Monday, September 21, 2015

Monday, September 21, 2015

the Tsars' Capital

Posted by Hippo Bean at 9:07 PM
It was coming down with freezing rain and because of my usual stupidity, I didnt wear my raincoat nor my heavy ski jacket. So I was bearing the cold and wet while standing at the strelka of the Vasileyevsky Island, gazing over the river Neva to see the Peter and Paul's Fortress. The day was gloomy and cloudy and even the bright green Winter Palace across the river looked dull and sad. Because nothing opened before 9:30 in St Petes, we drove all over town to admire the buildings and sites, and to return a bit later when the museums and state houses and churches opened. When we drove past Modest's apartment on Malaya Morskaya ulitsa 13, where Tchaikovsky died, I've wanted to get down on my knees and bow. Soooooooooo love his sentimental tunes. Just like Dostoyevsky's words illustrated the old russian lives, Tchaikovsky's music epitomized romantic Russia. For me, his music really brought out old sentimental Russia. But all I could manage was to snap a blurry photo of the building where he took his last breath.

First stop was the Baroque St Nicholas Naval Cathedral because it was a living church and thus opened early. Far from the depressing soviet colors, this russian church was painted in striking blue with white accents and golden domes. Inside, no photos allowed, typical of orthodox churches, it was elaborately decorated with every inch in the wall painted. Few people were praying. The bell tower across from the courtyard was magestic. Next, the very ancient looking neoclassical St Isaac Cathedral (Isaakievskiy Sobor) was an impressive site even under the cloudy sky. the gold dome supported by red granite columns, was imposing. The cathedral's bronze doors, covered in reliefs by Ivan Vitali, did not open until 10am. So we waited. the interior of the great dome painting honoring the holy spirit, had a bank of circular windows below the dome and below the windows, golden statues. and I just couldnt get enough of the gorgeous classy chandeliers. many paintings by russian artists and many colorful mosaics. the equestrian Monument to Nicholas I sat facing the cathedral. In the Senate square, next to the Admiralty, the bronze horseman, Peter the Great statue on a horse, faced the river, on an enormous Thunderstone pedestral, with the inscription "Petro Primo Catharina Secunda MDCCLXXXII" in Latin 1782. Next we went to the peter and paul fortress across the river. I was disappointed the fortress walls were now painted in red (soviet color?) but they left parts of the wall in its original stone brown which was nice. The interior of peter and paul church inside the fortress was filled with gold and pink marble corinthian columns, the sanctuary totally in gold and crystal chandeliers on the ceilings. Beautiful to say the least. Here peter the great , catherine the great, alexander I, nicholas I, and lesser romanov tombs are located. not terribly ornate, just marble slaps. Later the remains of Nicholas II, his wife and children were interred in the cathedral as well, but we couldnt see the tombs as the room was been renovated. Back across the river again, we stopped to photograph the stunning baroque Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. The exterior was totally in mosaics. When I looked at it, i was stunned with no words to describe it. Over the top decoration. but stunningly beautiful. Need to go back to admire the interior.

We visited the Russian Museum in the afternoon. Located inside the splendid neoclassical Mikhailovsky Palace with grand staircases, magnificent chandeliers, opulent rooms and grandly decorated doors, just the palace itself was worth visiting. The collections included paintings of Karl Briullov's 'Narcissus looking into the water' and 'the last days of pompeii', and 'the view of constanople by moonlight' by Ivan Aivazovsky. The Hippo enjoyed her time visiting this museum. what grandeur.

Dinner was at the Villa Aston, close to our hotel on Stremyannaya. Nice french decor. comfy sofas in the restaurant. We had very black sturgeon caviar, not salty at all, served with pancakes. Pumpkin cream oyster soup and wild boar. Discovered the Lambrusco that was the best prosecco I've ever tasted. very delicious meal. earlier today some of us had lunch there as well. I had the borsch that had large cubes of beef, with no sour cream. Very beety and quite good. This place was worth eating at. if I ever return to St Petes, I'd probably stay at this hotel and sample their restaurant's meal again. While some went to see the Impressionists at the Hermitage or to the Faberge museum, the Hippo went souvenir shopping at the Nevsky Prospekt. Blew many rubbles there.

See the Tsars' Capital city:

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