Monday, November 26, 2012

Touring St. Petersburg

While waiting for our room to be ready at the Sokos Palace we visited the Concierge desk and arranged for a private visit to the Hermitage.   Our guide was a Russian student named Olga.  She spoke excellent English.  Our driver, with another suitably Russian name, Sergei, didn't seem to know much English but he was spiffily togged in black suit, tie, and mirrored shades.

The Hermitage we knew was one of the great art collections of the world, but we didn't know that it spilled out into at least four connected buildings along the magnificent Neva River esplanade.

Our tour was a pricey but turned out to be practical as this was the line to get in if you were not in a VIP channel.  

Once inside,  it was a grand staircase and then room after room of  Baroque grandeur.

The ceilings glittered with gilt and every doorway seemed to be an entry into a palace of gold.

  Every niche and ceiling seemed to radiate embellishment.

The throne room was primed and ready to receive the royal derriere.

and crystal chandeliers sparkled above us.

Obviously the buildings themselves are works of art, but the interior is also full of almost three million additional works.  Only a fraction of them are on display but what is there could clearly occupy the visitor for weeks.

There were delicate golden miniatures on blue porcelain.

and green Malachite vases that stood taller than a man

There were lots of classical statues

And plenty of priceless paintings.

One of the truly moving areas was The Raphael Loggias. It is an exact copy of a huge pictorial cycle that was created by Raphael for the Vatican Palace.  Catharine the Great commissioned the copies of the frescoes in the 18th century and they are now a central feature of the New Hermitage.

After over two hours of walking through the Hermitage's palatial halls, we were ready to sit and see  a few more of St. Petersburg's sights.

 We went by the Kazan Cathedral

and the Stroganov Palace on Nevsky Prospect.  It's now a huge shopping mall.

We saw Peter the Great's  statue in Senate Square.  This dynamic sculpture was created in 1768 and embodies the city, its founder, and the rock of its namesake Saint. 

The Palace Square has plenty of room to spare as well.
Cathedrals are a dime a dozen in St. Petersburg and each one is more resplendent then the next.  
Cathedral of "Our Saviour-on the-Spilt-Blood

and St. Isaacs Cathedral

More on St. Petersburg trip in the next entry.
Thanks for looking.





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