Daily Archives: March 13, 2016

Out and About in St. Petersburg on a Cloudy Afternoon

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After visiting Yekaterinburg, we headed to St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city.

On our first day in this lovely city, we did a half-day tour of its tourist attractions.  It was cloudy and while the weather made it a nice day for strolling, it resulted in my photos having that dreary look.

House of Soviets
This was planned to host the administration of Soviet Leningrad government and was never used for the intended purpose.  It was instead used as a local command post for Soviet Red Army during the Siege of Leningrad and later housed the Soviet research institute.

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House of Soviets is located on the outskirts of St. Petersburg City itself and I took the photo while onboard our bus from the airport to the hotel.

Moscow Square
This is in front of the House of Soviets featuring a monument of Vladimir Lenin.  The fountains were added only in 2006.

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Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov Statue
This bronze statue on granite base is of Rimsky-Korsakov, head of  the St. Petersburg Conservatory in 1871.

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Moyka River
This river encircles the central portion of St. Petersburg, thus making it an island.

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Rostral Columns
An integral part of the city’s central panorama, these columns once held St. Petersburg’s main port.  It’s a most impressive sight on major public holidays when torches are lit on top of them.

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Peter and Paul Fortress
This is the first structure to be built in St. Petersburg and thus regarded as the birthplace of the city.

It was intended as a defensive fortress, but  throughout its history was utilized for various purposes, including being a military base, the burial ground of the Russian Imperial family,  the site for scientific experiments, and a jail for some of Russia’s most prominent political prisoners.

State Hermitage Museum
This is the city’s most popular attraction and one of the world’s largest and most prestigious museums.  It consists of Hermitage Theatre, Old Hermitage, Small Hermitage, Winter Palace and has over 3 million items in its collection, which includes Impressionist masterpieces and Oriental treasures.

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Trivia:  It has such an impressive collection that one needs 11 years to view each exhibit on display for just 1 minute.

Winter Palace
This is formerly the official residence of the Romanov Tsars and St. Petersburg’s most famous building.  Designed by many architects, most notably Natolomeo Rastrelli.  The architectural style is Elizabethan Baroque.  The palace is so grand it has been calculated to contain 1,786 doors, 1,945 windows, 1,500 rooms and 117 staircases. Whoa.

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Neva River
This is a site of numerous major historical events, including the Battle of the Neva in 1240 which gave Alexander Nevsky his name, the founding of Saint Petersburg in 1703, and the Siege of Leningrad by the German army during World War II.

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The city’s historical structures like the Peter and Paul Fortress and the Winter Palace surround the river.  Here’s a zoomed-in shot of the former.

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Trinity Bridge
This is a a bascule bridge across the Neva linking Kamennoostrovsky Prospect with Suvorovskaya Square.

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The photo doesn’t really show the bridge, but this is one of its obelisks.

The Flying Dutchman
I wasn’t really listening when we passed by here, but sources online identified this as an upmarket restaurant that is a replica of a 30-canon Dutch ship, Amsterdam.

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Pardon the shot as this was taken onboard our bus.

The Church of the Savior of the Blood
I included this in my teaser post about Russia as this was easily one of St. Petersburg’s (and even Russia’s) popular attractions.  This is where Emperor Alexanded II was assassinated in 1881 when a group of revolutionaries threw a bomb at his royal carriage.

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I was in awe of the church at first sight.  So much that I barely listened to our guide.  She did notice our group’s excitement and was amused at how we were taking photos of it from the main road where our bus was parked.  “Go all the way at the back where the views are nicer,” she shared.

Here’s a zoomed-in shot of its façade and onion domes from across the road.

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After going around it, we realized our guide was right.  It was a better photo-op site.

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Both the interior and exterior of the church is decorated with incredibly detailed mosaics, designed and created by the most prominent Russian artists of the day (V.M. Vasnetsov, M.V. Nesterov and M.A. Vrubel).

Just look at how richly decorated its façade is.

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What intricate the details!  Really, really amazing!  This is perhaps the most beautiful church I’ve seen.

More zoomed-in shots of its façade and domes.

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And in front of the Church are these beautiful structures.

Too bad we were in a rush so we did not linger to enter the church or explore its nearby sights/sites.

Palace Square
This is the central city square of St Petersburg and of the former Russian Empire. It was the setting of many events of worldwide significance, including the Bloody Sunday (1905) and the October Revolution of 1917.

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Alexander Column
This column is the focal point of Palace Square and named after Emperor Alexander I.  At its pinnacle is an angel holding a cross with a face that said to be modeled after the Emperor.

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The column’s body is made of a single monolith of red granite.  Its construction is considered a terrific feat in Engineering as it weighed an incredible 1,322,760 pounds (600 tons) and yet, it was erected in under 2 hours without the aid of modern cranes and engineering machines.

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The most celebrated building on the square is the Winter Palace, which I covered earlier.  The square is actually called Palace Square because well, it i where the Winter Palace is located.

General Staff Building
This monumental Neoclassical building in Palace Square used to be the headquarters of the General Staff (western wing), Foreign Ministry and Finance Ministry (eastern wing) before the country’s capital was transferred to Moscow in 1918.

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Aside from the above, I also chanced on these sights during our quick tour of St. Petersburg.

I’ll end this post with a photo of what is perhaps the city’s most famous attraction: The Church of the Savior of the Blood.

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