Sunday, 20 September 2015

Cruising in St. Petersburg

A canal boat in St. Petersburg isn't quite the same as a cruise ship but it does get under some pretty low bridges. Definitely not a cruise that lets you stand up.

Getting from the Neva River into the Fontanka River is fun. The boat has to turn on the Neva to line up precisely opposite the Fontanka so that it can get through the low and narrow bridge. On this second river is Michael's Castle, Once the residence of Tsar Paul 1. Then on to the Mayka River to pass that fantastically colourful Church of the Saviour of the Spilled Blood.

Back on the Neva the boat crossed the river to the Peter and Paul Fortress. In the 18th century this was a part of the garrison and a high security gaol. Among some of the prisoners were Gorky, Trotsky, Lenin's brother Alexander and Tsar Peter's son, Alexei.

The main reason for visiting this island is the Peter and Paul Cathedral which is the burial place of all the Emperors and Empresses since Peter the Great. As with the majority of cathedrals, the interior is a bit OTT with 'gold' chandeliers and decoration all over the place but the reason people are visiting is to see the royal tombs. I've lost count but I do remember that on some of them were wreathes of white flowers.

And in a side chapel lie the family of the last Tsar of Russia, Alexander III, who were murdered by the Bolshevists in the 20th century. Their remains have now been transferred to the Peter and Paul Cathedral. There is a notice forbidding photography but as everyone else was taking photos.....

On top of the Cathedral's gilded spire is one of the most prominent of St. Petersburg's symbols. The 'flying' angel, holding a cross. Why 'flying'? It is a weathervane.

A word of warning. To get from the Cathedral to the prison the guides like to take a short cut - diagonally across some very large cobbles. If, like me, your feet are a bit delicate, take quick walk the long way round.

Incidentally, the excursion might operate the other way around - the Fortress before the canals.

The Arcadia spent two nights in St. Petersburg and this was the trip I took on the second day.

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