No, I did not get to go. I did not get an invitation to visit this most Northern industrial city in the world. But I saw this , by Elena Chernyshova. And now I am so moved, I’d decided I had to share this – in part due to my personal fascination for the country’s history, and also for those who would read this space for the same reasons. I work at whatever I’m at, unsure if I’ll ever get there. But honestly, I doubt I could do that, ever.
Most of us probably wouldn’t have a chance to visit, much less to make a positive impact to many of these places in the world. I am thankful the the Internet, despite having complained about our over reliance on it briefly a few posts back.
So for those of you who are interested, watch the short interview with Elena Chernyshova. And hear her out, you almost never get the daylight there. The narrow corridors between buildings – that which we would avoid usually – were the very things that kept them away from the strong winds.
It’s amazing. It’s simply too amazing for words.
Did you ever feel an intense inclination towards a country that you were not born in or have lived in? I have; I often do. And it must have become prevalent in my posts all about Russia. It must be the obsession with its past that has brought me to try to pick up the language, read and feel for all its history.
I chanced upon this article about Alapayevsk and the end of the Romanov dynasty. I know of the dangers, hardships and restrictions of travelling to Russia. What is it about this vast empire that captivates me regardless of occasion – architecture, nature, culture or purely its mysterious past? And for those who believe in a previous life – maybe that strange connection?
The answer doesn’t matter, really. Idealistically, I would love to visit and explore all of the country that I have yet to see, once more. Take a few thousand photos; write a few million words, and some day document it in a film…
I found an old photo in the pile of Russian trip snaps and decided to share a brief post today. This is the Kazan Cathedral of St Petersburg, which caught my eye for plain simple reason that it so closely resembles St Peter’s Basilica in Rome! Imagine what I felt when I saw a Catholic-influenced building in a country known for its Russian Orthodox Church?!
Religion and politics aside, this building is impressive to look at and was ironically used in 1932 as a pro-Marxist museum that highlights the history of atheism. It has thereafter been returned to the Orthodox Church.
A visit to St Petersburg warrants a trip to the Russian Cruisor Aurora. It might not sound like an exciting journey, but for those interested in military history, the Aurora is a protected/preserved cruisor moored at St Petersburg, now acting as a museum ship.
This ship was one of the Pallada class of cruisors to serve in the Pacific Far East; its main foray was in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905 and the Baltic Seas during WWI, The Aurora was used as a training ship thereafter and had even suffered damage and sunk during WWII. After extensive repairs, it was harboured at Leningrad and still is today (what we know of as St Petersburg).
The Russian Cruisor Aurora is the oldest commissioned ship of the Russian Navy and is still manned by an active service crew. The little bits of history that sustains til today deserve a lot more focus and respect than we bother to give today. If you do make a trip to St Petersburg, remember to board and explore this cruisor!
A recent read of Lenin, Stalin and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe (Vintage), by Robert Gellately, brought my interest back to a statue I’d once seen years back during my stay in Russia.
I took residence in The Park Inn Pulkovskaya at St Petersburg, which stood behind the great Ploshchad Pobedy (known more to the West as Victory Square). The Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad features a sleek obelisk that reaches into the sky, surrounded by a sculptural ensemble at the pedestal of the obelisk. Sculptures representing soldiers, sailors and civilians who did not surrender despite hunger, cold and constant bombardment were featured. Beneath the elaborate Soviet monumental art dedicated to WWII housed a museum which held maps of Leningrad defense plans beneath. My fascination of the details in each sculpture and wild imaginations of them springing into action, as if the past still lingered, cannot be better expressed than by the two pictures below.
What stood high above the rest was the vast statue of Lenin as he “directs” the crowds in a dominating stance.
It has been a long time since my visit to Russia; at times I wonder how much has changed in this country so rich in its history…
Today we discuss a grand metro station that boasts heavy Baroque influence, elaborate chandeliers and intricate political medallions decorating its yellow ceilings – Komsomolskaya metro. Komsomolskaya lies on the Koltsevaya Line; this line is dedicated to the record of victory over Nazi Germany and post-war labour efforts. Yet Komsomolskaya stands out from the overarching themes with its main focus as a speech conducted by Lenin. Regardless of political views, one will be able to feel strongly for the struggle for independence portrayed in this station that looks more like a museum than a subway (or more like a museum than a museum does!) There’s more to the station than I can share here – you might want to walk through a passage (much like a bunker!) to an adjacent station (on Sokolnicheskaya line), and emerge in a modern-looking station starkly different from Komsomolskaya station! Make sure you’ll spend some time visiting the
museum stations of Russia on your visit!
Note: Some other stations of interest are:
– Novoslobodskaya Metro Station (stained glass decorations)
– Mayakovskaya Metro Station (strong pre-WWII influence, brightly lit and wide)
– Elektrozavodskaya Metro Station (homage to pioneers of electricity and ceilings are lined with millions of lights)
– Prospekt Mira Metro Station (agricultural theme and situated near the Botanical Gardens)
As a natural progression from the last mention of Arbat Street, I guess it wouldn’t come as a surprise for my discussion of Arbatskaya – the second largest (and deepest) metro station in Moscow, initially built as a bunker. Arbatskaya station almost has no corners – not literally – the walkways feature ornate white ceilings and arches with simple “Stalinist baroque” designs. Interestingly there are two stations of the same name on different lines. These ones in the photos are of the newer Arbatskaya on the Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya Line (the other is on Filyovskaya Line). If anyone knows the history behind this dual-naming situation, please share it with us!!
Another station worthy of mention would be the Ploshchad Revolyutsii Metro Station. The name would translate to “Revolution Square”, and this station is one not to be missed. Starkly different in style from Arbatskaya and Kievskaya that appear more like a heritage tour in a castle, Ploshchad Revolyutsii station looks like a modern museum. It is decorated with colourful marble and 76 bronze statues, depicting the people of Russia, flanking the arches. Some say that rubbing the nose of the bronze dog statue would bring good luck. I guess this gives me good reason to head back to Moscow!
Next post – a station with yellow ceilings, intricate mosaics of military and history, one that is regarded as the most beautiful of Moscow …