Once again at the gate in the General Staff Building going to the Palace Sqaure.
I start the day with the sort walk down to the Winter Palace to for a visit to the museum. The place is so famous for all the art they have on display so I figure it is time to be really civilized and cultural. I get to the counter and pay - unfortunately my Russian is pretty bad ok non-existent would probably be closer to the truth - so I have to pay western entry fees. A full 10€ plus another 3½€ for photo fee. This is pretty expensive for Russia.
Well somewhat poorer I get into the museum to look at art. I start walking down one of the long halls of the castle and get to the main stairway. This is when my day of admiring art starts to go wrong.
This is one impressive stairway. Covered in lots of gold with marble pillars all over the place - the sealing is beautifully decorated. Instead of moving ahead to look at what is at display within the museum I just stand at this stairway and stares. I am impressed with this. At the same time you understand why you got a revolution in Russia in the first place. When the large majority of the population is living at bare subsistence level and you have this sort of extravaganza going on in the royal family.
Looking at the top of the gate to the Palace Sqaure.
I finally make my way to the top of the stairway and walk into some of the halls of the castle. These halls got no arts in them - only the original decoration of the castle. My speed through all these halls is at a snails pace. I just walk around staring at the sealing and the walls - not feeling like going to the exhibition halls of the museum.
Entrance to the Winter Palace / Hermitage.
I get into a gold room - there is actually something at display and some people are looking at the stuff at display. I must admit I got no idea what it is at display I just look at this room covered in gold. All wall and the sealing is fully covered in gold. Only the flour is left without a gold cover. There is a small sign kinda showing no photos but the old lady looking at the room don't seem to mind people taking photos of this place - sure is a special sight to see a room made out of gold. I doubt the Danish royal family got this kind of decoration at home - though for some reason they never invited me in for a cup of tea to check it out.
After a while staring at walls and sealings I make it to a halls which got some sort of pictures hanging in the middle of the room at display.
I am annoyed - what are this paintings doing obscuring my view of the room!! I look at the room and then go over to see what kind of idiotic painting they put in to block my view - it is somebody completely unknown called Rubens. They really should put in some sort of known artist ;)
The courtyard of the Winter Palace
I finally get accustomed to look at the art at the Winter Palace. But then I go next door to the Hermitage which is connected to the Winter Palace. This is the first building originally designed to be an art museum. And here the long halls are also richly decorated by frescos at the walls. Once again I stop looking at the paintings at start to look at the wall and roof of this place.
The master stairway to the first floor of the palace
After the long hall it is time to get into the Italian Halls. These halls are very light because of giant roof sealings - and once again the rooms take priority to the arts. This room also got a bit of the history of the city.
During the war Saint Petersburg were blockaded by the Germans for 900 days according to Russian legend - in reality it is something less precise like 872 days. During this time the people of the city were starving to death having to eat bread mainly made out of sawdust. The condition of the city were so terrible that thousands died everyday from starvation - about one million people from Saint Petersburg died during the war - more people than the combined number of death in the UK and USA during the same period.
The roof at the staireway
show ended I walked the long way back to where I stay there were a couple of
Russian there and we decided to go down to the river to experience one of the
main attractions of the summer in Saint
Petersburg the raising of the bridges. We walk down to
watch. There were a group of kids playing with fire down at the shore and lots
of people having a quite beer while waiting for the bridges. Noting happened but
then a huge firework started because of the World Economic Forum which was held
this weekend in town - under the leadership of the local boy Wladimir Putin Prime
minister and former president. It was a huge firework well worth going down to
see - but we still wanted them to lift the bridges. We walked down the river
along the Winter Palace. And then came to a part of the
sidewalk which were closed of - there was a private party going on.
party protected by two squadrons of police - I wonder if the police would also
show up if I had a private party going on?
Sound checks with Roger Waters and band.
We got down
to the next bridge and waited until about 3 and then we gave up and walked back
- a bit disappointed in not seeing the bridges but otherwise the town had
provided great entertainment.
