Route of the Czars

A trip from October 11 through October 20, 2006

St. Petersburg and its suburbs
Summer Palace Front
Pushkin is a town north of St. Petersburg, which was founded as "Royal Village," and it had two major palaces.  The Catherine Palace is shown here, and it is known as the "Summer Palace."  This palace was constructed by Catherine I, not Catherine the Great, in 1717.  It was used as a summer palace by Catherine I, Elizabeth and by Catherine the Great, but she built a more restrained wing for her own use.

After the October Revolution, this became a museum.  During the Siege of Leningrad, it was occupied by the Germans, and they trashed it so there was nothing left but the outside walls.

Now it has been largely restored.
Summer Palace Ballroom
Versailles has the "Hall of Mirrors."  This palace has the "Hall of Lights," a grand ballroom, about 10,000 square feet of space.  Over the past few years it has hosted high profile concerts and parties.
Summer Palace Ceiling
The ceilings in the Catherine Palace are spectacular.
Summer Palace Heating
This huge ceramic piece is a space heater, and it is not so much different from equivalent heaters in Western European palaces.
Summer Palace Corridaor
This series of formal rooms is known as the Golden Enfilade, and it is a reproduction of the original, including the Amber Room.
If the big name in Moscow is Ivan the Terrible, but the big name in St. Petersburg is Peter the Great.  He tried to create St. Petersburg in the style of the best he saw in his travels to Western Europe in 1697 and 1698. 

This is the General Staff Building, built by Alexander I around 1820, long after Peter's time.  It celebrates a victory over Napolean.
The Hermitage
The best known institution in St. Petersburg is The Hermitage.  This started as the Winter Palace, completed by Catherine the Great in 1762.  Shortly after that, she started collecting art, and the collecting has been going on more or less ever since then.  This is just a across Palace Square from the General Staff building.
Grand Staircase - The Hermitage
This stairway shows the palatial origin of the Hermitage.  The Winter Palace alone has more than 1000 rooms, and it looked like much was still being renovated.  It was easier to get lost than find a restroom.
Ceiling in the Hermitage
While the Hermitage State Museum has about 3 million art works, the building itself is frequently an art work.  While there is a lot of art on view, much of it is shown in dark, crowded rooms.
Peter and Paul Cathedral
The Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul was built in 1712, sponsored by Peter the Great.  This is the oldest building in St. Petersburg.  It is within the Fortress of Peter and Paul on Zayachy Island in the Neva River.

This spire could have been designed by Christopher Wren.
Inside Peter and Paul Cathedral
Lots of gold and baroque in St. Peter and Paul, which holds the tombs of all the emperors and empresses from Peter the Great through Nicholas II.
Tombs of Csar Nicholas and his family
This side chapel houses the recovered remains of Nicholas II and his family, all of whom were executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918.
Museum of the Russian People
This classical revival building is the Museum of the Russian Peoples.
Church of the Savior on the Blood
The Church of the Savior on the Blood is a Moscow style building, built on the site where Alexander II was assasinated.  This building survived the Stalin years as a warehouse.  This is a remarkably modern building; its constuction was done between 1883 and 1907.
St. Petersburg has the Neva River, and it also has a network of canals.  There are not enough canals to make it like Venice, but they are pleasant to watch.
Smolny Convent
The Smolny Convent was built to house Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, because she was not allowed to become Empress of Russia.  However, a coup in 1741 changed all that, and she became a tsarina, not a nun.  The Italian born architect, Rastrelli, designed this, the Catherine Palace and the Winter Palace.  Rastrelli was a master of the baroque.
Pavlosk Palace
Pavlovsk Palace is another suburban palace, placed in a huge, English-style garden.  It dates to about 1780, although it burned in 1803, it was rebuilt.  It was built by Paul I (Pavel) before he became czar in 1796.
Pavlosk Palace
The architect for this palace was Cameron, who was much more restrained than Rastrelli.
Kids at Pavlosk Palace While we waited to get in, a group of school childred arrived.
Pavlosk Interior Cameron's restraint notwithstanding, this chapel gets pretty close to baroque.
And it makes sense to end the trip with a sunset.  This is a view over Lake Onega.

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