Russia II: The Red Square Part 1

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The Red Square in Moscow holds so much for the Russian History lover (aka ME!) that I cannot complete my raving within a post. Please excuse my inability to practise an economy of words and hence allow me to indulge in this recount, with no intention to spread political/ideological/whatsoever agenda.

Soviet architecture has gone through various phases and war – some treasures demolished with the passing of the tsarist era, then the communist era, and some preserved fortunately. On the far North of the Red Square stands the State Historical Museum (I’m not entirely sure but was this originally built in the Naryshkin Baroque style and later neo-Russian?), which quite literally explained, holds vastly the history of Russia. The museum has gone through a vast restoration beyond the original gaudy murals and today, looks like this:

My focus here is a Soviet statue of Marshal Zhukov outside the State Historical Museum. Zhukov rose to prominence some time around the Soviet-Japanese Border Wars of 1939 and was later the leader to defend Moscow against Germany in 1941. Zhukov stands as one of the most respectable generals of Russia’s war period, and a magnificent statue stands outside the state museum, as such:

I couldn’t quite explain how I might be moved by the mere sight of this, but it might be a result of my favouritism for Russian history. Zhukov’s involvement in building his nation included most definitely the Patriotic War, Battle of Kiev, Battle of Smolensk, breaking the siege of Leningrad, seeing to the surrender in Berlin and further in his contributions in the post-Stalin era of politics. One might also recall Dwight Eisenhower’s praises of Zhukov and how his decisiveness and strategic thinking was a lead in breaking WWII’s misery. One might also be aware that Zhukov gained much awards and decorations, one of which as a four-time award as the Hero of Soviet Union. With great stature, the statue of Zhukov that reminds of his role in bringing to closure WWII:

One final view, the State Historical Museum:

Rothenburg ob der Tauber – Medieval Town at its best

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Down the Romantic Road of Bavaria, one must stop by Rothenburg. Alright, it’s commercialized, and alright it ain’t all cool and bungee-jumping. But for those who’ll love a quiet walk down a medieval town, why not?

It’s worth a shot to head down the Night Watchman Historic Town Walk. In the past, the Night Watchman served as a walking guard for the town’s safety, protecting himself with only a hellebarde & reminding those around him of his presence with an hourly song he chimed. One of the roles of the Night Watchman is really to guard against the enemy, & to warn citizens of fire. Interestingly, this is similar to ancient Chinese practice of a lowly-paid citizen in town who will walk the streets in the wee hours & rings a gong reminding the town of the time as well as to warn them to blow out their candles before bedtime.

Anyway in Rothenburg, the Night Watchman – a scruffy tall figure begins his witty banter about the Town Hall and the Clock Tower that highlighted little wooden figures drinking – this having something to do with a story that occurred during the Thirty Years War. The Protestant town of Rothenburg was at risk of destruction by a Catholic army. The Rothenburg mayor offered some local wine to the General, who challenged the mayor to a drinking contest – finish the wine without stopping and the town will be saved. As the story goes, Rothenburg was saved, and there we have the clock to honour this tale!

Walking down to the Castle Garden, one would encounter the large gate that also had a smaller door, also a “manhole”. After the gates were closed at night, the Night Watchman would consider whether or not to permit entrance after curfew hours. One could get a decent view of Southern Rothenburg – like a typical small town that one could retire to. Of course, unless we knew that Rothenburg once suffered a plague due to a poor sanitary system where all the trash was deposited on “The Filthy Road” – religious wars & poverty hindered the little town for years until tourism commenced.

Notwithstanding the tiresome day I’d had on a bus ride down to Rothenburg, the Night Watchman introduces the Trinkstube zur Höll, translating literally as “To Hell”, standing in the oldest building of Rothenburg dating back to c.900. This little town continues to celebrate its history, oftentimes with relation to witchcraft, mysteries of the Netherworld, & war-time stories.

It really isn’t as creepy as it has been made out to be, and there’s more to Rothenburg than this short note I’m depositing here. Rothenburg boasts an amazing Medieval Crime Museum that I’d spent half a day at. Let’s leave that, however, to the next post…