For many years, I had dreamed of a visit to St. Petersburg, Russia, and last month, we finally had the opportunity to go, along with 15 other couples from the American Women's Club in London. The trip revealed so many treasures which I hope to share with you in the next few blogs. Situated at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea, it was founded by Peter I in 1703, and served as the capital of the Russian empire for over 200 years. As the most western Russian city, it is reminiscent of many other European cities, with the beautiful architecture and embankments of Paris, the canals of Amsterdam, the waterways and the proximity to the sea of Venice, and a history that is as exciting as any other European city.
The churches are uniquely Russian Orthodox as seen here in the Church on the Spilled Blood,
which commemorates the murder of Emperor Alexander II, and is filled with mosaic covered walls.
At every turn, we were fascinated by the ornate architecture and the beautiful colors of the buildings, such as seen here in the St. Nicholas Cathedral
and the home for the Russian Navy.
One of the most impressive structures is St. Isaac's Cathedral which was built over a period of 40 years to be the greatest church in the Russian Empire.
It is the third largest domed cathedral in the world, just behind St. Peter's in Rome and St. Paul's in London. This photo was taken around 10:30 at night while we were on a cruise on the Neva River.
And this photo of the Gulf of Finland was taken just before 11PM to show you a bit of the magic of the "White Nights" which take place in late May-early July. Due to its very northerly geographical location, the sun doesn't ever completely fall below the horizon during this time, so the city celebrates its hours of twilight.
Also from the boat, we enjoyed a beautiful view of the Peter and Paul Fortress,
and then again after 11PM with the beautiful spire of the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral and the dome of the St. Isaacs Cathedral in the silhouette of the skyline.
Cruising along the river we had a close up view of the Winter Palace, the home of the Russian Emperors between 1763 and 1917,
which along with 4 other buildings make up the ensemble of the world renowned Hermitage Museum, the largest art museum in the world. Whole books could and have been written about the Hermitage, but I'll save my comments and photos until my next blog. If I promise not to show you every room and every picture would you take a stroll with me through its grand halls? Coming soon....