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(Note: Part of a series of entries from my handwritten travel journal.)

Thursday, 1 August 2013

St. Petersburg - finally! I have been so looking forward to the day we arrived in St. Petersburg! Our city tour started with St. Isaac's Cathedral, which is a big, European-style church, lots of gold and malachite and lapis lazuli columns.

1 Us at st isaacs

Really - malachite columns!
2 really malachite

I'd post more pictures of the completely over-the-top yet somewhat standard Russion Orthodox Church interior but...I don't want to.

The dome of the cathedral was, according to John from the National Trust, the model for the dome of the US Capitol building, they sent architects over to study the St. Isaac's dome before ours was built. It is not an onion dome.

st isaacs dome

Then we saw the Peter and Paul Fortress in the center of town which dates to the founding of the city of St. Petersburg. There is a church there which is where all of the Tsars of the Romanov family are buried. It is very baroque and ornate - lots of gold and a more European-style building than other Russian churches we've seen.

2 peter paul fortress

4 resting place romanovs

Then we were let loose to explore on our own, however it was raining so that did dampen our enthusiasm for outdoor pursuits a bit. First we went to the Church on Spilled Blood. I know, I know, I thought I was done going into churches too but I got a strong recommendation from the National Trust guy (the people who are devoted to historic buildings) that I shouldn't miss this one, and I'm glad I didn't.

5 church spilled blood

This Church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated. It is outstanding among Russian churches in that instead of frescoes on the inside walls all of the decorations and icons are mosaics of tiny little tiles and gemstones. Very impressive! It was built starting in 1883 and took more than 20 years, and if you look at the mosaics inside you can see why!

5 inside spilled blood

7 inside

Looking straight up into one of the domes from inside:

8 straight up cupola

In this shot you can see the tiles of the mosaics a little bit.

9me and frescoes

It was 350 rubles to go inside, and Cathyn opted not to, for which I do not blame him a bit! Too many churches. If I had only gone into one church on this entire trip though, I would like it to have been this one. The workmanship is truly astonishing. It's also the only old-style Russian church in St. Petersburg - everything there looks like 18th Century France!

After that Cathyn and I wandered along Nevsky Prospect a bit, and saw the Singer Sewing Machine Company building, in all it's art deco glory!
10 singer building

And then, because it was raining and because it's a cool place to visit anyway, we went to the Russian Art Museum, which is a beautiful building in its own right.

11 art museum

12 cathyn and art

We had fun wandering through the works by Russian artists. I do like that they have museums dedicated only to Russian art. Besides, they don't really need to bother with other art because the Hermitage already has that covered.

And then it was back to the boat for a nap and then dinner before our night out at a folk music and dance program at the Nikolai Palace. Nice place.

13 nicolai palace

As has been noted previously, there is a universal law of nature that at any performance where audience participation is a possibility, Cathyn will be chosen for that duty. He was pulled out of the audience to dance with one of the ladies during one of the pieces in the first half of the show. He was a good sport about it and did his best to ham it up on stage. At the end of the dance piece the lady who'd pulled him out pointed to me and mimed that I should cover my eyes, so I did and she kissed him on both cheeks. I was laughing so hard!

15 c dancing

14 cathyn dancing

16 c besmirched

After the show the people from our group that were there thought this was the best thing to ever happen and made great comedy of his besmirched face. He was getting high fives from other members of the audience the whole way out of the theater.

Tomorrow is an early start for the Hermitage and Peterhof!
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