Having rested well and early the previous day, we woke up full of energy and 100% enthusiasm.
On plan today was the Palace Square, State Hermitage Museum, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, Peter and Paul Fortress and the St. Petersburg Mosque.
Quite ambitious for a days itinerary but we were open to the idea of not exploring each place in depth and will see what interests us and how the day goes about.
After a scrumptious breakfast we started our walk towards the Palace Square to visit the Museum.
Stop 1 -The State Hermitage Museum
It is a museum of art and culture, also the second-largest art museum in the world. Empress Catherine the Great acquired an exquisite collection of paintings from the Berlin merchant Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky and the Museum was founded in 1764.
It is beautiful both outside and inside and can easily demand you to spend a couple of hours strolling and exploring.
You can explore different sections and chambers based on your interest and the ticket prices range from about USD 4- USD 12.
The third Thursday of each month is a day of free entrance to the museum for all individual visitors (with free tickets).
Stop 2 – Passing by the St. Issac’s Cathedral, Peter and Paul Fortress
An iconic part of the St. Petersburg skyline is the St. Issac’s Cathedral. It is an open museum with services throughout the year. One can climb up 262 stairs to the colonnade by the dominating golden dome to soak in some spectacular city views. The golden dome itself expressed lavish taste of the designer who spent more than 100 kg of gold to cover the dome. Admission ticket the visit the museum is under USD 6.
We had a lot on agenda for the day and had just explored a museum so we skipped entering the cathedral and just marveled the architecture from outside.
On-route the St. Petersburg Mosque we crossed the bridge over Neva River.
On the left side of the bridge was the beautiful Peter and Paul fortress shinning golden by the stunning sunset.
The clouds were dense and black, but the sun was displaying its full glory on the shimmering waves along the river!
Could have gazed at this scene for until the moon-rise but our priority was to find our way to the Mosque!
Walking along the Peter and Paul Fortress we caught sight of the Mosque to our right and crossed the road to see it up-close.
The Mosque is a piece of intricate architecture and the gorgeous blues just are a feast for the eyes!
Few things we learnt about the history of its being are that when it was opened in 1913, it was the largest mosque in Europe outside Turkey. The two minarets are 49 meters in height and the dome is 39 meters high. The walls are made with grey granite and the dome and both minarets (tower) are covered with mosaic ceramics of sky-light-blue color. It can accommodate around 5000 worshipers and they are separated by gender during a worship service- the females worship area is on the first floor and the males worship on the ground floor.
It is recommended to book in advance to enter the mosque and the opening timings are 10am -5pm. We made it just a bit after so missed the inside views.
Nonetheless, full of adventure and around 30,000 steps later we were happy to wind up the day with a simple meal on the way back to the hotel!