XIV: Kazan Cathedral, St Petersburg

I found an old photo in the pile of Russian trip snaps and decided to share a brief post today. This is the Kazan Cathedral of St Petersburg, which caught my eye for plain simple reason that it so closely resembles St Peter’s Basilica in Rome! Imagine what I felt when I saw a Catholic-influenced building in a country known for its Russian Orthodox Church?!

Religion and politics aside, this building is impressive to look at and was ironically used in 1932 as a pro-Marxist museum that highlights the history of atheism. It has thereafter been returned to the Orthodox Church.

Kazan Cathedral 14

XIII: Russian Cruisor Aurora

A visit to St Petersburg warrants a trip to the Russian Cruisor Aurora. It might not sound like an exciting journey, but for those interested in military history, the Aurora is a protected/preserved cruisor moored at St Petersburg, now acting as a museum ship.Cruisor Aurora 10

This ship was one of the Pallada class of cruisors to serve in the Pacific Far East; its main foray was in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905 and the Baltic Seas during WWI, The Aurora was used as a training ship thereafter and had even suffered damage and sunk during WWII. After extensive repairs, it was harboured at Leningrad and still is today (what we know of as St Petersburg). OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Russian Cruisor Aurora is the oldest commissioned ship of the Russian Navy and is still manned by an active service crew. The little bits of history that sustains til today deserve a lot more focus and respect than we bother to give today. If you do make a trip to St Petersburg, remember to board and explore this cruisor!

Russia XII: Lenin’s Statue in St Petersburg

A recent read of Lenin, Stalin and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe (Vintage), by Robert Gellately, brought my interest back to a statue I’d once seen years back during my stay in Russia.

I took residence in The Park Inn Pulkovskaya at St Petersburg, which stood behind the great Ploshchad Pobedy (known more to the West as Victory Square). The Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad features a sleek obelisk that reaches into the sky, surrounded by a sculptural ensemble at the pedestal of the obelisk.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASculptures representing soldiers, sailors and civilians who did not surrender despite hunger, cold and constant bombardment were featured. Beneath the elaborate Soviet monumental art dedicated to WWII housed a museum which held maps of Leningrad defense plans beneath. My fascination of the details in each sculpture and wild imaginations of them springing into action, as if the past still lingered, cannot be better expressed than by the two pictures below.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What stood high above the rest was the vast statue of Lenin as he “directs” the crowds in a dominating stance. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It has been a long time since my visit to Russia; at times I wonder how much has changed in this country so rich in its history…

Russia VII – Peter the Great vs Peter the Great

The Bronze Horseman, which I love to use in my pictures, is an equestrian statue of Peter the Great in St Petersburg, gaining its name from Pushkin’s poem in 1833. The bronze statue sits on a pedestal also known as the Thunder Stone (aka ‘largest stone ever moved by man’) from the Gulf of Finland. The pedestal is made of a single piece of red granite shaped like a cliff where Peter rules Russia; his horse steps on a snake, representing the crushing of enemies. It seemed appropriate that a popularly-known ruler stood as the symbol of the country, having expanded the Tsardom of Russia extensively. The statue, created by French sculptor Etienne Maurice Falconet, showed the outstanding reformer as a hero.

Yet with a turn of the head in a new century, Mikhail Shemiakin created another statue of Peter the Great sitting in a chair, exhibiting no resemblance to what we know of as Peter the Great. This statue contradicted the heroic figure, now presented as a tall, seated figure with a strange sense of serenity. Some have supposedly called it the “Stay-at-home” statue of Peter the Great. While the former was revered, the latter became a good-luck charm – visitors noticed the bright hands and legs of the statue and began to touch it for good luck.

Interesting, isn’t it? Share some stories with me if you know more about this! 🙂

Russia VI: St Petersburg – Peter & Paul Fortress, Russia

Much of Russia’s great architecture was built with Peter the Great’s involvement. This was no exception – the Peter & Paul Fortress in St Petersburg, Russia. The fortress was founded and established by Peter the Great as a protective barrier against Swedish attacks. It also acted as a prison ground for dissidents of the regime. As St Petersburg was the traditional capital of Russia, the fortress is also the burial grounds to several Tsars. The remains are housed within the tall structure none other than the Peter & Paul Cathedral. This old stone Orthodox Church with a golden spire reaches into the skies with an angel holding a cross. As with the significance of bells in Russia, the Cathedral also boasts the world’s tallest Orthodox bell tower at 122metres. Some argue that the zvonnitsa (or bell tower) stands with the Cathedral, hence the Peter & Paul Cathedral should be regarded as the tallest Orthodox Church. Others regard the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow as the tallest Orthodox Church (103metres). Either ways, take a look at the photos and I would encourage all to take a physically-visit Russia to judge for yourselves!

I’ll next share about St Issac’s Cathedral, Kazan Cathedral etc and with Peter the Great taking the centre-stage of most establishments, I’ll like to spend a short time comparing some of his statues. Stay tuned! 🙂

Russia I: St Petersburg – Peterhof Palace

Петерго́ф – magnificent palace with its Grand Cascade, Samson Fountain with a Sea Channel, the Lower Gardens and the Grand Palace. Laid out by Peter the Great, first conceptualized during the Great Northern War, this wonderful architecture has undergone capture by German troops in 1941. Fortunately the palace was restored in 2003 following the celebration of St Petersburg’s 300th anniversary.

Always worth the visit; do not hesitate. I chose to make my way over, and I never for once regretted. These photos, taken over a day or two, cannot do justice to this beautiful palace.

Peterhof Palace, a magnificent wonder of the world today. A toast to Peter the Great and all the wonderful people who continued with its extensions & preservation.