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St. Petersburg

The totally unique St. Petersburg

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St. Petersburg is the biggest city we have visited so far on our trip, luckily though our unique hostel, in is run down shell of an apartment is located centrally, enough so that it has allowed us the opportunity to walk to the places of interest in the city. Thus also allowing us to avoid another run in with the fantastic and ornate yet petrifying subway system. Or even a ride on the trolly buses which are completely new to me and I think the rest of the group too (for those who are not aware, it's a regular bus, but run by electric, via wires suspended above the road much like a tram).
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The main museums, palaces and churches of St. Petersburg are located within walking distance of each other, and from our hostel it's about a 30 to 40 min walk to this area. On our first day the focus of our attentions was the world famous Hermitage Museum. It was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great, and contains over 3 million artefacts, of which, only a third are on display at one time. The museum is one of the more expensive tourist attractions in St. Petersburg, but by a stroke of luck we had chose to visit on the first Thursday of the month which happens to be a free entry day. The hermitage is made up of 6 buildings, one of which is the Winter Palace, which is the former residence of Russian emperors. The building itself is massive and has an impressively large square in front of it which only accentuates it's grandeur. The artists work which are contained in the building is that of the most famous in the world. To name a few is almost an injustice to those I can't!

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Many of the artist exhibited I have looked at in depth during my studies of art at different levels of my schooling, but a special exhibition being held at the hermitage was of one of my favourite artists Antony Gormley. He is a British artist who is most famous in the U.K. arguably for his 'Angel of the North' which is located Gateshead, England. I was excited that someone I have studied at such depth, who is still alive and working today had a special exhibition of his work on in the most famous art gallery in the world. Especially as the work contained in the Hermitage is generally, if not solely that of artists that have long since died. It's a mark of how prestigious his work now is on a world stage that he should be granted a room to himself for a temporary instalment. His work focuses around his own body and the casts he takes of it, which he uses to create his statues primarily out if iron. This group of statues, were being paralleled to famous marble statues from all over ancient European civilisations. When viewed close up the works were just blocks of iron jumbled together, but viewed from a distance they offered a different angle at looking at the human form, almost a pixellated view of a person, it was very impressive.

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The following day we went and visited the fort of St Peter and Paul, which was built by Peter the Great, due to the main tourist season being over, areas where being repaired, but it was interesting to look around and to also get up close to the cathedral in the grounds, The Peter and Paul Cathedral. This is quite a landmark across St. Petersburg due to it very tall golden spire.

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(Russia can be a bit bizarre at times!)

Another point of interest in St. Petersburg is The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood (also known as the Church of the Resurrection). It is is built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in his memory, by his son Alexander III. the work started in 1883, but it wasn't completed until 1907. The building has several individual onion domes, some brightly coloured and some golden. The onion domes are quite a common sight on Russian architecture, but these were particularly impressive!

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We also took a look around the museum of the defence and siege of Leningrad. It's not a huge museum and is relatively tucked away. Unfortunately the vast majority of the exhibits are in Russian, with very little explanation in English, but there was enough information offered to get an idea of the efforts that the people of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) went to during the second world war. Hitler wanted to capture Leningrad due to it's location on the Baltic sea to help with the Nazi navel fleet. The city was under siege for 900 days, during which it revived constant bombardment. The museum also focused on the people who were living in the city, particularly artists who documented the events in paintings and drawings, which offers a universal picture of the horrors the experienced. One if hitlers tactics was to starve the city of resources and supplies. Many civilians died due to malnutrition and the harsh winters experienced in this area of the world. It was a truly fascinating place, and a period of history which I naively new little about!

The next leg of our journey will be taking us to Moscow, we will be travelling there via a sleeper train. I have heard many horror stories about sleeper trains from all over the world, I'm just hoping it's not too shabby and we can actually get some rest!

Posted by Christian25 08:52 Archived in Russia Tagged st.petersburg_russia_travel Comments (0)

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