This is the second part of the post about Vyborg, a city in Russia I visited this summer.
The thing that impressed me the most in Vyborg was the Tower of St Olaf; built in the 13th century, it is the one remaining tower of Vyborg Castle, a symbol and an architectural landmark of the city of Vyborg.
The fortress was conceived by Torkel Knutsson, the Lord High Constable of Sweden, who led in the 1290s a crusade to Karelia, the Third Finnish Crusade, which was actually aimed against the Russian state of Novgorod. He chose the location of the new fortress to command the Bay of Vyborg, which was a trading site already used by locals. From the bay, a river leads inland, ultimately connecting the place to several districts, lakes, and indirectly also to rivers going to Lake Ladoga.By request of Torkel Knutsson the main fortress tower was constructed in 1293.
The first couple of hours that I spent in Vyborg, it was pouring with rain. Not the best weather to walk in the old streets, to observe people, to sit comfortably on the bench in the beautiful park with a cup of coffee. But towards the noon, the weather changed in a blink of an eye! As you can see in the pictures, it is bright and sunny. Thank you, Vyborg, for that! What a nice way to greet your guests. 🙂
Inside the Tower of St Olaf.
I’m back! 🙂 That was a tough week, but I loved it. Got so many surprises for you! But, first of all, how have you been?
So, you probably know that I love to travel and this summer I happened to visit Vyborg, a city in Russia that used to belong to Finland. It has a very rich, interesting history; and the city itself is amazing.
“The Hanseatic city lies in the boundary zone between the East Slavic/Russian and Finnish/Scandinavian worlds and has changed hands several times in history, most recently in 1944 when it was retaken by the Soviet Union from Finland during World War II.”
Centuries ago Vyborg was used as a fort. Vyborg Castle, medieval fortress that was built in 13th century, is still in the city and remains Russia’s only fully-preserved monument of Western European medieval military architecture. Vyborg is a really beautiful city. Because it used to belong to Finland, Vyborg looks exactly like any Finn city: old, colorful houses, narrow, cozy streets, little cafes where you can warm up in a cold, rainy day, sipping hot coffee with a blueberry bagel. I spent only one day in Vyborg with my nephew Kate, but that day was really one of its kind, an unforgettable experience.
As always, it all started on the road…
That’s a 13th century Vyborg’s Castle. About it and many other things I will tell you in the next post.
The Third Rome. Whitestone. The First Throne. The Forty Forties. Moscow. Or simply Moskva. It is huge, loud, busy and funny smelling. And it is my favorite city. Now, you might say, ‘What the heck? That doesn’t seem like a nice city’. But believe it or not, Moscow somehow manages to attract you; it manages to make you actually feel. Whether it’s happiness, bliss or frustration and anger. it doesn’t matter. Moscow makes you miserable and at the same time it makes you feel for a moment like you’re the King and Moscow is your kingdom. Eventually, the euphoria goes away; and you’re brought down to Earth. That’s when the fun starts. Moscow can offer you anything you want. Any exotic dish, any piece of clothing, any kind of service, any little thing. Anything. Just go and get it which is not that easy.
The thing that I love about Moscow is that it is really fast. It is alive and it makes you alive. It’s nothing like St Petersburg, the second largest city in Russia. I don’t really like to rest, to lie on the couch and watch TV. I want to do things, to create, to go down to work. But sometimes you need that little escape and St Petersburg is perfect for that. But I’m in Moscow when I’m all ready to work, to live, to enjoy. It is #1. And, by the way, the architecture, the history that goes beyond every building, every street is so incredible that it makes you wanna grab a book on history and find out how it was built, when, why and by whom. As an 864 year old city, it can offer you a lot, trust me. Moscow makes you wanna wonder; it makes you wanna explore; it makes you wanna enjoy its beauty.
Well, that post should’ve been called “St Basil’s Cathedral”, because most of the photos here are images of the St Basil’s Cathedral. I’ve been to Moscow several times, but I never took lots of pictures of that wonderful city. Simply because the city is so fantastic that it overtakes you. It slaps you in the face. Several times. And if you overcome that, you are about to enjoy on of the world’s wonders – Moscow in all its glory.
Saint Petersburg. City that used to be the capital of Russian Empire, city that attracts you and never lets you go. It is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen. And I mean it. No pomposity. It is also very hospitable city. If you are weak, Moscow will immediately stab you in the back. But St Petersburg is not like that. It will let you enjoy the beauty of its architecture, it will let you peacefully sip coffee in its cafes, drink cocktails in bars and eat the best meals at restaurants; it will calm you down and, for a moment, make you happy.
It is a city of wonders. And secrets. I spent only a week there… A week in St Pitty is nothing. Really. Stay there at least for a month. Then you will have time not only to see the downtown and visit lots of museums, but you will also have time to explore the city from inside, to reveal some secrets. After visiting The State Hermitage (a museum of art and culture; used to be the official residence of the Russian monarchs, the Winter Palace) and The Peter and Paul Fortress take a stroll to one of the many yards in downtown. You may find gorgeous architecture that is hidden from tourists or you may find an old pub that’s been there since 19th century. Explore the city, discover it for yourself. St Petersburg is a city of trap doors. All you have to do is find them.
The other thing you should know is that Pitty is all about art. Every building, every street and even people may inspire you. Don’t hesitate, buy a canvas, paints, some brushes and start creating. Who knows, maybe in St Petersburg your genius will wake up and surprise you.
Honestly, I can keep telling you about St Petersburg for ages. That city is in my heart. That city is like a tan that will never come off. Visit Saint Petersburg. Take a walk along Nevsky Prospect (the main street), visit the Summer Palace, go to some antique boutiques, enjoy the city at night… Visit Saint Petersburg. Even if you know nothing about. The city itself will tell you its story.