Bucket List

My time in the Venice of the North is nearing its end, so I am trying to check off the St. Petersburg bucket list, so to speak. It is amazing how it seems that the more time you spend in a city, the less time there is to do everything you hope for. I have sometimes spent less than a day or two in a city and thought that I had seen most all of what I wanted to see. Even with six weeks in Saint Petersburg, I feel that I would need months more to see and experience everything. There are still numerous museums I have not visited, and I have only seen a few sections outside of the city center.

Yesterday, I was able to see three of my desired locations. First, I finally went inside of the Kazan Cathedral, a huge church, just a block away from the university, modeled after St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. Unlike many of the large, old Orthodox churches in Russia, it still is a functioning church; most, having been shut down by the Soviets, act today only as museums. Pictures were not allowed, but it was enough for me simply to go inside and experience its beauty.

Next, I saw the Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood, the massive church in the old-Russian style built on the location where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated. It is one of the signature sights in St. Petersburg, as is St. Basil’s in Moscow, but I had yet to actually go inside. It was worth the wait. As with St. Isaac’s Cathedral I visited earlier, practically every inch of wall and ceiling was covered in ornate mosaics and paintings. What particularly stood out is the shrine in the back of the church on the exact spot where Alexander II was assassinated (or rather, attacked; he died in the Winter Palace).

The interior of the Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood

Lastly, I finally saw the bridges go up. St. Petersburg is a city built on rivers and canals—hence, the nickname “Venice of the North” or “the Russian Venice.” St. Petersburg is also a port city. Every night, around 1 or 2 a.m., the bridges on the Neva River all go up—they are all drawbridges. This sight, almost completely unique among major cities, was amazing to behold. I stood on the bank between the Dvortsey (Palace) and Troitsky (Trinity) bridges, the two most famous in the city. With this view here of the троицкий мост (Troitsky most), I felt I had finally become a Peterburger.

The Trinity Bridge going up over the Neva River