Sunday, September 9, 2012

Baltic Cruise - St. Petersburg, Russia 1

Hi, We arrived in St. Petersburg early in the morning for a 2 day stay.  We booked a 2 day shore excursion that covered everything we wanted to see.  While we got to see it all, the days were exhausting with each one lasting more than 9 hours.  As there are so many photos I wanted to share I have broken this stop into 2 parts.

We began our first day with a photo stop at St. Isaac Cathedral.  We would return in the afternoon to go inside.

The area surrounding the cathedral was photogenic.  St. Petersburg has many canals and rivers and there was a canal on the other side of the square from the cathedral.

The main focus of our first morning was the Hermitage.  Its collection consists of 3 million items (the displays rotate) including the largest group of paintings in the world.

The museum is composed of six buildings the largest of which is a huge former palace of the Tsars.  It is the fourth palace on the site. The facade shown below is of this fourth palace.  Seeing it and Catherine's Palace (in the next post), as well as other buildings from our river cruise in Russia a year ago makes it easy to realize why communism found such fertile soil in this country.

Across the Neva River from the Hermitage was the Peter - Paul Fortress.  We visited here in 2011.

The yellow material decorating the walls is 24 Carat gold leaf.  Tons of it were used in the Palace, as well as all of the other palaces of the Tsars and many of the churches we saw.  All this gold, and because it is soft it wears away due to washing.  This is the grand staircase.

Here is a detail view of one of the decorations.

This vase was placed on a piece of furniture in front of a mirror.

One of the thrones in the Palace.

The hall of the Tsars contained paintings of every ruler of Russia before the communists took over.

Another throne.  It is interesting to note that only the ruler had a throne, never his or her spouse.

Ornate chandeliers were everywhere.

Even the floor,

the ceilings and

the doors were decorated.

My wife, Ruthe, photographed this courtyard which was surrounded by the museum.

More ceiling decoration.

The columns at either side of the photo were built to assist ships in navigating the Neva River.

After lunch I was able to photograph this trolley coach as we were walking back to our bus.  They were used all over St. Petersburg.  Even though trams also are quite common the only ones I saw were when I was on the bus and I was not able to react quickly enough to get a picture.

We returned to St. Isaac's cathedral after lunch and went inside.

Then we stopped along the waterfront for some photography.  While this looks like a very old ship, in fact it is only a few years old and was built as restaurant.

Our last stop of the day was at the Church on Spilled Blood.  It is built on the spot where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated.  We did not go inside.

My next post will present our second day in St. Petersburg.  I hope you enjoyed the photos.

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