St. Petersburg, Part II

If you haven't read Part I, here it is!

Second day of St. Petersburg: two churches on our list! This is the gorgeous St. Isaac's.

(Whyyyyy does everything we see have to be scaffolded? Sad day. At least the rest of the church is pretty.)

Since we had already been to St. Petersburg before, we decided to go to this church, since we weren't able to last time.  Let me tell you--this one is jaw dropping, outside and in.

It's funny, though--you can definitely tell it has a lot more European influence. Look at the Greco-Roman inspired columns and statues.  

Also, just so you know, we went up to the Colonnade.  It's a walkway juuuust below the big golden dome. I almost died of fright, but I made it. 

Beautiful clouds.  I kind of have a thing with clouds. Aren't these ones gorgeous?

You guys.  Inside the church...there are no words.  Here is a picture:


This is looking straight up from the exact center of the church.  

I thought that was an eagle (why? I have no idea), but Tim pointed out that it was a dove. As in, the Holy Ghost. Duh, that makes a lot more sense than an eagle. (??? Maybe I just wanted to be patriotic?)

Gold and chandeliers and embellishment EVERYWHERE. You can definitely see the European Rococo influence, and it is stunning.

Christ at the Iconostasis, the altar covering.

The old Russian script is unbelievably beautiful. English is so boring in comparison!  

Look at this. Just look at it.


Now, I'm not usually a huge fan of mosaics, but when they actually look like paintings, I can dig.  Look at how beautifully rendered they are!

I couldn't stop staring.  And they were so HUGE!


No. Mosaic.

So incredible.

We also bought tickets to go up to the colonnade to see the view.  It was a great idea, except I forgot two things:

1. I am deathly afraid of heights.
2. Russian staircases do not inspire confidence. At all. IN ANY WAY.

The first part wasn't that bad--you're just walking up some large stone steps.

And if you're these guys, you get stuck behind a slow-moving babushka.

But then, the steps open up and you can clearly see almost all the way down...and you're still going up. My palms are sweating just thinking about it.

And THEN, you have to walk the last 40 steps on mesh metal steps (WHY must they be see-through? Whyyyy?).

With an open view of St. Petersburg. 

And the steps are shaking. 

Yeah, pretty sure I had to talk to myself like an idiot the entire way up.

However...I'd say the view was worth it. 

St. Petersburg is like a fairy tale.

(Just ignore the hair, and remember: NO curling iron, NO blowdryer, and NO flat iron...woe is me!)

Really, could it get any better than this?

We left a little after that to get to our second church (and I almost died having to walk DOWN those rickety metal stairs...just remind me to never do that again).

Tim kind of surprised me with the second church--he hadn't told me much about it, he just said it was the Church of the Spilt Blood.  Then, when we were about to round the corner, he mentioned it was modeled after St. Basil's in Moscow. Hello, one of my favorite churches!

So needless to say, when I turned the corner and saw THIS,

I was a very happy camper. I pretty much like it 10 billion times more than dumb ol' St. Basil's.  That's old news.

This one is MUCH bigger, much more detailed, and more color coordinated to boot! This artist's in love.

Can I just

The inside is much prettier than St. Basil's, too.  I mean, St. Basil's was okay, but it seemed a little more...I don't know...dungeon-y and damp than this one did. 

And, AND: the craziest thing happened! Tim and I went to the Tretiakovsky Gallery last month (which was an incredible experience in and of itself, and I haven't even had time to blog about it!).  Anyway, they had an exhibit of a Russian painter, Nesterov.  His stuff was incredible! It was haunting and poetic and just so pronouncedly Russian. I loved all of it.

One of his paintings was a study for an image of Christ. As soon as I saw it I completely fell in love.  I loved the lines, the colors, Christ's expression, everything. It was just so beautiful and so striking. I wrote down the title and vowed to find a print of it to frame for our home.  It is seriously my new favorite image of Christ.

So, fast forward to standing in the Church of the Spilt Blood. I turned a corner and THERE IT WAS! My Nesterov painting! Only it was actually a mosaic.  It was huge--it must have been at least 8 feet tall. What a gorgeous image.

Sigh. So pretty.

Something I bet you didn't know about St. Petersburg--they have canals that go right into the center of the city (thus the Venetian references).  When we came last summer, we actually took a boat ride from Peterhof (the Tsar's oceanside palace) right to the Hermitage, near downtown St. Petersburg.  

The Church of the Spilt Blood is RIGHT next to a canal.  Talk about picturesque.

After seeing both of those, we decided we had time for one more place: the Museum of Political History.

Here's something pretty we ran into on the way to the museum: 

A mosque! Isn't it beautiful?

Okay, so the Museum of Political History.

I know, I sounds SUPER fascinating. [sarcasm]

 But considering Russia's political history, it actually was. It covered the fall of of the Tsarist regime, the shaky start of communism, and life under Stalin, right up until Putin.

It is really humbling to know what Russians have been through.  Do you realize that Russia lost somewhere around 20 million soldiers in World War II? 

I could go on and on about Russia's history, because I find it very moving.  But we will save that for another day.

Soviet communist propaganda. It says "Химия Даст Нам Изобиле!", which roughly translates to, "Science will help us prosper!"

Look at this giant map of Russia! (and also Tim)

You guys, it is EMBROIDERED. (I mean the map, not Tim. Obvs.)  I am prettttty sure it's hand-embroidered, but it may be machine-done.

Heck, even if it was machine embroidered, it would still take ages and ages to finish. And it was so pretty!

We got an audio guide in English, since everything was in Russian (duh), and that made it sooo much better. I loved hearing about all of the stories and background information behind what I saw.

I have no idea what this is--I think it was a journal of someone's.  But look how beautiful the handwriting is! So even and measured.

You guys. Guess who this is.

It's Сталин.

Okay, I realize that didn't help much, so I'll say it in English. 

Stalin's death mask! 

Hard to believe that this one man caused millions of deaths of his own countrymen.

One interesting story: it talked a lot about the propaganda that was fed to children as young as kindergarten age.  For instance, there was a big propaganda push to represent Stalin as someone who loved and cared about children.

There was often a picture of Stalin holding a little girl in every kindergarten room, and all of the children were taught that Stalin cared about all of Russia's children.
Sadly and ironically, the girl that Stalin was holding in the picture ended up losing her father and most of her other family members to Stalin's purges. She also eventually lost her mother and ended up an orphan.

Well...I just realized that is all I have to say for this post, so I'm sorry to end on such a weird/sad story.  But never fear--I will post our final day of adventures in St. Petersburg soon!