Apr 22

SANKT PETERSBURG, THE CAPITAL OF OPULENCE (SANKT PETERSBURG)

If we were to choose a capital of luxury, elegance and opulence, Sankt Petersburg could easily gain a top position. The imperial headquarters, the City of Tsars was meant to be a display of grandeur, from the very beginning, despite its modest start out, considering that prior to the majestic palaces and cathedrals, the surrounding place was nothing but a daunting swamp.

Kazan Cathedral  http://www.crestinortodox.ro/

Kazan Cathedral
http://www.crestinortodox.ro/

The Russian emperor who gave the name to the citadel, Peter the Great, gathered an army of the finest European architects to fulfill his desire of sophistication and luxury, and the dream came true, making the place the first modern city of the Russian Empire and the household of the Romanov Dynasty.

Centuries have passed, Russia faced tremendous turmoil and changes of the forms of government, but nothing crashed the splendor and greatness of Sankt Petersburg.

sankt2

http://turism24.net/

The home of some of the most prestigious museums, Sankt Petersburg is a macro-scale museum in itself and one of the finest collections of art, history and culture in the entire world.

Every corner, every building preserves the mark of a great historical moments or personality that you know of from your books.

Winter Palace  http://www.infotour.ro/

Winter Palace
http://www.infotour.ro/

However, be prepared to enjoy the visual exhibit of wonders and make sure that you adjust your visit to the harsh weather. To the locals, it doesn’t mean much and it’s a part of the city’s charm, but to those of you who are not accustomed to Russian winters, you might need to add some extra luggage to keep you warm. But the problem is not the chill itself, which is at the “normal levels” of any winter in the temperate zone, but the humidity: Sankt Petersburg is located on the Neva – fact that granted it with the nickname `the Venice of the North – and it gives a foggy disposition all year long.

Another particularity is the White Nights phenomenon, which takes place from nay to July, due to the placement in the Northern hemisphere. The sun hardly goes underneath the horizon (for not more than one hour daily) and it bather the city in an endless twilight which confers a surreal other-worldly charm to the already staggering beauty of the city.

During this time of the year, you have to opportunity to enjoy many artistic events; such as music and theatre festivals that take place, making Sank Petersburg the liveliest spot on the planet, with people roaming the streets in seek of exhilarating and unforgettable performances.

http://www.turismistoric.ro/

http://www.turismistoric.ro/

However, if you decide to plan your visit during this time, keep in mind that all the touristic spots will be overcrowded.

I would mention a few popular venues which every person who appreciates art must see at least once in a lifetime.

Hermitage Museum one of the most famous museums on the planet and probably the most visited spot in all Russia. What is more to say about this collection of some of the finest artistic treasure worldwide?  The Hermitage is a fabulous castle that gathers more than three million masterpieces signed by names such as Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Rembrandt or Picasso. Do not expect to manage to visit the entire museum but make sure you decide prior to the entrance which areas to go to. For instance go to the section of your favorite artists, or favorite epoch, as it is impossible to see everything in only one visit. First of all, there aren’t enough hours in a day…

https://www.pinterest.com/

Jupiter’s Hall, hermitage Museum https://www.pinterest.com/

A fun fact which you’re probably missed is that some of the most respected employees of Hermitage are a few cats that have the clear task to protect the masterpieces from mice!

The Pushkin Palace – with its famous Amber Room -, the University of Sankt Petersburg, the Winter Palace, Menshikov Palace, Kazan Cathedral, Mikhailovsky Castle, Petrodvorets Palace, Peter and Paul Fortress – a military complex which houses a former prison and the cathedral where the Romanov family is buried -, Alexander Nevskiy Monastery are just a few options that you must not miss.

You can talk endlessly about this historical and architectural gem, you can return for many times but you will always remain with the feeling that there is still something left to discover and let it mesmerize you.

 

Apr 17

The Kremlin

Whenever we consider the tourist attractions available in Russia, the Kremlin springs to mind.

Its history dates back 800 years, from the moment it bore high importance as a medieval citadel until the present day when it is a fortified construction where the central power in Russia is located.

http://www.englishrussia.com

The Kremlin is representative for two colossal imperial cultures: the medieval Muscovite regime and the Soviet Union, in both cases having held immense power and being looked upon both with fear and admiration.

The architecture of the construction bears marks of the two historical periods: opulence and austerity are blend together offering an impressive tableau of what Russia was once. While some might regard these inconsistencies in the design as architectural absurdities, others see them as enigmas, as markers of cultural change.

http://www.citypictures.net

With the passage of time, the mystery shrouding the Kremlin has not been lifted. Even today, visitors do not have access to 2/3 of the construction ensemble and because of this we cannot help but wonder what is it that Kremlin hides within its walls?

However, the portion that is opened for visitation is impressive, as it is rich in treasures. One day is insufficient to explore this place. Tourists can visit one of the most remarkable and largest museums worldwide, but also the official dwelling of the Russian President.

