|I made a couple of day trips out of the city of St P. which were not so expensive. The first was to Peterhof. The summer Palace of Peter the Great and all the lyrical fountains he had created there. It's a manificent lay out of palace, gardeens, mazes, and fountains. It takes hours just to walk around the gardens and fountains. These fountains tend to be hidden and at times cross over the paths where tourists walk and go off when no expects them to...resulting in people getting wet, screaming, scrambling and children loving it. Some look exactly like branches of the tree you are sitting under..untill you suddenly realize it's raining or is it?. Fountians pop out of now where, steps, stones, animals, a railing, paths, benches, Inside of course was the usual lay out of 16-18 century palaces. Over 100 different rooms, all decked out with period furniture, glass ware, porcelain, dinner ware, chairs, vanities,tables, gifts given to the Tzars and Empresses and princes over the years from other visiting monarchs. It's all in Russian but still very tiring after one or two rooms...no maybe 3 rooms.
Next trip was to the famous orginal capital of Russia..Navgorod. Here monks from Kiev Ukrane settled and build numeroud wooded cathedrals and filled them with original Russian Orthodox Icons of Mary and Child and scenes from the New Testiment. The monks originally were the only ones allowed to paint an icon so in Navgorod there were some of the most valuable ones kept until vaious invaders swept though Russia and stole many of them. ie. poland,Nepoleon,Sweden,Germany. But the remaining ones are now housed in The Hermitage in St. Petersburg. But what is still there are the original buildings and the murals painted on the walls and other evidence showing what a marvelous place theis must have been. These were all walled cities and the churches in the center and houses off the square or kremlin and they are all called. Back in St. P I was able to see many of the icons that use to adorn these churches together with all the other silver and gold objects used at the services, the vestments, and altars and iconocistes.
Navgorod is essestial to Russian history as most of the great tzars payed homage to Navgorod or were enthroned or crowned there. It was established in 9th c. by Varangian Norsemen ( Swedes and Vikings) it was the first embyonic Russian State. It was once Russia's largest city and the first democratic government. The citizens hired and fired
the lords, kings and rulers. It would have been destroyed by the Mongol Tartors but the invading army got stuck in the swamp outside of town and were beating back. There are paintings there from 14thc greek artists. There are wooden churches, brick churches ( brick if the sponsors had more money) and each guild built it's own church because they were unable to get along with one another. Sounds familiar. They look huge from outside all with their ornate dooms and gold roofs but actually inside not more than 50 people could fit. There was so much space taken up with the arches and support pillars as they had not yet learned the art of vaulted structures. The Icons were the primary ways of educating the early faithful about the church history and teachings. As the entire scripture would have appeared in various icon scenes. There are no statues in the Orthodox church. So I will tell you more about St. P in the next part. Till then Its traveling Glen signing off.