Gotta-do’s in St Petersburg

Our guided tours around the significant sights of St. Petersburg and its environs was packed with info and a great way to keep us from lingering over-long at one spot or attraction, thus sacrificing significant others. Although we often felt that we were being rushed through, the two half-days and one full day of “highlights” has been a good way to whet the appetite for more on a return trip.

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Elena Rusakova, Freelance Guide, is also a teacher of Russian and English literature at a high-school-aged academy. She lives in Peterhof, the town — many people call the palace we visited in that district Peterhof, but it is not really the name of the structures and gardens that make up the palace of Peter the Great, the Summer Palace, that he called “mon plaisir” (my pleasure), and that is sometimes referred to as “the Versailles of Russia.”

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With Elena, I sit in the back seat of the car, so this is my normal view of our driver, Andrei. Other than the stark fact that he is an extremely adept driver and a patient soul, I know very little about him. Nevertheless we are thankful for his acquaintance in this adventure.

The Hermitage

There is tons of info on the web about this place and its history. Located right in St. Petersburg proper, it is the most-easily accessed of the gotta-do’s here, and reminds me a bit of the Smithsonian, in that vast collections are displayed over several buildings. Could not possibly do it all in one day; possibly not in a lifetime, if one includes all the parts of the permanent collection not regularly on display. Suffice it to say that Catherine the Great was an avid collector of fine art.

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I believe we were told that this is Elizabeth, not Catherine 2 (the great), but it is extraordinary because it is a mosaic portrait.

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An enormous and complex mosaic, of which this is but a detail, on the floor.

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Definitely go and look up the Peacock clock in the Hermitage collection. It is extraordinary, and this pic does it very little justice.

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This unfinished sculpture was done by Michelangelo during a time that he was banished to a monastery and lived a private, solo life, presumably of some despair.

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A soldier’s helmet. Another had the owner’s dog lying along the top.

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The New Market in Dresden, by Bernardo Belloto (1720-1780).

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Two by Rembrandt: Man in Red, and Portrait of an Old Woman. I was impressed by his rendering of the hands.

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This isn’t really it’s name, but it represents a self-portrait by Paulus Potter (1625-1654), as a chained dog.

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Two Sisters (The visit), 1902, Pablo Picasso. Next, also by him (1908) is Composition With a Skull.

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Picasso’s Factory, and Young Woman (1909). And a ceramic plate also by Picasso.

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We did a quick tour of the third floor, where all the French artistry is displayed, and I took more pix of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, especially for Petie, who loves that era and style of painting. I have loaded them separately and you can check them out HERE.

Jack and I are headed out now for more touring, so I will return later with a post about Peter the Great’s summer palace, Catherine 1’s palace, and more in a while. Cheers!

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