The Art of the Silk Road: St. Petersburg, Paris, London
Travel to three European cities – St. Petersburg, Paris, London – to view collections of Central Asia and Persian works of art, some not on public display, and the UNESCO World Heritage medieval city of Velikly Novgorod.
With Dr. Jenny Rose
2021 dates TBA
Why join Far Horizons’ Art of the Silk Road Tour ?
- Museums of three cities: St. Petersburg, Paris, London
- Tour the UNESCO World Heritage Historic Center of Saint Petersburg
- Cruise the waterways of St. Petersburg and enjoy Beliye Nochi, the White Nights of St. Petersburg
- Visit the medieval fortified Velikly Novgorod, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Private opening of the Panjakent section at the Restoration and Storage Centre of the Hermitage Museum
- Festive dinner in the Eiffel Tower with views over the gardens of the Trocadéro
- Private viewing of Silk Road treasures not on display in the British Library
- Private viewing of Silk Road artifacts not on display in the British Museum
(click to enlarge)
Travel & Tour the Art of the Silk Road
Day 1: Depart USA
Day 2: Arrive St. Petersburg. Afternoon river cruise. Overnight St. Petersburg for five nights.
Day 3: Chesme Church, Peterhof, City Tour
Day 4: All day tour to Velikly Novgorod
Day 5: Hermitage
Day 6: Church of Spilled Blood, Hermitage Restoration and Storage Centre. Hermitage
Day 7: Fly to Paris. Bibliotheque Nationale. Overnight Paris for two nights.
Day 8: Louvre Museum. Dinner Eiffel Tower Restaurant
Day 9: The Musée Guimet. Chunnel to London. Overnight London for three nights.
Day 10: British Library. Victoria and Albert Museum
Day 11: British Museum
Day 12: Return to USA
Far Horizons proudly presents a truly unique 12-day tour to St. Petersburg, Paris, and London, with an emphasis on each city’s great museums and their Silk Road collections. Begin in St. Petersburg with a city tour including Peterhof, the majestic estate created by Peter the Great, and the Hermitage, the second-largest museum in the world founded in 1764 on the orders of Catherine the Great. Travel to Veliky Novgorod, one of the oldest cities in Russia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, before flying to Paris where we will visit the National Library and Louvre Museum. By train through the Chunnel, we move to London, for a day in the British Museum, including a private viewing of Sasanian artifacts not on public display. Our time in London will also include the British Library and Victoria and Albert Museum.
During the trip, we will learn about several civilizations that developed along the ancient Silk Road. Sogdiana was an ancient Iranian civilization that at different times included territory located in present-day Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The Parthians were an Iranian dynasty that lasted for nearly five hundred years, successfully taking back territory in the near east from first the Seleucid Greeks and then the Romans. They were followed by the Sasanians, the last Persian (Zoroastrian) Empire before the rise of Islam, who held their own against their arch-rival the Roman-Byzantine Empire to rule from 224 to 651.
Overnights will be in charming hotels within walking distance of these great museums, and dinners will be memorable, including an evening at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant with views over the Trocadéro.
Art of the Silk Road Tour Leader
Jennifer Rose received her MA in Religious Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and her PhD from Columbia University in Ancient Iranian Studies. While writing her doctoral dissertation (since published as The Image of Zoroaster: The Persian Mage Through European Eyes), Dr. Rose was simultaneously a Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies at Brunel University, London, and the Deputy Director of a Religious Education Centre that supported the teaching of world faiths in the British public school system. She is presently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Religion at Claremont Graduate University, and is frequently an invited speaker at conferences in both North America and Europe. Her two most recent publications on the Zoroastrian religion, Zoroastrianism an Introduction, and Zoroastrianism: A Guide for the Perplexed, have been well received. Dr. Rose’s breadth of knowledge concerning the world’s religions, and her particular interest in the historical interaction between Iranians and those of other cultures along the Silk Roads into modern Central Asia, China and India, make her an ideal study leader for this trip.
