Peter and Paul Fortress, Church on Spilled Blood and Catherine's Palace

Saint Petersburg Travel Blog

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Bottom of one of the Rostral Column, which were designed as lighthouses. The prows of ships they had victory over were used as decorations. There were 4 statues at the bottom, 2 on each column, representing the 4 great rivers in Russia.
We are in St Petersburg! Russia's window on the west, the city built by Peter the Great in 1703 on a cluster of islands and mashland. A network of 365 bridges and rivers and canals unify the layout of its streets. The river Neva is the main waterway into the Gulf of Finland. St Petersburg is also Russia's largest seaport. Although it freezes in winter, icebreakers  keep it navigable. 5 million people live in St Petersburg. Many cruise ships stop here (and we will see many tour groups from cruise ships!)

In the morning we went to visit Peter and Paul Fortress. It was the original center of the city, across the Neva river from the Winter Palace (now the Hermitage Museum). Built on a small island, it has the Peter and Paul Cathedral, with its golden tower which had been the tallest structure in St Petersburg until the 20th century, the burial place of the tsars and their families since Peter the Great.
View of Peter and Paul Fortress from the site of the Rostral columns.
The last tsar Nicholas II and his family were reburied here in 1998, and we saw a TV footage in the hotel room on this burial, showing coffins being lifted into chambers underground in the chamber inside this cathedral. In the Fortress were also a mint where money is being printed still, and a former political prison.  The prison Trybetskoy Bastion had housed several famous people including Peter the Great's own son Alexei, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Lenin's brother!

We visited the cathedral of Peter and Paul, where we saw the marble or other stone sarcaphagouses which were place on the floor, enclosed in iron fences. The marble columns of this cathedral was painted, not real marble, supposedly to save money, but they looked real enough.

Outside the cathedral is a small boat house, now a souvenir shop.
There were always costumed people in tourist locations, earning money by posing with tourists
I did not go in, but Kevin took a quick look inside, and found a small boat made by Peter the Great there on exhibit.

We drove around the fortress and back onto a bridge to cross the Neva again to the south. We could see a small sandy beach on the island outside the Fortress, there weren't many swimmers today. But in winter, the members of the Walrus swimming club break the ice in the Neva and go for an icy swim!

Next up was the Cathedral on Spilled Blood (the Resurrection Church of Our Savior), so named because it was built in 1883 on the spot where tsar Alexander II was assassinated. The church was even more beautifull than St Basil's in Moscow. Its exterior and interior were covered in breath-taking mosaics made from 20 types of minerals, including jasper, and lots of gold leafs too.
walls of the Peter and Paul Fortress
You have to pay a fee of 100 rubles to be able to take photos inside the church.

After lunch on our own, we gathered in the afternoon for a tour to the town of Pushkin (used to be called Tsar's Village, Tsarskoe Selo). Its main attraction was Catherine's Palace. This was actually the summer palace built by Tsarina Elizabeth (Peter the Great's daughter), named to honor her mother Catherine I. Later Catherine II (the Great) also added to the palace. The palace, being outside of St Petersburg, was actually destroyed by the Nazis during WWII. Most of its treasures were stored safely elsewhere, but the buildings were in ruins. Looking at photos of the palace after WWII, it was hard to imagine that it could be restored.
Inside the Cathedral of SS Peter and Paul. The Chapel of St Catherine where the tomb of the last tsar Nicholas II and his family and servants are buried (under the floor)
But restored they  did. Some restoration work was still going on, but we were able to see the grandeur of the palace and the great work done by the restoration workers (even during Soviet time they were restoring this and other sites around St Petersburg).

Tsarina Elizabeth was called Elizabeth the Spender! Her taste can be seen as elaborate gold  everywhere. The outside of the palace where now were painted in gold paint, used to be gold-leafed! Catherine the Great was not so wasteful, and did not use gold as much. The Great Hall inside Catherine's Palace was big and filled with light because of its windows on both sides, floors were parquet wood. Other rooms had red or green silk on the walls. The picture gallery had floor to ceiling paintings, a strange way to display paintings.
The sign at the Chapel
There were blue and white Delft tiled heaters in most rooms, imagine how cold this place would have been in the Russian winters without some heat! It's also interesting to note that many rooms had "fake" windows decorated with mirros to make them look like real windows and also mirrors were used to give a sense of infinity. We also saw the Amber Room, restored according to photos and records. The original was taken by the Nazis during WWII.   The garden of the palace had some big swimming pools.

