>Day 50. Easter weekend in Moscow.

>Saturday of Easter weekend…Cynthia and I slept in a little bit, before meeting our English speaking guide, Ludmila, for our tour of Moscow. We were originally scheduled for a two hour walking tour, but we quickly accepted the extended option, requiring a driver. We started out by visiting Red Square, the most iconic building in the square being St. Basil’s Cathedral…

This cathedral was commissioned by Ivan the terrible and was built between 1555 and 1561. There are nine small chapels inside under each onion shaped dome. It is customary to have an odd number of domes … It can be 1…3…5…etc., but cannot be an even number, as this is bad luck. This cathedral was originally built with just 8 domes to represent each successful conquest by Ivan the terrible…the 9th dome was added later. Twice, this cathedral was ordered demolished…first by Napoleon, and then by Stalin. Luckily, neither attempt was carried out.

The east boundary of Red Square consists of the huge GUM mall, which I mentioned yesterday, while the west side is bounded by The Kremlin, surrounded by a red brick wall (it was a wooden wall when first built in the 12th century; the brick wall was built between 1485 and 1495). There are 20 watch towers interspersed around the perimeter….this one being the tallest was built in 1491 and was expanded to include the clock in 1625…

News reporters usually stand here, across the Moscow River, to report on events taking place involving the Kremlin…

This is still the official residence of the president (Medvedev? Putin? The lines of authority are currently unclear, commonly referred to by the locals as “the tandem”)…Reporting live from the Kremlin, the globedotter and her colleague, Cynthia, who has just joined her for this report from the bank of the Moscow River!

The Kazan Cathedral…

And the Resurrection Gate..

…Were both destroyed by Stalin, but have since been rebuilt at the north end of Red Square.

We stopped off to see this sculpture Of Peter the Great…..

…..Which has an interesting story. This piece was originally Christopher Columbus, which the artist thought he would be able to sell to the United States for one of the anniversaries of his discovery of America. But….there were no takers. So he later changed the face of Columbus to be that of Peter the Great and sold it to his friend, the mayor of Moscow, to commemorate an anniversary of Peter’s establishment of the Russian navy. However, there were still some obvious Spanish type carvings on the statue and the locals would really like to have it removed. Oh, for you chocolate lovers out there, the main Russian chocolate factory, Red October, is in the background.

We then headed further along the Moscow River to see the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, which is the highest Eastern Orthodox cathedral in the world.

This was originally built in honor of the defeat of Napoleon in 1812, although it was not completed until 1883. Then it was dynamited in 1931 under Soviet rule, and just recently rebuilt and completed in 2000. We were able to go inside to the smaller chapel downstairs, but the upper chapel was closed due to preparations for the Easter service to be held later that day. (We were then able to watch that service, which was attended by both Putin and Medvedev, on TV later that evening). The chapel did not have pews, but rather people stand throughout the service.

Next, the Novodevichey Convent…

….which is known for having housed many women of nobility who were forced to become nuns, such as Feodor I’s wife; Peter the Great’s sister, after she tried to overthrow him; and Peter the Great’s wife, when he was ready for a new “trophy” wife; etc. They were not forced to live as nuns in the strict sense, but were instead allowed to have pretty clothes and eat whatever they wanted….but they could not go outside the walls of the convent…so were basically held as prisoners.

Next to the convent is a cemetery where many famous people have been buried…not just political leaders, but artists, writers (Chetkov and Gogol for example), astronauts, etc. While we weren’t that excited about visiting a cemetery, we did find the sculptured head stones to be very interesting….this one for Khrushchev…

…was commissioned by his successors by a modern artist whom he himself had banned. After viewing this burial site for Boris Yeltsin, featuring the Russian flag…

…his wife then appeared to pay her respects for Easter…

…so our one celebrity sighting.

She was accompanied by so many guards we couldn’t count them.

We then viewed the sprawl of the city through a haze from Sparrow Hill, where you could see the CBD, which is now being built…..all at one time!!!….

…there has not previously been a CBD, but rather the city has suffered from a lack of urban planning and is just sprawled out in all directions. We wondered (as any commercial real estate professionals would 🙂 what impact this new construction would have on other areas of the city where we assume whole buildings will be emptied to fill these new buildings.

We then drove by the World War II memorial…

…they lost 27 million people in that war, all of whose names are inscribed on this memorial. (They are preparing for their holiday commemorating that war on May 9th). We then descended into the metro system to return to our hotel, while seeing the opulence within some of the stations….the marble, the chandeliers, the frescoes, the bronze statues, etc…

Even the platforms were opulent…

The nose of this dog (one of 88 bronze statues at this metro station) was worn to a shine from people rubbing it for good luck as they pass by, so Cynthia had to definitely take a turn….

Phew, a long and great day with our wonderful guide, Ludmila (we will get to see her again on May 4th, when we return to Moscow, and will do a tour of the inside of the Kremlin).

But….our day was not over…we then went to the Moscow circus…

It was interesting and there were some good acts, but we couldn’t figure out why it is so famous, as it doesn’t come close to the Cirque du Soleil performances that we’ve seen. But we couldn’t resist the bronze statue of the founder of the circus….

…who we had learned about earlier in the day, as he was buried in the cemetery of famous people.

A great dinner at Il Forno italian restaurant (slow service), and on to our hotel to watch the Easter service at the famed cathedral we had seen earlier in the day.

A phenomenal day in the very European city of Moscow! — not at all the dreary city we had both expected! (while there were some square concrete block buildings as we expected, there was also a lot of Italian architectural influence in the city).

Happy Easter, at the stroke of midnight!

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2 Responses to ">Day 50. Easter weekend in Moscow."

  1. mdwebneck says:

    >Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin served as the second President of the Russian Federation and is the current Prime Minister of Russia.

    Dmitry Medvedev is the current president, but yea who knows who is pulling the strings.

  2. Pauline says:

    >Dottie, belated Easter greetings! It is so awesome to read your travels and to get a play-by-play education of these cities and their history. Needless to say, that it sure looks like you are having a pheonominal time in Moscow. Stay safe and happy.


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