23 July 2011

St. Petersburg, Russia: The Venice of the North (?)

We finally made it to St. Petersburg at around 10:30 this morning, after the debacle of yesterday and getting up at 4:00 to get a plane.  Once we arrived, we began the sight-seeing route with a walking tour of half of the historical center.  They call St. Petersburg the Venice of the north, and having recently been to Venice, my initial impressions are as follows.  Similarities: lots of canals, beautiful old buildings everywhere, boat transport, a plethora of churches.  Differences: in Venice Italy, mullets are no longer in style (they are here); in Italy, men generally wear shirts (not so much the case in Russia--lots of unbuttoned and completely shirtless people); and in Italy, music is generally from the last 10 years (in Russia, 80s pop ballads seem to be a favorite).  I suppose time will tell if the 'Venice of the North' nickname is deserved...Anyhow, first on the list was the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood.  This Orthodox church was built in the last two decades of the 1800s over the spot where Alexander II (a tsar, I believe) was mortally wounded.  As you can see, the church is very unique, but absolutely gorgeous from the outside...

...and on the inside.  Though this picture doesn't do them justice, all of the artwork on the inside is intricate mosaics.  In fact, there are 7000 square meters (roughly 63000 square feet) of mosaics that cover every surface except the floor, which is itself a masterpiece in marble.  The sight is truly breathtaking.

This building behind me is the engineer's castle...not particularly noteworthy, but poetic, eh?

We ended our first day in Russia with a trip to the Conservatory to see one of the best-known Russian ballets, Swan Lake.  Despite the fact that we were oh-so-tired, the show was wonderful.  And when it finished at 11pm...it was still light out!  Gotta love the north in the summer :-)

1 comment:

grandma feldt said...

Was surprised you didnt look tired! Swan Lake was on of the first songs I played on the piano. Love ya