Mount Elbrus and St. Petersburg- Da!
After our debut St. Petersburg extension last year, we are excited to announce an even better itinerary for the 2013 season! Unlike other mountaineering companies taking climbers to Elbrus, Mountain Madness recognizes the special attractions that St. Petersburg has to offer and we make your time there worth it! We have groups forming on both of our June 23rd and July 21st Elbrus departure dates but there is plenty of time to join any of the dates. Check out our new itinerary:
“Small Secrets of the Big City” Walking Tour
A native St. Petersburger takes you on a walking tour of her hometown and shows you things it might take years to discover on your own, including the tiniest statue in the city, called “Chijik”. The guide tells little-known stories and lets you in on the mysterious urban legends of this beautiful city. Continue on foot to the Hermitage and St. Isaac’s Cathedral.
The Winter Palace, part of the Hermitage ensemble, was built in 1754 – 62 as the principalnhome of the czars, and was lavishly rebuilt in 1839 after it was destroyed by fire. Originally a small private palace gallery begun by Catherine the Great with a purchase of 255 paintings from Berlin, the Hermitage today houses one of the largest museum collections in the world. The fabulous rooms with their inlaid floors and gilded woodwork and the grand double entry staircase are works of art in themselves.
St. Isaac’s Cathedral
St. Isaac’s Cathedral took 40 years to complete. The 48 red granite columns around the lower part of the building each weigh 110 tons, and the upper columns around the rotunda weigh 67 tons apiece. The dome is covered with 220 pounds of gold, and the interior columns faced with lapis lazuli and malachite. The cathedral is bursting with sculptures, frescoes, stained glass works and woodcarvings. St. Isaac’s Cathedral, climbing to the colonnade Climb the 262 steps to the colonnade walkway along the perimeter of St. Isaac’s for a fabulous view of St. Petersburg.
Outside of Petersburg, in Pushkin, is the royal residence Catherine’s Palace, originally built in 1717 by Catherine I. In 1752, famed architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli enlarged and embellished the palace, extending the façade to its current grandeur. The estate and palace buildings were almost completely destroyed by the Germans during World War II, but they have been carefully and expertly restored into a brilliant architectural monument.
Monument to the Defenders of Leningrad
At Ploschad Pobedy, or Victory Square, the Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad holds pride of place. The monument is made up of a huge broken ring symbolizing the siege of Leningrad, finally broken after 900 days of deprivation, cold and starvation. Inside the ring, gas torches light engraved scenes of the siege, while on the outside of the ring a frieze of sculptures shows the soldiers and sailors who defended the city. Beneath the memorial is the underground Blockade Museum dedicated to the history of the siege.
At the Museum of Vodka, you will learn that the first true vodka was produced in Moscow monasteries in the 15th century. You will hear of battles lost due to excessive consumption, and how important spring water is in the manufacture of this quintessential Russian drink. But your new knowledge will not be merely intellectual — you will have the opportunity to taste different types of vodka and to experiment with the different kinds of zakuskie, or appetizers, that traditionally accompany them.