Wednesday, September 23, 2015

St. Petersburg in Russia

During my last week in Belgium, my mom and I went on a little 5-day vacation to St. Petersburg (ex-Leningrad). Claimed to be the most beautiful city of Russia, if not the world, the expectations were high, but the travel organization Davidsfonds and our local guide Ella delivered. Our program was chock-full from 9am to late at night, every day. There was literally no time to relax in our comfortable room or take a dip in the hotel’s swimming pool. Dinners at our hotel Ambassador were fair, but all breakfasts and other meals at the diverse restaurants were well-prepared, and tasty, predominantly Russian, cuisine.

In a group of 27 people, we visited dark Orthodox churches with shiny relics, colorful cathedrals, exquisite and exuberant palaces, expansive museums, a moving ballet (Swan Lake with music from Tchaikovsky), interesting stores, the impressive Peter and Paul fortress, a cemetery of famous Russians, and massive gardens with funky fountains. We were lucky with the weather: no rain was felt and the last morning, a glorious sun accompanied us on the boat ride over the city’s network of rivers, showcasing St. Petersburg’s historical buildings in their most favorable and favored way.

A picture doesn’t necessarily say more than a thousand words (as a writer, living a seemingly "picture perfect life" I don’t agree with that expression), but it sure is easier to post a photo than write a thousand words for each sight we saw and experienced! :-) So, here are a whole bunch of photos of Russia’s prettiest city.

Entering St. Petersburg from the airport
Peter and Paul Fortress:

Peter and Paul Cathedral

Interior of the cathedral

Tomb of Peter the Great (and burial site of many other members of the Romanov family)

Top of the cathedral

Part of the fortress, along the Neva river

St. Petersburg skyline seen from the fortress

View from our hotel Ambassador at dusk

Trinity Cathedral, seen through the bus window - we saw many pretty sights this way

Alexander Nevsky Monastery:
Tikhvin Cemetery

Grave of the famous Russian composer Tchaikovsky

Many famous Russian artists are buried at this cemetery

The monastery's cathedral


Impressive monastery building

Taking care of the monastery gardens

Detail of the gate to the monastery

St. Isaac's Cathedral:

St. Petersburg's largest church took 40 years to build

The lavish interior of the impressive church

Art Deco building of a delicatessen store

Buildings like these are part of the street scene

Another Orthodox cathedral (of St. Andrew the First-Called), seen from our bus

The Hermitage and Winter Palace:

The Hermitage - One of the biggest museums of the world with a very extensive and impressive collection of art. It would take days to explore the Hermitage and the adjacent Winter Palace of the Tzars

Entrance way in the palace

Rooms full of paintings

One of the many exquisite galleries

Mikhailovsky Theater: 

Inside of the theater

Ballet dancers - the Swan Lake

End of the second act of "Swam Lake"


The grand palace of Peter the Great

The gardens have many (gold plated) fountains

Our tour group in front of  Peter the Great, founder of St. Petersburg and Tsar and emperor of Russia, who ruled from 1682 - 1725

Another garden in front of another palace on the grounds

Mom and me, and "our" summer palace

Romanov palaces, art, gardens, water and gold - Russia's rich past

Savior on the Blood Church (or Church of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ), my favorite Orthodox cathedral in St. Petersburg

The Russian Museum, full of Russian fine art

St. Petersburg by night

St. Nicholas the Maritime Cathedral

Statue of the famous Russian poet Aleksandr Pushkin

Catherine Palace:

Catherine Palace, one of the palaces in Tsarskoye Selo, Tsar Village, is an 18th-century baroque palace, where the Russian royal family spent their summers.

It is massive with extensive grounds

And very exquisite - watch the immense painting on the ceiling! Most rooms in the palace look like this.

With lots of gold, special wooden floors and exactly as it looked like ages ago
Evening out with dinner and Russian entertainment

Savior on the Blood Church at night

One of the pretty buildings during our one hour river cruise

Bridges and historic buildings along the water ways of St. Petersburg

It's a very charming city, especially seen this way

Back on the main river the Neva, with the Peter and Paul Fortress and Cathedral
Lady of Kazan Cathedral:

Another massive cathedral in the city center

View from the cathedral with a fountain and Art Deco bookstore

The cathedral was our last stop in St. Petersburg

The front side of the Kazan Cathedral faces the main artery and famous shopping street Nevsky Prospekt


Lisa Dorenfest said...

Ask and ye shall receive :-). The images in this post are so rockin that I am beside myself.
Where do I start. I love the framing of the 1st P&P Cathedral picture and the details in the second. The lighting in the 'View From The Ambassador' is perfect. I am a lover of multidirectional signs and wish I had that one of the Russian artists in my collection. The reflection of the monastery's cathedral is glorious. I am gaga for reflections! And you know I love street photography so adore the care taking in the monastery garden. The dome in the St Petersburg church is ridiculously gorgeous. The images of the Hermitage and Winter Palace almost brought tears to my eyes (perhaps I was a Russian Princess in a past life which would explain my princess like behavior today). Peter had a palace, Catherine had a palace. I want a palace. The first composition inside the theater is marvelous and the ballet dancers are so perfect that they don't look real. And again, the details on the Savior of the Blood Church are spectacular. You did a magnificent job with the night shot. The entire post is a visual delight and is making me want to trade in palm trees for cityscapes. I know I am oozing with compliments here but really, this post is wonderful.

PS - lovely to see you with your mom!

Liesbet said...

Wow, Lisa! So much flattering! :-) I really don't know what to say or how to react to this... Receiving all these compliments and thoughtful comments from a photographer like yourself is really really nice. Thank you so much! And, you are right: I did post all these photos of St. Petersburg just for you. :-) I hope you get your own palace soon, but I think Amandla is a perfect substitute for now! Save the cityscape cravings for Sydney and enjoy your palm trees (I am missing them), or the wide open ocean vistas on the way to New Caledonia for now. xxx