Back to the room during the war the glass in the roof had been destroyed and rain and snow came into the room. Around the place there was sand to put out fires caused by German bombardments. This sand had turned into mud. In the extremely cold winter of 1942 the workers at the museum had to make emergency repairs of the roof to keep out the snow and take out the mud.
All this while they were starving and freezing. It bring the history of reason past close - and helps you to understand why the second world war is still such an important thing in Russian so they celebrate victory day every year till this day.
Chesme Church a bit south of town.
I finally make my way to the rooms at the top flour of the museum. Up here it is still big rooms - perfect for an art display. But there are no longer any particular decorations of the walls or roof so you can actually enjoy the paintings without distractions. Up on the third flour is the impressionist. With big collections of people like Gauguin and Monet. Now I can start looking at the arts finally after close to 5 hours of being disturbed by the building itself. Unfortunately my entrance to the third flour correspond with the beginning f the sounds check for Roger Waters out at the Palace Square so I walk around looking at the impressionist while listening in on bits from The Wall and cut of versions of Another Brick in The Wall part 2.
Well I guess having a sound track of old Pink Floyd songs while looking at impressionist is kinda appropriate since I guess you could call Pink Floyd sort of the impressionist of rock music.
Vladimir Iljitj Uljanov - aka Lenin - in front of a stalinistic peoples palace of culture.
I get out of the museum and try to make it across the square - but while I were in the museum they have put all sorts of barriers up on the square and I cant get out. I have to walk back in and search for another exit. After a while I find an exit and go out to cross the square while looking a bit at the sound checks.
After spending most of the day inside it is time to go on a little outdoor excursion to the end of the main road to town. Down at the end of the road is a small church the Chesme Church which is a pink and white church widely photographed.
I would like to see this one up close so I head down there - and get a bit lost - the church is tiny and really difficult to see when you are on the wrong road with a unreliable map - but after a couple of wrong turn I finally find it and go closer to have a look. Nice little pink church - it is also pink inside but there is a service going on so I have to carry on looking from the outside.
The monument to the heroric defenders of Leningrad.
After this it is back to the main road. To see the first Lenin statue I have seen in Saint Petersburg. They still got several statues of the old Bolshevik leader who previously gave his name to the city. There in front of the giant house giving praise to the Soviet culture is a big statue of Vladimir Iljitj Uljanov - aka Lenin. The man who did not want to be made into a national monument but only a few weeks after his dead statues of him started to show up and the name of the place of the revolution was changed in his honour.
The general Staff building at night.
A bit south of this statue is a giant monument - in remembrance of the heroes of the blockade of Leningrad. This monument is a typical old Soviet style war monument you will se all over Eastern - but here in town the monument is just bigger. Probably as a reflection of the extreme actions during the war.
After visiting the monument I want to hurry back to town. I wanna go to the Roger Waters concert - I have not got tickets though. Well I get to the street I stay in. But it is closed of by the police - only people with tickets to the concert can get in. I point towards the place I stay saying I stay right over there - and the police officer answers with da da da.
And he lets me through. I go up put my camera and back up there and then go down to the square. They don't check the tickets when you get into the square apparently it were up to the officers at the end of the street to do this - so I get in without a problem.
The stairway up to the main halls of the Winter Palace.
I get down and see the concert - it is great Roger is mainly doing old Pink Floyd stuff so I know most of it by heart. But there are a few songs I don't really recognize at first. I assume it is because it is actually some new songs. After the first hour and a half he goes on his short break and come with the announcement that he will be back and do the Dark Side of The Moon. Yeah I thought this was what he would be doing. My favourite Pink Floyd album. He comes back and when we finally get to time and the sound of clocks just blast through the square it is perfect.
Saint Petersburg Sights & Attractions review
The Hermitage Museum
There are a lot of museums which are described as world class museum of this or that but only a few really deserve the label world class museum. One t… read entire review