Weekend in St. Petersburg

 St. Petersburg, Winter Palace

St. Petersburg is certainly one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Edwin and I spent four days taking in as many of the sites as possible. We traveled from Moscow by express train which left at midnight Friday morning and arrived in St. Petersburg at 8:00 a.m. the same day. The train ride itself was an experience as all cars are sleeping cars for four people thus we were sleeping (or trying to sleep) in a compartment with two total strangers. The train was spotless, the bed comfortable and tea with lemon and sugar was served in the morning.

Temperatures had dropped but we were prepared (thank you, Alice for the warm scarf and Eileen for the warm unmentionables!) and so after checking into a huge 1000 room hotel we immediately took to the streets.

Hundreds of years of struggle for this area at the mouth of the Neva River opening on Baltic Sea more or less ended with a war waged by Peter the Great (reigned 1869 – 1725) who named the city after his patron saint in May of 1703. Peter the Great was a great admirer of the Dutch style and from its conception; he planned the city to be of standard Dutch design.

Peter moved his family to St. Petersburg in 1711 and in 1712 St. Petersburg became the Russian capital. Already by the end of the first quarter of the 18th century St. Petersburg was a fortified military and political center. It was the biggest seaport of Russia and at the same time a center of the enlightenment and culture.

After Peter’s death, various leaders came to the throne each with different political agendas but the reign of Elizabeth from 1741 – 1761 was a period of prosperity and might for the Russian Empire. Baroque magnificence was the spirit of the age and St. Petersburg’s palaces and temples were as grand as the best in Western Europe.

Catherine II reigned over Russia from 1762 – 1796 and besides enlarging the Russian border, her broad-minded philosophy had a good impact not only on Russian legislation and policy but also on the artistic style of the period. Classicism was firmly established in the architecture of her period.

The tsars came and went as did the Communists. The capital moved back and forth between St. Petersburg and Moscow and name of St. Petersburg changed to Petrograd, then to Leningrad. At the end of the 1980’s when the policy of the Soviets changed to “Glasnosts” and “Perestroika” avenues in the social and economic life of Russia opened and in 1991 the country brought back the historical name of St. Petersburg to the city.

Coming up: Tour of The Hermitage, concerts, food, the Jewish community and other points of interest.

Courtyard and General Staff Building

Nicholas Epiphany Church

 Rimsky-Korsakov

The Mariinsky Theater

The Cathedral of Christ's Resurrection

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2 Responses to “Weekend in St. Petersburg”

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