Located in Saint Petersburg, the Peter and Paul Fortress was established by Peter the Great in 1703 on a small island by the north bank of the Neva River. It was originally built to protect the capital from a potential attack by the Swedes, but eventually fell into use as a prison for political prisoners.
This photo was taken while on a river cruise of the Neva. As tourism to Russia has increased, the popularity of river cruises has grown substantially, with many companies offering multi-week packages on ships that traverse several destinations, including the Neva River, Lake Ladoga, the Svir River, Lake Onega, the Baltic canal, White Lake and the Volga River.
This is a view if the Hermitage as seen from a cruise on the Neva River. The Hermitage is an art museum that holds over 3 million pieces in its collection, including works by Michelangelo, da Vinci, Monet, Van Gogh, and Picasso. The Hermitage was founded by Catherine the Great in 1764 and now comprises several buildings, including the Winter Palace, former residence of the Russian Tsars. The Hermitage is a must see for anyone who visits St. Petersburg.
If you are interested in taking a cruise down the Neva, check out Viking River Cruises, which offers an itinerary that includes river excursions to both St. Petersburg and Moscow.
No one had heard of this Richard Caring, but the invitation piqued everyone’s curiosity: a giant Russian matryoshka doll, inside of which was a bottle of vodka and an invitation to fly by private jet to St. Petersburg. It asked for measurements, which meant only one thing: a fancy-dress party!—something rich Brits can’t resist. En route to Russia, the guests sipped champagne while being entertained by comedians wearing Russian peasant outfits. When they arrived in their hotel rooms, tailor-made 18th-century Russian costumes were waiting, while seamstresses buzzed about making last-minute adjustments. The next 48 hours were a caviar-and-champagne orgy, complete with performances by the Kirov Ballet, Sir Elton John, and Tina Turner; a charity auction held by Sotheby’s Europe chairman Henry Wyndham; and a surprise visit from Bill Clinton, who dressed up like a Russian general.
If I threw a similar party, however, no one would be dressing up in fancy 18th-century costumes and drinking champagne. Rather, it would be workers and peasants, with vodka and black bread for all. And the entertainment would be a hell of a lot better than Tina Turner, that’s for sure.
From the department of silver linings comes this item from Russia: because of the financial crisis, plans for a controversial skyscraper that would have towered over St. Petersburg’s low-slung Baroque skyline have been delayed and — preservationists, architects and many residents fervently hope — may never be carried out.
The mayor of St. Petersburg has submitted an amendment to next year’s budget to cut money for the city’s first skyscraper, which was to have been financed with Gazprom, the Russian oil and gas behemoth that has itself suffered financially with the spectacular decline in energy prices.
From the start, the proposed design for the tower by the London firm RMJM drew considerable criticism, the twisting facade alternately being described as evoking a flickering gas flame or a corncob. But the principal complaint from historical preservationists was its height.
The building would soar 1,299 feet, shattering a czarist-era rule that no structure, other than a church spire, should exceed the height of the city’s centerpiece building, the former Winter Palace, now the Hermitage Museum. Before the law was changed specifically for the Gazprom project, the zoning restriction at the proposed site was 138 feet.
So contentious was the proposed height that three of four foreign architects on the selection committee resigned rather than consider any design of that sort in downtown St. Petersburg. Critics took to calling it the “Gazoskryob,” or “gas scraper.”
Critics, including Unesco and a number of prominent architects, pointed out that the site was directly across the Neva River from Smolny Cathedral, a delicate ensemble of spires and onion-dome cupolas. And they roundly panned the design itself.
“It could be a mirage, appearing over the sand,” complained Semyon I. Mikhailovsky, an architectural historian and the vice president of the St. Petersburg Academy of Fine Art. “It was unclear they needed it before, and now it is clearly unneeded.”
We had a good weekend in St. Pete. Took the midnight train and arrived Saturday morning. We stayed at the Herzen student dormitory and it was really nice…good rooms and the location was perfect – right behind Kazaan Cathedral on Nevsky Prospekt. Since we only had two days there we tried to hit all the major attractions. We went to Peter and Paul Fortress, the Kunstkammer, Hermitage, Church of the Spilled Blood, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, and the Bronze Horseman. We also took a sightseeing cruise on the Neva River.
It was nice to see the city without all the scaffolding. They really spruced up the main areas for the 300th anniversary…there is so much new stuff on Nevsky, too.
Liz and Luke were caught jaywalking by a militiaman and they had to pay him a 100 ruble on the spot “fine”, which most likely went straight into his pocket. Ah, you gotta love the cops here.
I leave Wednesday 🙁 I wish I could stay here a few more weeks.
The St. Pete zoo was the most pathetic zoo I have ever been to, yet at the same time quite entertaining. A quarter of the animals aren’t even in their cages. Zoo employees have them out so you can take pictures with them (for several rubles, of course). The cages are surrounded by a waist high fence that is supposed to keep people from getting too close to the cages and having their arms torn off by the lions or something, but if you pay the cage cleaners a few rubles they will look the other way as you climb over the fence…if there are no employees nearby, then parents will lift their kids over the fence and let them feed the animals. The animals look pretty depressed because not only are they in a zoo…they are in a RUSSIAN zoo! The monkeys go nuts and scream and rattle their cages…what a great zoo.
A lion. He got really pissed and started roaring very loudly. The Russians just stood there and laughed at him.
I like polar bears, so I had to take a picture of them. Their living area was actually one of the nicest of all the zoo animals, and that’s pretty sad. Their water was a nasty green color.
A meal at McDonald’s and a ballet at the Mariinsky Theater – an evening of culture indeed!
The McDonald’s in Russia was great. They have fried – not baked – cherry pies and kiwi McFlurrys! We went before the ballet, and the Russians gave us some weird looks because we were all dressed up.
The Mariinsky Theater – home of the world reknown Kirov Ballet Company – is absolutely beautiful. The ballets themselves were pretty entertaining. We saw three different ballets. The first was a traditional one and was pretty boring, but the second and third were more modern and thus quite entertaining.
Kate and I in front of McDonalds
Kate and I at the Mariinsky Theater…too bad my camera sucks and you can’t see the interior.