Jade and Immortality

What could you promise an emperor of China that he doesn’t already have? From the Han Tomb Treasures exhibit at San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum, we learned the answer — immortality.

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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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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 Winter Palace

We visited Russia primarily for the Hermitage Museum, and we wound up enjoying the Winter Palace as much as the art. The main building of the Hermitage Museum, the Winter Palace was the seat of the Russian tsars for 180 years until the Russian Revolution. It’s the fourth palace built on this site facing the Neva River.

Winter Palace from the Neva
Winter Palace from the Neva

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From the Dutch Golden Age

In Amsterdam we visited the Museum Van Loon, a mansion built during the Dutch Golden Age, held by the same family, and preserved intact with the furnishings. The above peacock decorates a mantle in the house.

In the 17th century, the Netherlands dominated world trade, including the spice trade with Indonesia. The Dutch East India Company made enormous profits importing spices. Willem van Loon, who built this house in 1672, co-founded the Dutch East India Company.

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