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Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

I didn’t really pay too much attention to learning Cyrillic the first few days in Russia, although we ought to have known better after the first day in St. Petersburg, when we came home with a bag of frozen meatballs thinking they were cheese perogies.

Friday 09.09.13, Kievskaya

But upon arriving at the Moscow subway, a certain degree of fluency was suddenly deemed important.

In fact, reading the language turned out to be fairly straightforward.

P = R, C = S, B = V, b = B … that sort of thing. A basic substitution cypher to make the cryptographers happy, and a lot of phonetic similarities for us uniglots.

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Down, down, down deep into the underground of the Moscow Metro. Reminded us of descending into a coal mine in Australia a couple of years ago.

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Crisp and clean!

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I’d heard earlier about the astonishing and dramatic works of art in the subway system and it was true.

When Stalin ordered the artists and architects to design a structure that embodied a brilliant and radiant future, it was his intent to remind the riders that he and his party had delivered something substantial to the people in return for their sacrifices.

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Stalin tried to create an environment that would encourage people to look *up,* admiring the station’s art (and perhaps thinking of him in god-like terms?).  At the time, the chandeliers were the most technically advanced elements of the metro.

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And the metro truly is beautiful. It’s clean, no litter or graffitti, despite transporting more than nine million passengers per day!

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Interestingly, voice announcements refer to the lines by name, with a male voice announcing the next station as one travels toward the centre of the city, and a female voice when going away from it.

Of course, you must remember which is which…

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Sushi, anyone?

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And after braving the rabbit warren below, it was time for a break in the daylight.

Okay, so here’s the query: What well known company is represented here?

(with a clue or two at the start of the post)

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Wandering around the Red Square just 13 days ago, we paid a third and final visit to that most iconic of Russian landmarks to bid a fond до свидания (do svidaniya — goodbye) to Saint Basil’s Cathedral or, as it’s more properly known in the world of Russian Orthodoxy, The Cathedral of the Protection of Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat.

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The cathedral, which is actually eight small churches arranged around a ninth, was built on orders from Ivan the Terrible to commemorate a successful capture of the city of Kazan from the Mongols in 1552.

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The church was completed eight years later in 1560 and legend has it that Ivan ordered the the builders blinded with hot irons so that they could not recreate anything else as beautiful.





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For a time in the Soviet Union there was talk of demolishing the building largely because it was in the way of Stalin’s plans for massive parades in Red Square. One architect, Pyotr Baranovsky, when ordered to prepare the building for demolition wrote a letter where he bluntly refused to do so. While Baranovsky earned five years in jail for his opinion, the cathedral remained standing.

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The walls of the interior (too dark for photos) are covered in frescoes and in one tiny room three burly Muscovites serenaded us with traditional Russian hymns which resonated gorgeously in the acoustics of the vaulted stone walls. With stacks of CDs for sale at a side table it was nice to see the Russian entrepreneurial spirit alive and well.

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As part a result of state atheism the church was confiscated from the Russian Orthodox community and has operated as a part of the state historical museum since 1928.

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I have to say, this building was a real treat to the eyes. As one approaches Red Square the cathedral peeks out with its splendid onion domes. Other cathedrals are topped with golden domes, but these painted beauties are unique.

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It was a bit of a hike from our hotel to the Kremlin and the Arbatskaya, the area we wandered through to get there, offered much in terms of food, drink and trinkets.

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And on this particular day, something for everyone.

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На здоровье!

Na Zdoroviya!

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Without a long time to spend in St. Petersburg we had to ensure we’d pack in as much as possible into a handful of very brief days. Fortunately, just a few steps from our apartment we found this simple structure inviting our gaze and adoration.

And gaze we did! This Church of Our Saviour on Spilled Blood (one must imagine it doesn’t translate well) was the perfect antidote to grouchy airport personnel (oh, that cello! The girl should take up harmonica!) and a stifling apartment.

Inside are hundreds of gold-leafed icons of saints and other important men (!), a marble mosaic floor, and frescoes on the domed ceiling. Stunning.

 

 

 

 

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The next morning the city welcomed us with a noisy blast of horn and drum, right outside our window.

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Such rigidity and solemnity. So formal and professional.

 

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Or maybe not.

These blue-striped specimens of manliness, many toting cans of beer, formed a long mass of humanity that went on and on in the parade.

 

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Mothers, children, wives and girlfriends walked along with the men who sang and shouted out to the crowds lining the streets.

(See the little girl’s feet?)

 

 

 

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We gathered from the flags and then later from a newspaper that there was some kind of recognition of the country’s paratroopers.

So we couldn’t determine if these fellows had themselves served in the army or if they were commemorating others who did.

 

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Watching out for rabble rousers at the rear, I guess.

 

 

 

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And for a complete change of pace, we attended Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro later that night at the magnificent Mariinsky Theatre, built in 1860.

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Outside in the mezzanine and in the hallways were photos of Rudolf Nureyev and Anna Pavlova, whose careers were launched here.

 

 

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And a peaceful walk home, with a stop for ice cream, as we contemplate the many facets of our good fortune.

As for the name of this place, I have no idea. But to be fair, there’s a gold topped dome every couple of kilometres.

Some serious navigation is about to start.

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