August 19, 2012

Moscow Moscow – Red Square and Surrounds

The Red Square (red meaning beautiful) is rather different to other squares I’ve been in. It was more of a rectangle, but ignore that. It probably seems a lot smaller than it is when you look at it because it’s enclosed with buildings all around it. After walking the length of it a couple of times, it ain’t that small! At the southern end we have St Basil’s Cathedral, a stunning example of Russian architecture, a brilliantly coloured building, wonderfully restored, and at the northern end we have another cathedral and the state museum. Flanking the sides of the square are the Kremlin and the GUM shopping center. Other historical sites and buildings can be found within the square as well as in the immediate surrounds.

Dominates the sky line – St Basil’s Cathedral

St Basil’s cathedral was built in 1555-61: years before Australia was even known to exist. Sadly it’s not used as a church anymore, but is partly a museum. There’s another statue out the front of the church, this one commemorating Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky, who drove Polish invaders out of Moscow in 1612. There’s so many statues, but I guess so much history… Opposite St Basil’s Cathedral, at the south western corner of the Red Square we have Spasskaya (Saviour) Tower. It forms the edge of a wall of the Kremlin and just so we all know the time, has a clock in it. Of course it’s showing Moscow time. The tower was built in 1491 and the clock was believed to have been added to the tower between 1491 and 1585. 1491… Like… that is soooo long ago. We got a few buildings in our town that date from the 1800’s. We call them old.

Toward Lenin’s Mausoleum, Red Square

Then there’s Lenin’s mausoleum on the west side of the square against the wall of the Kremlin and the senate building. Who’d have thought they’d have Lenin’s body on display. Certainly not me seeing as it was closed and until I googled it I didn’t know what that building was… There’s no signs around, certainly nothing in english when there is a sign. Makes it a little difficult unless you have a guide or a guide book. But hey, I may not have known what it was, but I saw it!!

GUM Department store from Red Square

On the east side we have the GUM shops. This building again has some magnificent architecture and 3 levels of shops that I can say I didn’t go into because it looked waaaayyyy too expensive! In fact I didn’t see many customers in the shops, but plenty of people in the building. We did have lunch there though – second or third floor, right in the south east corner. It came recommended by a couple of people. The queue at the door suggested we were on to a winner. We obviously visited while they were having a bad day though…

After lunch we were going to the armoury in the Kremlin. We were going… but it was absolutely pouring. So we hung out under the shelter of the shopping center for a while, watching as the rain poured down over a red square empty of people. It was a fairly decent downpour, but as soon as the rain stopped we headed off to get some tickets.

For those who don’t know, the deal with the Armoury at the Kremlin is this: The Armoury museum is supposed to be very good. But tickets are really hard to get. They sell 100 only for each session. There’s only 3 or 4 sessions and there’s 3 ticket booths. They only start selling them 30 (or 45) minutes before the session opening time. You can’t pre book or pre buy them. You need to get there and line up. But you can’t start lining up too early because they’ll kick you out of the ticket booth. Others, mainly Russians, WILL push past you to get these tickets. Unfortunately we found all that out after the last session of the Armoury for the day. That was annoying… And we missed out on tickets by a whisker. I think the person in front of us got the last ones…

Kazan Cathedral, Red Square

Had a quick look inside the Kazan cathedral (no photos inside), it was a replica of one they’d torn down, walked through the resurrection gates a few times (missed the kilometre zero mark of Moscow (thanks google), must’ve walked past it 3 or 4 times at least, still wondering how I missed that, I like those type of landmarks) and took a look around Alexandrovsky Gardens. Alexandrovsky Gardens – nice flowers, nice grass, but what’s with this European thing of not letting people sit on the grass? Such a waste of good grass.

There’s some grass along the wall of the Kremlin in Red Square. I can understand why you can’t sit on that. It’s there covering mass graves from the revolution in 1917. Wow, everything in Red Square is so significant.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier – The Eternal Flame, Moscow

Watched the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier – the eternal flame there is guarded 24 x 7 and every hour they have the changing of the guard. Interestingly enough the Russians only acknowledge the second world war as being from 1941 to 1945. They didn’t get involved until 1941, so whenever they mention the second world war, it is only from 1941, not 1939 when it really began.

Moscow – so much history packed into such a small area. Next post will be the Kremlin. Hey hey hey Moscow Moscow


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