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Saint Petersburg mindat tour

Last Updated: 18th Aug 2017

By Jolyon & Katya Ralph

This is a LIVE report, keep this page loaded for live updates - new images will appear as they are added.

We are here in St Petersburg with a pre-tour group before our Kola adventure. First we are at the Mining Institute.

Inside the institute's museum on a private tour.

Displays of fantastic crystallographic models.

Start of the systematic display. Note the huge malachite boulder in the centre.

Sulphur specimens.

Largest surviving boulder of Urals malachite given to the institute by Catherine the Great.

Jaspers and agates.

Large copper from Kazakhstan.

Cast iron staircase.

The main hall. This has to be the most beautiful mineral museum in the world!

Petrified wood with amethyst!




Enchanted by the displays

Amber vase.

Minerals used for carvings.

Different oils and natural petroleum products including a box that was specially made as a gift for the Russian royal family.

Mining models museum!

Ladder from a mine encrusted with aragonite. This grew in 2-3 weeks!

The palaeontology galleries.

Fossil displays

Next stop, Russian Geological Survey Institute museum...

The building was constructed in only two years, starting in 1912 but the First World War and the Russian Revolution delayed them moving in until 1930.

There is one whole floor of the building dedicated to the museum.

The most famous exhibit here is this incredible large semiprecious stone map of the former Soviet Union. Using jasper of different hues for the relief map, lapis for the sea and arctic and various gems and precious metals for the labels on the map.

The deputy director of the institute alongside his personal collection of stone eggs.

This large iron ataxite meteorite was found in the Rjazan region of Russia in 2000. It is called Dronino.

This is something very special indeed - a partial whale skull encrusted with manganese/iron oxide/hydroxides - i.e. Wad.

Apologies that this live report isn't entirely live, this is due to poor internet!

This is a display I love - various rocks and minerals matched against photos or paintings of entirely unrelated things.

Large charoite boulder.

A long time ago sheets of mica were used to make windows, such as this. It was especially famous in Moscow region, or Muscovy as the Russian name was transliterated to - hence Muscovite!

Amazing sulphur crystal from Uzbekistan.

Model of a famous 36kg gold nugget found 1842 in south Urals. Now in the Diamond Fund, Moscow

This is known as the dolphin, a beryl crystal from Altai, 125kg.

Large crocoite on matrix from Berezovsk, Urals. The type locality.

Beautiful dioptase from the type locality, Altyn Tube, Kazakhstan.

This shows what happens to your Chinese cinnabar specimens if you leave them out in the light for a century or so. Still a very impressive specimen though.

Huge hydroboracite from Kazakhstan.

Native copper from Vetryanoi Poyas deposit, Karelia, Russia.

Next stop, some less geocentric tourism with St Isaacs Cathedral. A Russian orthodox cathedral completed 1858.

Did I say less geocentric? Just kidding! We are here to see the ten HUGE malachite columns inside.

These columns aren't solid but they are covered with a malachite mosaic veneer probably about 2cm/1 inch thick.

Let's go upstairs. A lot of stairs. 262 to be precise.

The view from the top is impressive. I was going to say the view from the top was worth the climb, but my feet just vetoed that.

Finally, we visited the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, built in 1907 on the site where Emperor Alexander II was fatally wounded in 1881, probably St Petersburgs most famous landmark.

A visit to the workshop of Sergei Falkin - one of the Russia's leading stone-carvers.

Skater on rock crystal ice overlaying lapis in the Faberge style. The pinwheel actually spins when you blow it.

One of a series of Romanov figures made from jasper, lapis etc with gold.

Sergei also creates bronze castings. This figure is called Young Russia.

We then had a tour of his workshop.

In this area they work on mosaics.

Work in progress - table top with florentine mosaic

Next we visited the blacksmith's workshop where the metalwork art comes to life.

Inside workshop.

However in this blacksmiths they sometimes work with unusual materials such as this bar of metallic zirconium.

Working the zirconium to make a nail.

The finished zirconium nail!

Article has been viewed at least 4036 times.


Some museuem
Wish I was there


Keith Compton
18th Aug 2017 11:30am
Wonderful photos, Jolyon. Thanks for posting!

Woody Thompson
18th Aug 2017 10:30pm
Wonderful photos, Jolyon. Thanks for posting!

Woody Thompson
18th Aug 2017 11:27pm
Thanks for the posting... how many folks on this tour, I'm wondering

John Montgomery
18th Aug 2017 11:32pm
Very nice posting, Joylon. Both museums seem very interesting and the Mining Institute is particularly impressive.

Joel Dyer
21st Aug 2017 7:13am

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