Sculptures and Statues of Great Patriots Adorn the City
Not only is there an obnoxious amount of beautifully jaw dropping art inside the Winter Palace, the city streets all along Nevsky Prospect and out into the surrounding neighborhoods, host larger than life sculptures of several of the historical icons in Russian culture. There are amazing statues of Catherine the Great, Peter the Great, and several other high powered Czars and dignitaries.
From all angles outside the Hermitage, in the public square, passers by are watched over by angelic dominance. Even in the center of the square, an angel sits high above the people keeping a close watch on them and the Hermitage building.
A scenic walk up Nevsky Prospect and we passed gilded buildings of gold, pink, blue, taupe with thousands of people bustling by along the way. It’s like walking down 5th Avenue in Manhattan or Michigan Avenue in Chicago. Lots of people out doing their business and loads of businesses to take your rubles.
There are many river boat tours and the barkers standing on the bridges using their megaphones to try to get the tourists to take a cruise along the scenic waterways. It’s funny, because every barker is speaking in Russian and I only speak English… However, it’s easy enough to get the idea of what’s going on by watching everyone else and see how they react to the what the barker’s saying.
If you’re into art, architecture, the grandiose, history or interested in cultural exchange, a must do when visiting St. Petersburg Russia is spend a day or two traipsing the hallways, floors and corridors of the fantastic State Hermitage Museum. This grand palace commissioned for Catherine the Great during the peak of the Russian Czar leadership now houses some of the worlds greatest artistic treasures. They have rooms and rooms of art dating back to the Dark Ages and before. There are two rooms of Picasso, a huge room of Monet with some as large as the entire wall. They have Cezanne, Matisse, entire hallways of sculptures from the Greek Era.
I remember a long time ago now someone showed me a website that the Hermitage had built containing a small fraction of their great collection of fine art. I had no clue back then, daydreaming of putting my eyes to work interpreting such masterpieces in person that it would actually happen and that music would be the catalyst for it all.
Walking through the hallways and cavernous rooms, it is hard to imagine that this was once a private residence. Well, State – Ruler owned property, I guess you’d say. Either way, it would take warehouses full of furniture to make a dent in any of these rooms. Even then, heating this place has to be a hugely expensive undertaking. The funny thing about the price tag associated with the Hermitage is it’s free if you’re a Russian citizen and it’s only $5 or 6 US to get in depending on the exchange rate.
We really only had an afternoon of about 4 hours to take in the whole museum. I recommend either spending a good 6-8 hours at once trying to hit all the rooms and highlights… or buy the two or three day pass. That way you could go back to your hotel and rest up before dinner if you were to get too tired. For us, there’s no chance of that as we spend our days acting like tourists and then our evenings are dedicated to entertaining the passengers. Best of both worlds for us.
In the beginning of our last contract on board the Emerald Princess, we traveled to St. Petersburg Russia on two separate occasions. We spent several days exploring the neighborhoods between the port area, the Hermitage, Nevsky Prospect, an afternoon on a bicycle and more.
From an outsider perspective and being an American, the thought of actually visiting Russia, the former Soviet Union was pretty amazing. Mind boggling to think that I would actually see in person the famed onion domed buildings shown in the copies of Life, National Geographic and Times magazines I stared into the pages of so often as a child. It was unbelievable standing on the bridges listening to the locals sell tours of the river system the city is set upon. Their voices sounding particularly monotone as if this is the droll of the city’s heartbeat.
We visited the famous Church of the Spilled Blood. Our meeting point for the shuttle on one of the weeks was right in front of the Peter the Great statue and across the street from the most sacred dome covered in all the gold the state of Alaska could buy, the famed St. Isaac’s Cathedral.