Art of the Silk Road Tour Itinerary
(B) breakfast, (L) lunch, (D) dinner
Day 2: Arrive St. Petersburg and transfer to the Rossi Boutique Hotel, our home for the next five nights. In the late afternoon, board a river vessel to enjoy a leisurely, scenic excursion along the canals and waterways of the city. As we cruise, we may experience the luminescent White Nights, or Beliye Nochi, when the midsummer evenings are bathed in a radiant light caused by the high latitude when the sun never fully sets. We then gather for our gala welcome dinner in one of St. Petersburg’s excellent restaurants. (D)
Day 3: This morning we begin with a quick stop to view the outside of Chesme Church, built on the orders of Catherine the Great as the house church for the palace of the same name. Built of brick and white stone, this whimsical striped sanctuary rises from its base like a candy cane. The exterior is a rare example of very early Gothic Revival influence in Russian church architecture. Continue to Peterhof, the majestic estate located on the coast of the Gulf of Finland. The grand palace was the inspiration of Peter the Great who wanted it to rival Versailles, and for two hundred years it was the most lavish and popular of the Russian royal summer residences. After our tour of this majestic imperial residence, return to St. Petersburg by hydrofoil. In the afternoon, enjoy a tour of the historic center of St. Petersburg. This ‘Venice of the North’, with its numerous canals and more than 400 bridges, was begun in 1703 under Peter the Great and has UNESCO World Heritage status. (B/L/D)
Day 4: Depart St. Petersburg for Veliky Novgorod, one of the oldest cities in Russia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated on the ancient trade route between Central Asia and northern Europe, Novgorod was Russia’s first capital in the 9th century. It prospered as one of the greatest trading centers of Eastern Europe as vessels plied the rivers to the Baltics, Byzantium, Central Asia, and all parts of European Russia. Dominating the ancient city on the edge of the Volkhov River stands the Kremlin, one of Russia’s oldest fortified city centers. The current stronghold was built of brick in the 15th century and the tall walls and towers still stand. Inside the Kremlin are several buildings. In 988 AD, Prince Vladimir decided that the kingdom should become Christian, and by 1045 AD, construction of the first Christian cathedral began. The Cathedral of St Sophia with its five domes including one covered with gold is the oldest church in Russia and one of the country’s oldest stone buildings. Inside are frescoes dating back to the 11th century, along with religious icons and the sarcophagi of Prince Vladimir (the Great) and his wife, Princess Anna Porphyrogenita, the sister of the Byzantine Emperor Basil II. Upon their marriage, he converted to Christianity and began the Christianization of Russia. The Archbishop Chamber, or the Chamber of Facets due to its elaborate Gothic vaults, was constructed in the 15th century as a council hall for the nobility council of Novgorod Republic. Novgorod State United Museum houses three strikingly comprehensive exhibitions covering the history of Veliky Novgorod, Russian woodcarving and Russian icons. The collections help us to trace the process of historical and cultural development in Novgorod over a thousand years. Return to St. Petersburg in the evening with dinner on our own. (B/L)
Day 5: Our morning will be spent in the Hermitage Museum, housed within the magnificent Winter Palace that was founded in 1754 by Empress Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great. Spectacularly sited on the banks of the Neva River, this was the main residence of the Russian Tsars, and the glorious green, white and gold palace now houses one of the largest and oldest museums in the world. Here, we will examine major finds from Pazyryk, a burial site in the southern Altai dating to the Iron Age, including a 2500-year-old carpet, Scythian felt horse trappings, and mummies with tattooed arms. Also on display are rhytons (drinking horns) from Parthian Nisa (modern Turkmenistan), the unique narrative frescoes from Panjikant and relics from Mount Mugh, where the last Sogdian king was defeated, and magnificent silver pieces of the Sasanian period. The afternoon and dinner are on our own for further explorations of St. Petersburg or to return to the Hermitage. (B/L)
Day 6: Our walk this morning takes us to the breathtaking Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood. Topped by five brightly-painted, glittering onion domes and bedecked both inside and out with vibrant mosaics, the church stands out in a city famous for its graceful neoclassical buildings. It was erected in the place where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in March 1881. In the afternoon, we go to the Restoration and Storage Centre of the State Hermitage Museum situated in the Staraya Derevnya area. This museum complex offers a unique opportunity to enter the museum’s storage vaults where we have made special arrangements to open the Panjikant section for a special viewing. We will see beautiful old textiles from Bukhara and the murals from Turfan removed last century by European archaeologists. Panjikant in modern Tajikistan was the easternmost town of Sogdiana – the ancient kingdom of the Sogdians, an eastern Iranian people who practiced a local form of Zoroastrianism until at least the early 8th century. Dinner is on our own. (B/L)
