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Another big day, we’d scheduled two excursions, “Peter the Great’s Grand Palace- Peterhof” and “Saint Petersburg Cathedrals“. By this point on our trip, we’d realized we were only averaging about four hours sleep a night and were happily exhausted. I have to say, I became quite good at taking cat naps on the buses to and from our destinations.
In the morning, we headed to Peterhof Palace for what was to be one of the highlights of our trip. Peterhof is a not-to-be-missed destination. If you are visiting Saint Petersburg, Russia and are short on time, I’d definitely choose Peterhof over Catherine Palace. Both are beautiful and opulent but in addition to the Grand Palace, Peterhof has the exquisite Grand Cascade and gardens that are a sight to behold.
We arrived early at Peterhof, which was important for two reasons: 1) We were one of the first groups to tour the Grand Palace before it opened to the public, and; 2) We were present when the fountains were turned on, on the Grand Cascade.
Like Catherine Palace, Peterhof was built in the early 1700’s and sustained substantial damage from the German invasion during World War II. It has been fully restored, though renovations are ongoing.
The interiors and gardens were both heavily influenced by French style. There is an overabundance of silk wall coverings, ornamental plaster designs and gold leaf detail in every room. Unfortunately, photography was not allowed inside the Grand Palace.
It took about an hour to walk through the palace and then we had about an hour to explore the gardens before meeting back at the Grand Cascade to see the main fountains activated.
It was a sunny day and about 70 degrees. Perfect for a beautiful, relaxing walk.
Back at the Grand Cascade, we chose to watch the fountains from a lower corner where there were less tourists crowding the area. Aside from the beauty, the big attraction to the fountains is that they are all gravity-fed. No pumps are used to power the many fountains. It’s not only an amazing feat of ingenuity, it’s visually stunning.
As if the sights of Peterhof weren’t enough stimulation for one day, we had enough time to return to the ship for a quick lunch before meeting our group for a tour of some of the world’s most beautiful cathedrals. I’m just going to focus on two: Saint Issac’s Cathedral and Church of the Spilled Blood.
Saint Issac’s Cathedral is the largest Russian Orthodox cathedral in Saint Petersburg. It took 40 years to construct, opening in 1858. I found it interesting to know that the Gold dome was painted over in gray during World War II to deter detection. There are still pock marks from enemy fire, visible on the the large exterior columns.
The interior is amazing. The color and detail are glorious.
Most commonly referred to as Church of the Spilled Blood, the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ is also known as The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood.
This was one of my two must-have picture spots of Michael and I on our vacation. (The other was the Berlin Wall.) When we visited and toured the interior, it was turning overcast, so I was grateful we had stopped here briefly the day before and I was able to take some exterior pictures.
The Church of the Spilled Blood is visually recognizable by its ornate, colorful onion domes. I can’t say why I find them so appealing, I just find myself drawn to them.
I wasn’t prepared to be so overwhelmed by the interior. The entire wall surfaces are covered in tiny mosaic tiles. It’s so difficult to comprehend the amount of work, time and planning that went in to the magnificent design. I’m at a loss for words to describe its beauty.
What an amazing day! I’m all out of adjectives to describe it all. I just feel so lucky and blessed to be able to have witnessed all this beauty first hand. It certainly brings new meaning to ‘trip of a lifetime’. And, we still had one more day in Saint Petersburg.