When I learned we’d be getting a four-day holiday in June, I only had one destination in mind- St. Petersburg. This also happens to be the city most Russians cite as their favorite, even over Moscow, and after a long trip to our hostel right smack on the main drag of Nevsky Prospect, it was easy to see why. St. Petersburg is ludicrously full of intriguing architecture spanning its 300 years of existence.
Peter the Great built the city after winning its land and seaport from the Swedes in the Great Northern War, and it soon became his new capital and the centerpiece of his plan to Europeanize his nation. He employed gifted architects from all over Europe to plan it, and the results speak for themselves. Over the next several weeks I’ll write about Jeonghee and I’s trip and hopefully give you an idea of the beauty of this city.
Our first stop after our long trip (and a long wait at the hostel) was the Kazan Cathedral, a massive building obviously modeled after St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. It’s exterior and ornate interiors don’t quite match that masterpiece, but it’s an impressive church nonetheless.
From there we walked down Nevsky Prospect until we reached Peter’s Winter Palace- now the world-famous Hermitage Museum. We went inside the next day, but for our first it’s beautiful green and white exterior and massive square were a great welcome to the heart of the city.
We also didn’t get to enter the imposing yellow-walled Admiralty (unless you’re Russian navy, nobody gets to), but its exterior had plenty to admire, as did St. Isaac’s Cathedral, which we’d revisit on our last day.
At this late juncture, the only places to see were churches still open for last services, so we trekked across the city center to the Nikolsky Cathedral in time to see the ending of one service, whose exotic Eastern European chanting and cadences provided a transporting experience in the dimly lit, heavily gilded interior.
Unfortunately, no pictures allowed inside.
Our last stop that day was again a decent march (we would walk 9-10 hours per day on average during this trip, which makes up somewhat for our rather sedentary regular existence). Vladimirsky Cathedral was more of a church, much smaller than the other large Cathedrals that dominate the St. Petersburg skyline, but beautiful in its own yellow and cream right.
After this last sedate stop, we headed back around the corner to our hostel, grabbed some Chinese food (the first Asian food we’ve eaten in this country fit to be called that), checked out the night view from our balcony (the sun didn’t set until midnight, and usually rose around 3 a.m.- the famed Northern White Nights) and got some rest before our big Hermitage tour the next day.