Saint Petersburg

The sheer opulence is what hits you as you enter Catherine Palace, the Hermitage or the Peterhof; the stark contrast between the stunningly maintained palaces and the lives of ordinary citizens.

It's been more than a decade since I visited St Petersberg and the political landscape has changed dramatically since then. But these images remind me of a city of high culture and wealth bought at the price of repression and huge disparities in wealth. Small wonder that revolution came to sweep aside the Imperial Romanov family. St Petersberg, founded by Peter the Great in 1703 was, for two centuries the capital of Russia, and it shows.


Catherine Palace - all light, gold and mirrors.


The Hermitage - both the building and the art - is overwhelming. As with the palaces, it is the sheer amount of gold leaf that hits you between the eyes. I have major questions about the morality of ever embarking on such decoration and the lavish life that went with it, but as a phenomenon it is remarkable.


And the wonderful gardens and fountains at the Peterhof.




From the gardens of the Peterhof...

The Church of the Holy Blood...