Day 7: An early morning flight takes us to Paris and the Bibliothèque Nationale, the national repository of all that is published in France along with works of visual art. We will see The Khosro Cup, also known as the Cup of Solomon, a stunning and intricate Sasanian Persian vessel made of gold, garnets, rock crystal, and glass; a 16th century copy of the Book of Ardā Wīrāz, a Zoroastrian religious text of the Sasanian era; and an exquisite Sasanian intaglio, a gemstone with an image finely carved into it. Overnight for two nights at Hôtel Le Bellechasse, a charming boutique hotel located just steps away from the Musée d’Orsay on the Left Bank. (B/L)
Day 8: The Louvre Museum contains important collections of Central Asia and Persian artifacts, most removed from Iran by French archaeologists in the 19th century. These include a basalt tablet engraved with the Code of Hammurabi, edicts set in place by the 17th century BC Babylonian king that is one of the oldest known sets of laws. The Louvre also has large sections of polychrome glazed brick walls from the Susa palace of the Persian emperor Darius I including the frieze of lions, and another of archers, showing an army of warriors carrying spears, bows, and quivers. Dr. Rose will spend the morning taking us through these collections. The afternoon, including lunch, is on our own to return to these collections or view other areas of the museum. Gather this evening for a very special dinner party at the 58 Tour Eiffel in the Eiffel Tower with a breathtaking view over Paris. (B/ /D)
Day 9: The Musée Guimet was created by Emile Guimet, a wealthy industrialist who traveled around the world. During his travels he acquired extensive collections of objects which he put on display in a museum opened in Lyon in 1879 and later was moved to Paris. Over the years, it obtained large collections of objects that had been brought back by major expeditions to Central Asia and China. It has the largest collections of Asian art in Europe and we will peruse the artifacts that relate to the Silk Road, treasures from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia. After lunch, board the Chunnel to travel to London. Dinner is on our own. Overnight at the Radisson Edwardian Blu Bloomsbury, located next to the British Museum, for three nights. (B/L)
Day 10: The Victoria and Albert is the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects. Founded in 1852 and named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, it houses a unique and extensive Iranian collection. The collection of Middle Eastern and Persian rugs and carpets is among the finest in the world. Within the museum, the Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art houses a display of 400 objects with the highlight being the Ardabil Carpet, the centerpiece of the gallery. This 16th century carpet made of silk and wool measures almost 35’ by 18’ and contains 26 million knots! It is considered one of the best of the classical Iranian (Azerbaijanian) school of carpet creation. It was first placed in a mosque in Ardabil, but over time became heavily worn and was sold in 1890 to a British carpet broker who restored it and then sold it to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Also on view is a patterned silk fragment showing the mythical creature, the sēnmurw, enclosed in a roundel of pearls. Part bird, part beast, the sēnmurw is a creation of Sasanian art, although it was derived from more ancient Babylonian and Assyrian cultures, as well as from the sea-horse of Greek art. After a quick lunch, enter the British Library where Ursula Sims-Williams, the Curator of Iranian languages, will host us for a private viewing of items from the Library’s Sogdian and Khotanese collections, along with antiquities discovered by Sir Aureal Stein during his Central Asia expeditions in the early 1900s. (B/L)
Day 11: We spend today in the world renowned British Museum where we will experience a behind-the-scenes tour of the pre-Islamic collections from Iran hosted by Dr. Yu-ping Luk, curator of the Central Asian collection. Dr. Luk will unlock pieces of Sasanian silver that are not on public display for us to view. Lunch and the afternoon will be on our own to spend more time with the pre-Islamic collection or to view other sections of the museum. We will gather for our gala final dinner together in a nearby restaurant. (B/ /D)
Day 12: Return to the USA
CALL (per person, double occupancy) group accommodations based on double occupancy; meals as noted in the itinerary; airport transfers; entry fees to sites named in itinerary; ground transportation throughout the tour; the flight from St. Petersburg to Paris; the Chunnel from Paris to London; gratuity to drivers and guides; emergency evacuation insurance for each participant.
