From Russia with Love (VII)

MOSCOW
Part II

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Morning Breaks and winter sets in. The wind tears strait through you and chills you to the bone. It’s the last day in Russia. A part of you wants to get out and take in as much of the city before the plane departs… the other is to damn cold to care

It’s only been a few hours, but here we are, back in Red Square We cross the bridge and enter into the epicenter of Russian authority, The Kremlin.

It is an interesting mix, every building within the red fortress is a testament of each era Russian history. Inside of this diplomatic jungle are five grand palaces, former homes of the czars, and four white Italian style churches with golden domes. The cathedral of Dormition became the epicenter for the crowning of the czars. Even Ivan the Great made his mark with the bell tower. After the revolution, Lenin occupied the fortress and Stalin had the double headed eagle replaced with ruby crystal stars on each of the towers. Newer buildings were constructed in the 1960’s under Khrushchev’s rule, and most recently a helipad by Vladimir Putin.

Moscow has two famous churches. One is Saint Basil’s. It’s on every Lonely Planet Guide cover and everyone’s Instagram picture. The other, although large in stature, is often overlooked.  And it is just a incredibly short walk from the Kremlin.

Cathedral of Christ the Savior is comparable to Saint Paul’s in London, and the Vatican itself. As a practicing church, photography is not permitted. It’s a slight shame as the church is incredibly beautiful. Almost blasphemous my first words when I entered was “Holly shit!”, which was then followed by a “Jesus Christ!” from the boys in the back. The paintings on the ceiling are some of the finest works of art I have ever seen, and above the pews in the dome floats an image of god. The church is immense, almost indescribable. Only ten years old, it is remodeled after the original was destroyed under Stalin’s rule. The first Cathedral was built after Napoleon’s defeat and the inspiration to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.

As it is the last day, the aim is to see as much of Moscow as we can. Having lived in London I don’t understand why we need a tour of the underground. After nearly two years I had the tube map memorized and I was pretty much a walking TfL. As we descend. I take back everything I said.

The Metro is like no other. Chandeliers, mosaics, stain glass, bronze statues, polished marble. While most cities treat public transportation as an afterthought, Stalin aimed to create a the underground as a symbol of the new socialist order. While not entirely impossible to navigate, it is hard not to stop in the middle of the crowd and admire the art work. From station to station, no two are alike.

Outside of Gorky park we board the bus. Whizzing past the statue of the Superman, Yuri Gagarin – the first man in space, past the homes of politicians that housed statesmen such as Gorbachev and strait to the University. We loop around the city past the office towers and we come to a stop at Arbat Prospect, Moscow’s central market. We’ve reached the end of the tour, now it is time to exit through the gift shop.

-rt

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