Last Day in St Petersburg

Trip Start Apr 29, 2011
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Trip End Sep 03, 2011


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Flag of Finland  , Southern Finland,
Sunday, July 17, 2011

It was a bright, sunny day – ideal for what we had in mind, a day walking in St Petersburg, taking in as much of the sights as we could before we got our taxi back to the ferry at 17:00. This time, we were successful in our bid for the shuttle and we got off at St Isaac's cathedral. This magnificent building, constructed over a 40 year period commencing 1818 and the largest church in Russia until the newly built Church of Christ the Saviour in Moscow superseded it. Again, here is a URL

http://www.saint-petersburg.com/cathedrals/st-isaacs-cathedral.asp

St Petersburg seems to be a city designed for superlatives and this building certainly deserved some. It is truly splendid. The church however, was closed as such during the 1930’s and reopened as a museum and it is only used today for religious services on very special occasions. Every surface of its interior is covered with mosaic icons, paintings and columns made of malachite and lapis lazuli. It was a building that one could spend hours in but of course, we had other places to go and things to see, so it was with some regret that we took our leave.

Next on the agenda was a walk across the river Neva to the Peter & Paul Fortress, first constructed in 1703 by Peter the Great, as a defensive measure against the marauding Swedes. At this time, the whole area was malaria-infested swamp and hundreds of serfs and Swedish prisoners of war died during its construction. As I am confined to a few photos within the blog, I won’t include any here but again, here is a URL

http://www.saint-petersburg.com/virtual-tour/peter-paul-fortress.asp

We had lunch (excellent value, and indeed, as everything seems to be in St Petersburg) and then, our final treat, a visit to the Church on the Spilt Blood, so called as it was built on the spot where Tsar Alexander 11 was assassinated. Apparently, an anarchist exploded a bomb and the Tsar, shaken but not stirred, got out of his carriage to remonstrate with the offender and it was then, a precursor to the plague of suicide bombers that we have today, that another anarchist exploded a bomb, killing himself and mortally wounding the Tsar.  Again, here is a URL

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_the_Savior_on_Blood

This church has undergone 20 years of restorative work and was reopened in 1997. Now I have already said that this was a city of superlatives and this church takes  the candle. From its’ Disneyesque exterior to the truly stunning mosaic lined interior, no fewer than 7,500 square metres of them, it is awesome. I guess by now you have got the main message from our visit to St Petersburg – don’t take my word for it – GO THERE!!! I promise you won’t be disappointed.

With our collective 'awe and wonder’ buckets filled to overflowing, we caught a taxi back to the hotel for a last beer, to collect our bags and thence, to the ferry, where the food was as good and the cabin not quite as hot, so a better (marginally) night’s sleep was had by all (snorer included!)
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