it is clear to me where I am. This hotel is nestled in a Soviet-era worker's
housing complex on the other side of the river from the city center. The
communist design of this area explains why all of the buildings appear to be
the same - sprawling, dark and drab. But the heart of St. Petersburg - the city center - is quite
How many cities have you seen claim to be the "Venice of the east, west, south,
whatever?" Many of them make you chuckle at the comparison... but there
are many places in St. Petersburg
that in my opinion, REALLY DO look like Venice.
was always designed (by Peter the
Great, of course) to emulate European capitals.
("Czar" is a
variation of Caesar, after all.) There are many canals and rivers, and the
overwhelming architectural influence appears to be sort of a flamboyant baroque
Highlights of my day include:
Winter Palace: 5 or more giant
buildings that were home to Catherine the Great and other Russian royals - but
also where the Bolsheviks stormed in 1917 putting an end to Czarist Russia, and
welcoming Lenin to lead the country into Communism.
The Hermitage: This world-class
museum is actually one and the same with the Winter Palace,
and contains some of the world's greatest art treasures. Truly spectacular, and
I cannot wait to share photos with you. But what is remarkable, is that you are
so close to all of the priceless works. There is nothing except common sense to
stop you from touching the master works, such as those by Rembrandt, daVinci, Van Gogh and others. No velvet ropes, no glass shields, etc.
Sadly, some people do not have that common sense, and I witnessed them actually
touching the frames and even the canvas in one case. There was quite a
distressed shout from the volunteer babushka who was watching the room.
Kazaan Cathedral - Very European.
Styled a bit like St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican in Rome, it features rows of
giant columns flanking either side of the giant dome. Banned during communism,
it actually operated as a Museum
of Atheism for about 60
Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood
Dom Knigi - Art-Nouveau style -
similar to the decorations found at the Empire State
Building in NYC. Was home
to the Singer Sewing Machine company!
Church of Our Savior On Spilled Blood - Now this is the expected Russian style! A
mountain of blindingly bright, colorful and bejeweled domes, topped by
glistening gold crosses. I must have taken 20 pictures of this building alone!
This is where Czar Alexander
assassinated, hence the dramatic name.
There are many more, but I won't bore you with details. There is also a rather "active" nightlife scene here, but I will try to keep my PG rating by not mentioning it!