Tuesday, June 21, 2011
St. Petersburg, Russia, June 19
During WW II, Hitler's army surrounded Leningrad for 900 days. Over 650,000 people died from fighting or starvation. The citizens voted to restore the St. Petersburg name in 1991. The city has tens of rivers and canals.
The sunrise today is 4:40am, and sunset is 11:22pm!
Day one of a two-day tour. We had a brief ride around St. Petersburg, prior to a tour of the Hermitage Museum. Cruise ship tours can enter the Hermitage at 9:00am, prior to the 10:30am opening for other tourists. The Hermitage art collection includes Raphael, Rembrandt, Monet, and others. The Hermitage Museum used to be the Winter Palace, which, after Peter's death, was built for Peter's daughter Czarina Elizabeth, and for Czarina Catherine II.
We toured St Isaac's Cathedral, with its large dome and many mosaics (because paintings deteriorate in this areas high humidity. After a wonderful lunch with entertainment, our next tour was a canal boat ride on several canals and the Neva River. We went beneath numerous very low bridges. An enterprising young Russian man was on the first bridge, waving to us as we came to that bridge. He then ran to the next bridge and waved to us as we came to that bridge. He continued that for all bridges. He was waiting for us and our tips, when we returned.
Czar Peter the Great had the Peter and Paul Fortress built, to guard the mouth of the Neva River, that was taken from Sweden. We toured the fortress and the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral (in the fortress).