Just Another Palace

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Part I -- To Russia With Love

Part II -- The Palaces of St. Petersburg

There are 17 palaces listed on the St. Petersburg website and most of them open to the public. Some are museums. We only visited the insides of three palaces, which was enough.

The Winter Palace (Hermitage) has been discussed.

The Mikhailovskiy Palace serves as the home of the Russian State Museum, which had a Mikhail Nesterov exhibit at the time of our visit.

MLW said the Nesterov paintings 'spoke' to her. Some of them were good but if any of them spoke to me, it was in Russian, because I still can't understand what the fuss is all about.

TRT did like the the Russian State Museum. We mostly have pictures of paintings -- boring. It doesn't have the grandeur of the Hermitage but it's nice not to have that distraction.

We stopped for a break in the tea room. TRT has this picture taken and, by some accident, does not look like a total dork here. MLW loves this picture so TRT has agreed to post it, just to prove that he really did like the Russian Museum.

But we are not done yet. There is another palace you should know about -- the Yusupov Palace on the Moika River. It's a clever name because it helps one sort out which Yusupov palace people are talking about. One must be creative when one has so many palaces that it confuses the common folk.

Now this particular palace does NOT look like a palace at all. It may as well be the post office or  high school #146.

It's different inside.

The tour begins with the stairwwell, designed for someone else in some far away land. One of the Yusupov dudes liked it so much that he bought it.

Each room in the circuit around the courtyard (under renovation) is presented in a different style or theme. Many of them served as galleries for the extensive Yusupov art collection (45,000+ pieces)  that included many Dutch Masters and French Impressionists.

There is a beautiful library inside. The Yusupovs had some 55,000+ books in their library collection. There were big rooms and small rooms, all quite amazing, all different. They even had there own home theatre, complete with their own royal box seat in case there was a good show on. It was the original Home Box Office (HBO).

After seeing the Yusupov palace and concluding that some people have way too much money, we decided to do a google search -- "who the hell were the Yusupovs anyway?"

They were Russian nobility descended from the house of Khan.

That's Khan, not Khaaaannn! (from Star Trek). They did quite well in the 18th and 19th centuries as St. Petersburg was coming into its own. From the wikipedia page:

At the beginning of World War I the Yusupovs owned more than 100,000 acres (400 km²) of land and their industries included sugarbeet factories, brick plants, saw-mills, textile and cardboard factories, mines and distilleries, in addition to more than 16 palaces and estates.

That came to an end in the October Revolution of 1917. The extensive art and book collection became state property.

Felix Sumarokov-Elston, famously involved in the murder of Rasputin, married one of the last Princesses in the Yusupov line, a legendary beauty of the time. He was given the title Prince Yusupov and Count Sumarokov-Elston.

Here is a portrait of Prince Yusupov on a horse. TRT is no art critic, but the horse on which Prince Yusopuv is sitting on is the stupidest looking horse in almost any important portrait anywhere.

The horse appears anorexic; it would have trouble holding a fart, never mind a prince with a wallet as heavy as the one in the hip pocket of Prince Felix.

And the horse looks totally surprised that someone would paint a portrait of it.

Like most great paintings, you have to see the original (in the Russian museum) to really appreciate how stupid looking this horse is. Nice job on Felix though. Did I miss a metphor here?


Our last palace visit was Peterhof, which is outside of St. Petersburg and one of the very best places in the world to see.

Peterhof was inspired by Versailles. It is the Versailles of Russia. Or maybe Versailles can, someday, once again, become the Peterhof of Europe.

The gardens and fountains are magnificent. There is one difference between Versailles and Peterhof -- all the fountains in Peterhof work.

Compare this to Versailles where very few of the fountains actually work.

Our last visitors went to Versailles in June. The gardens were closed owing to a strike or something. They only saw the palace.

They didn't have the chance to even see the magnificent fountains of Versailles NOT working.

What is most amazing about the Peterhof fountains is that there are no pumps used, all the water is gravity fed.

The main fountain has it's own high elevation reservoir hidden somewhere in the surrounding hills.

One of the tours of Peterhof is the fountain grottos where one can learn how the fountains were designed and built to operate without pumps.

There is no shortage of gold leaf in Peterhof. It was a beautiful day with a deep blue sky and hardly a cloud in the sky.

All the better to see all that glitters.

Peterhof was almost totally destroyed by the Nazi's during the 900 day siege of Leningrad during WW II. Restoration started right after the war and continues to this day.

We saw this building just outside the Peterhof grounds and thought it must a chruch or something. Then somebody explained to us that is was the stable for the horses.

That's one hell of a barn!

The Sun fountain.

A tourist shot of MLW. 


On the way back from Peterhof we stopped at different subway stations to take a few photos.

The trains in St. Petersburgs are a great way to get around. There is a clock at some stations that mesaures the time between trains. I never saw it get past 4 minutes. It was typically much less.

The trains themselves are quite old, but some of the stations are really grand. I was impressed by the chandeliers above this train.


No Russian photo album would be complete without at least one shot of Lenin. We found this bust in one of the stations.

And so this wraps up our discussion of the Palaces of St. Petersburg.

We have more to tell though.

About lady cops in high heels; Saturday night is all right for fighting; White Nights festivals and the Microsoft Blue Screen of Death pavilion.

Stay tuned for our next dispatch: Cultural Learnings of TRT for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Russia.