The second last day
Our room was cold in the morning, possibly because I opened the window a crack in the night to get some air. Larissa our host was somewhat horrified by the idea of opening a window, the draft you know, but it is if nothing else a great incentive to get up, so we did. After breakfast with Larissa we walked to the Petropavlovskaya fortress jut across the Neva from where we are staying. Built (like a lot of war machinery) for a threat that never eventuated, the fortress has had many uses including as an infamous prison during tsarist and revolutionary times. There’s a working mint, plus museum as well as the cathedral of Peter and Paul. For us the most absorbing part of the visit was walking through the grim cell block of the Trubetskoy bastion reading about the prisoners and how they were kept, bleak is a word that springs to mind. After that we adjourned to a restaurant for a late lunch and to thaw out a little bit. Next stop the Aurora.
Leaving the apartment, if you look closely you can see the windows are doubled to give a form of double glazing, you can also use the space between as a natural refrigerator in winter. Checkout the oversized downpipes as well, I guess they’re not as easy to jam with ice.
From Zayachy Is. That’s actually a floating restaurant called the Flying Dutchman in the distance. The floating house in the foreground is the headquarters of (I think) the water police.
Crossing over the Kronsverksky strait onto Zayachy Island via, of course, the Kronsverksky bridge (1938) with a couple of dis-interesed looking pigeons.
The Peter and Paul fortress bids you a cordial welcome, now don’t get any bright ideas. By the time the bastion was built the threat of a Swedish invasion had waned and the fortress was used ‘mostly’ as a prison for political prisoners, Dostoeveskvy, Bakunin, did time here and so (strangely) did Tito. After the revolution the prison continued in use, this time for the enemies of the state.
Peter’s botik, it’s not actually a dinghy but a scaled down version of a warship that Peter discovered at one of the royal estates. Unlike Russian boats of the period it could sail against the wind, Peter learned to sail in it and the rest, as they say, is history. Or in Peter’s own words, ‘From the amusement of the child, came the triumph of the man’.
The Peter the Great statue by Chemiakin, the face of Peter is taken from his death mask but the proportions of the body are deliberately modelling the elongated proportions you find in the old iconography. Needless to say it was a controversial work with the locals.
Peter and Paul Cathedral in the centre of the bastion. There’s a steeple as well, tallest building in St Petersburg, which strangely I didn’t take a photo of…
The bones of the last Tsar and his family were repatriated here.
Shrine to the slain Tsar
Man that is a lot of gilt…
Spears, arrows, shields and swords surmounted by the double eagle. A little bit of martial whimsy on the way out of the Fortress.
On the Ioannovsky bridge looking back at St John’s gates. This is what you build when you figure out that cannon have made traditional castle style static defences redundant, think of it as Fortress 2.0 Although castle’s still look much more impressive… 🙂
Walking back across the Ioannovsky Bridge, our destination for lunch just to the right of Galina’s hat.