Tuesday 19 June 2018

#7 Cruising The Baltic with #Fred Olsen’s Balmoral-St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg…15th and 16th June

Two fantastic days that need much more than this diary extract. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to join 3 different tours in St. Petersburg, the most incredible city.

Tour 1: The Hermitage Museum
Tour 2- General city sightseeing
Tour 3- The Gulf of Finland

Equestrian Statue of Peter the Great

The influence of Peter the Great is everywhere. The classical buildings are plentiful and impressive in their condition. When the state of bombardment of the Second World War is accounted for it’s amazing that any of the buildings have survived.

According to our very knowledgeable tour guide there is a current ongoing programme of ‘keeping up’ the state of many of the oldest buildings, by the ‘state’. She didn’t go into the intricacies of the funding details but it’s clearly important in St. Petersburg to show off the oldest buildings to great advantage. I am highly impressed by the tasteful decorative colours of the buildings given a little knowledge of the history of their creation. It would be so easy to paint what are essentially brick buildings in garish colours, but that’s not what currently happens in St. Petersburg.

The most important and impressive ones have arresting tones. One could even say ‘Pastel Perfect’ in many cases, maybe even most cases. The classical styles that Peter the Great wanted for his city are so incredibly well-planned and well-maintained. Having visited a few places of his inspirations like Versailles and Rome, the architects that Peter the Great used so long ago did a very fine job in an area that had few of the resources available to the original architects in Rome or Versailles.

I’ve lived in Holland for three years and know just how much effort it takes to form the foundations for building magnificent palaces and large public buildings. Peter the Great’s St. Petersburg land was swampy and needed the innovative creation of canals and reclaimed land to make a port on the Gulf of Finland worthwhile. The lack of local building stone was also a problem that many of the northern European countries, like Holland and Denmark, had to overcome. Brick was a reality yet the products needed to make bricks also had to be imported. The effort put into the creation of the buildings of Peter the Great’s era was immense. And so lastingly worthwhile.

The highlight of the 3 event visit to St. Petersburg was my visit to the Hermitage, though the rest was also very impressive.

Look out for the next post on The Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg - contents that are as impressive as the Vatican Museums.


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