As I ran through my photo albums today I was instantly captivated by some very vibrant pictures in an album that isn’t exactly colourful. Exactly – the pictures of Arbat Street caught my eye amidst all other photos I took in Russia. This isn’t to say that Russia is a dull country – it isn’t! The architecture tends to be earthy and sterile in most cases, and photos are beautiful in summer, the white nights or in deep winter where the country boasts a curiously melancholic feel.
Regardless, here I wish to share some of the photos I took from Arbat Street.
Arbat Street extends for about 1km for pedestrians in Moscow. It is said to be one of the oldest streets of Moscow and used to accommodate prestigious nobility and high-ranking officials. Technically speaking, Arbat Street has been re-built after its destruction in the 1800s when Napoleon occupied Moscow. There is an Old Arbat and a New Arbat, but given my nature of loving things of the past, lets look a little more at Old Arbat hereon.
Arbat Street today is occupied by historic buildings (it really is only a few hundred metres away from the Red Square), along which you will see a blue building on No.53 – The Pushkin Museum. Artists and performers came to Arbat Street as a congregation area for craftsmen, leveraging its strategic location on a main trade-route. Arbat Street as it might appear, soon became a popular living area for academics and middle classes who took to its less extravagant nature as the richer nobles left for a more developed and splendid living style elsewhere.
Walking down Arbat Street was an entirely different experience from that in the Red Square – street performers, craft stalls and cafes ran down the two sides of the walkway and everything was vibrant, lively and colourful. While the history of the streets linger, a joyful spirit pervades the street. You will see as you walk on, a monument of Okudzhava (briefly, a poetic songwriter who founded a Russian genre “author-song”) on No.43 marking where he stayed, a gold Princess Turandot Fountain standing before the Vakhtangov Theatre (briefly, Vakhtangov is a Russian actor and director) and many other interesting sights. Pop into the beautiful Arbatskaya station and take a ride off to somewhere else in Moscow after that!
Touristy, maybe. Commercialised, definitely. I’m not for the F&B along Arbat Street and I don’t suppose you need to spend a cent there (though I now regret not getting some of the beautiful crafts for collection purposes), but it doesn’t harm to take a walk down the street and look at Russia’s art scene from a different perspective.