>Day 56(Friday). St. Petersburg

>We hired a guide and driver for half a day today to show us more of the sights.There is so much to see here! The primary focus of our tour was Peter and Paul Fortress and the city’s history. Some of the sights we encountered on our way to the Peter and Paul Fortress included this building which is notable for the Turkish canons along the perimeter. The cannons are upside down so that they can never be fired again.

Below is an example of a recently renovated and posh apartment building.

Amidst all of the Italian and French architecture are examples of the Soviet style such as the one below. We also drove by the KGB building, and it was even uglier than this.

This is a notorious prison still in use which we viewed from across the Neva. There are a pair of statues we passed that acknowledge the prison – the view from the city is a face and from the prison – a scull. Unfortunately, the traffic patterns have been set so that no one can stop to view them closely.

We crossed the Neva on Trinity Bridge….

…to see the battleship Aurora. The Aurora was built in 1897, and was first used in the Russo-Japanese war in the early 1900’s, and then in WWI…

…but it’s primary significance is that the crew revolted and used this ship in the revolution in 1917.

Also of note, the cabin of Peter the Great has been relocated near the Aurora. It was originally built on the site that would later become the Winter Palace. But unlike the palace, it was a modest wooden cabin with three rooms and a total of 625 sq.ft. Peter lived there while the fortress was being built. He was known for his modest means of living, especially compared to subsequent tsars! (Remember, he used to hold all official meetings and events at the palace of his friend, Menchicov.)

We then headed on to the small island that contains the Peter and Paul Fortress, which was built by Peter the Great in 1703 when he moved the capital to St. Petersburg. It’s original purpose was to protect the city from the Swedes, but the battle against the Swedes was fought and won before the fortress was even finished. This schematic shows the configuration of this walled fortress…

The most significant building within its walls is the Peter and Paul Cathedral…


Peter wanted it to be different from the traditional Russian church architecture as evidenced by the tall spire. The interior was opulent, as so many tsar-era buildings are proving to be.

…this cathedral is where all of the tsars are buried (except for two, Peter II and Ivan VI who served for a very brief period as a child, and was quickly ousted. Apparently no one knows the location of his remains). This is the area of the cathedral where the family of Peter the Great is interred…they are buried in the ground beneath these crypts, not in them….

…with Peter’s bust displayed above his burial place.

More recently, they discovered, and buried here, the bodies of Nicholas II, the last tsar, whose family was brutally murdered during the 1917 revolution…

…even more recently, they discovered the remains of the last two members of his family (Alexei and Maria) and will bury them here soon as well.

Before leaving we had an opportunity to hear this chorus sing a song for us. The baritone in the middle had a phenomenal voice….we thought it was five people singing at once, but it was only him!

Another building within the fortress is the mint, which is still in operation…

This statue is a controversial one of Peter the Great, with a small head, skeletal-like hands, and very large feet. The feet are oversized because when one looks up to the Tsar, his feet appear proportionately larger than they really are.

…the head was made using an actual mold of Peter’s head, so it was a bit freaky…

This is the Neva gate, just off of the Neva River, which was stormed by the revolutionaries in 1917 to free political prisoners who were being held here…

People were sunbathing along the walls of the fortress near the gate!! It is a popular spot for sunbathing. For them, I guess 40 degrees (now we’re talking Fahrenheit) feels warm! Later we also noticed that it is another prime location for bridal photos.

We headed back across the river to view some other important sites, such as St. Isaac’s cathedral (more on that later)…

…and this statue of Tsar Nicholas I, known as the “Iron Tsar”, in the adjoining square. Nicholas I’s reign was challenged by military officers who desired the same freedom that their peers enjoyed in other countries. Their revolt was quashed in 1825 (known as “December Uprising”) and Nicholas’ reign remained absolute and harsh until his death in 1855.

…then we caught the reflection of this small cathedral in the canal…

We crossed over several of the bridges that cross the canals of St.Petersburg…

…although it didn’t feel like Venice to me, to which is is often compared, as there are wide boulevards between the canals and the buildings, and the main areas within Venice have pedestrian walkways, with no cars, which is not the case here.

It was finally time for us to get an up close view of the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. We had glimpsed it several times from Nevsky Prospect, but had not yet seen its main entrance, which faces a canal…

This church was built to honor Tsar Alexander II, who was assassinated…more about him later. As we walked across the bridge, we noticed all of these locks in various places along the bridge. Our guide told us that newlywed couples place a lock on the bridge and throw the key into the canal for good luck…

…and then to prove his point, we saw a newlywed couple picking the spot for their lock…

On to yet another castle (these tsars really liked their castles!)…this one was built by the Tsar Paul I, great grandson of Peter the Great. He never felt safe in the Winter Palace, plus he wanted a place to live away from his mother. Ironically, he was killed after only 40 nights in this castle…

…he had this statue of Peter placed in front of his castle, because it was one his mother did not like :-)…

…there was a part of the ship on this bronze relief, which people have also rubbed clean for good luck (like the dog in the Moscow subway)…

Our guided tour came to an end….phew, we had seen a lot, and it was all too much to absorb! Lunchtime! So we went to a cafe that we had been wanting to try in this building, which had been a supermarket at one time…


Then we decided it was a good time for a leisurely boat ride through the canals to see the city from another angle. Views from the boat…

Trinity bridge…

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood…

Peter and Paul Fortress

Hermitage…

…statues which we hadn’t even noticed, lining the roof of the Hermitage…

Menchicov’s palace…

Academy of Art…

Senate building…

Banner on bridge for victory day on May 9th…

What about dinner already!??? So we walked down the Fontanka embankment along one of the canals. We had read about several restaurants down that way, and sure enough we stumbled upon one of them, a Georgian restaurant, Aragvi. It had a great atmosphere, and seemed to be frequented by the locals, and it was good food. Yum! Russian food isn’t bad!

Time to stumble back to our hotel while it was still light out (which was almost 10pm!).

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Nevsky Ave,St Petersburg,Russia

Written by

2 Responses to ">Day 56(Friday). St. Petersburg"

  1. mdwebneck says:

    >GREAT photo essay.
    and I love that this blog lets you click to enlarge for detail.

  2. mdwebneck says:

    >Forgot to say this the last time about the sunbathers. I have an acquaintance I met through Nutrisystem who is from VT but has lived in Alaska for so many years that her definition of warm has likewise been altered.
    We met in person the night before the Baltimore 5K at a dinner several of us NS runners all agreed to attend to meet each other. AFter she ran the half marathon that next day she was "whining" online in a silly manner about how hot it was that day like we would of, had it been in the mid 90s. (I don't think it reached 70° until that afternoon. I don't how much sunbathing she does, but do know that she mentions running in short sleeves when it is in the 40s up in Palmer AK.

Leave a replyLeave a Reply to mdwebneck