Day 4-8: How Russia stole my heart (part 1)

The last five days have completely and utterly spectacular. Five jam-packed days to see as much as possible in the beautiful cities of St.Petersburg and Moscow. I can’t get enough! Everything about Russia has been bigger and more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.

Five days is hardly enough to see all that St. Petersburg and Moscow have to offer. The details of our adventures could fill many books, which I will save for another day. Instead, here are just some of the highlights.

St. Petersburg

The Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, a.k.a. Church on Spilt Blood, is a must-see. All those colourful domes may remind you of St. Basil’s Cathedral, but don’t be fooled! (St. Basil’s is much more beautiful.) That’s for later on when we get to Moscow. In the meantime, I’d say this is a close second.

Super-short history lesson: The Church on Spilt Blood got its rather morbid and wordy name from the assassination of Tsar Alexander II. He survived one bomb attack, only to be hit by a second.

Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood
Outside the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, it’s hard to envision an interior that could match up to the exterior … but just you wait!
DSC_0340
Inside the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood. Every inch of this place is covered in mosaics — 7700 square metres (metres!) of mosaic.

We also paid a visit to the city’s largest Russian Orthodox cathedral — St. Isaac’s Cathedral … because why stop at just one cathedral?

It's hard to capture the sheer enormity of it in a photo, but here's a little taste of St. Isaac's Cathedral.
It’s hard to capture the sheer enormity of it in a photo, but here’s a little taste of St. Isaac’s Cathedral.
St. Isaac's isn't as colourful inside as the Spilled Blood Church (not as mosaic-heavy). Instead, all the ceilings and walls are covered in frescoes.
St. Isaac’s isn’t as colourful inside as the Spilled Blood Church (not as mosaic-heavy). Instead, all the ceilings and walls are covered in frescoes.

After just three and a half days in St. Petersburg, I’ve seen enough to know those Russians love their churches and cathedrals. They seem to be able to squeeze one into any spaces, be it in the shadow of apartment buildings, around the corner from the supermarket, or out in the middle-of-nowhere bush country.

Enough cathedrals. It’s palace time! This is the Winter Palace and Hermitage Museum where Russian tsars actually lived.

I love how colourful the buildings are in St. Petersburg.
I love how colourful the buildings are in St. Petersburg.
DSC_0537
I can’t imagine living in a place like this. If you’ve never appreciated gold, you need to visit this palace.
DSC_0531
Just a tiny fraction of the many paintings and sculptures that fill the Hermitage Museum.

Because I can’t get enough palaces. Here’s one named after Catherine I, who was married to Peter the Great. So. Much. Gold. Catherine Palace is also known as Pushkin Palace (because it’s located in the town of Pushkin).

DSC_0688
Walking around the enormous estate of Catherine Palace is a sport in itself.

DSC_0615

Super-short history lesson: It was actually Empress Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great and Catherine I, who lived here. She named it after her mother, but her initials is what appears above the gate.

This next one isn’t really about the palace, though there is one. It’s all about the fountains.

There are more than 140 fountains in this place. Here are a couple dozen of them to give you an idea.
There are more than 140 fountains in this place. Here are a couple dozen of them to give you an idea.
This is Samson (the super strong man from the Bible) fighting off a dolphin. Apparently the Russians of old thought dolphins had claws.
This a super strong merman fighting off a dolphin. Apparently the Russians of old thought dolphins had claws.

One last palace worth seeing. Yusupov Palace isn’t nearly as impressive as the Winter Palace, but it houses the crime scene of wonderfully horrific yet fascinating story — the murder of Rasputin.

Super-short history lesson: Felix Yusupov and some fellow conspirators plotted to kill Rasputin, who they considered a madman manipulating the tsar. They poisoned, shot and beat him before dumping him in the river where he drowned to death.

Yusupov Palace is bright and cheery on the outside.
Yusupov Palace is bright and cheery on the outside.
DSC_0921
Deep down in the basement of the palace is this little tableau. That’s Rasputin in the foreground choking on the tea and cakes laced with poison.

I’ll wrap it up here for now. Highlights from Moscow to come!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s