Saint Petersburg

Beautifully decorated exterior of the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

Beautifully decorated exterior of the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

Dates visited: August 9, 2012 – August 13, 2012

Saint Petersburg, Russia’s gateway to Europe, is 445 miles northwest of Moscow and easily reachable by Sapsan high speed trains. The proximity to Europe makes it a more popular tourist spot that Moscow so finding an English-speaking person here is easy. It is designated as a UNESCO Heritage World Site under the long moniker: Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments!

I was most interested in seeing the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood (aka the Church on Spilt Blood and the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ) for its exquisite architecture and the many ornate bulbous domes. And I wasn’t disappointed! This magnificent church is perched on the banks of the Neva River, and its grandeur only increases as you approach it. Another church I loved was the Saint Isaac’s Cathedral. It’s domed-exterior isn’t as stunning (I was biased because of wanting to see more onion-shaped domes), but it makes up for it on the inside. This was the most beautiful interior of any church that I had seen so far—bronze doors, marble floors, granite columns and an elaborate iconostasis. The gilded carvings, statues, and paintings were very elegantly done and they really appealed to my taste.

The other huge attraction is the State Hermitage Museum, founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great, which gets over 2.5 million visitors annually. It reminded me of the Louvre, and it has the collection to match. The most famous painting here was the Madonna Litta by Leonardo da Vinci. We spent close to five hours in this museum appreciating its outstanding collection of art from the Paleolithic age till present era. We ended the day by visiting the nearby Bronze Horseman—an equestrian statue of Peter the Great—standing on Thunder Stone which is the largest stone ever moved by man! This enormous boulder weighed 1500 tonnes and was carved down to 1250 tonnes during transportation. That is heavy!

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