It’s a new day in St Petersburg and the sun is shining! Yeah! Now, from the new to the old and back…….Let’s see some more photos of the landscape, as we make our way from the ship into the city……..
From the Industrial Port, you get a good view of modern St Petersburg……..
and a great view of the Neva River Bridge and the Lakhta Center……..which is a 87-story skyscraper, built on the outskirts of St Petersburg. It is the tallest building in Russia, the tallest building in Europe and the 16th tallest building in the world……
The concrete pouring of the bottom slab of the skyscraper’s foundation was registered by the Guinness World Records as the largest continuous concrete pour. When the building is finished in 2020, it will feature offices, a sport center, a children’s science center and a conference center. There will also be an observation deck at the top with a Planetarium and Star Machine!
The Gazprom Arena opened in 2017, after many years of construction, and chaos over the funding for it. I think of it as just another day in Russia…….projects with no funding, only corruption and mismanagement.
Riding in the bus to the Ballet we got a glimpse of the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood…..this is one church I wish we would have gone into, but time did not allow it. Construction of the church started in 1883, two years after the assassination of Alexander II. The church was dedicated to him. The church sits alongside the Griboedov Canal. On March 13 ,1881 as Alexander’s carriage passed along the embankment, a grenade was thrown by an anarchist. The tsar shaken, but unhurt, got out of his carriage to confront the man and a second conspirator threw another bomb, killing himself and mortally wounding the tsar. The tsar, bleeding heavily, was taken back to the Winter Palace, where he died a few hours later. A temporary shrine was erected on the site of the attack and later plans and fundraising began for a permanent structure to be built on the exact spot, where the assassination took place. The canal was narrowed so that the section of the cobblestone street, where the assassination took place, could be included inside the church walls. The richly decorated façade and onion domes are in sharp contrast to the cobblestone of the old road. The church was built by the most celebrated Russian artists of the day and has more mosaics than any other church in the world. The walls and ceilings are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics – the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures, but with detailed fine borders setting off each picture. The church, completed in 1907, cost over 4.5 million rubles at the time, well over the budget. After the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging the interior. The Soviet government closed the church in 1932. During WWII, when people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad (St Petersburg’s name after the Revolution) by the Nazi German military, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those, who died in combat or of starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage during the war and after the war it was used as a warehouse for vegetables with the given name, Savior of Potatoes. The church has been restored, but serves as a museum today, mostly attracting foreign tourists.
In 1810, it was decided to install two beacons indicating where the Neva River spilts in two, to make the Bolshaya Neva and the Malaya Neva, where the main port was located. These towers were built similarly to Roman-style victory columns on which the prows (the front part above water) of captured enemy ships were mounted. This is the photo of the one we were the closest to.
Finally, here we are at the Mikhailovsky Theatre, which was once a palace too. Built in 1833, by the Russian Imperial family, it is one of Russia’s oldest opera and ballet houses. When it was built there were no resident performing artists. All performances were given by French companies hired by the Russian Imperial family. After the Russian Revolution these French performers ran for their lives. The theatre was closed.
In 2007, Vladimir Kekhman, a Russian businessman, donated 40 million US dollars to renovation of the building and salaries for ballet stars to come perform there in order to build the theatre’s popularity. Due to mismanagement, corruption and not being able to keep well known dancers, by 2012, Kekhman declared bankruptcy, but declared he would try to keep the ballet going. And it is……..
Let’s go inside…. the theatre is very intimate……….with a beautiful decor.
Let’s sit down and just take it all in……
The program for the evening……..
in the lobby……
It was a lovely evening out. From the ship, to the bus, to the drive through streets of St Petersburg, that we had not yet seen, and then finally the ballet! Lots of history here! One more tidbit, before we say goodnight for the evening………..
On the way back to the ship, we passed the Kazan Cathedral. Construction of the Cathedral began in 1801 and was completed in 1811. It was modeled after St Peter’s in Rome, even though the Russian Orthodox Church strongly disapproved of the plans. After Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812, the Russians viewed the church primarily as a memorial to their victory over Napoleon. In 1815, keys to seventeen cities and eight fortresses were brought by the victorious Russian Army from Europe and placed in the cathedral’s sacristy and Commander-in-Chief of the army, General Mikhail Kutuzov’s body, was interred in the cathedral.
In 1876, the first political demonstration in Russia, took place in front of the church. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the church was closed until 1932, when it was re-opened as a Pro-Marxist “Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism.” It was Leningrad’s largest anti-religious museum, complete with Spanish Inquisition waxworks. In 1992, church services resumed and the church was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church. It now functions as the mother cathedral of St Petersburg.
I hope you have enjoyed today’s wonderings. Tomorrow, we are off to St Perterhof’s! See you there!