Keeping Track of History in St Petersburg

We’d driven past the Church of the Spilled Blood en route to everywhere and by the time we arrived, it was the end of the day. My head was full of art and culture and history and numb from the hard-sell at the ‘quality’ gift shop we were taken to and held hostage for nearly an hour… The sky had cleared and the onion domes glistened in the late afternoon light.

We shuffled inside and gathered round our guide who began to tell us the history of the church and who it commemorated and, and, and… well… it was probably 4 in the afternoon and we had started at around 8… no time to rest or collect thoughts or let the overflow of information from the day settle in our brains… So, when I say our guide spun a tale that wasn’t true – I might have been distracted, let my mind wander a bit. But I swear, she told us that Peter the Great had his son Alexei tortured and eventually killed – for treason – in this very church. I have a photo of the spot he was assassinated. I’ve been repeating this story from time to time to those who are interested.

So imagine my horror when I went to check my facts tonight for this piece and discovered everything she told me was a pack of lies! The church wasn’t even built until the 1880’s by Alexander III to commemorate the assassination of his father, Alexander II – and includes the actual spot where the bomb that killed him exploded. No one was killed in this church. Alexei died in 1718, imprisoned in the Petropavlovskaya fortress on an island in the Neva a kilometre away…

Now why would our guide, who had given us such good information all day long tell us a big fat porky like that? Why indeed… I doubt she would. Really. Which means that somehow I got it all confused in the crazy madness of a two-day tour of St Petersburg. And if I ever get back there  I’m gonna take it slow and get it right, even if I only see half as much. I’ve got a Russian connection now so I won’t be forced into doing a tour…  I hope I can keep my story straight…

Published by Titirangi Storyteller

Telling tales from around the world

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