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St. Petersburg Russia

The trip to St. Petersburg was through the Brendan Tour group which included stops in Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholdm Turku, Lahti and Helsinki.




Map of St. Petersburg Russia
My travel companion and I made the trip to St. Petersburg in 2002. It is a beautiful city with a lot of history and things to see.


  St. Isaac's Cathedral was originally the city's main church and the largest cathedral in Russia. It was built between 1818 and 1858, by the French-born architect Auguste Montferrand, to be one of the most impressive landmarks of the Russian Imperial capital. One hundred and eighty years later the gilded dome of St. Isaac's still dominates the skyline of St. Petersburg. Although the cathedral is considerably smaller than the newly rebuilt Church of Christ the Savior in Moscow, it boasts much more impressive fades and interiors.

The cathedral's facades are decorated with sculptures and massive granite columns (made of single pieces of red granite), while the interior is adorned with incredibly detailed mosaic icons, paintings and columns made of malachite and lapis lazuli. A large, brightly colored stained glass window of the "Resurrected Christ" takes pride of place inside the main altar. The church, designed to accommodate 14,000 standing worshipers, was closed in the early 1930s and reopened as a museum. Today, church services are held here only on major ecclesiastical occasions.


Next to St.Isaak's Cathedral you'll see the monumental building with an eight-column portico which faces the Admiralty. It was designed by Auguste Montferrand in 1817-1820 for Prince Lobanov-Rostovsky. At the main porch are statues of lions on granite pedestals mentioned by the great Pushkin in his poem 'The Bronze Horseman'.

In the centre of St. Isaac's Square is a monument to Nicholas I. What is particularly interesting about it is that this equestrian statue sculpted by Pyotr Klodt has only two points of support.

Opposite the cathedral, on the bank of the Moika, stands the former palace which was built in 1839-1844 for Princess Maria, the daughter of Nicholas I (architect Andrei Stakenschneider). Today the former Mariinsky Palace is the seat of the St.Petersburg Council of city's Deputies.


St. Isaac's Cathedral was ordered by Tsar Alexander I to replace an earlier Rinaldiesque structure. A specially appointed commission examined several designs, including that of the French-born architect Auguste de Montferrand (1786-1858), who had studied in the atelier of Napoleon's designer, Charles Percier.

Monferrand's design was criticised by some members of the commission for the dry and allegedly boring rhythm of its four identical colonnades. It was also suggested that despite gigantic dimensions, the edifice would look squat and not very impressive. The emperor, who favoured the ponderous Empire style of architecture, had to step in and solve the dispute in Monferrand's favour.

The cathedral took 40 years to construct, under Montferrand's direction, from 1818 to 1858. It was dedicated to Saint Isaac of Dalmatia, a patron saint of Peter the Great.

Under the Soviet government, the building was abandoned, then turned into a museum of atheism. The dove sculpture was removed, and replaced by a Foucault pendulum.

During World War II, the dome was painted over in gray to avoid attracting attention from enemy aircraft.

Today, worship activity has resumed in the cathedral, but only in the left-hand side chapel, and in the main body of the cathedral on feast days only.


The residence originated in 1717, when Catherine I of Russia engaged the German architect Johann-Friedrich Braunstein to construct a summer palace for her pleasure. In 1743, Empress Anna commissioned Mikhail Zemtsov and Andrei Kvasov to expand the Catherine Palace. Empress Elizabeth, however, found her mother's residence outdated and incommodious and in May 1756 asked her court architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli to demolish the old structure and replace it with a much grander edifice in a flamboyant Rococo style. Construction lasted for four years and on 30 July 1756 the architect presented the brand-new 325-metre-long palace to the Empress, her dazed courtiers and stupefied foreign ambassadors.

During Elizabeth's lifetime, the palace was famed for its obscenely lavish exterior. More than 100 kilograms of gold were used to gild the sophisticated stucco façade and numerous statues erected on the roof. It was even rumoured that the palace's roof was constructed entirely of gold. In front of the palace a great formal garden was laid out. It centres on the azure-and-white Hermitage Pavilion near the lake, designed by Zemtsov in 1744, overhauled by Rastrelli in 1749 and formerly crowned by a grand gilded sculpture representing The Rape of Persephone. The interior of the pavilion featured dining tables with dumbwaiter mechanisms. The grand entrance to the palace is flanked by two massive "circumferences", also in the Rococo style. A delicate iron-cast grille separates the complex from the town of Tsarskoe Selo.

The gate entering the Winter Palace plaza.

Another popular tourist destination is the Palace Square. This is where the 1917 Revolution occurred. The square is surrounded by three equally breathtaking structures, namely: the Winter Palace, the General Staff Building and the Admirality. A large, 43.5-meter high column, called the Alexander Column, takes its place on the plaza as a symbol of Russia’s victory over Napoleon’s army. The name Alexander came from Tsar Alexander I who ruled during that challenging era.
The Great Carriage
The great carriage was restored in 1990-1991. Some fifty specialists from the Hermitage's own resoration workshops took part in the project.
The St George Hall

1787: Creation of the St George Hall

The Large Throne Hall (St George Hall) was created by the celebrated architect Giacomo Quarenghi between 1787 and 1795. It was then completely destroyed by the great fire in 1837, after which it was restored and altered.

Author's plans, prints and drawings allow us to appreciate one of the finest examples of Russian Neoclassical state interiors. We can imagine just how impressive was this large hall (800 m2), with two tiers of windows and double Corinthian pink marble columns. With the play of white, grey, pale red and blue marble and the shining gilt bronze details, patterned parquet from a variety of valuable woods, the hall was one of the great marvels of the Winter Palace. The ceiling was decorated with a plafond by the French artist Gabriel Doyen and by the Italian Giovanni Battista Pittoni. The throne designed by Giacomo Quarenghi for Empress Catherine II stood at the far end of the room and over it were allegorical figures holding a shield with Catherine the Great's monogram.

One of many pictures of St. Petersburg taken on the 2002 trip.
The stop in St. Petersburg was the high point of the 2002 trip. It has to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Hopefully, at some point in time I will be able to return and be able to spend more time. More pictures of St. Petersburg can be found on my Links, referenced above.