St. Petersburg and Moscow
07/11/2017 - 07/18/2017
July 2017 had me visiting the great cities of St. Petersburg and Moscow in Russia. Both have a wealth of history and are very popular destinations in Europe. St. Petersburg was ranked as the best European travel destination for the second year in a row this year. I traveled to St. Petersburg as my first stop and had a long list of things I wanted to see. Unfortunately the weather was not the best as it was very overcast, windy and raining off and on the entire trip. The first day had me doing the normal city walk tour that I always do to get my bearings straight and see the major highlights right away. It started in the Palace Square which is a main tourist area that has the Alexander Column which celebrates Russia's victory over Napoleon and is also the location of the Winter Palace which now houses the famous Hermitage Museum. The Winter Palace was the official residence of the Russian monarchs until 1917.
Our journey continued along the Neva river as the weather proceeded to go completely downhill with a huge downpour of rain and high winds.
Along the Neva river we saw the Peter and Paul Fortress as well as some ships along the river, when the rain allowed us that is.
Our next stop was St. Isaacs Cathedral which is Russian Orthodox and is the worlds fourth largest cathedral in the world.
Another cathedral on our route was the Kazan Cathedral.
A very famous landmark in St. Petersburg is the Singer building. It was the headquarters for the american sewing machine maker Singer. The globe on top of the building shines a different color light every night according to the owners mood for that day.
One of the main sites in St. Petersburg is The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. This church was built on the site where Emperor Alexander II was fatally wounded in March 1881.
The weather began to get better and I ventured out more and more to explore and see what I could find on my own.
One of the biggest reasons for my travels to St. Petersburg was my interest in the World War II history that it was involved in especially during what was called the Siege of Leningrad. During WWII, St. Petersburg was known as Leningrad, not St. Petersburg due to the fact that St. Petersburg sounded way too German and it was the Germans that were the enemy! When Hitler invaded Russia he decided that in September 1941 he would encircle and starve out the entire city of Leningrad. The plan ultimately failed but the siege lasted almost 900 days and cost the lives of at LEAST 1 million civilians. I visited several museums that dealt with this event as well as Victory Square which is a large outdoor monument to all those involved in the siege and to remember the great cost of lives involved. It is still one of the greatest Russian triumphs to this day and is very important to those that still live in the area. It was very impressive and very important for me to visit it and see how they remembered the event. There is actually a law that states if you fly into the airport and are going to the city center of St. Petersburg, the public transportation must take the route that goes directly thru Victory Square. It is pretty much not enforced, but luckily I did see it on my taxi ride to the city center when I arrived that night and I made a special trip to see it during the day time which allowed me to utilize the Metro system which was pretty awesome and super easy to use. The signs were in both Russian and English as were the recorded announcements that ran while you were on the cars riding to your locations.
The end of the week saw my time in St. Petersburg over and I was getting ready to head to Moscow, but I was able to revisit a few of the previous sites again but this time the weather was much better! Here are a few of those pics...........
Moscow greeted me with better weather and I was pretty happy when leaving the airport in Moscow for the taxi as this time I had my luggage....this is going to be fun!! Red Square, here I come.........
After dropping off my luggage at my hotel, I walked just around the corner and began to check out the area right at the Kremilin and Red Square.
The first site I come across is a statue to Prince Vladimir, which I though was pretty cool and seemed to be pretty popular by others as well.
I continue walking closer to the Kremlin complex and run across another statue of some sort but I have no idea what it references due to everything being in Russian. Notice the red wall of the Kremlin just behind it.
The Kremlin is a huge complex that houses many structures including several churches, museums and of course governmental buildings including the building the Russian leader Putin works in. He was on site in the Kremlin while I was in the Kremlin according to the "official" status indicator they use of the Russian Federation Flag flying over top the governmental building.
Directly beside the Kremlin is Red Square which is a large open space that contains Lenin's Mausoleum, St. Basil's Cathedral and GUM, which is a famous Shopping mall with a long history. This was without a doubt the most popular tourist area and has a long and storied history connecting all these sites to Russia both in the past and in today's world. Very impressive and absolutely breath taking.
Probably the most famous landmark in Red Square is St. Basil's Cathedral. It was built from 1555–61 on orders from Ivan the Terrible and commemorates the capture of Kazan and Astrakhan.
I did get to see Lenin's body in the Lenin Mausoleum after a 2 hour wait in line. Lenin has been displayed here in state since 1924. No pictures allowed inside the mausoleum but I did get a picture of the outside of the mausoleum which is located right in Red Square. Another very popular tourist attraction.
Close to the Mausoleum is where other important Russian/Soviet leaders are buried. Here is where Stalin is buried.........
Just outside of the Kremlin and Red Square is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Here every hour they do a changing of the guard which was another pretty popular activity and was pretty cool.
The remainder of my time in Moscow allowed me to do a little exploring on my own. I ventured out on some rather long walks and ended up seeing Gorky Park, Park Pebody, the monument to Peter the Great, the former KGB building and some of the Moscow high rise buildings known as the 7 sisters of Stalin. Here are a few final pictures of my time in Moscow as my trip comes to an end.
Stay tuned as the first 10 days in September have me going to Italy and Austria for the next adventure..........