Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Tour of Saint Petersburg

We have used "Tours by Locals" to arrange a two day tour of Saint Petersburg with our own personal guide. To our great surprise, she shows up with a driver and Mercedes SUV. I had expected to walk to the subway and walk between local sights.

 We stop in this place first. Neither of us can remember what it was. As we get older our short term memories become more patchy. Later I read my guidebook and identify the building as the Smolnyy Convent. Design began in 1748. The building is supported by 50,000 pilings. The design is said to be a  "brilliant" fusion of Russian and baroque architecture.

 Mrs. Phred and our guide outside the Peter and Paul fortress, prison and cathedral.

 The next few pictures are from the Peter and Paul complex across the Neva River from Saint Petersburg.

 The prison had 62 cells. Each cell held between one and forty prisoners depending on the government in power at the time. According to Wiki:
The fortress was established by Peter the Great on May 16, 1703 on small Hare Island by the north bank of the Neva River, the last upstream island of the Neva delta. Built at the height of the Northern War in order to protect the projected capital from a feared Swedish counterattack, the fort never fulfilled its martial purpose. The citadel was completed with six bastions in earth and timber within a year, and it was rebuilt in stone from 1706-1740.
From around 1720, the fort served as a base for the city garrison and also as a prison for high-ranking or political prisoners. The Trubetskoy Bastion, rebuilt in the 1870s, became the main prison block. The first person to escape from the fortress prison was the anarchist Prince Peter Kropotkin in 1876. Other people incarcerated in the "Russian Bastille" include Shneur Zalman of Liadi, Tsarevich Alexei Petrovich, Artemy Volynsky, Tadeusz Kościuszko, Alexander Radishchev, the Decembrists, Grigory Danilevsky, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Maxim Gorky, Mikhail Bakunin, Nikolai Chernyshevsky, Leon Trotsky and Josip Broz Tit

 Inside the Peter and Paul Cathedral.

 The tomb of Alexander II. Many tsars and their wives are located here.

 This is a view from inside of the Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood.

On March 13, 1881, as Tsar Alexander II of Russia's carriage passed along the canal near the church, a grenade thrown by an anarchist  exploded. The tsar, shaken but unhurt, got out of the carriage and started to remonstrate with the presumed culprit. A second conspirator took the chance to throw another bomb, killing himself and mortally wounding the tsar. The tsar died a few hours later in the Winter Palace.

The Royal family had the church constructed from 1883 to 1907 on the site of Alexander's death.  During the war and the siege of Leningrad the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat or starvation . After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, causing some to call it The Church of Savior on Potatoes.

The church from the outside.

Before lunch we visit Saint Isaac's Cathedral. It is a massive building, thought to weigh 300,000 tons.

Our guide gives us an astounding amount of information about the cathedral. Wiki repeats some of this, including the following:

The cathedral took 40 years to construct, under Montferrand's direction, from 1818 to 1858.  To secure the construction, the cathedral's foundation was strengthened by driving 25 000 piles into the fenland of Saint Petersburg. Innovative methods were created to erect the giant columns of the portico. The construction costs of the cathedral were on  incredible amount of 1,000,000 gold roubles. Under the Soviet government, the building was stripped of religious trappings. In 1931, it was turned into the Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism, the dove sculpture (at the top of the dome) was removed, and replaced by a Foucault pendulum.

The authorities, tired of repainting the murals, replaced them with mosaics using 4,000 separate colors. You can see the tiles in the photo above.

Our guide takes us to a location where we can photograph Saint Isaac's  Cathedral from a distance. Later, it's time for lunch and she takes us to a cafe where we eat Russian pies...I have the salmon...

After lunch we walk through Palace Square on our way to the fantastic "Hermitage", a huge palace full of amazing artwork by Rembrant, Ruebens and others.

A small corner of the Hermitage Palace. I notice that the windows use the same putty that we had in our old house. I would need some help keeping them painted and puttied properly.

The following shots are a few of the rooms in the Hermitage. There seems to be hundreds of rooms filled with paintings, sculptures and other artifacts. We visit for hours and see a small sample.

Baccus has a weight problem. I remind myself to count calories.


  1. This is really wonderful that the way you describe I’ll really appreciated your work.hope i’ll come back to get some more information .
    Russia Tour Packages

    1. The tour was fantasic....and a great bargain...anyone visiting Petrograd/Leningrad/St Petersburg should take two day tour as part of the visit.