The Venice of the North
Trip Start Sep 09, 2010
11Trip End Sep 18, 2010
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Gayla was our city guide for the day. We drove to the Smolnyy Convent with its cathedral. We then started our Volkswalk at the Church on Spilled Blood which is also known as Resurrection Church of Our Saviour. This church was built on the spot where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated on March 1, 1881. We walked through the Field of Mars with the eternal flame to commemorate the victims of the Revolution of 1917. We crossed Trinity bridge with numerous lampposts and railing decorations
We entered the Peter and Paul Fortress through Ivan's gate and then through St. Peter's gate. The fortress was built in 1703 marking the founding of the city by Peter the Great. Hundreds of forced laborers died while building the fortress and later it was used to guard and torture many political prisoners. We visited inside the Cathedral of St's. Peter and Paul with its columns, chandeliers, and icons. It became the last resting place of many of the tzars. We exited the fortress through the Neva Gate which is also known as the "Death Gate" since many prisoners were led down the granite steps and taken away by boat. Fortunately, our exit took us along the beach, across another bridge, and to Vasilevskiy Island.
We walked past the Rostral Columns, twin columns designed as lighthouses, and the Naval Museum. We crossed the over the Neva river to the Palace Embankment. This part of the walk took us past the Bronze Horseman statue of Peter the Great; the Decembrists' Square which links the Senate and Synod buildings with a triumphal arch; and St. Isaac's Cathedral, one of the world's largest cathedrals. We stopped for lunch at St. Isaac's Square before continuing our walk to the Hermitage.
We walked through the arch of the General Staff building to the Palace Square and the Alexander Column. We began our tour of the Hermitage in the Winter Palace built from 1754-62 for Tsarist Elizabeth. The main staircase was being refurbished, but we saw enough to imagine the imperial family making their grand entrance. The 1812 gallery has portraits of Russian military heroes of the Napoleonic War; the Malachite room with with its malachite columns and vases; and the small throne room
I also enjoyed reading a book called "The Madonnas of Leningrad" by Debra Dean. Part of the story takes place in The Hermitage in 1941.
After returning to the boat and dinner, we went to The Swan Lake ballet. It was at the Bohshoi Theatre on the Fontanka. We enjoyed the ballet which had a happy ending and seeing St. Petersburg at night.