Travels to Sestroretsk

On our journeys to Russia, we were treated to "excursions" to the most interesting and fabulous places.  Our hosts did an incredible job of selecting those sites that we would find both interesting and informative.  We saw historical buildings, artistic performances, and dramatic locations.  Some are famous worldwide, and others have a subtle elegance that took our breath away.  It would have been impossible to include enough photos here to give a complete picture of our experience (Mr. Woody alone took over 300), but hopefully this page WILL inspire interest, and that would be a start.  The photos that were taken are in a large album at PCHS, and others may be found at, the official page of St. Petersburg, Russia.  Those who have been to Russia, or are avid Russophiles should find these selections archetypal. 

The Palace Bridge

Known as "The Venice of the North", St. Petersburg is criss-crossed by canals, resulting in an incredible number (588) of bridges.  This is arguably the most famous, and is often pictured (as it is here) at sundown, with the towering spire of the Peter & Paul Cathedral in the background. 

Peter the Great

Vowing to build a "window to the West" Peter took the initiative to create a marvelous city out of nearly nothing.  This statue, known as "The Bronze Horseman" is situated near the river in Decembrist Square and within site of St. Isaac's Cathedral and the Hermitage, and exemplifies Peter's spirit, tireless energy, and vision. 

St. Isaac's Cathedral

One of the most beautiful buildings in the world, it is ironic that this church should have been used by the Communists as exemplary of the waste and decadence of religion and its effects.  We were amazed by the beauty of the 382 sculptures, paintings, and mosaics inside, and the immensity of the structure.  The columns you see at the front are about 3 stories high, and the top of the spire is the 2nd tallest point in St. Petersburg. 

St. Peter & Paul Cathedral

Guarding the entrance to the city on the Neva River, the Fortress must have seemed an insurmountable obstacle to visitors in the early years.  The Cathedral houses the tombs of the Tsars, providing both an historical and cultural lesson.  Even today, the coffins are strewn with flowers, coins, and medals in honor of these leaders of Russia's past.  The mint originated here also, and there are thousands of intriguing coins and medals on display. 

The Hermitage

Beginning as the fabulous Winter Palace, this amazing structure was transformed by Catherine the Great into one of the World's greatest museums.  The variety of works here is truly amazing, whether you are a student of art and history, or just a lover of creative genius. There are now over 3 million works collected here.  We marveled over the works by Leonardo da Vinci and Michaelangelo, and entire rooms full of paintings by both Van Gogh and Picasso.  We also overheard virtually every world language spoken, and met a group of travel agents from Texas who were touring in order to be able to recommend St. Petersburg to their clients.  No problem. 

Mariinski Theatre

We went here to see the ballet, "Sulfeda".  This photo does not do justice to the true beauty of the theatre, and it would be impossible to adequately describe the excellent dancing we saw.  Surrounded by such class and grandeur, it was easy to imagine sitting in the Tsar's Loge, sipping champagne, and enjoying the peak of Russian cultural creativity. The crystal chandelier in the center is a true marvel.

The Church of the Resurrection

(The Savior on the Blood)

In a city of fabulous architecture, this is a structure that captures one's attention every time you pass it. Located in the middle of the town, and regularly visible from Nevsky Prospekt, this cathedral was the site of an assassination. To us, it seems to be the very image of the Russian cathedral (onion domes and all), and a colorful memory of the amazing beauty of the historical St. Petersburg.

We hope you've enjoyed this too-brief tour of St. Petersburg.  We hope to add good shots of other scenes that effected us greatly: the Kazansky Cathedral, Ekaterina Palace, Victory Square, and Smolny, for example, as well as a photo of our Sister School #556, once we've scanned them. Those of us who went have fond memories to last a lifetime, and would gladly return, for a chance to see these wonderful visions again.

If you enjoyed these pictures, or a trip to St. Petersburg of your own, e-mail me and share it.

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