Thursday, August 25, 2016

St. Petersburg -- Finally

Five months after visiting St. Petersburg I've finally gotten around to documenting the trip.  Not that there will be a lot of written documentation on this posting, but I thought it would be good to share some photos.  Four days in St. Petersburg can be divided into 1) walking tour 2) Hermitage Museum 3) Peter and Paul Fortress and 4) Catherine's Palace in the outlying city of Pushkin.

According to the guidebook St. Petersburg was built in the early 1700's by Peter the Great as a "window into Europe" with "it's back to Moscow".  It was designed in a European style, complete with canals.   It is filled with parks and palaces.  Unfortunately we were there in March/April; it would be a beautiful city in June and October.

Our walking tour began at St. Isaac's Cathedral, the world's third largest domed cathedral.  It was built to commemorate the victory over Napoleon.  The dome has 220 pounds of gold gilding.  Like other Orthodox Churches the interior is spectacular with paintings, gold, gems and incredible architecture.

The doors to St. Isaacs

After walking by numerous palaces and large buildings, we arrived at the Church of the Savior of Spilled Blood which was built by Alexander III to commemorate his father, Alexander II, who was killed by a bomb on this site.  As you can see it is similar in style to St. Basils in Moscow.  The altar is constructed entirely of semi-precious gems. Very nice.

Rubbing the feet on this bronze plaque is supposed to bring good luck.  It certainly results in shiny feet.  

The main shopping street, Nevsky Prospekt, as seen from our hotel room.  

Day 2 was spent at the Hermitage Museum.  Formerly the winter palace it now houses one of the world's premier art museums.  It truly was incredible with famous paintings from Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Van Meer, Matisse, Picasso, Raphael, Caravaggio, Rubens, etc.  Plus a room dedicated to the work of Faberge'.  It is second only to The Louvre in French Art.  To give you an idea of how good it was, Grant and I spent five hours there and he didn't complain.  It was that good.   Our only disappointment was that the Peacock Clock Room was closed for renovations.  After six months of work, it was scheduled to re-open the next day.  

The State Palace sits opposite the Winter Palace.  

The Alexander Column celebrates the victory over Napoleon (sounds familiar).  It's 150' tall and is not anchored in place.  It stays in place simply by its weight.  

We walked across the bridge over the Neva River to the Peter and Paul Fortress.  Despite it being late March the river still contained a lot of ice.  In addition to being beautiful, The Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul contains the crypts of Nicholas and Alexandra and their children.

Plaques commemorating the Romanov Family.  

Following our tour of the Peter and Paul Fortress we found an artillery museum.  Outside it had numerous displays of old and new equipment.  The inside included a room dedicated to Kalashnikov, the inventor of the AK-47 and many other weapons.

The first AK-47

We spent the final day in the town of Pushkin visiting the Catherine Palace.  It was built for Catherine I, Peter the Great's second wife.  Similar in size to the Winter Palace (huge), it was beautiful inside.

All visitors put leather slippers on over their shoes.  

Every room had extensive gold gilding.  

The Amber Room is a story unto itself.  It was originally a gift from the Prussian King.  When the Nazi's invaded in WWII they shipped all the amber panels back to Germany.  At the end of the war no one could find the panels.  In 1980 the Russian Government decided to rebuild the room.  It took almost 25 years and $15 million.  It took 6 tons of amber to create what you see.

Delft style furnaces in each room of the Palace.  

This is the most beautiful roll top desk I have ever seen. 

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