St Petersburg Day 2 – Canal Cruise, Palace Square and Peter and Paul Fortress

Our 2nd and final day in St Petersburg started with an early breakfast, then off ashore to join the 2nd installment of our Grand Tour with Alla Tours. Although we breezed through immigration yesterday, we still departed the ship about 15 minutes early. However, immigration was even faster. With no queues, we walked straight up to a booth handed over our passports, which were scanned and within a couple of minutes were in the terminal.

While yesterday was a very busy day, with minimal commuting between stops, today would be a slower day with a canal cruise, hydrofoil ride and a couple of 1 hour drives through the outlying areas.

Day 2 Schedule:

  • Depart cruise terminal for city drive,
  • Canal Cruise
  • Palace Square
  • Peter and Paul Fortress
  • Catherine’s Palace, with packed lunch enroute
  • Peterhoff Palace
  • Hydrofoil
  • Return to ship

The Bronze Horseman Statue

Located in Senate Square, within Admiralty Park and close to St Issac’s Cathedral, Russian Navy HQ and facing the River Neva. Commissioned by Catherine I, as a tribute to Tsar Peter I, more commonly known as Peter the Great. Legend states that as long as the statue remains in the centre of the city, St Petersburg will never be taken by enemy forces. During the 900 day siege during WW2, the statue was protected by sandbags, but remained in place.

 The State Russian Museum

Formerly known as The Russian Museum of His Imperial Majesty Alexander III, it has the largest Russian Art Collection in St Petersburg and is one of the largest museums in Russia.

Canal Cruise

We boarded the vessel at the Fontanka River Embankment for our 1 hour cruise along the rivers and canals of St Petersburg. The boat was entirely reserved for both Alla Tour groups, so we only had 20 passengers and 2 guides, who took turns giving commentary.

Cruising down Fontanka River towards Neva River

Cruising along Fontanka River, passing the rear of St Michael’s Castle

Past St Michael’s Castle we altered to port, passing under the bridge above, entering the Moyka River

Cruising along Moyka River with Field of Mars Park on right & Mikhailovsky Park on left

Cruising along Moyka River, passing Main Imperial Stables

We followed the boat ahead under the low bridge entering a small canal leading to the Neva River at the Hermitage

Passing under a connecting bridge at the Hermitage

Winter Palace or Hermitage while cruising down Neva River

Peter and Paul Fortress

During the canal cruise we became involved in a local interest story. Passing under the first bridge, we spotted a local chap standing in the middle of the bridge, waving as we approached. Judi, I and a few others spotted him and waved in return. Well, on approaching the next bridge, he popped up, again waving. He continued this throughout the entire cruise, running between each bridge, arriving at the next bridge, just before our boat. The guides mentioned he does this every day, standing on the first bridge, waving as each boat passes. When a boat’s passengers wave back he starts his run, following that boat.

Local chap that followed our canal cruise

Departing the boat at the pier, he was standing on the quay with a big smile, thanking us for returning his wave and to enjoy our tour of St Petersburg.

Enroute to the Peter and Paul Fortress, we stopped at Palace Square, behind the Winter Palace for a quick photo op.

Palace Square panorama

Alexander Column in Palace Square

Built between 1830 and 1834, the column is a single column of red granite that is topped with an angel holding a cross.

Rear of Winter Palace at Place Square

Departing Palace Square we crossed the river, then crossed onto the island housing the fortress.

Aerial view of Peter and Paul Fortress – St Petersburg.com

We parked outside, walking into the main square, where we visited the cathedral, which is the burial spot for all, except two Tsars and other members of the Imperial Family.

Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral

St Catherine’s Chapel commemorates Tsar Nicholas II and his family

The crests in the corners indicate the Tomb of a Tsar, not just a member of the Imperial Family.

Enjoy the following selection of photographs showing the opulence and gold inside the cathedral.

Inside the Cathedral including the altar

Grand ducal burial vault adjacent to the cathedral that houses tombs of lesser members of the Imperial Family

On return to the bus, we headed out into the suburbs and eventually the countryside, visiting Catherine’s Palace and Peterhoff Palace, which will be covered in my final post on St Petersburg.

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