Russia-trip of the Frauenclub, 9.07. – 14.07.2003
St. Petersburg the once glamorous residence of the Tsar celebrates its 300 the anniversary. That was the reason that a group of the Frauenclub Rielingshausen travelled to the Newa. The club visited another town which celebrates its birthday as well – “Staraja Ladoga” with a history of 1250 years. The town houses the only remaining fortress in Northern Russia from the 11th to 13. century.
St. Petersburg is one big museum built by Europe’s most famous architects between the 18th and 19th century. Many travel guides mention the palaces lined up like a pearl necklace along the Newa River. Their baroque or classical styles characterize the old part of the city. The palaces shimmer in different pastel colors. In between rise the golden domes of the countless churches and the tower of the Peter-Paul-Fortress and the Admiralty.
More than 70 years of the Soviet government and the move of the capital to Moscow have let the gleam of the old Tsar town fade. Now for the 300th anniversary a lot of the old glamour has been restored.
Of course St. Petersburg does not consist of boulevards or palaces and areas of the rich. There are also backyards and many faceless new housing estates. They present a completely different picture of Russia. Dreariness, poverty, homeless kids and dirt are the negatives.
In three days we visited all interesting sights, warehouses and of course the world-famous Eremitage. This is one of the most important art collection and exhibitions of pictures, located in the Tsar’s Winter Palace. St. Petersburg has in more than 50 museums about 14 million exhibits from different centuries. During our 2-hour-tour of the Eremitage we were deeply impressed. You could spend there hours or days without getting fed up. In the Eremitage and the Winter Palace you can see more than 400 rooms. Katharina II. also called the Great, has put the foundation stone by her collecting mania and her art interest to this important collection.
Full of expectation we visited the Katherine Palace in Puschkin (formerly Zarskoje Selo)one of St. Petersburg’s suburbs. We had enough time to admire the splendor and beauty of this enormous palace and its wonderful gardens before we reached our goal the legendary Amber Room. It was recently reopened after decades of rebuilding. We were deeply impressed by the beauty and brightness of the differently colored amber. 1716 got Tsar Peter I. an Amber Room as a gift from the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm I. In exchange he received 55 “Large Men” (Lange Kerls) for his guard. 1941 German soldiers massively destroyed the palace. The Amber Room was removed and transported to Königsberg (Germany). There the trail is lost until today.
On the last day of our trip we visited the palace “Peterhof” which is located directly on the Baltic Sea with its wonderful gardens and 300 fountains. The splendid castle and the marvelously decorated rooms in the baroque style overwhelmed us. On the trip back we passed the residence of the Russian President.
On Saturday we drove accompanied by Prof. Luvkianov and his assistant Katja Maslenok from the Technical University St. Petersburg in direction of Murmansk to Staraja Ladoga. After an 3 ½ hour through endless marshy birch forest the little Town on the Vulko River.
We went directly to the town hall where we met the town mayor and the president of a women’s club. After the meeting we were invited by the director of the orphanage “Hope”, Irina Artemieva..
The contact to this orphanage came through Prof. Lovkianov. He is a fried of Prof. Dr. Helmut Sorg from Marbach. In October 2002 visited the Frauenclub together with Prof. Sorg the children and donated the money for an extension. The kids were already waiting and showed us Russian Dances and sang songs of their home. The Frauenclub handed over gifts for the kids and more money for important acquisitions. In the house live kids between 3 and 18 years and the orphanage gets 1,50 € / day per child from the government. It is superfluous to go into conditions of structural manner as well as manner of the equipment. It is far from our standard. We felt the devotion and care for the children.
In the name of Sorg Hörsysteme Company in Marbach and the owner, Reinhard Sorg, the president of the Frauenclub handed over a large donation for a new bathroom. All attendants and children were very happy..
The day of our departure and farewell from St. Petersburg began at 1.00 h at night. Since the bridges are pulled up between 1.30 h and 5.30 h to let the big ships pass from the Ladoga Lake to the Baltic Sea and vice versa we had to get over to the mainland (our hotel was on an island) so early. We could capture a last beautiful look of the open Palace Bridge before driving to the airport. This was the end of an eventful trip.