Part 1…St. Petersburg, Russia…A city to remember…The Peter and Paul Fortress and Cathedral…

“The Peter and Paul Cathedral (Russian: Петропавловский собор) is a Russian Orthodox cathedral located inside the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg, Russia. It is the first and oldest landmark in St. Petersburg, built between 1712 and 1733 on Hare Island along the Neva River. Both the cathedral and the fortress were originally built under Peter the Great and designed by Domenico Trezzini. The cathedral’s bell tower is the world’s tallest Orthodox bell tower. Since the belfry is not standalone but an integral part of the main building, the cathedral is sometimes considered the highest Orthodox Church in the world. There is another Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul Church in St. Petersburg, located in Petergof.”
This Baltic cruise provided us with an opportunity to visit and subsequently add six new countries to our world travel itinerary. We hadn’t added many new lands in the past few years, and this is particularly exciting.
Sailors were walking down the street with a mission in mind.

It’s not as if we’re on a mission to experience most of the world’s safe-to-visit countries. That was never the purpose or goal of our world travels. Instead, it’s simply fun to add more countries to our travel map on the right side of our home page.

On the streets of St. Petersburg, this Russian woman had an impressive arrangement of fresh fruit cups available for sale.

These Baltic countries have been exciting and unique compared to many other countries we’ve toured in almost seven years. Never in our travels had we been to Russia or other of the Baltic countries.

The luxury in the cathedral is indescribable.

Today, as we travel through Scandinavian countries, we find a very different feel from European countries, except for the varying designs of many churches and historical buildings.

There were so many tourists inside the Peter and Paul Cathedral. It was challenging to take photos without including them.

Let’s face it…buildings 200 or more years old seem to take on decor, design, and ambiance of specific typical characteristics, architecturally interesting, significant, at times flashy, and often made of gold and valuable stones, marble, wood, and jewels.

“The current building, the first stone church in St. Petersburg, was designed by Trezzini and built between 1712 and 1733. Its gold-painted spire reaches a height of 123 meters (404 ft) and features an angel holding a cross at its top. This angel is one of the most important symbols of St. Petersburg. The cathedral’s architecture also features a unique iconostasis (the screen which separates the church’s nave from the sanctuary). In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the iconostasis is normally a flat wall or screen with three doors through it. The central Holy Doors are used only for very solemn entrances and the two side doors by which the clergy and others enter and leave the sanctuary. However, at St. Peter and Paul, the iconostasis rises to form a tower over the sanctuary. The cathedral has a typical Flemish carillon, a gift of the Flemish city of Mechelen, Flanders.”

After seeing 100’s of historic buildings, we’re always searching for an unusual or unique series of features that can take our breath away. This happened in St. Petersburg a few days ago.

Pure gold was used in creating the exquisite ambiance of this famous cathedral.

As mentioned in our last post, found here, I wasn’t able to participate in Day 2 of our St. Petersburg tour due to my difficulty walking. After the previous day’s 12,000 steps ending at 13,500 when wandering about the ship that evening, my legs hurt enough to prevent us from another long day on foot.

“The cathedral is dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul, the patron saints of the fortress (Saint Peter being the patron saint of the city). The current cathedral is the second one on the site. The first, built soon after Peter found the city, was consecrated by Archbishop Iov of Novgorod the Great in April 1704.  The cathedral was the cathedral church (i.e., the seat of the bishop; the term cathedralsobor (собор) in Russian—can mean the seat of a bishop, but it can also mean simply a large or important church) of the city until 1859 (when St Isaacs became the city’s cathedral.) The current cathedral church of St. Petersburg is the Kazan Cathedral on Nevsky Prospect. The cathedral was closed in 1919 and turned into a museum in 1924. It is still officially a museum; religious services, however, resumed in 2000.”

Yesterday morning we were docked in Helsinki, Finland, and after attempting to post with no luck, we took off for town, utilizing a  private taxi which is the most accessible means for me.  

As we moved through the immense structure, we discovered one fantastic scene after another.

Photos aren’t as good as they’d be when on foot on the Hop-On, Hop-Off buses since they have to be taken through the glass windows, although it’s better than not going at all.

The remains of many leaders and their family members were interred within the church walls.

Years ago, we wouldn’t get off at some ports-of-call on some cruises, especially in the Caribbean, when we’d already been to many cruise lines owned islands intended for passengers to spend, spend, spend…on drinks, beach chairs, umbrellas, and trinkets.  

“The cathedral houses the remains of almost all the Russian emperors and empresses from Peter the Great to Nicholas II and his family, who were finally laid to rest in July 1998. Among the emperors and empresses buried here was Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia for 34 years.  Of the post-Petrine rulers, only Peter II and Ivan VI are not buried here. Peter II is buried in the Cathedral of Michael the Archangel in the Moscow Kremlin; Ivan VI was executed and buried in the fortress of Shlisselburg or Kholmogory (alleged discovery at Kholmogory in 2010 currently under forensic investigation). On September 28, 2006, 78 years after her death, Maria Feodorovna, Empress of Russia, was reinterred in the Cathedral of St Peter and Paul. Wife of Tsar Alexander III and mother of Nicholas II (the last Russian tsar), Maria Feodorovna died on 13 October 1928 in exile in her native Denmark and was buried in Roskilde Cathedral in Denmark. In 2005, the governments of Denmark and Russia agreed that the empress’s remains should be returned to Saint Petersburg in accordance with her wish to be interred next to her husband.”

Such ports hold little appeal for us when we are always seeking authenticity, history, and charm. An artificial island or strip of beach certainly doesn’t fit that criterion. However, many passengers find such places as the highlight of their cruises, especially those who don’t live near an ocean and sandy beaches. We get that.

The exterior is slightly less impressive than the interior of the cathedral.

Of course, a natural strip of sandy, volcanic or rocky beach always inspires us, prompting us to take many photos of varying angles of nature’s bounty. We never tire of the view.

As expected, the evenings have been entertaining and filled with lively chatter among other passengers we’ve met and between ourselves. There’s never a dull moment, nor do we spend much time in the cabin.

The chapel’s roof, ornate and gold-covered.

We managed to squeeze in a few movies in the ship’s small theatre, the Cinema, the past two days. The first was the most recent documentary about Apollo 11’s trip to the moon with live footage that left us on the edge of our chairs. It’s well worth watching and provides a perspective we could hardly imagine from memory 50 years ago.

After returning from touring Helsinki in the taxi yesterday, we relaxed and watched another movie, “Instant Family, “very sweet and entertaining. Tom dozed during the first 20 minutes but was awake for the balance.

As soon as we upload this post, we’ll be taking the shuttle bus from the ship to Stockholm, Sweden. From there, if possible we’ll take a taxi to tour the city.

Tomorrow, a sea day, we’ll have time for Part 2…St. Petersburg. Look for us then! We still have many more Baltic cities to share!

Enjoy the new week!
Photo from one year ago today, August 19, 2018:
This artistic piece, made by Agness at the Wayi Wayi Art Centre in Zambia, was made with hundreds of scratch-off tickets.  Please click here for more photos.

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