Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

Saint Petersburg‘s  Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood impressed us — we had not seen such an ornate, fanciful church. The church was built as a memorial on the site where the Russian tsar was assassinated in 1881. From wikipedia, “On March 13, 1881 (Julian date: March 1), as Tsar Alexander’s carriage passed along the embankment, a grenade thrown by an anarchist conspirator exploded. The tsar, shaken but unhurt, got out of the carriage and started to remonstrate with the presumed culprit. A second conspirator took the chance to throw another bomb, killing himself and mortally wounding the tsar.”

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Ballet at the Mariinsky Theater

Wanting to see a ballet in Russia, we saw one at Saint Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theater. The theater and dancers were wonderful. At first we didn’t know about selecting seats and transportation, but everything worked out well.

Shown above is the stage showing “Les Saisons Russes“, French for “The Russian Seasons”, which seems to be a theme of the Mariinsky. In Soviet times, the Mariinsky Ballet was known as the Kirov Ballet. Rudolph Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov danced for the Kirov Ballet before defecting to the West.

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Faberge Museum

The Fabergé Museum in Saint Petersburg has the world’s largest collection of imperial Easter Eggs, crafted by the House of Fabergé for Easter gifts from the tsar to his family.

The eggs were scattered in the tumult of the Russian Revolution. Malcolm Forbes “assembled the Forbes Fabergé collection over several decades”, and his son sold the eggs in 2004 to a Russian who set up the Fabergé Museum on the Fontanka River.

Faberge Museum
Faberge Museum

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The Hermitage Museum

The art of the Hermitage Museum would be a highlight of our vacation to Russia and Greece, and we took steps to have enough time at the museum. Friends said that a cruise doesn’t allow enough time at the museum, so we rented an apartment within walking distance of the Hermitage and obtained Russian visas for a land visit. We stayed in Saint Petersburg six nights and visited the museum at the beginning our stay, to allow a return visit. We purchased a 2-day ticket online to bypass ticket queues at the museum. After all this preparation, we visited the Hermitage only on our 2-day ticket and didn’t go back.

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The morning after seeing Keukenhof, we walked to the Rijksmuseum, arriving a half hour before opening time. After purchasing the Amsterdam museum card, we hurried to the Gallery of Honor, which has masterpieces of the 17th century, before large tour groups mobbed the popular paintings.

Above the Rijksmuseum and the two-meter-tall I amsterdam logo at Museumplein.

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Art Nouveau at Bouillon Racine

One can see art nouveau at Paris metro stations, some of which have curved railings and signs. Art nouveau was “was inspired by natural forms and structures, not only in flowers and plants, but also in curved lines. Architects tried to harmonize with the natural environment”.

In Paris we dined at the Bouillon Racine, a restaurant built in 1906 with an art nouveau style. The upstairs dining room has curved light fixtures, chairs, and mirror moldings. (Click on photos to see enlargements.)

Bouillon Racine upstairs
Bouillon Racine upstairs

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The Lady and the Unicorn

The unicorn is a legendary creature that has been described since antiquity as a beast with a large, pointed, spiraling horn projecting from its forehead. … In European folklore, the unicorn is often depicted as a white horse-like or goat-like animal with a long horn and cloven hooves (sometimes a goat’s beard). In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, it was commonly described as an extremely wild woodland creature, a symbol of purity and grace, which could only be captured by a virgin.

Intrigued by unicorn tapestries in New York and a painting from the Borghese, we visited the Paris Cluny Museum to catch the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries we had missed.

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