St. Petersburg Journals

The city built on bones

A travel journal to St. Petersburg by chilblain

Quote: St. Petersburg is the most wonderful city, but there are lots of things many tourists miss!

The city built on bones

Overview

Quote:
Incredible city, 300 years old this year, don't miss it! Unpleasant trivia: Peter the Great built the city using forced labour, when people died they were just buried in the foundations of the city -- hence the built on bones thing.Quick Tips: Go and see: Hermitage, Palace Square, Russian Museum, St. Isaac's Cathedral, Kazan Cathedral, The Palaces: Peterhof, Tsarskoe Tselo, Pavlovsk, Gatchina, Oranienbaum, Dostoevsky's flat, The Church on Spilled Blood, Mariinskii theatreBest Way To Get Around: Metro is best transport, though you can't see much! There's plenty to see down there though. Public transport excellent, though not always very comfortable. You cna buy a map with all transpo...Read More

Dostoevsky's Flat

Attraction

Quote:
One of the best museums I went to in Russia, for the simple reasons I could take my mum and not have to explain everything. Very well designed for foreigners -- exhibit cards in good English, something often lacking in other Russian museums. Also interesting, both in terms of his life and literature.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 6, 2003

Dostoevsky's Flat
Nr. Dostoevsky metro station
St. Petersburg, Russia

Winter Palace/State Hermitage Museum

Best Of IgoUgo

Attraction | "The Hermitage"

Quote:
Incredible doesn't even begin to describe the Hermitage. It has the most fantastic collection of art, all in the historic Winter Palace. They say it would take you seven years to see verything if you spent around 10 seconds looking at each exhibit, and it's true. I went seven times and still didn't see anywhere near everything. I'm a big fan of beautiful buildings so the first few time I just looked at the parquet floors and marble pillars. My best memories of the place were playing hide and seek in the hall of pillars, and getting into trouble from the babushka -- and the day we danced in the great ballroom. Well, what else do you do there? This was made even more entertaining by the fact that Russia...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 10, 2003

Winter Palace/State Hermitage Museum
Palace Embankment, On The Neva River
St. Petersburg, Russia

Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood

Attraction | "Did you know? Church on Spilled Blood"

Quote:
Everyone has seen this church, known in Russian as Spas na Krovi. Even if only when playing Tetris, it's one of the best known Russian landmarks. It should, however, be pointed out, that Peter the Great must have been turning in his grave as it was being built in his 'European city'! Stand between the church and Kazan cathedral on Nevsky and compare the architectural influences! It was build by Aleksandr III to commemorate his father Aleksandr II who was assasinated where the church now stands. He was so determined that the altar would be on the very spot that his father was killed that the church was built jutting out into the canal. It was not completed in time to be used as a chur...Read More

Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood
Ploshchad Iskusstv
St. Petersburg, Russia

Transport in St. Petersburg

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

Quote:
A few recommendations -- you MUST travel by underground -- the metro is incredible! Some advice: look after your belongings, and learn the alphabet. Stations can be hard to identify when on the train, so count how many stations you need to pass through. Don't get in the way of the doors as they are closing. The metro is incredibly deep, and you go down for ages on very steep, fast-moving escalators. There are some stations where it is hard to see the bottom from the top -- and that is not a joke! Most of the stations are incredibly ornate, particulary see Dostoyevsky station for the gold fish scales, or Avtovo for the huge pillars. A ticket is very cheap, so buy one and ride around where ever you wan...Read More
Quote:
St. Isaac's Cathedral has a colonnade around the top, you can buy a ticket and climb up to see the whole city as it's so flat. Beware the 'babuski' as you're not really supposed to take photos from up there.

St. Isaac's was built before there was such a thing as a crane, and given the weight of the marble pillars around the colonnade, building it was a pretty dangerous job. So many people were killed in the process that the locals refused for years to actually use it as a church.

Quote:
Peterhof, the palace on the shore of the Gulf of Finland with fountains and gold statues, incredibly ornate and beautiful.

It was occupied by Nazi forces during WWII, who set up their guns to bombard St. Petersburg, and when they left, they took the gold statues with them. About 20 years later, they found the original moulds for the statues and recast them in plaster and covered them with gold leaf.

The fountains were all designed and engineered by Peter the Great -- a pretty good engineer by all accounts.

Quote:
The Catherine Palace was built not by Catherine the Great, but the previous Catherine. She had the roof covered with gold leaf, and the locals were all convinced that the roof was made of solid gold. Catherine the Great thought it was all a bit showy and had it removed.

Amber room: the amber was removed by the Nazis and the room is still being redone as the museum gets enough money.

Quote:
Under the communists, St. Petersburg was not a popular city for large part of the last century. Stalin saw it as the power base of one of his main rivals, the murder of whom led to the beginning of the Great Terror. The city, while accepting a change to its new name of Leningrad, refused to accept other changes, like changing Nevsky Prospect to Lenin Street -- Nevsky was a monk, not a hero the leaders of a state with no god wanted folk remembering. Stalin also tried to move the centre of the city from nevksy down to the south -- get the metro to Moskovsaia station and have a look around, this was to have been part of the new centre of Leningrad. Moskovskaia is also good as you can then walk south a bi...Read More