A couple weeks ago, I got to to visit the land of Anastasia! It was incredible – everything from the actual sights to the Russian letters on their signs was uniquely foreign and beautiful! While there, I saw everything from the Peter and Paul Fortress to the Cathedral on Spilled Blood. I’ll take you through a short digital tour now – so you can get a glimpse of the things I was blessed enough to experience!
Dancing Bears…Painted Wings…Things I Almost Remember…
The Battleship Aurora is a symbol of the Revolution because it fired the blank shot that started the October Revolution (Bolsheviks in 1917) and sent the troops to storming the Winter Palace (now known as The Hermitage).
This was a palace built by Paul the First, the son of Catherine the Great. He built it with a moat around it for added protection because he was paranoid that someone wanted to
kill him. However, within a few months of moving in somebody (I think one of his guards) strangled him to death in his bedroom. I thought this story was ironic, so I took a picture of the castle. Sorry for the poor quality of the picture.
This is a water taxi. Saint Petersburg is looking into getting more of them to help alleviate the traffic dilemma of the town. The canals go to a lot of places in the town, so it could be beneficial if people accept it.
This is the Peter and Paul Cathedral. It is located on Peter Island inside the Peter and Paul Fortress. The fortress holds 32 emperors' graves. The Fortress is sometimes called the Russian Bastille. Here Peter's son died because he started an
assassination plot to hill his father. However, people weren't executed here. They were only interrogated. In 1917 it was turned into a museum. The Cathedral was built in 1732, and it is an Orthodox Cathedral. It is 122 meters high, and it has real gold on top. It is gilded, so it never has to be replaced. This has the tombs of all the emperors from Peter the Great to Anastasia's family. This is where the tour guide killed my hopes that I was descended from Anastasia too - because she told me that Anastasia is buried here. DNA testing proved it. I choose to believe in her continuing existence though. No DNA testing is going to ruin my dreams!!!
We got to see a reenactment of the beginning of the Bolshevik Revolution (when the Battleship Aurora fired the
What we now call the Hermitage used to be the Winter Palace, where most royal families chose to live during the winter. Now it is one of the most prestigious art museums. If you spent one minute looking at each picture in the museum, it would take you nine years to see everything.
There were many amazing paintings, from Da Vinci to Rafael to El Greco, as well as incredible architecture in the actual palace. I’ll just give a few pictures and blurbs about them – it’s not possible to comment on everything.
This is one of several tables that is made using a unique mosaic technique. It’s hard to tell that that it is a mosaic style though, because the pieces used to make it are so small that you can only see it if you are closely examining it. Most people that walk through the room don’t even know that they are the most spectacular display in the room.
This is the peacock clock. It has multiple birds in it, and the time is told by a small firefly on a mushroom in the front. At six pm, the peacock used to raise its wings, and the other birds all did something as well. It was a spectacular display, and it still has the ability to work, but they no longer have it on because it was impossible to control the crowd and the mosaic tables were being
These were both by Rafael. They discovered that in the first picture, he was originally going to paint Jesus holding a Pomegranite. They figured this out because the wood behind the picture developed a
The first comic. It shows the animals catching the hunter and roasting him on a spit – quite humorously portrayed actually.
A painting by El Greco. I studied him a little bit in my Spanish class last year, and I saw a few of his paintings in this museum. This one is definitely my favourite.
The Yusupov Palace
The Yusupovs weren’t royalty, but they were a very rich, influential family and because of the beautiful and exquisite things they owned, their home is considered a palace. They constantly viewed themselves as on the same level as royalty, therefore the things in their home were purposely meant to compete with the grandeur of those in the Winter and Summer Palaces. This is also the place where Rasputin (bad guy in Anastasia) was killed. The following pictures highlight the most interesting parts of the Palace.
This is what Rasputin saw when he got to the house. He was brought into the back of the house by the Yusupov son, because he was going to dine with them. Once inside, he was taken down to the basement to have dinner, and upstairs they were playing a loud record that made it sound as though there was a large party happening up there, in order to avoid Rasputin’s suspecting foul play.
Once downstairs the Yusupov son gave him wine and rolls that had poison in them. However, Rasputin didn’t die, as he was expected to. There are two theories as to why it didn’t kill him: 1, because he took a small dose of poison every day in order to become immune to it. 2, because putting the poison in the wine and rolls caused a chemical reaction to happen, removing the potency of the chemical. However, Rasputin did feel some pain, and you can tell in the picture from how he has his hand on his stomach. Anyway, when he didn’t die, the Yusupov son didn’t know what to do, so he went back upstairs and conversed with the four men in the room. He decided to get a gun and shoot him, and so when he returned with the gun he shot Rasputin, panicked, then ran back upstairs. The bald man from the picture above this one came back down to decide what to do with the body, but when they got back the body was gone. Rasputin hadn’t been killed with the first shot, and instead had pulled himself up the stairs and out the back door. They found him and shot him again, killing him this time. Now they had to hide the body, so two of the men put their arms around him, and walked outside to a car, pretending they were all drunk so that if any neighbors saw they would hear the loud music and think the men were drunk and heading home. They took his body to the Neva River, cut a hole in the ice, and put his body in the river. After they were done, they quickly hurried away, however one person forgot his shoe cover on top of the ice. That is how Rasputin was found, because someone saw the boot cover and then saw what had happened. Anastasia’s family was angry, because they liked him a lot. Rasputin wasn’t the man he is portrayed to be in the Disney film. He was a religious man from Siberia who came to Saint Petersburg trying to raise money to build a church in Siberia, and he had a fairly good reputation in town because he helped heal several people. When the Romanov family heard about his abilities, they asked him to help their son, who had hemophilia. He worked closely with their son and seemed to help, and it was through this that he gained influence over them. There are rumours that he had an affair with the Tsarina as well, but there is no proof.
This fireplace was made out of onyx, and all the stone around it turned bright red when heated. It would be amazing to see that.
This is an impressive chandelier because it has been made out of papier-mâché.
This is the theatre they had in their home. They would have performances there, and once they even had a Tsar sitting in one of the main seats. The main seats that are currently there are the same that would have been there when the Tsar was there, so there is a chance that one of us sat on a chair that he sat on. It sounds silly, but it really is neat.
So that is the summary of my Russian Escapade – I hope you enjoyed it! Till next time!