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Saturday, May 31 – St Petersburg, Russia

Of all our stops on the cruise, only Russia required a special visa and stamped our passports.   We took a tour of the city prior to visiting churches and the Hermitage.
00 St Petersburg Streets

Across the Neva River we could see the St Peter and Paul Cathedral and the Peter and Paul Fortress.   The door in the wall is called the “Gate of Death”, since in former years prisoners who passed through the gate did not return alive.
01 St Petersburg-Peter & Paul Fortress, Cathedral and Gate of Death

We toured inside the St Peter and Paul Cathedral.   It is the first and oldest landmark in St. Petersburg, built between 1712 and 1733.  The cathedral's bell tower is the world's tallest Orthodox bell tower. The cathedral houses the remains of almost all the Russian Emperors and Empresses, including Peter the Great, Catherine the Great and Nicholas II (last emperor) and his family.
02 St Petersburg-St Peter and Paul Cathedral

We visited the Hermitage Museum.  It is actually composed of 6 interconnected buildings, including the Winter Palace.
03 St Petersburg-Hermitage-Winter Palace

The Winter Palace was constructed by Catherine the Great.  Inside is still the throne room.
03a St Petersburg-Hermitage-Winter Palace Throne

The Hermitage is as extensive as the Louvre in Paris and contains a similar number of art exhibits.   There are endless rooms, galleries and exhibits of famous paintings, sculptures, ceramics, jewelry and other art objects.
03b St Petersburg-Hermitage-Winter Palace Art

03c St Petersburg-Hermitage-Winter Palace Paintings

Looking out of the windows of the Winter Palace, we could see the Palace Square, which is the central city square of St Petersburg and of the former Russian Empire. It was the setting of many notable events, including the Bloody Sunday (1905) and the October Revolution of 1917.
04 St Petersburg-Views from the Hermitage windows

Afterwards we visited the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood.  This Church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory.   During the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour of Potatoes.
05 St Petersburg-Spilled Blood Cathedral



St Petersburg