A gloomy Monday kept us inside for virtually the entire day. However, it was still extremely educational and enjoyable. Around noon, those interested explored the interior of the Church on Spilled Blood. The interior was almost completely made up of colorful mosaics of scenes from the New Testament. The exterior was also unique and colorful with the towers featuring multiple onion-shaped green, turquoise, and gold domes.
We walked from there to Square of the Arts outside the main building of the Russian Museum and ate lunch in front of Vladimir Pushkin’s most famous statue.
We then headed into another palace – Mikhailov’s Palace, which was commemorated by Nikolai II, the last Czar, to his father. Although the palace was similar to the hermitage in the way it too is a giant, impressive building containing unimaginable works of beautiful artistic creations, it differentiates from the hermitage because it specifically contains Russian art. The group made an effort to see as many products as possible and kept an eye out for works painted by Jewish-Russian artist, Marc Chagall. I enjoyed taking in the paintings of scenes from the Old Testament such as Abraham’s sacrifice, Abraham’s hosting, Hagar’s plea, and Moses’ Brazen Serpent.
We finished the day with a showing of Prokofiev’s ballet -Romeo and Juliet – a performance that I will remember for a long time. The professionalism and the work that was put into the performance was evident to even younger and inexperienced audience members.
On Wednesday, after a late wakeup and feeling slightly depressed about Team U.S.A’s defeat in the World Cup the previous night, the group found their way to the Fyodor Dostoevsky Apartment/Museum. Having read Notes from the Underground as well as Crime and Punishment, this experience was certainly a highlight. Our tour/excursion guide was clear and concise as she told over the major events of Russia’s most famous author’s life as he bounced around from Saint Petersburg and back and married twice.
Many of us continued on the Tikhvin cemetery which contains the graves of Saint Petersburg’s most famous musical, scientific, and artistic icons in history. These included Dostoevsky, Lomonosov, and Tschaikovsky.
We also went to see the statue of the poet Maria Akmatova which faces the Neva River as well as the prison directly across the river. We learned that the famed author of The Requiem lost her family to arrests at the beginning of Stalin’s reign in the Soviet Union.