Today, we left the ship at 7:30 am and made our way to the same minibus and tour guide from Day 1. We headed out of St. Petersburg for the town of Pushkin to visit Catherine’s Palace. Our travels took us down Moscow Avenue which highlighted the Soviet period of living in the city. The main square is called Leningrad. This general area is known as an Economic Manufacturing Zone and is rich in farmland.
At 8:30 am we arrived in the town of Pushkin. Alexander Pushkin was a noted Russian poet and author. As Catherine’s Palace did not open until 9 am, we waited about 20 minutes after our walk from the minibus. Once inside we toured the palace rooms, including the Amber Room (no photos permitted).
Looking out the front staircase of Catherine's Palace. Beyond the green lawn is a bank of former guest rooms for visitors to the palace.
The front entrance to Catherine's Palace
The ornate onion domes of Catherine's Palace
The fantastic Grand Staircase that leads to the chapel
The Grand Ballroom was built in 1717 and is covered in gold gilding with inlaid wood floors
The entire ceiling of the Grand Ballroom is covered by a monumental fresco entitled 'The Triumph of Russia'
The Grand Hall of Catherine's Palace where the state receptions, full-dress dinners, fancy-dress balls, and dances were held
The Blue Room in Catherine's Palace used to entertain small groups of guests
After exited Catherin’s Palace at 10:15am we took a tour of the palace gardens and nearby grotto. There were beautiful views across the lake showing us a Turkish Bath on one end and a Russian Mosque on the other. When we arrived at the Grotto area, we waited outside a few minutes before venturing inside where a choir awaited to sing us a Russian Folk song.
Cameron Gallery In Catherine Park
Taking a nice stroll through Catherine's Park that takes you back in time
A nice walkway from the Cameron Gallery to Catherine's Park
Copies of classical sculptures on the open terrace of the Cameron Gallery
Turkish Bath across the Great Pond
Red brick castle on the shores of the Great Pond was the summer residence of the Russian tsars
The Upper Bath at Catherine's Palace
Inside the Pavilion Grotto where we enjoyed a folk song provided by a Russian choir
Now we headed to the Heritage Pavilion crossing over the oldest small iron bridge in Russia, arriving at the pavilion soon thereafter.
The oldest small iron bridge in Russia
The beautiful Heritage Pavilion
By 11:15 am we had made our way back to the minibus and were on our way to Peterhof. As we did not have a scheduled lunch on Day 2, a boxed lunch was waiting for us in the minibus. The lunch consisted of a Salami & Cheese sandwich, Banana, Moon Pie, and Water.
Our 'On the Road' lunch provided by the tour operator
At noon, we arrived at PeterHof and commenced touring the gardens. There was an array of magnificent fountains and after viewing them, we headed down one of the trails to Adam Fountain.
The Grand Cascade fountain at Peterhof
A view of the lower gardens of Peterhof
The focal point of Samson Fountain
Looking out over the Grand Cascade and Samson Fountain to the Sea Channel
Lion made of Voronikhin marble
Adam Fountain built in the early 1700's
Next, we visited the house where Catherine lived for many years before she came into power.
Catherine Block on the Peterhof property where Catherine the Great lived before coming into power
A modern fountain in the Park at Peterhof with the Aviary Pavilion in the backgroundr
Then we listened to another rendition of Russian Folk Music and on to the Dragon Fountain Cascade before proceeding to the Opera garden.
Church of the Grand Palace - Peterhof
A great view of the fabulous gardens surrounding Peterhof
Another part of the Peterhof complex, designed in the same fashion as the rest of the fabulous estate
The Opera sculptured garden on the lower part of the estate
We left PeterHof at 1:45 pm and headed into town to ride the Russian Metro. We stopped first at Abtobo Metro station, paid 45 Rubles for a ticket and went down to the tracks. The underground area of this station was as elaborate as many of the palaces above. Metro construction begun in the 1930’s but was not completed until 1955.
The main entrance to one of St Petersburg's metro stations
Inside the metro station in the main vestibule
A view of the metro station as we descended down the escalator
A second station that we visited - very well kept for large number of the people that use it for their daily commute
After learning the history of the Activa station, we jumped on an arriving metro train at 2:40pm. Once aboard we rode two stops getting off at Nava Gate. Here we learned more about the station and took a long escalator ride to the top.
Inside one of the subway cars with our tour guide and may locals
Our final subway stop - what a hidden gem
On our way out of the last subway stop
As we left the metro building, this wonderful sculpture was on display
Once outside the station, the Narvskaya Triumphal Arch stood proudly perched over the station. The arch was built at the end of the war with Napoleon.
This is one of the city entrances to the metro station
The Narva Triumphal Arch was erected in the vast Narva Square, Saint Petersburg, in 1814 to commemorate the Russian victory over Napoleon
At 3 pm we were back on board the minivan and headed across town arriving at Church of our Savior on Spilled Blood at 3:35 pm. Inside this well-known landmark of St. Petersburg, we were met with the entirety of the walls and ceilings covered in beautiful mosaics.
Church of our Savior on Spilled Blood - beautiful on the outside, breath taking on the inside
One of the wonderful mosaics built into a bench on the outside of the church
The details captured in the mosaics are of the quality of a fine painting
The marble entrance to the main altar with elaborate doors and mosaics
The incredible fixtures and elaborate mosaics can be found throughout the temple
Architectural landmark and monument to Alexander II depicting the site where he was fatally injured
There are over 23,000 square feet of mosaics. The light coming through the windows brings the artwork to life. Everywhere you look, there is a story being told. The detail of the artwork (all done in mosaics) is a sight to behold.
It is really hard to imagine there is a more enlightening place to visit
To avoid the damaging effects of the humid climate, mosaics were used in the interior design, instead of painting
To create these magnificent murals, sketches were created by Russian painters, members of the Imperial Academy of Arts
Even the ceilings of the vaults are covered in mosaics carved from semi-precious stone
If you are traveling to St. Petersburgh, the Church of our Savior on Spilled Blood is a must see!
Now on a tight schedule to meet our ship departure at 5:30 pm, we left the Church and made one last stop at the Peter & Paul Fortress arriving at 4:30 pm. Here we visited the inside of the Peter & Paul Cathedral and saw the burial plots of Peter III & Katherine II.
Peter and Paul Fortress is the original citadel of St. Petersburg, Russia built in 1740
The beautiful mosaic ceiling of the fortress and its amazing chandelier
The cathedral's architecture features a unique iconostasis which rises to form a sort of tower over the sanctuary covered entirely in gold leaf
The cathedral houses the remains of almost all the Russian emperors and empresses which still receive fresh flowers daily from visitors
On our way out, we stepped into a small room for yet another rendition of Russian Folk Music. This performance was by far, the best of the two days.
Peter and Paul Cathedral that is part of the Fortress of the same name, built in 1733
The Mint at the Peter and Paul Fortress
After visiting the Church, we took a moment to step into a small building to view the replica of the Peter the Great boat. We departed the church grounds at 5:05 pm and headed to the minivan for our return to the ship.
Replica of the 'Peter the Great' boat that Peter used to learn how to sail
A great view of one of the canals as we made our way through St. Petersburg and back to our ship
We arrived at the port and our ship at 5:45 pm. We were the last group to arrive, but others had come in just before us. It was a wonderful two-day visit and itinerary in St. Petersburg.
Cruise Port: St. Petersburg, Russia
Tour Name: Splendor of St Petersburg | Russian Folklore Evening