St Petersburg Day 2 - 29th May - Church of the Spilled Blood.

An outbreak of the dreaded norovirus has the ship a bit jumpy and food being served to us in the buffet areas, rather than self service to help stop the spread. The ship is constantly cleaned and everywhere you go you are offered hand sanitiser, and this has been the case for the whole trip, but serving our food is new and they have even removed the pillows and bedspread from our room so they are clearly concerned. We are fine and don't feel in any danger other than from the annoyance of people whinging  about it all and anything else they can whine about - raw toast, tea not hot enough, don't like anything - I could, just occasionally, throw the odd couple off the side.

Today's tour - Walking Tour & Visit to the spilled blood church 3 hours 30 mins - moderate
Experience Russia’s rich history and awe-striking architecture. First, drive through St. Petersburg to the Field of Mars. See the memorial dedicated to victims of the first Russian revolution. After a photo stop at Mikhailovsky Castle, the most mysterious building in St. Petersburg, meander through Michael's Garden to the Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood, the church designed in classic 16th- and 17th-Century Russian architecture style and constructed on the very site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881. 

Thankfully Garrie felt up to trying so, walking stick in hand, off we went with the group on our bus. Here is an example of what people live in here - probably one of the newer versions.

We arrived in the city quickly - our guide telling us that people like to sleep in on their day off (it's Sunday). The park was very pleasant and we gained our first glimpse of the main event of the day.

The Church of the Spilled Blood is rated number 7 in the most beautiful things in the world to see by TripAdvisor, beating out the Eiffel Tower so we were looking forward to seeing it up close, but first we walked down to Michael's Palace, which I featured in Part 1 of yesterday's touring.

I mentioned yesterday that this was built by Emperor Paul who plotted against his own Mother, Catherine the Great. He thought he would be safe here but it was his own son, Alexander, who was part of the plot to kill him, (what a family), so as mentioned, he only lived here for 47 days. So why is it called Michael's Palace? The story goes that the Angel Michael came to Paul in a dream and told him to build in this very spot. This is the front of the palace.

In front of this building is also a statue of Peter the great. It was commissioned by Catherine but not liked so was put aside, but Paul remembered it and had it placed here.

Catherine's favoured statue is this one.

You can only see 1/3rd of the granite base. This special piece of granite was found in Finland and took a year to transport here via rollers and then special barges in 1782. There is a snake at the base which represents Peter's enemies but which also gives the statue a 3rd point of stability. 
This next building is one if the art precinct and models costumes from around the world.

We also discovered that the reason so many buildings are yellow and other bright colours was by decree of Peter the Great who felt that more brightness was needed in a city that sees only 60 days of sunshine a year.
This chap is Russia's famous poet, Pushkin.

And so we come to the wonderful main event of this tour - the church of the spilled blood. It is actually named the Church if the Resurrection, but is known more commonly as the church of the spilled blood as near here Alexander the 2nd was assassinated on the 8th attempt (one bomb missed him that day but instead of riding off he got down from the carriage to take a look and the second bomb went off) anyway his son, Alexander 3rd had this church built to commemorate his father and it took 25 years to build ( and 27 years to renovate after damage from WWII and flooding).  It is a building that you want to photograph over and over again.

Inside is just as amazing with 60,000 square feet of mosaics.
This next one is unusual. Jesus as a teenager looking down on you.
The gates here, that separate where clergy can go versus us mere mortals, were only added 3 years ago at a cost of US$1m.
And yes it is all mosaic.
And I found a miniature of the church inside too.
Oh and this is a special spot. It includes the fence Alexander fell on as he was dying as well as the section of cobblestones and we were told that if you could get close enough you can still see spots if his blood.
All too soon we had to leave but I took a couple more shots as we headed back to the bus and the ship.
The next pic shows damage preserved from the seize of what was then Leningrad in WWII.

Hard to believe that the Bolsheviks, who didn't believe in religion, wanted to blow this place up. The demolition was delayed several times and then the start of WWII for Russia stepped in to save it as there were more important things to worry about.  Something to thank that awful war for.  Certainly the highlight of the holiday so far. Farewell Russia and tomorrow it's hello Finland!