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Russia and Oberammergau

A Pilgrimage to Russia and Oberammergau, accompanied by Fr John Rate MSC.

Explore the grandeur of the Russian cultural landmarks of Moscow, St. Petersburg and Veliky Novgorod on this 14-day pilgrimage tour. Dive into its unique history and be dazzled by the stunning architecture and heritage of UNESCO sites like the Trinity Sergius Lavra in Sergiev Posad or Yuriev Monastery, the oldest functioning monastery in Russia, and Veliky Novgorod, the oldest city in Russia. From history, faith, art, cuisine and culture, this tour is packed with splendour, hidden gems and a stunning finale at the Passion Play of Oberammergau.

28 MAY - 11 JUNE 2020: 11 Nights / 14 Days: St Petersburg (4 Nights) / Tsarkoe Selo / Veliky Novgorod (2) / Moscow (4) / Sergiev Posad / Oberammergau (2).
 
Russia and Oberammergau Pilgrimage

MEAL CODE: B: Breakfast   L: Lunch   D: Dinner
Day 1: THURSDAY 28TH MAY - DEPART FOR RUSSIA

Day 2: FRIDAY 29TH MAY - ARRIVE ST. PETERSBURG (D)
The united magnificence of all the cities of Europe are but its equal” – so said Voltaire. After our arrival at St. Petersburg airport we will be transferred by coach to our centrally located hotel. St. Petersburg overnight.

Day 3: SATURDAY 30TH MAY - ST. PETERSBURG (BD)
We begin this morning with the celebration of Mass at St Catherine’s Basilica, the oldest Catholic church in Russia. Continue on to St. Isaac’s Cathedral designed to hold 14,000 standing worshippers. Admire the dome of St. Isaac’s which is plated with pure gold and a dominant piece of the St. Petersburg skyline. We will also visit the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral with its landmark needle-thin spire – the highest in the city and an unusual feature for a Russian Orthodox Church. Inside are the tombs of Peter the Great, Catherine the Great as well as Nicholas II and his family. Here we also see the Trubetskoy Bastion and Prison; this fortress is the oldest building in St. Petersburg which saw its last prisoner in 1921. We will have time for a leisurely lunch break and free afternoon. St. Petersburg overnight.

Day 4: SUNDAY 31ST MAY - ST. PETERSBURG (BD)
This morning we will visit the great colonnaded arms of Kazan Cathedral (built to an enormous scale between 1801-1811) whose design was influenced by St. Peters Basilica and Bernini’s colonnade in Rome. The cathedral houses the State Museum of Religious History. Enjoy a visit to the Church of the Saviour on Blood which features over 7,500 square metres of mosaics, claimed to be more than any other church in the world. An example of how different architectural styles can be combined is evident in Palace Square. Lining this main square we see the Baroque Winter Palace and the former Imperial Army building in the Classical style among other buildings including one of the largest and oldest museums in the world, the Hermitage. Here we will view Leonardo’s “Madonna Litta”, Titian’s “Penitent Magdalene”, Canova’s sculpture “The Three Graces”, “The Prodigal Son” by Rembrandt as well as works by a hundred other great masters. Today we also visit the Alexander Nevsky Monastery – at the heart of the Russian Orthodox Church. We will hear about its history and challenges particularly through the last 100 years. Enjoy a free evening and the opportunity if you wish to attend an opera (at additional expense). St. Petersburg overnight.

Day 5: MONDAY 1ST JUNE - GRAND PETERHOF PALACE (BD)
Today we travel out to explore the World Heritage listed Summer Palace or the Grand Peterhof Palace which is a series of palaces, grottoes, fountains, cascades and gardens. See also the famous statue of the founder of St. Petersburg - Peter the Great, the “Bronze Horseman” built by order of Catherine the Great. St. Petersburg overnight.

