Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mother Russia 2010

St. Petersburg, Russia

This was our longest stop of the cruise and it still wasn't enough time!!

In Russia you either have to have a visa or be on a guided tour. It was a different feeling getting off the ship in Russia. Everything seems very controlled. The people don’t smile, the weather is gloomy, and the food is gross, yet they still have some of the most beautiful art and architecture I’ve ever seen.

Hermitage museum was amazing!!! It’s one of the largest and oldest museums in the world founded by Catherine the Great in 1764. It’s made up of 6 buildings, including theWinterPalace which was home to many Emperors. We couldn't fit all of the buildings in this picture, but it's right behind us.

They have the largest art collection in the world…we got to see DaVinci’s “Madonna and Child” (the first version and the final version). There was a lot of paintings by Monet, Matisse, Raphael, Giorgione, Titian and Michelangelo. Here are some of my favorites…

The unique thing about the Hermitage is that the buildings that the collections are housed in are also pieces of art. The floor that we walked on was intriquite and made of hundreds of different kinds of wood. The hallways we walked in were designed by famous artists…what an experience!

After the Hermitage we stopped for lunch…the food wasn’t great, and most of it was pickled.

Next stop was The Peter and Paul Fortress and I absolutely LOVED it!

When Peter the Great re-claimed the land in 1703, he decided to build a fort to protect the area from possible attack. This is how the city got started. From 1721 onwards the fortress housed part of the city's garrison and served as a high security political jail. Among the first inmates was Peter's own son Alexei, who he eventually had killed.

In the middle of the fortress stands the impressive Peter and Paul Cathedral, the burial place of all the Russian Emperors and Empresses from Peter the Great to Alexander III. The Cathedral was the first church in the city to be built of stone.

The inside was breathtaking...
Anastasia and her family share their final resting place here.

Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood was exactly what I pictured when coming to Russia.Here’s the story behind this beauty….

Alexander II initiated a number of reforms when he came into power in 1855. In 1861 he freed the Russian serfs (peasants, who were basically slaves) from their ties to their masters. Because of his radical views there were many attempts to take his life. Alexander II was finally assassinated in 1881 by a group of revolutionaries, who threw a bomb at his carriage.

This church was built on the very spot where the Emperor was mortally wounded.

We ended our night by attending a traditional Russian Folk dance show…

After a 17 hour day I was ready to get back on the boat. We are holding up our hands to show that its 11:00pm and still light out!

A few more days of resting on the ship until we end our sailing adventure.

Not finished yet…after the cruise we took a small (rickety) plane to Berlin, Germany!

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