Saturday, July 6, 2013

St. Petersburg - Peterhof & Cathedral of Spilled Blood

The Grand Cascade at Peterhof

It may seem like an odd pairing for a post, but Peterhof and the Cathedral of Spilled Blood have something striking in common.  They are both reconstructions on a monumental scale of buildings badly damaged in WWII and serve as a testament to the dedication of the Russian people to preserve their history.  Peterhof, constructed as the summer palace of Peter the Great in the early 18th century, was almost completely destroyed as you can see from these photos.

Hard to imagine it as the same structure you see today.

The "Versailles" of Russia is, in fact, still undergoing reconstruction and will be for many years to come.  Photographs aren't allowed inside the palace so we can't show you how spectacular it is, but consider this:  the walls are covered in elaborately hand embroidered silk and it takes one person one year to reconstruct one square meter.  Now you can better understand why reconstruction is still ongoing!

There were originally 20 smaller palaces and seven parks at Peterhof.

The Cathedral of Spilled Blood was never actually used as a cathedral.  Built on the spot where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated, it was constructed as a memorial by his son Alexander III.  Also badly damaged during the war, the cathedral was used during the Siege of Leningrad as a morgue.  After the war it was used to store vegetables.  Its use as a vegetable storehouse led to its being nicknamed the Savior of our Potatoes.  After 27 years of reconstruction, the Cathedral reopened as a museum in 1997.  

Roughly 23,000 square feet of mosaics cover the interior walls.

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