History

The history of the Kremlin begins around 1147, this being the year when a wooden fort was constructed on the location of the present Kremlin on the orders of Yuri Dolgoruky, Grand Duke of Kiev.

http:// www.russianlibrary.ca

The city expanded at a fast pace and as a consequence, constructions made out of stone started to appear every here and there. Near the end of the 14th century the Kremlin had stone walls, thus becoming a truly fortified citadel.

The reign of Ivan the Great (1462 – 1505) is noteworthy in the evolution of the Kremlin. The citadel, as the epicenter of a unified Russia, underwent a series of transformations meant to make it worthy of the new role bestowed upon it.

As time went by, Moscow expanded further and further outside the walls of the fortress and this led to a “separation.” The Kremlin comprised within its walls a different world where the central power of the state and the national religion were based.

This period saw grand transformations. The Cathedrals of the Assumption, the Annunciation and the Archangel were constructed, as well as the imperial abode, the Russian Terem Palace. Ivan the Great Bell Tower was an important addition to the overall construction, transforming it into the magnificent site it is today.

But the remodeling project did not finish with the death of Ivan the Great. His descendants continued his work, transforming the fortress in as much as it would reflect the period they were living in.  Russia’s capital was changed to Saint Petersburg by Peter the Great but this did not impede the rulers of the time to leave their mark on Kremlin – a symbol of the Russian culture.

http://www.en.wikipedia.org

The Kremlin was further developed with the construction of the Kremlin Arsenal by Peter the Great – this was initially developed as a military museum. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Senate Building and the Great Kremlin Palace were added – real works of art bearing the stamp of the neoclassical period.

The 1917 Revolution led to the Kremlin becoming once more the residence of the Russian regime. As remembrance of the communist regime are the large red stars painted on the towers, as well as inside the State Kremlin Palace.

Buildings

The surface encompassed by the Kremlin walls reaches 275,000 square meters, with a total length of 2235 meters. The size of the edifices varies from 5 to 19 meters, while the width of the wall ranges from 3.5 to 6.5 meters. The initial construction comprised 18 towers, but 2 more were added back in the 17th century.

 

The State Kremlin Palace
This edifice was finished in 1961 and the main materials used in its constructions were concrete and glass. The purpose of the construction was to hold congress meetings for the Communist Party. The State Kremlin Palace was constructed in a peaceful period of the nation, when the Khruschev government was in power.

http://www.viakeo.com

 

The architecture of the building is exquisite and its most noteworthy characteristic is the immense amphitheater it holds between its walls (which can house as much as 6000 people). Above the stage used to be a uniquely crafted bas-relief which represented Lenin’s head encircled by golden rays – a true statement of the communist regime. But the relief is no longer found within the edifice, where the Kremlin Ballet Company performs its pieces at present.

Ivan the Great Bell Tower

This tower is built out of white stone and has a glistening golden dome which is representative for the entire fortress, not just for the square in which it is located (the Cathedral Square). The construction of the edifice commenced at the beginning of the 16th century under the ruler Ivan the Great (hence the name of the tower) and was finished in 1600, when Russia was ruled by Boris Godunov.

The height of the tower exceeds 80 meters. The Bell Tower is in close proximity of another belfry in which the Resurrection Bell is found – a bell dating from the 19th century and weighting 64 tones.

 
The Assumption Cathedral

This cathedral is the most relevant one of all the churches located within the fortress. It was built in the same place where Ivan I constructed a smaller church as a means to commemorate the moment when Moscow became the central point of orthodoxy.

http://www.moscow.info

When Ivan the Great came to power, he reached the conclusion that the small cathedral was too modest to be representative for the city’s greatness; not to mention that by then the passage of time left its imprint on the construction.

Ivan the Great was not pleased with the local builders so he looked elsewhere for a contractor to develop a one-of-a-kind edifice. This task was appointed to Alberti Fioravante, of Italian origin. The builder first decided to visit different parts of Russia in order to create an idea about the architectural designs used for religious edifices. Only afterwards, did he return to Moscow and resume his work.

It took four years to complete the construction and the result was impressive – in as much as Ivan the Great denied Fioravanti’s request to return to his homeland and threw him in prison. The Italian never got to see his country again as he died incarcerated a couple of years later.

The cathedral is renowned for its architecture which consists of elaborate frescos and icons. The architect managed to blend beautifully all the elements characteristic of Russian religious structural design and this is what attracts tourists the most to this place.

But the Assumption Cathedral also bears high importance due to the historical events that it witnessed. For once, it was on its steps that Ivan the Great ripped to pieces the agreement through which the rulers of Moscow were supposed to pay tribute to the Mongolian people. Not to mention that this was the first church dedicated to the orthodox religion.

 

http://www.russianmap.info

 

Only a couple of edifices have been presented here but the Kremlin has numerous towers, cathedrals, museums and palaces. All of these are representative for the Russian culture and stand as evidence for different regimes which have come to power in this region. But the most relevant fact is that all of them combine impressive decorative elements.