Day 6: TUESDAY 2ND JUNE – VIA CATHERINE PALACE TO VELIKY NOVGOROD (BD)
Today we travel south of St Petersburg to Tsarkoe Selo, an estate boasting a large landscaped park centred on the magnificent Catherine Palace. Named after Catherine I, the wife of Peter the Great, the building was reconstructed in the 18th century on a scale to rival Versailles. Continue south to Veliky Novgorod – the oldest city in Russia. Veliky Novgorod overnight.

Day 7: WEDNESDAY 3RD JUNE - VELIKY NOVGOROD (BD)
During our time here our visit will include the 11th century St Sophia Cathedral with its miraculous icon; Yaroslav’s Court and the medieval marketplace as well as the Museum of old Russian Iconography. Travel out to the Yuriev Monastery – the oldest functioning monastery in Russia. Be enchanted by the acoustics in St George Cathedral. Veliky Novgorod overnight.

Day 8: THURSDAY 4TH JUNE - ST. PETERSBURG TO MOSCOW (BD)
This morning we will return to St Petersburg to board our train to Moscow. On arrival we will be transferred to our hotel for check-in. After dinner, this evening we will reboard our coach to enjoy a panoramic tour of Moscow by Night. Moscow overnight.

Day 9: FRIDAY 5TH JUNE - RED SQUARE DAY (BD)
Our tour of Moscow proper begins today with Mass at the Church of Saint Louis des Francais – this was the only Catholic Church not closed during the Communist rule.

Continue on to visit Red Square, mostly famous for the military parades demonstrating to the world the military might of the Soviet Union. View the Kremlin Wall, where from 1917 it became a tradition to bury Soviet heroes by and in the wall. Leaders Joseph Stalin, Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Chernenko and Yuri Gagarin (the first man in space) are some of the people resting here. The charming Kazan Cathedral on this square is a faithful reconstruction from 1990 after Joseph Stalin had it demolished in 1936.

Still by the square, we see the famous coloured domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral (now a museum) as it is commonly known, however the official name is “The Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin by the Moat.” The circular stone platform Lobnoe Mesto which stands before St. Basil’s was constructed in 1598 and used for proclamations; on religious holidays, a lectern was added making the whole square an open cathedral. The Lenin Mausoleum was erected on the square to house the body of Vladimir Lenin - the Father of the Revolution. Directly opposite the Mausoleum is Russia’s most famous shopping mall – the State Department Store, GUM. The reconstructed Resurrection Gate and the Iberian Chapel house Moscow’s most sacred site with the 17th century miraculous painting of the “Iberian Virgin” held to have healing powers. See the famous Statue of Minin and Pozharsky commemorating Prince Dmitry Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin – the leaders of the militia that repelled the Polish invasion in 1612.

The Cathedral of the Assumption or Dormition Cathedral with its five Domes representing Christ and the four Evangelists is the oldest and most important church in the Kremlin. Within its walls coronations and installations have occurred and the tombs of many patriarchs are here. Admire the magnificent Iconostasis and the Holy Doors. On the Eastern side of Cathedral square is the 81 metre Ivan the Great Bell Tower – tallest building in all of Russia for almost 400 years. Ivan the Great ordered a bell tower for the Archangel, Assumption and Annunciation Cathedrals. There are 21 bells in the tower and belfry; the largest being the Assumption Bell weighing 70 tons. In 1918 the last Easter service in the Kremlin took place and the bells of Ivan the Great did not ring again until 1992. Next door is the Kremlin Armory Museum to see the sumptuous collection of jewelry, tableware and icons. A highlight is the large case of Faberge eggs including the famous Siberian Railway egg. Moscow overnight.

Day 10: SATURDAY 6TH JUNE - MOSCOW & SURROUNDS (BD)
Today we journey north past the outskirts of the city as Russian Orthodox pilgrims have done for centuries to the town of Sergiev Posad and the site of one of the holiest places in all of Russia – the stunning Holy Trinity St. Sergius Lavra. It was founded by St. Sergius of Ranonezh (c.1321 – 1391) a monk who from childhood seemed destined for holiness. It is said that even as a baby he refused to eat certain foods according to fasting days and that as an almost illiterate child he had a vision from a hooded monk who taught him to read the bible. He set off to live his life here as a monk and was soon joined by others. The monastery grew in importance; pilgrims came to see the relics of St. Sergius as they do today and Orthodox clergy come to study in the lavra’s seminary.

