St. Petersburg The Hermitage museum
The Jusupov Palace on the embankment of the Moika river is the real home of the aristocracy of the past, a pearl of the “old St. Petersburg”. Here you can feel privacy because that was not the official tsars’ residence but a cosy home for people who could afford whatever they would dream about. The palace is unique because one of its parts fully preserved the atmosphere of the “art nouveu age” which in Russia faced the beginning of the Bolshevik revolution. The first decades of the 20th century in the life of St. Petersburg elite were filled with mysticism, philosophical and religious search and cultural flourish. This period is known as the “silver age” of the Russian culture and can be fully perceived in the atmosphere of the Jusupov Palace. The last owner of this palace, Felix Jusupov was a really outstanding personality, a real son of his age. He dedicated himself to art and mysticism, he confessed that he could see ghosts of the departured people. He was tremendously beautiful but it was hard to stand “metallic glance” of his dark cold eyes. His wife, Irina Jusupova, was related to the royal family and possessed a special spiritual beauty. So now you are welcome to visit the home of Felix and Irina where they never came back after their emigration to Paris in 1917 but where their atmosphere is still perceived… Note: the visit should be booked in advance.
St. Petersburg The Jusupov Palace It is a piety that not all guests of St. Petersburg visit this place though it is really special and uniquely preserved, original palace of the end of the 18th century. Pavlovsk Palace was designed for the family of Emperor Paul I (son of Catherine the Great) and his wife Maria. It is located in one of the suburbs of St. Petersburg and had quite a “lucky” fate in the World War II (compare to other suburban palaces) because it was almost completely preserved. Paul spent only 6 years on the Russian throne and then he was assassinated because the aristocracy did not understand his course and decided to get rid of him. He is usually called “the most mysterious emperor” or “a knight on the throne” and his personality is still a mystery. He was an outstanding intellect and could speak 9 foreign languages, and after the visit to Pavlovsk Palace you will definitely agree that besides that Paul and Maria had a perfect art taste because compare to other royal palaces Pavlovsk seems the most “livable”, you really feel yourself guests of Paul and Maria! During the tourists’ season a visit to Pavlovsk may be a nice rest from crowds and noise because it is almost always quiet and peaceful.
The Pavlovsk Palace
Here you will find yourself in the atmosphere of the most opulent age in the Russian history – middle of the 18th century. Endless feasts, gold and porcelain everywhere, dresses of enormous sizes, tremendous hairdos and thousands of serves… The palace is mostly famous for the Amber room which is totally made of amber. This palace is also a memorial to the heroic Soviet restorers as it was terribly looted by the Nazi in the years of the World War II and then recreated from ruins. You see that in the hard and poor post-war years Soviet people first took care of saving and preserving the past and culture and material life and comfort was not this important for them! Huge size of the cathedral makes it a bit heavy from the outside though inside it is light and full of harmony. It is like an island of Italian Renaissance in St. Petersburg because the cathedral has a lot in common with St. Pete’s in Rome.
St. Petersburg St. Isaac’s cathedral It is something really unusual in the image of classical St. Petersburg because this church leads us to the traditions of ancient Russian art. The whole interior of the church is covered with mosaics assembled of little pieces of stained glass: tremendous work of Russian masters of the very beginning of the 20th century who created a real medieval Russian fairytale with their own hands.
St. Petersburg Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood This is one of my favorite places though it is not as famous as the Hermitage. But if you go to Russia you should get acquainted with the Russian painting, it deserves your attention! It is not world famous though one can enjoy it more than the Italian or the famous French. Probably because it has sometimes more soul. It was very typical for Russian philosophers of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries to “seek for the truth” and this painful search is fully perceived in the Russian painting of that period. Here you will get a feeling of what is called mysterious Slavonic soul.
Usually this charming suburb with palaces and fountains is compared with Versailles though they are not the same. The most impressive attraction of Peterhof is definitely its garden. Peterhof in summer is the place where joy of life is concentrated like nowhere else. Its founder Peter the Great wanted to create “a paradise”, paradise for the human, not on the heaven but here and now. Peterhof revealed that simple childish joy of life was close to the heart of serious and sometimes cruel tsars…Here they would turn into kids again playing with fountains and grottos and feeding swans. Visit this place and have your child’s feeling of life returned to you. You can save your time using a hydrofoil to get to Peterhof from the very downtown of St. Petersburg, by hydrofoil it is only 35 minutes.
Peterhof Samson Fountain and Palace This is a historical heart of St. Petersburg, the oldest structure which dates back to the times of foundation of the city. Inside the complex you feel yourself back to the early XVIIIth century as even the pavement there has been preserved since the tsars’ times. The bell of the Peter-and-Paul cathedral still plays the ancient melody “God save the tsar” and the members of the most famous Russian dynasty – the Romanovs – are buried under its vaults.
St. Petersburg Peter-and-Paul fortress