Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Everything’s Bigger in Russia

I am finally getting around to selecting prints for a photo album of our summer travels. (Does anyone else still do this or are you strictly digital?) While I store photos online I don't ever revisit them 'in the cloud' but I frequently return to the albums I began compiling after getting married. The last 19 years have filled a collection of 13 of them (all identical, navy leather from T. Anthony in New York) and they occupy an entire shelf on our family room bookcase. Here are a few shots (culled from about 200) of our visit to St. Petersburg where the palaces, museums and cathedrals were grand on a scale unlike anything else I have ever seen.

Catherine's Palace at Tsarskoe Selo

The enormous tiled stoves appear in nearly every room.

The recreated 'Amber Room.' While the Nazis did not actually make it into the city of St. Petersburg during World War II they did occupy and largely destroy both Catherine's Palace and Peterhof Palace which lie outside the city center. Both have been extensively restored, this room at a cost of several million dollars. Here is an interesting New York Times article on the subject.

The Winter Palace and The Hermitage

The 'Malachite Room'

Church of Our Savior on Blood, built on the site where Tsar Alexander I was assassinated.

The interior is entirely decorated with mosaics.

Peterhof Palace (sadly no interior photography permitted.)

The fountains were designed to rival Versailles.

The Gulf of Finland

St. Issac's Cathedral, the largest Russian Orthodox cathedral in the city.

Malachite and lapis lazuli were used extensively in the interior.

The exterior of the dome of St. Issac's is plated with pure gold; during WWII it was painted over in grey to avoid attracting attention from enemy planes. Do you see the dove suspended in the center?

I have wanted to visit St. Petersburg since reading Robert Massie's biography of Catherine the Great (an excellent book) a few years ago and am very grateful for the opportunity to have made this once-in-a-lifetime trip to be sure.


  1. some day, russia.....a childhood dream as a long ago teacher instilled in me the love of russian history. looks stunning phyllis!

  2. Absolutely gorgeous photographs Phyllis, my eyes popped out on stalks:) The restoration of the Palaces was an incredible feat in itself. A triumphant display of articulate craftsmanship!

  3. The exquisite colors used on that scale - oh, my. Stunning. St. Petersburg is definitely on my bucket list, but I imagine I would only want to be there in summer.

  4. Jaw dropping!! So amazing and steeped in history!!

  5. Such grandeur!!! All of it meant to be showy and impressive. Definitely the crown jewel of the Russian empire. Beautiful photos, Phyllis. I thought of you last weekend while revisiting the Thorvaldsen museum. Love your handsome photo album - very classy!

  6. These are gorgeous photos ... Great job with the camera. What a dream come true, your head must be chocked full images. We read Catherine the Great also, loved it. Looking at your photos just took me back to so many parts of the book. My sister and cousin put their vacation photos in a book; I think they use My Publisher, Snapfish or Apple. The books are gorgeous and I am so envious, vow to try it someway.

    Best ... Karen in VA

  7. These are just beautiful Phyllis. Yes, the scale is certainly grand. My husband wants to go so very much and we're actually considering a "Northern" route trip. Wait till I show him these photos! Ah, real albums. I used to take such care in assembling them, but I don't think I've made one in almost ten years. What a shame, no? I'll print out a few photos to frame, but that's about it. Time to reconsider!

  8. These are all so glorious Phyllis, many wonderful memories to look back on!

    The Arts by Karena

  9. Phyllis,
    Mr. B. was a Russian studies major and we've had Russia on our list but yet to make it there. These were beautiful images to feed the imagination. I'll be sharing them with husband.
    I do have the photo albums but no longer add to them. All is digital and I find, like you, I rarely go back and visit them on the computer.

  10. OH MY GOSH. What a feast for the senses! I have never been to Russia and in the last few years have definitely had the urge to go.....on my bucket list!
    Looks amazing, I love their "more is more" take on well just about everything:)

  11. Your photos are exquisite. I admire you for putting albums together. I agree now that everything is digital we assume that we can get them whenever we want yet rarely do so.

  12. Beautiful must of been a great trip! Yes, I think your right..everything does look bigger!

  13. Stunning! The beauty of these buildings is unbelievable! Thank you for sharing.

  14. Wow, Phyllis. Trip of a lifetime for sure. Love your photos, and your photo album discipline.

    xo Terri


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