The State Hermitage is a museum of art and culture in Saint Petersburg, Russia. One of the largest and oldest museums of the world, it was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great and has been opened to the public since 1852. Its collections, of which only a small part is on permanent display, comprise nearly 3 million items, including the largest collection of paintings in the world. The collections occupy a large complex of six historic buildings along Palace Embankment, including the Winter Palace, a former residence of Russian emperors. Apart from them, the Menshikov Palace, Museum of Porcelain, Storage Facility at Staraya Derevnya and the eastern wing of the General Staff Building are also part of the museum.

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St. Petersburg

Saint Petersburg, located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea, used to be called Petrograd (from 1914) and Leningrad (in 1924) and back to Saint Petersburg in 1991.

Saint Petersburg was founded by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703. From 1713 to 1728 and from 1732 to 1918, Saint Petersburg was the Imperial capital of Russia. In 1918 the central government bodies moved from Saint Petersburg to Moscow. 

The Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monumentsconstitute are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Saint Petersburg's Hermitage is also the largest art museum in the world.


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Peterhof Palace is a series of palaces and gardens located in Saint Petersburg, Russia.  It was built at the request of Peter the Great. If you have seen Versailles and thought that it was amazing, wait until you see Peterhof Palace. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


The featured picture, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, was demolished during the Soviet period, and later reconstructed from 1990–2000.  The rest of the photos were equally thought provoking and brought me back to a time when I was young and completely fearful that the Soviets were going to threaten our existence and our future. Some of my favorite sites included St. Basil’s Cathedral, Red Square and our trip out to Moscow University.  I also liked the view of the Moscow International Business Center and the cityscape from the Western side of the city.

Summer Palace, Beijing, China

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The Summer Palace is a vast complex of lakes, gardens, and palaces in Beijing. While it was an imperial garden in Qing Dynasty, the Summer Palace dates back to the Jin dynasty in 1153, when the Jin capital was moved from Huining Prefecture to Yanjing in the Fragrant Hills and Jade Spring Hill in the northwest of Beijing.

In December 1998, UNESCO included the Summer Palace on its World Heritage List. It declared the Summer Palace “a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. The natural landscape of hills and open water is combined with artificial features such as pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges to form a harmonious ensemble of outstanding aesthetic value”.

Terra Cotta Warriors, Xi’An China

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The Terracotta Army is a collection of sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210–209 BCE with the purpose of protecting the emperor in his afterlife.

The figures, dating from approximately the late third century BCE, were discovered in 1974 by local farmers in Xi’an, People’s Republic of China.

The figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots and horses. The pits are estimated to contain more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses, and 150 cavalry horses.

Great Wall of China

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The Great Wall of China is a series of stone, brick and wood fortifications built along the historical northern borders of China to protect the Chinese states and empires against the raids and invasions of the various nomadic groups of the Eurasian Steppe. Several walls were being built as early as the 7th century BC and were later joined together and made bigger and stronger.  The especially famous part of the wall was built in 220–206 BC by Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. Little of that wall remains. The majority of the existing wall is from the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644).

The wall with all of its branches measures out to be 13,171 miles, and is today recognized as one of the most impressive architectural feats in history.

Forbidden City, Beijing

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The Forbidden City is the former Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty (the years 1420 to 1912).  Located in Beijing, it now houses the Palace Museum. The Forbidden City served as the home of emperors and their households as well as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government for almost 500 years.

Constructed from 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 buildings and covers over 180 acres. UNESCO declared The Forbidden City a World Heritage Site in 1987, and it is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.

Thailand and Malaysia

I came across some old photos (2001) from Thailand and Malaysia that I digitized before the color fades too much. I was in Penang, Malaysia for a wedding, but extended the trip to include Bangkok and Phuket. This brought back some good memories of people from long ago. God how life has changed in 15 years!

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The Grand Palace in Bangkok is a complex of buildings that has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam (and later Thailand) since 1782. The king, his court and his royal government were based on the grounds of the palace until 1925. Throughout the reign of many kings, new buildings and structures were added.  Absolute monarchy in Thailand was abolished in 1932, after which all government agencies completely moved out of the palace.  The Grand Palace is made up of many buildings, halls, pavilions, gardens and courtyards that evolved over 2 centuries.


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