St. Petersburg day 2

(People are asking me how I get to travel so much, and welcoming me back to the States, so I should clarify that these photos are all from 1 August 2013… I’m really bad at posting on time.)

Our second day in St. Petersburg was not as nice weather-wise. We had a light rain for most of the day, so we were lucky in that day 2 was a mostly indoor appreciation day.

First off, the Hermitage Museum, one of the oldest and biggest museums in the world created by Catherine I (remember her?). One of the palace buildings that was converted into the museum was formerly the Winter Palace and it looks out over Palace Square. One of my favorite things about visiting other places is thinking about the historical events that took place there, thinking about whose footprints I’m stepping in. For example, Palace Square is where Bloody Sunday and the October Revolution happened. Reading about these events in textbooks and even watching documentaries is one thing, but breathing the air there is an entirely different experience. I get overwhelmed by the feeling.

My view of Palace Square from inside the Hermitage Museum

In any case, the Hermitage is home to so much great art. I can’t even show you all the art that I have photos of, let alone all the art that they actually housed, but I’ll give you all a taste of some of my favorite pieces, some famous pieces, and pieces with interesting stories. (Included in the captions, which are maybe worth reading for once this time!) I have way way more, so let me know if you want me to share any of the other pieces I photographed. 🙂

Portrait of the actress Jeanne Samary – Renoir
She is best known not for her acting but for Renoir’s portraits.
Boy with a Whip – Renoir
(It looks like a little girl, but we were assured this is a boy, as it was custom for little boys to dress this way.)
Woman in the Garden, Saint-Adresse – Monet
We were told that this painting originally also had a man next to the woman, who commissioned this painting, but she then asked Monet to remove him. Drama.
Thatched Cottages at Cordeville – Van Gogh
Dance II – Matisse
This painting could take up an entire wall of my bedroom.
Le Café Maure – Matisse
Musical Instruments – Picasso
Two Sisters – Picasso
A rare original Da Vinci painting

Casually run out of room for priceless art and put it on the ceiling.
Rembrandt was the most popular artist in the museum.

More gifts from Egypt

The building itself, of course, being a Winter Palace, was also utterly magnificent.

Just… just look at that. Casually gilded and lined with priceless art.
Chandeliers are to the indoors what fountains are to the outdoors. Gotta love the opulence a little bit.
A lot of beautiful ceiling patterns, some that mirrored the beautiful floors.

From the Hermitage, we went to the Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood. The history of this church is amazing and fascinating. It was built on the site where Alexander II (who is maybe on of the most revered Russian monarchs) was assassinated. Literally, the very spot where his blood was spilled is preserved and enshrined in this church. The blood-stained cobblestones are exposed (although fenced off) and around them was constructed a glittering shrine of gleaming stones.

Today, it is no longer a place of worship, as it was used as a morgue during World War II and, well, if housing the dead isn’t a form of desecration,  I’m not sure what is. After World War II, rather than holding religious services, the church was used for storing vegetables (better than corpses) and was affectionately called the Church of the Savior on Potatoes. (Cute, no?)

Elaborate shrine marking the exact spot where Alexander II was assassinated.
The very cobblestones upon which Alexander II’s blood was spilled.
My neck started aching from looking upwards at all these BEAUTIFUL ceilings.
Vents to keep services warm during cold St. Petersburg Sundays
Alexandrite in the pillars…

Afterwards, we headed off to St. Isaac’s Cathedral, which is a magnificent Russian Orthodox cathedral. It cost so much money, time (40 years), and many lives to build this spectacular building.

The cathedral was filled with these meticulously created mosaics
The progression of the cathedral’s architecture

It was a good last day in St. Petersburg. I really felt like I had gotten in touch with my Russian roots. (If those are a thing…) I just really loved St. Petersburg and I would really love to go back someday.

The first “Venice of the North” that we saw