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Saint Petersburg's treasures

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The Nativity, high above, on the vaulted ceiling of the Raphael Loggias, The Hermitage, Saint Petersburg, Russia.  
 

 
The Byzantine Double-headed Eagle — looking East and West — crowns the gates of The Hermitage. 
 
It might be a short plane ride from Medieval Tallinn — and Peter the Great's intimate Cottage and modest Kadriog Palace — but his "Window to the West," his glittering capital, Saint Petersburg, seems a world away.

The Imperial Double Eagle of the Romanovs — brought to Russia by a Byzantine princess as part of her dowry — gleams in the high sun of the Saint Petersburg summer.

Amidst all the double-headed eagles and magnificent churches I almost feel I have traveled not to the Cultural Capital of Russia, but to Byzantium.

But here I am, in front of the gilded gates of The Hermitage, one of the most famous museums in the world. I have spent the past few days visiting churches, museums, and historic places, like Petrogradskaya, The Peter and Paul Fortress where I found an oval Nativity on the gilded iconostasis (icon stand) of the Cathedral of SS Peter and Paul.

I can't wait to share with you all my discoveries in this beautiful Cultural Capital of Russia. But for now, enjoy The Nativity (top of page) that decorates the Raphael Loggias — painted at the command of Catherine the Great who wanted to recreate the Vatican's galleries for the Winter Palace — and the riot of color and shape that this The Resurrection Church of Christ (below)…


The south façade of The Resurrection Church of Christ — reminiscent of Moscow's Saint Basil Cathedral — on the banks of the Catherine Canal.

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