On Tuesday, we had another bus trip around the city, the highlights of which were a visit to St. Isaac Cathedral and an afternoon at the Hermitage Museum.
|Columns and ceiling of St. Isaac's Cathedral|
The inside of St Isaac’s Cathedral was amazing—huge, spacious, mosaic-encrusted iconostasis and real marble-veneer columns (as opposed to the faux-marble-painted columns of Peter and Paul Cathedral). The inside glittered with gold leaf on the mosaics and chandeliers and other ornaments. The outside was a dull-gray classical building surrounded by columns and topped with a gold dome. The rather dull exterior belied the sparkling interior.
We had lunch at a restaurant near the Cathedral of the Savior on the Blood, built on the site of the assassination of Alexander II, the czar who freed the serfs and was later assassinated by an anarchist. I left lunch early and went to the cathedral, where I took photos both outside and inside.
|Interior of the Cathedral of the Savior on the Blood|
The last time I was in St Petersburg, the apartment I stayed in was near that church, but it was under repair/reconstruction, and I wasn’t able to go inside. The inside of the sanctuary was marvelous—narrow but tall, with a main aisle and two side aisles. The walls are covered with paintings and mosaics, and the interior has a feeling of lightness and simple sanctity.
That afternoon, we went to the Hermitage Museum and spent two hours with a guide going through galleries and rooms of the palace lined by paintings ranging from medieval sacred art to Dutch interiors. Some of the more famous paintings were a couple by Leonardo da Vinci as well as some Titians and Rubens and Rembrandts. Not liking crowds, I tended to hang around the edges and look at pictures that others were not crowded around. We were allowed to take photos without flash, and I took photos of several of my favorites.
|Huge vase of malachite in the Hermitage|
Another thing I noticed, particularly this time, which I hadn’t before, except in the malachite room, was the stonework throughout. Many rooms had large, sometimes huge, vases of stone—jasper, onyx, basalt, granite. There were large columns of gray granite in one room. Another room had a bird-cage clock (behind glass) made of gilded paper-mache from the time of Catherine the Great.