathedral  is the largest Russian Orthodox Church in Russia.  Building took 40 years (1812-1842) and the dome is visible in most parts of the city.  After the revolution it was used as storage and pretty well neglected.  It survived WW2 because of its very prominence, it became the center point form targeting the bombing of St. Petersburg.   Since the fall of Russia it has been restored to its historical prominence.

Catherine 1 began the original summer palace in 1717.  Subsequent rules by Elizabeth 1 and Catherine 2 (the Great) saw major additions.   It now defines the word “opulence”.  It is 325 meters long and has over 1,000 rooms, all magnificently decorated, it defines the rich/poor relationship of the time.  

The Peterhof Palace was commissioned by Peter the Great in the 1700s.  He was a science buff, and added magnificent water features.  He did this by using water piped in from far away lakes and ponds, so no mechanical means created the waterfalls… only gravity.  It is also known for the large gardens and walkways. 

The quickest was back to St. Petersburg was by hydrofoil.  A quick and pleasant ride, but the walk to the boat was painfully cold… 30+ MPH winds in 30 degre weather had us all wearing every bit of clothing we had!