When you imagine Moscow, you think of the austere grey buildings of the Communist area. Moscow for most people has been quite a secret place that we have only seen in glimpses. This is quite different to the reality.
We did a rapid whistle stop tour of the city with our bus weaving through the city. It is the city day when there are concerts and everyone is out enjoying the last of the warm days.
Buildings , have had an interesting history in Moscow. During the Stalin period some buildings were literally blown up. One such building was an ancient church. It was replaced with a very popular swimming pool in the existing park lands. This pool has now been replaced with an extremely expensive, replica of the original church that is almost as popular as the heated pool.
No visit to Moscow is complete without seeing certain iconic places. One of these is the Kremlin. It originally was the first settlement of the city and was a fortress. Within its walls now are the original churches where the Tsars were crowned, christened and buried. There are churches for the royal families to pray and small private churches for the priests and officials. Into this mix are offices, former residences and open space , created of course by Stalin. The churches are quite small inside but are beautifully decorated with murals on every surface and icons. In the church used for coronations there were three thrones. Two of these had been used by the Tsar and Empress as only they were allowed to sit. The third, a fabulous wooden carved thrown, dated back to Ivan the Terrible in the 1500’s. People in Russian orthodox churches stand to pray. There is no organ for music. The church is designed for the people’s voices to fill the church so the acoustics are amazing.
Bells are popular in Russia just like everywhere else. This bell was made but before it could be installed in a church or building, a fire broke out and many of the city buildings were destroyed. The bell survived but cracked. Both pieces were kept and installed for people to see in the Kremlin.
Guards are taken from the cadets during their military service. For many this must be boring just standing at attention for annoying tourists to stand beside you to have your photo taken. Some however get to be very official. They have whistles and if you stray of the paths, there is much blowing and waving of hands. Most tourists are oblivious to their transition.
Another iconic place to visit in Moscow is the Metro. The underground train station have each been decorated over the last 80 years with mosaics, bronze statues, chandeliers and tile work. There are six lines that interconnect. Trains come every two minutes and you have 20 seconds to let people off and reload. We went up escalators, down escalators and caught different trains to see some of these stations. Amazingly enough, all 18 people in the group managed to get on and off without anyone getting lost!
We went to two interesting restaurants today and had quite different food. Lunch was salad and then fried cheese. This was followed by a chicken dish that had an almost sweet and sour sauce. Dinner was Borsch followed by more chicken that was barbecued. Yum. Chicken has not been on the menu often and both restaurants were quite eclectic.