29th July: We woke up a tad late the next day owing to the jet lag but we still had plenty of hours of daylight to make up for it. We decided to pick 2-3 places to visit from the list of 7-8 places mentioned on the Lonley Planet.
Our first stop was St. Isaac’s Cathedral, a magnificent Russian Orthodox Cathedral that dominates the skyline of the city. It is dedicated to St.Issac of Dalmatia who was the patron saint of Peter the Great. It took 40 years to build and I have to say the results are stunning. While I have seen a lot of stunning buildings like this from the outside, it was the inside of the cathedral that was jaw dropping. Huge bronze doors with frescos depicting scenes from the bible all over the ceilings and huge statues all guilded with gold. Very opulent! It seems the cathedral has been restored in recent years but it was still an amazing feat of architecture.
We also walked around the Winter Palace and the Hermitage. We couldn’t go in of course as they were closed for the day (read previous post). In the huge square stands the Alexander Column which was erected to commemorate Russia’s victory over the French led by Napoleon. The square reminded me a little built of Tiananmen Square in Beijing except that it wasn’t as crowded.
Later that afternoon we made our way to the Church of The Saviour on Spilled Blood. It was built on the spot where Alexander II was assassinated. It is modeled on the colorful St.Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. Can’t wait to see the original in a few days. We didn’t have the time to go inside so we decided to go on one of the many boat rides being offered on the canals and the river. Unfortunately there were no English language tours…only Russian. We decided to go anyways. Bill kept track of where we were by looking at the maps and I kept up by looking where everyone else was looking. Between the two of us, I think we managed to see the main sights! 🙂
After a dinner of pasta and meat(needed some familiar food) we called it a night.
Off to Moscow tomorrow. 2 more days until we get on the Trans-Siberian train. Super excited!