The town of Sergiev Posad is also famous for another reason – it is the birth place of the Russian doll (matryoshka). The town still has its own doll factory and the round painted wooden dolls have become famous and much sought after all over the world. We return to Moscow in time for dinner. Moscow overnight.

Day 11: SUNDAY 7TH JUNE - MOSCOW (BD)
After breakfast, we will enter the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, the largest Catholic church in Russia. The church dates from 1901 but was closed in 1938 as part of the Marxist-Lenin ideology promotion of state atheism. World War II brought the threat of demolition and after the war it was used as a warehouse and a hostel. With the fall of communism in 1991 it was restored to a church in 1996, elevated to a cathedral in 2002 and reconsecrated in 2005; finally, after 75 years of non-religious use this place of worship is now being used for its intended purpose. Final afternoon in Moscow at leisure. Moscow overnight.

Day 12: MONDAY 8TH JUNE - MOSCOW TO OBERAMMERGAU (BD)
Today we will be transferred to the airport for our flight connections to Germany. On arrival at Munich airport we will be transferred south by coach through the picturesque Bavarian Alps to the village of Oberammergau, home to the world renowned Passion Play.
Every ten years affords pilgrims the great privilege of witnessing the world renowned Passion Play of Oberammergau. For over 300 years this picturesque village in the Bavarian Alps has reenacted the passion of Jesus, and people of every religious denomination have been drawn to this cherished spectacle. Oberammergau overnight.

Day 13: TUESDAY 9TH JUNE - OBERAMMERGAU – THE PASSION PLAY
The history of the Oberammergau Passion Play begins in 1633. During the Thirty Years’ War, after much suffering and also many deaths caused by the plague, the surviving population of Oberammergau vowed that they would perform the “play of the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ” every ten years if they were spared from extinction. At Whitsun in 1634 they kept their promise for the first time. As early as the middle of the 18th Century spectators came to Oberammergau from all parts of Germany, attracted by the great power and mystique of the play. In 2020 the village will perform the play for the 42nd time, maintaining the continuity of this unique world-famous event. Over 2000 participants bring the story of Jesus of Nazareth to the ears and eyes of the audience in a five-hour presentation on the imposing open-air stage. Almost half of the inhabitants of Oberammergau enact with great devotion the story of Jesus, whose message gives billions of people hope and strength. The play covers the period of Jesus entering Jerusalem and continues up to his death on the Cross and his resurrection. Today is the highlight of our pilgrimage when we attend the Passion Play.

Day 14: WEDNESDAY 10TH JUNE - DEPART GERMANY (B)
This morning we will return to Munich airport for our homebound flight connections.

Day 15: THURSDAY 11TH JUNE - ARRIVE AUSTRALIA

Russia and Oberammergau Pilgrimage

cost
Tour Code: PV2120
Dates:
28 May - 11 June 2020
Air & Tour (Twin Share)
AUD $9290 (indicative)
Single Room Supplement
AUD $2140
Tipping Made Easy: $15 per person / per day

Inclusions
AIRFARES: Economy class airfare from Australia to St Petersburg and return from Munich (N.B. Airlines taxes are included on standard itinerary and subject to fluctuations).

ACCOMMODATION & MEALS: Based on mostly 4-star accommodation throughout with breakfast & dinner daily.

MISCELLANEOUS INCLUSIONS: Deluxe Air-Conditioned Motor coach with driver • Full Time local Tour Director • Local Guides • Sightseeing and entrance fees throughout itinerary • porterage of 1 piece of luggage per person at hotels.

NOT INCLUDED: Passport • Other Visas (if applicable) • Prepaid Tipping • Other meals not stated • Items of a personal nature including phone calls, laundry, beverages, etc. • Travel insurance (Harvest will recommend a special group policy rate).

Insurance
CANCEL FOR ANY REASON COVER
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