Wednesday, September 30, 2009
st petersburg - day 3
Our third and final day in St. Petersburg started with glorious weather, much unlike the day before. We had saved this day to visit some of the main attractions nearer the center, so following a walking itinerary suggested by Natalia we left early to explore more of the city. We passed by the Mikhailovsky Theater, and the small garden in front with Catherine the Great's monument. Crossing Nevsky Prospekt we admired the Yeliseev building, which once housed a specialty grocery store.
From there we quickly reached the Mikhailovsky Castle (Engineer's Castle) and crossed into the Mikhailovsky Gardens, which were quiet and peaceful at that time of the morning. From there we exited in front of the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, the first attraction we had planned to visit that day. The name comes from tsar Alexander II, who was mortally wounded on this site in 1881.
The outside is breathtaking, but the interiors are just plain stunning. When we first entered, all I could think of was .. Wow ...
I wasn't quite expecting that, and was totally blown away.
Right in front of the church there's a quite popular souvenirs' fair, which I'd been told was a good place to get matryoshkas and such. I'm a lousy bargainer so no doubt I paid twice what I could have, but still I thought the prices were quite reasonable.
Our next stop was the Peter and Paul Fortress, which is the oldest building in the city, founded by Peter the Great in 1703. The walk from the Church of Spilled Blood to the fortress took us about 30 minutes, crossing the Neva river via the Troitskaya bridge.
The fortress contains several historical buildings, but we just visited the cathedral, which is the burial place of all Russian tsars from Peter I to Alexander III. The remains of the Romanovs are also located here, in the more recent St. Catherine's chapel.
From the fortress we walked all the way back to the center, but this time crossing the Dvortsovyy bridge instead. It was almost lunchtime by then, and I really wanted to try a special restaurant for our last meal in St. Petersburg so we walked all the way to the Mariinsky Theatre (which sadly didn't have any events going on during our stay).
On our way there we stopped briefly at St. Isaac's Cathedral and the Bronze Horseman statue nearby.
At Sadko we had an amazing meal (and not expensive at all), and I particularly loved the detail of the bill in the matryoshka doll.
It was almost time to leave for the airport so we rushed back to the B&B, said our goodbyes to Natalia, promising to come back next time in the winter, and headed off to catch the mini-bus.
We came back with a lot of fond memories of this city, and it's just one of those places I'm sure we'll be visiting again very soon ...
More photos here