St. Petersburg June 2010

St. Petersburg is the second largest city in Russia and is located at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea.  It was the imperial capital of Russia between 1713–1728 and 1732–1918.  St. Petersburg is probably the most westernized city of Russia, as well as being its cultural capital.  We stayed at Hotel Astoria in a convenient location next to St. Isaac’s Cathedral and the State Hermitage Museum.

IMG_0174St. Isaac’s Cathedral is the largest Russian Orthodox cathedral in St. Petersburg.

IMG_0176Do climb up to the top balcony of St. Isaac’s Cathedral for a panoramic view of the city.

IMG_0179View of the city from St. Isaac’s Cathedral.

IMG_0187Inside St. Isaac’s Cathedral

IMG_0189St. Isaac’s Cathedral

St. Petersburg’s most popular attraction, and one of the world’s largest and most prestigious museums, the Hermitage is a must-see for visitors to the city.  With over 3 million items in its collection, it has been estimated that you would need eleven years to view each exhibit on display for just one minute.   We found it extremely helpful to hire a guide to show us the highlights.

IMG_0184State Hermitage Museum

IMG_0195The bulk of the Hermitage collection is housed in the Winter Palace, formerly the official residence of the Romanov Tsars.

IMG_0206Interior of the Hermitage.



IMG_0217The Peacock Clock is a large automaton featuring three life-sized mechanical birds acquired by Catherine the Great in 1781.

IMG_0222The numerous hallways in the Hermitage.

IMG_0227One of the many exhibition halls in the Hermitage.

The Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg.  The city’s architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but this church is built in medieval Russian style.  It intentionally resembles the iconic St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow.

IMG_0295Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood


IMG_0304Interior of Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

IMG_0303Interior of Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

There are many palaces in St. Petersburg and we decided to visit Peterhof Palace less than an hour from the city center.  Peterhof Palace is a series of palaces and gardens built by Peter the Great and is sometimes referred to as the Russian Versailles.   We spent a nice day visiting the museum as well as the cascades and fountains of the gardens.

IMG_0279Peterhof Palace

IMG_0254Gardens at Peterhof Palace.

IMG_0262Peterhof Palace

Cappadocia July 2013

Cappadocia is a historical region in Central Anatolia of Turkey.  Ancient volcanic eruptions covered this region with thick ash which solidified into a soft rock.

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