Friday, July 18, 2008

The Sights of Moscow

Having sounded a bit negative yesterday perhaps, I wanted to talk about some wonderful things to see and do in Moscow. First, you can eat. There's lots of delicious food--Russian things like borsch and caviar and blinis (crepes) with various fillings, good salmon. We also ate at a couple of restaurants serving non-Russian food, one Italian and one Mediterranean. Both were wonderful, as elegant and as expensive as anywhere we'd go in Chicago or New York.

Then there are the sights. Unfortunately I don't have good pictures because a) my camera sucks, and b) pictures were prohibited many places or could be taken only by paying an extra fee. I took two from this site to round out mine. Can you tell which are which? :)

This is a view of the Kremlin. I've heard that phrase all my life, but never really understood what it is. It's a fortress, the historic beginning of Moscow and inside its walls are palaces, cathedrals, gardens, monuments, and museums. The red brick is the wall of course, studded with towers, and the large yellow building is the presidents state residence. He doesn't live there, but uses it for state receptions and like occasions. It's apparently incredibly splendid, but isn't open to general public.

The interior of one of the cathedrals. Pictures are forbidden, and when I was there, it was jammed with tourists. They don't sell postcards either, so I was glad to find this picture.

One of the highlights of the Kremlin is the Armoury, a palace converted into a museum housing "the treasures of the Tsars." It's an incredible display of armour, crowns, icons, silverware, Faberge eggs, coronation robes, carriages, all covered with gold and gems. Truly breath taking; it's not just the splendor but the wonderful craftsmanship of these treasure that is stunning. Unfortunately, the visits only last two hours, and then everyone is shooed out, and it closes and opens again. Don't ask me why; I don't break my brain.

Here, outside the wall of the Kremlin is the tomb of the unknown soldier. Russian brides and grooms come here to place flowers. I like that tradition. Actually brides and grooms and wedding parties are visible at all the major sites of the city, posing for pictures, making toasts, getting their clothes dirty, getting wet in the rain. When someone wondered why the brides weren't offered an umbrella, Irena remarked, "They're getting ready for their hard life. Russian men are not kind to their wives." Ouch. The voice of experience, I'm afraid.

On one side of the Kremlin is Red Square, and one feature of that is Lenin's mausoleum. Yes, he's still in there, but only visible at certain times after a long time standing in line. I skipped this.

And finally, St. Basil's Cathedral, perhaps one of the most famous sights in Moscow. Amazing, like a child's toy with the bright colors and many textures. Inside it's a maze of small rooms, no large space at all.

This is just a taste. I'm so glad I took this trip in spite of the culture shock. Take time to look at some of the wonderful pictures on the web site above.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much, Kay. I made my coffee first so I could sit and savor your pictures and commentary. I do want to visit Moscow. There is a river trip that goes to all the former eastern block capitals that I would love to take. It looks like you had pretty decent weather. Most pictures I've seen of Moscow are as gray and dull as the people there.
The young women are so pretty but they don't age well, do they. It must be a life more difficult than we fortunate Americans can fathom.

Kay said...

That you, Rian. Someone at the conference had taken a river trip from Moscow to St. Petersburg, and loved it. He knew some Russian though, and quite a bit about the history, so that made it more meaningful, I'm sure.

Tricks said...

Oh Kay, how wonderful, thank you so much for sharing all these marvellous sites. I have always wondered what it must be like in Russia, I must say I love the architecture. Tell me, does it feel a little odd that all those treasures are in those buildings and yet the ordinary folk have such a hard time of it? Or have I got it all wrong? It must have been a real culture shock as you said. Thanks Tricia

Allison Ann Aller said...

I never knew the Kremlin was more than just a functions more like the Mall in DC, is what I am guessing.
I'm with Tricks...all that wealth and beauty locked away just seems kind of horrible, given its concentration was produced by the infinite labor of the serfs.
Russia manifests some dark corners of human nature, is my feeling. We love Russia as we love humankind...but it's the winter of our soul's weather, that is for sure.

Kim said...

I've always liked St. Basil's Cathedral but after going through the photos at the website you gave I'm now in love with the Novodevichy Convent. I think the picture taken during the winter with the gold and silver helmeted cupolas rising from the white walls and snow is very striking.

Anonymous said...

When we were in St. Petersburg we saw several bridal couples posing at picturesque spots. Our guide said it's because they have to get married in city hall-type government offices so they pose throughout the city in order to have pretty wedding pictures. Sure isn't Kansas, is it?