Tuesday 11 July 2006
Highlights: St Isaac’s Square & Cathedral, Eternal Flame, Yusupov’s Palace
After the very big day of yesterday I had scheduled a tour of Yusupov’s Palace which was the home of Felix Yusupov and his noble family. Three months before the revolution on 16th December 1916 Felix conspired to kill the infamous Rasputin. Rasputin believed in sinning (mostly though sex, apparently he organised orgies) and repenting bought you closer to god. He had a lot of influence of the Romanovs (Tsars) which caused public unrest and also with the nobles as he was a commoner.
It took several attempts to kill Rasputin, first they tried poison which didn’t work, then the shoot him which didn’t work, they then shot him again and finally put him under the ice water in the river (thinking he was dead). Later it was found he had water in his lungs showing he still wasn’t dead! The house is very stunning; I can see why the Yusupov’s tried to stop the revolution they lost an incredible amount (but not their lives as they escaped to Western Europe).
Earlier in the day we did a sightseeing trip around the city and visited St Isaac’s Square & Cathedral, statue of Nicholas I, a statue of Peter the Great (next to old Senate building), and the Eternal Flame (for WWI soldiers killed in action). In the afternoon I left the group and walked around the outer suburbs of St Petersburg to get a real feel for the city. It was interesting seeing people bathing or going to the beach wherever they could.
Most locals were sunning themselves on the grass next to the sea (as there is no sand etc). They only get 2 months of outdoors weather and obviously were keen to enjoy the current heat wave. BTW All of St Petersburg is like a modern city. The inner parts are grand and the older parts like other modern cities (but not dirty like Paris or Rome).