A lot to see in a day. We had dinner at the hotel restaurant, enjoyed our meal with the restaurant's live violinst and guitarist.

travelman727 says:
You took several amazing photos! Thanks for sharing them with us :)
Posted on: Aug 09, 2006
Purdy says:
I visited St Petersburg in November - it would be great to see it in the summer months!! I loved the Church on Spilt blood! And the statutes outside the Hermitage.
Posted on: Aug 04, 2006
travelman727 says:
I haven't had the privilege of visiting St. Petersburg, but I've been told by more than one person that it's one of the most beautiful and intersting cities in the world.
Posted on: Jul 27, 2006
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Bottom of one of the Rostral Colum…
Bottom of one of the Rostral Colu…
View of Peter and Paul Fortress fr…
View of Peter and Paul Fortress f…
There were always costumed people …
There were always costumed people…
walls of the Peter and Paul Fortre…
walls of the Peter and Paul Fortr…
Inside the Cathedral of SS Peter a…
Inside the Cathedral of SS Peter …
The sign at the Chapel
The sign at the Chapel
Interior of Cathedral of SS Peter …
Interior of Cathedral of SS Peter…
I think this is the marker for Pet…
I think this is the marker for Pe…
The painted columns inside the cat…
The painted columns inside the ca…
Interior of the Cathedral of SS Pe…
Interior of the Cathedral of SS P…
The bell tower of the Cathedral of…
The bell tower of the Cathedral o…
A view of the cathedral bell tower…
A view of the cathedral bell towe…
View of Peter and Paul Fortress, i…
View of Peter and Paul Fortress, …
View of the cruiser Aurora
View of the cruiser Aurora
Cruiser Aurora
Cruiser Aurora
Somebody walking 4 dogs at Mikhayl…
Somebody walking 4 dogs at Mikhay…
The Ressurection Church of Our Sav…
The Ressurection Church of Our Sa…
The Ressurection Church of Our Sav…
The Ressurection Church of Our Sa…
Interior of The Ressurection Churc…
Interior of The Ressurection Chur…
Another view of the interior, just…
Another view of the interior, jus…
interior of Church on Spilled Bloo…
interior of Church on Spilled Blo…
Ceiling of the the Ressurection Ch…
Ceiling of the the Ressurection C…
The Ressurection Church of Our Sav…
The Ressurection Church of Our Sa…
Outside the gate to Catherine\\s P…
Outside the gate to Catherine's P…
Going into Catherine\\s Palace
Going into Catherine's Palace
The main entrance of Catherine\\s …
The main entrance of Catherine's …
We had to put on booties in Cather…
We had to put on booties in Cathe…
A fancy barometer on the wall in t…
A fancy barometer on the wall in …
Some fancy China (original) or Jap…
Some fancy China (original) or Ja…
Little angel over the door off the…
Little angel over the door off th…
Window coverings in the main stair…
Window coverings in the main stai…
Mirrors, gold in one of the main h…
Mirrors, gold in one of the main …
Painted ceiling
Painted ceiling
plenty of tourists inside the Grea…
plenty of tourists inside the Gre…
The Great Hall, at 1000 square met…
The Great Hall, at 1000 square me…
The Cavaliers\\ dining room for Ts…
The Cavaliers' dining room for Ts…
A pretty scent vase produced using…
A pretty scent vase produced usin…
The White Formal Dining Room
The White Formal Dining Room
Red foil under glass columns decor…
Red foil under glass columns deco…
The hall and doorways down the len…
The hall and doorways down the le…
This room as green foils under gla…
This room as green foils under gl…
A large portrait of Elizabeth in t…
A large portrait of Elizabeth in …
The picture gallery. It\\s weird h…
The picture gallery. It's weird h…
Stucco bas-reliefs based on motifs…
Stucco bas-reliefs based on motif…
Hallway in the new palaces portion…
Hallway in the new palaces portio…
A statue of Catherine the Great an…
A statue of Catherine the Great a…
A bathhouse and pool in the garden…
A bathhouse and pool in the garde…
View of Catherine\\s Palace from i…
View of Catherine's Palace from i…
The Church of the Sign was one of …
The Church of the Sign was one of…
Birch trees next to the Church of …
Birch trees next to the Church of…
Some official building we drove by…
Some official building we drove b…
St Issac\\s Cathedral, the blue br…
St Issac's Cathedral, the blue br…
On the square in front of the city…
On the square in front of the cit…
Quiet time in front of St Issac\\s…
Quiet time in front of St Issac's…