According to the chronicle written by Rus in later ages, the Norman Rurik came to Novgorod and became to a kind of princeps in 862, and Rurik's successor, Oleg of Novgorod, captured Kiev and founded the state of Kievan Rus' in 882. In the process that the kin of Rurik expanded its control into the East Slavs, several states were established in the East Slavic tribes. Then the areas where those states were established were called Rus after the name of the tribe Rus in which Rurik belonged. Later the local name of “Rus? was connected to the country name of “Russia?. Roughly in the same period, rulers belonging to the same tribe controlled the trade road between the Baltic Sea and the Byzantine Empire. Kievan Rus was the first Eastern Slavic state, and it adopted Orthodox Christianity from the Byzantine Empire in 988. As a result, the advanced culture of Orthodox Christianity was introduced into Rus, including the introduction of Cyrillic character to describe Slavic language, which characterized Russian culture for the next millennium. In the 13th century, Kievan Rus was destroyed by Mongols and its territories were split into many small feudal states. Among them, Moscow arose as the most powerful successor state of Kievan Rus. Moscow gradually reunified most of its rival cities and came to dominate the cultural and political legacy of Kievan Rus. In 1547, Ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible) was officially crowned the first Tsar of Russia. It is said that the territories controlled by Moscow began to be called as “Russia? meaning “the country of Rus? in the 16th century roughly during the era of Ivan IV. Russia experienced the Time of Troubles after the death of Ivan IV until the establishment of the Romanov Dynasty in 1613. Peter I, made an extensive reforms to westernize Russia and assumed the title of emperor. The Russian Empire was proclaimed in 1721 and Russia established world wide power and influence through the time of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. In 1914, Russia entered World War I, which revealed the corruption and insufficiency of the Russian Empire. The public distrust was deepened, leading to the outbreak of the Russian Revolution of 1917 in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg). After a series of events such as February Revolution, October Revolution and the Civil War, the USSR (Soviet Union for short) was formed in 1922. The Soviet Union had a single-party political system dominated by Communist Party. The Soviet Union played decisive roles in World War II and during the so-called Cold War period. In 1991, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation was founded. Russia and ten other Soviet republics joined in a Commonwealth of Independent States. Russia is recognized as the continuing legal personality of the Soviet state.
It was really unusual that the sun was visible in very late hours. It did not get dark even at 2 a.m. As I was not familiar to seeing the sunset around 9 p.m., I had trouble falling asleep. So I stayed up late until around 2 a.m. When I put off a light in the room to get sleep, I was surprised to find that it was half light outside my window until 3 a.m. and then got brighter. Around 4 a.m. the sun rose.
*DMC-ZS10/TZ20 records images in max.14-megapixel and DMC-ZS7/TZ10 in max.12-megapixel.
In Saint Petersburg, everyone in our ship who wanted to go sightseeing had to choose bus tour due to something related to visa.
Many high-rise apartments with similar appearance had been developed over landfill sites near the port.
In the city, the buildings were low, but not unique to Russia. Churches and theaters in places had familiar shapes I often saw on brochures.
We first visited the Saint Isaac's Cathedral.
Seen from outside, it looked like just a large church. But inside, it was bursting with decorations and ornaments. The ceiling was fully covered with paintings, and there were mosaics and frescos all over the walls. The space inside the church had the same shape as the appearance outside, and its broad space was supported by large stone columns. There also was an exhibit how to erect those columns. The frameworks and tools were displayed, and according to the guide, one column was erected in 40 minutes using them.
The center of the church building was shaped as a dome measuring several tens of meters at its highest point. Paintings with religious themes were painted in the dome-shaped area. Paintings inside the hemispheric dome looked natural in proportion when I looked up them under the dome. It was very impressive. It may be hard to see from the picture, the arms of Jesus were two meter long and the total length of the bird object at the center was four meters. They were too far to recognize their real sizes. I was amazed that such a huge object with certain weights would not fall to the ground.
Next site was the Church of Savior on Blood. I heard the name came from the fact that Tsar Alexander II of Russia was assassinated on the site the church was built.
The church had an appearance described in the tale of Arabian Nights. Entering the church, I was astounded at its interior decorations! The ceilings and walls were all covered with mosaics. According to the guide, the church contains about 7000 square meters of mosaics. Since the mosaics were created with an assemblage of small colored pieces of stone, glass and other materials, they, like those of the Saint Isaac's Cathedral, were very clear with no color loss. They were so finely created that they appeared to be paintings painted with brushes when I saw them from a distance.
After lunch, we visited the Hermitage Museum, one of the three largest museums of the world. It is said it is so large that it would take you several years to look every exhibit even for several seconds. So we appreciated only famous works our guide selected for us. Unlike other museums, photo shooting was allowed here. The happiest thing at the Hermitage Museum was that I could see two paintings by Leonardo da Vinci.
The building itself seemed to be a kind of art work, beautifully built with sophisticated design and fine details, from the floor created by combining woods to decorations of the ceilings and walls. It was so huge that I would absolutely get lost if I did not have a map. It had also art works of Monet and Picasso. I would be able to enjoy all day long here, but unfortunately, we had only about two hours or so for Hermitage.
Our bus tour ended with a visit to a souvenir shop. Of course I bought a matrioshka. The matrioshka I bought was 5cm tall with four dolls nested one inside the other. The last doll was about the size of a grain of wheat.