Single Supplement: CALL. Should a roommate be requested and one not be available, the single supplement will be charged.
Cost does not include: Round trip international airfare to St. Petersburg, Russia and returning from London, United Kingdom; a tax-deductible check for $150.00 per person made out to the donation project; passport or visa fees; airport or departure taxes; beverages or food not included on regular menus; laundry; excess baggage charges; personal tips; alcoholic drinks; telephone and fax charges; or other items of a personal nature.
Fuel Surcharges: Far Horizons must pass on price increases when additional fuel charges are levied.
Donation Checks: As a travel company that benefits from the cultural and natural riches of our destinations, we have a policy of donating to the scientific and cultural projects and museums we visit. This has created a bond between Far Horizons and the academic and local communities that has helped us establish an extensive list of lecturers and contacts in each of our destinations. We ask that each participant write a check to the noteworthy project we designate. The donation amount is $150.00 per person and is made by check directly to the donation project. Note that the donation is required as part of your registration for the trip and that it is non-refundable. The donation project for this tour is the American Friends of the British Museum (please see information on this organization at http://www.afbm.org/). During our group tour of the British Museum in London, we will enjoy a private viewing of pre-Islamic collections from Iran.
A deposit of $750.00 is required along with your registration form. Final payment is due 120 days before departure. Upon receipt of your deposit and completed registration form, you will be sent a reading list and a tour bulletin containing travel information. Prior to the trip, we will send links to various websites of pertinent interest. Click here to download our Registration Form.
Cancellations and Refunds
Cancellations received in writing at least 120 days before departure will receive a refund less a $450.00 administrative fee. Cancellations received less than 120 days before the departure date will not receive a refund. If for any reason you are unable to complete the trip, Far Horizons will not reimburse any fees. Registrants are strongly advised to buy travel insurance that includes trip cancellation.
International flights are not included in the cost of the trip. If you do not arrive or depart on the scheduled days, you are responsible for all transportation (including airport transfers) to join the group. If Far Horizons must change the trip dates or cancel the trip for any reason, Far Horizons is not responsible for any air ticket you may have purchased. Please send your complete air schedule as soon as you have it. NOTE: Please contact Far Horizons if you would like for us to handle your air ticketing.
The private tours of archaeological sites and talks by specialists are scheduled in advance and include a donation to each. Specialists working at these sites are excited about showing their work to interested enthusiasts. However, please be aware that there may be times when the director or a member of the staff may not be on site when our groups arrive due to other commitments.
Far Horizons and its staff have taken great care to select 4-star hotels that are clean, comfortable, and well-situated to facilitate the site visits. Even though we have carefully chosen the hotels, many of them housed in charming historic buildings, luggage handlers may not be available, and participants must be prepared to, at times, be responsible for their own luggage. The rooms will be ‘European’ size, which means small. If you would like to be upgraded to a larger room or suite at an additional cost, please contact the Far Horizons office.
Walking and Standing
The group will be walking into and around cities and museums extensively. All participants must be physically active and able to walk independently for distances that may exceed two miles or more each day throughout our very full touring days. If you have questions about whether or not you are physically capable of this level of activity, please contact the Far Horizons office as soon as possible. Keeping up with the group is each participant’s responsibility; please do not expect assistance from the other group members or staff.
This Archaeological Tour is limited to 12 participants