The previous installment of Husam’s travelogue can be found here.
In the early morning, I took a walk across St. Petersburg that would take me all day, crossing the waters, landing on islands, and visiting both well-known and lesser-know tourist sites, not to mention discovering hidden surprises that the city still had up its sleeve.
I started on Nevsky Prospect and went up over two bridges, each adorned with a different sculptural theme. I saw a lovely church built in a style very similar to that of St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow! Hmmm… Wasn’t the original architect killed? – I wondered
I then quickly realized that St. Petersburg didn’t even exist when he was alive. Whatever his destiny was, he and his vibrant style were revived when the St. Petersburg church was built in the late nineteenth century.
This Church On Spilled Blood, as it is called, was built on the spot where on the first of March 1881, Czar Alexander II was assassinated. His successor commissioned a magnificent church to commemorate his father in the Russian revivalist style.
A park nearby lead me to the Arts Square, where the Russian Museum is located and another weird story of murder was played out in the beginning of the 1800’s. The Mikhaylovskiy Castle was built on orders of Paul I, who was obsessed with the possibility of assassination. The castle was surrounded by moats and draw bridges and supplied with secret underground passages to help in rescue. Alas, all those precautions were futile in the face of destiny, and he was murdered only 40 days after moving into his fortified haven!
At the moat I saw many young Russians throwing coins at small statue under one of the bridges nearby, driven by the belief that their wishes could be granted if their coin balanced itself on the statue without falling into the river Moyka, a tradition that has endured since since long ago. I didn’t try my luck; after all, what more can I wish for? Read More