Day 6 - St. Petersburg - Hermitage & Russian Museums - Peter & Paul Fortress

We started our second day in St. Petersburg with a trip to St. Isaac's Cathedral.


The photographer stops for a pose.


Seat belts for angels. Actually, we noticed quite a bit of historic building restoration going on in St. Petersburg.


The monument to Nicholas I in front of Saint Isaac's Cathedral. We had driven by this the day before. Next we visited the Hermitage.


The Hermitage Museumis one of the largest and oldest museums in the world. It was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great. Its collections comprise over three million items, including the largest collection of paintings in the world. We entered and passed down one of the main corridors.


In the Gold Room, Virineya introduced us to what we were about to see. Her knowledge of art and history was extensive.


The Pavilion Hall was created in the middle of the 19th century by Andrei Stakenschneider, who combined architectural motifs from Antiquity, the Renaissance and the Arabic East. The interior is rendered particularly striking by the combination of light-coloured marble with gilded mouldings and the fine gleam of the crystal-glass chandeliers. V explains the floor mosaic to us.


In the southern part of the room a mosaic is set into the floor - a copy an ancient mosaic at the thermae (baths) of Ocriculum near Rome.




The Hermitage's famous Peacock Clock is a large automaton featuring three life-sized mechanical birds, manufactured by the James Cox in the 2nd half of the 18th century and acquired by Catherine the Great in 1781.


Eighteenth-century philosophers were of the opinion that a clock was a mechanical model of the universe. The peacock is the most rich in astral symbolism: it represents the cosmos, the sun and the lunar disk. The most impressive moment - the solemn opening of the tail and its rapid folding is a symbol of the unity between the appearance and disappearance of all that exists.


Ceiling mural.


The light colored marble and gilded mouldings make the Pavilion Hall a fairy tale setting.


The work of many European masters are housed in the Hermitage's collections. Here, "The Return of the Prodigal Son" by Rembrandt (~1667).



Art students come to practice by imitating the the masters themselves.


Malachite vase.


Lapis lazuli vase and table.


Jim and Sondra talking with V.


A visually stunning hallway.



There were so many magnificent works of the European masters. This is Raphael's "The Holy Family (Madonna with the Beardless Joseph)." As elsewhere, there were many Madonna with Child's.


Caravaggio - The Lute Player c.1595.


The walls and ceilings of the many galleries were often as beautiful as the pieces themselves.


Goya's Portrait of the Actress Antonia Zárate.


Renoir's Portrait de Mlle Jeanne Samary.


Monet's Poppy Field.


Imperial Throne in the St. George Hall.


The 1812 War Gallery (Hall of Military Heroes) with Equestrian Portrait of Emperor Alexander I at the far end.


V explains the wall of 332 portraits of generals who took part in the Patriotic War of 1812. The portraits were painted by George Dawe and his Russian assistants Alexander Polyakov, a serf, and Wilhelm August Golicke in one year's time. That averages about one portrait a day.


We departed The Hermitage, happy we had come early.


Outside there was a holiday celebration going on. It was somehow appropriate we had just come from the Hall of Military Heroes.


A small display of military might.


The troops were forming in front of the Hermitage.


The public was, apparently, invited to examine the equipment close up.


"Hurry up and wait" seems to be a universal military saying.




Before our next stop, the Russian Museum, we stopped for lunch at Teremok, a fast food chain with fairly healthy food, specializing in borscht, fish soup, dumplings, and sweet or savory crepes (which we tried - they were delicious!). I tried the kvas, a fizzy, fairly sweet, fermented grain beverage. It wasn't half bad.


After lunch, the Russian Museum. This was a tour we specifically asked for, that the other tour groups didn't see. Most major museums have the European Masters, but the Russion Museum has the finest RUSSIAN art.



I believe that says "Russian Museum." Not sure what that top part says.


Guarding the doors.


The works were historic, epic in scale, and emotionally moving.




Seeing the conscript off to war.


Honoring the workers.





Bogatyr by Mikhail Vrubel.


Portrait of Princess Zinaida Yusupova by Valentin Serov.



Colour Construction No. 4 by Vladimir Stenberg.



Bill and Jim playing around, waiting for the others in the restroom. We were sitting in front of a HUGE mirror on the other side of the hall. "Hey, Jim, let me take your picture." "OK, let me take yours."


V comes along and sits down. "Hey, V, let me take your picture. Give me a nice 'service' smile."


"OK, V, now give me a Russian face." It lasted about 2 seconds and we all cracked up, laughing.


Our next stop was the Peter and Paul Fortress.


Peter and Paul Fortress was founded by Peter the Great in 1703 during the Great Northern War with nearby Sweden. Set on an island in the River Neva, it was the birthplace of St. Petersburg. The Peter and Paul Cathedral, the centerpiece of the fortress is St. Petersburg's tallest building, and is the final resting place of the Romanov czars.






The Three Amigos.


Stepping inside, the view was breath-taking.




Elaborate gold work around the alter.



Kitty guarding the alter.


Magnificent detail.


The tombs of the Romanov family, the last of the czars who ruled Russia from 1613-1917. They were all murdered in Lenin's October Revolution.



We stopped at the Chapel of St. Catherine the Martyr on our way out.


Our tour of St. Petersburg had come to an end, and our smiles say it all. We had a BLAST! Back at our boat, we posed for a group portrait - Jim, Alexi, Sondra, Viriney, Mary Lou, Norm, Bill, Nancy, and Victoria (from SPB).


Tonight's towel animal - a crab.

See day 7 in Helsinki. Or return to the Main Menu to see something else.