Tue, Jun 1(Day 8): Another Day in St. Petersburg

Today, after going to the usual souveniers "tourist trap," we visited the Hermitage Museum, the Church of Resurrection on the Spilled Blood, Church of St. Issac, and a Russian Folk Dance performance.

Unfortunately, when one takes an escorted tour, there are always a few stops at what I call "tourist traps," places that cater to large busses, which the touring companies provide in droves. I believe they get a cut of the sales, are owned by relatives of the escorts, or perhaps even owned by the touring companies themselves. Anyway, we spent an hour at one this morning.
Here's Bill, modeling one of the fashionable head coverings at the store. Suprisingly, he passed on this purchase.
This is a large statue of Peter the Great, sponsored by Catherine the Great.
This is the line of people waiting to enter the Hermitage Museum today, home to 16,000 paintings, 600,000 drawings and prints, 12,000 sculptures, 250,000 works of applied art, 700,000 archeological exhibits, and 1,000,000 coins and medals, housed in nine palacial buildings. Yes, it's big.
One of many chandelliers. The first buildings here were literally palaces, so the architecture is very plush as far as museums go.
Here's a wider shot of a room at the Hermitage. Everything that looks like gold IS gold!
This is the "small" royal throne room.
This is the "large" royal throne room. The main difference between two is the number of people that can be gathered in front of the throne.
This double eagle is the royal insignia of Russia.
Most of the Hermitage is dedicated to paintings.
I took this picture of a painting by Goya because of the story told by our guide. Apparently, there used to be an even large collection of master paintings (e.g., da Vinci, Micheangelo, Goya), but with the Russian revolution, quite a few paintings were sold from the collection by Lenin and his revolutionary associates to rich collectors in the USA and elsewhere. While our guide was incensed that these rich collectors got such good deals on the paintings, she was even more upset that Lenin & Co. stuffed their own pockets with the revenues instead of giving to the revolutionary cause. It seems that the communist leaders were capitalists when it came to their own enrichment.
Here's one of the ceilings. They are all similarly richly decorated.
The egyptian collection on display at the Hermitage is actually quite small, compared to the collection in Cairo, British Museum, or the Louvre.
Having studied the Shipwrecked Sailor papyrus in school last year, I tried to find the document at the Hermitage, but it is not displayed to the public. One LCD display did show this demotic papyrus, so I was content to snap this picture.
Linda, standing among the statues.
This is the Church of St. Issac.
This is a wedding couple at the Church of St. Issac. It is traditional for couples to spend their wedding day visiting all the historical sites in St. Petersburg.
This is a model of the scaffolding structure built around the entire Church of St. Issac to support the positioning of the columns.
This is inside the Church of St. Issac.
This is a closer shot of the altar in the Church of St.Issac.
This is looking up at the dome in the Church of St. Issac. It is the fourth largest dome in the world (behind St. Peter's in Rome, St. Paul's in London, and Florence (I think).
These are the large doors leading into the church. They remind me of the famous doors in Florence, which are much more intricate.
This is the Church of Resurrection on the Spilled Blood. It was built on the spot where Alexander II was murdered (the "spilled blood" refers to both he and Christ). Inside were some the most impressive mosaics we've ever seen.
This is the sanctuary inside the Church that marks the spot where Alexander II was killed.
The floor, walls and ceilings of this church are entirely covered with mosaics.
This is the center mosaic, looking up at the steeple

All of the mosaics reflect some portion of Christ's life. Here, He converses with the samaritan woman by the well.

This evening we were treated to a show of traditional Russian Folk Dance. Our seats are in the middle of the first row.
This is the orchestra playing music as we enter the hall and prepare for the show.
This is the opening act of male singers.
This is the backup group that accompanied the singers and dancers for 2 hours.
Some russian dancers. This was really a great show; singing, dancing, jumping, swinging, etc.; highly recommended. We can't do this show justice here, so we bought the DVD and will show it to friends.

Another russian dancer. Linda caught this with her little digital camera. I agreed it was a great shot, so we've included it here.