St. Petersburg--July 25, 2005--Peterhof, Peter and Paul Fortress, Folk Show
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Today we started in the morning for Peterhof (109-156), Peter the Great's Palace, completed on the shores of the Gulf of Finland in 1723. Peterhof is about 18 miles west of St. Petersburg. Modeled after Versailles it is a spectacular setting both indoors and out with fountains everywhere. Much of what is visible is not original since this palace and many others in the St. Petersburg area were in ruins after the Nazi siege (117). It is hard to believe that all of this could have been rebuilt and it raised a philosophical question about rebuilding something of this scale not once but twice while the serfs (in the first instance) and today's Russian poor (in the second instance) did without. Nevertheless, the restoration is magnificent.
A few items to note in the pictures--In several palaces we visited, we were required to wear slippers to protect the floors (114). Photo 119 shows a huge Delft stove imported from Holland; several of these were placed in this palace to provide heat in the winter. We saw similar stoves in other palaces. The chandelier glass in photo 126 is in the shape of oak leaves, mirroring some of the trees on the grounds. Some of the fountains on the grounds were trick fountains such that stepping on a certain spot triggered the water flow (142-144). Some of them performed for the tourists. The fountains are fed by underground springs 14 miles away and use no pumps.
After leaving Peterhof, we journeyed back to the city passing the beautiful church near Peterhof (157) and arrived at Peter and Paul Fortress (158-168), considered to be the founding spot of St. Petersburg by Peter the Great in 1703. In its Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul rest the remains of most of the Czars including Peter the Great (162), Catherine the Great (163) and the recently interred remains of the last Czar, Nicholas II, and his family (164) who were murdered by revolutionary forces in 1918. The cathedral's spire is a duplicate of the spire on the Admiralty except for the ornamentation on the top. Outside the cathedral, a modern statue of Peter the Great (165) has recently been erected. It is controversial because of the small head on the statue but children and adults love to have their picture taken on it, resulting in its shine.
In the evening, we were off to Volga Dance and Song Ensemble's Folk Show in the Anichkov Palace. The costumes were beautiful as was the singing and the choreography was outstanding (169-182). We saw several shows of this type in Russia but this was the best.
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