On Thursday, the 13th of April, following its tour of the Steel City of Magnitogorsk, the KHL’s most coveted trophy took in the sights of Saint Petersburg, the city of Peter the Great.
Russia’s “Northern Capital,” or to many travel writers, “the Venice of the North,” is renowned far and wide as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and still looks stunning despite the reluctant onset of spring and the frequent snow flurries and sub-zero temperatures. On Thursday, while the players rested from the previous evening’s marathon battle on the ice, the Gagarin Cup went on a tour of this elegant city on the River Neva.
Accompanying the trophy was a special guard of honor, comprising soldiers of the Western Military Region, and some fellow travelers – the mascots of the Gagarin Cup finalists, namely Timosha the Fox of Magnitka and the Fire-Horse of the Petersburg Army Men.
The first stop on the tour was the famous Anichkov Bridge, by which Nevsky Avenue crosses the River Fontanka. It was opened 301 years ago and is adorned with four statues dedicated to different stages of horse-taming. Here, the trophy is pictured by the Horse with Walking Youth sculpture:
Then it was time for a close look at some of the city’s most recognizable architectural landmarks. Here the Gagarin Cup took a rest at the foot of one of the Rostral Columns by the Old Saint Petersburg Stock Exchange on Vasilyevsky Island. These were built in the 19th century and held the lamps which illuminated the port of Saint Petersburg:
No walk through historical Petersburg is complete without a visit to the cruiser, Aurora, which shot to fame 100 years ago for its role in triggering the October Revolution. The sacred battleship is permanently moored at Petrograd quay, and its crew gave the cup the warmest of welcomes:
Next was a visit to the giant Atlas statues outside the Winter Palace. These figures are five meters high and were created by a vast team of around 150 artists and stonemasons, who labored for five years to complete the sculptures. Atlas has a special place in the folklore of the city, where they believed it was the great strongman of legend who held aloft the low Saint Petersburg skies:
From the Atlas statues, the Cup made the short trek to the banks of the Griboyedov Canal to see the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. This beautiful place of worship was built in the late nineteenth century on the site where Emperor Alexander II was mortally wounded in March of 1881. Here the Gagarin Cup was greeted by Emperor Peter the Great and Empress Catherine the Great:
The last spot on the Gagarin Cup’s journey around Saint Petersburg was the famous “house of lions,” which can be found where the Admiralteysky and Voznesensky Avenues meet, just a couple of blocks from the Hermitage Museum. This was once the mansion of Prince Lobanov-Rostovsky, and is now the Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace. Its entrance is guarded by two marble lions which were mentioned in Pushkin’s poem, the Bronze Horseman. The building also boasts magnificent views of Saint Isaac's Cathedral, and here we see the trophy alongside some archangel sculptures – only recently returned to the Lobanov-Rostovsky Palace – gazing fondly at the cathedral:
The Kontinental Hockey League expresses its sincerest gratitude to SKA Hockey Club, the Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace, and to the mascots, Fire-Horse of SKA and Timosha the Fox of Magnitogorsk, for their assistance in organizing this photographic tour of the city.