This was my second visit to Moscow and again, I have limited my exploration to the Kremlin grounds and the Red Square environs. I’m sure there are plenty of additional sites to see in the greater Moscow metro area but to me the heart of Moscow is the most interesting. In my two days, I revisited the Kremlin Armory Museum, The Church of the Holy Robe of the Holy Virgin of the Moscow Kremlin, the Annunciation Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin, the Archangel Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin, the Tsar’s Bell Tower, Ivan’s Cannon, Church of the Twelve Apostles, the Dormition Cathedral, Red Square, St Basil’s Cathedral, the famous GUM Department Store, Kazan Cathedral, the State Historical Museum, the Capel of Iberian Icon of our Lady Resurrection Gate, Alexander Garden, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Iverskaya Chapel, and a wonderful lunch at the Bosco Cafe overlooking Red Square.
The two museums (Kremlin Armory Museum and The State Historical Museum on Red Square are chalked full of fascinating displays ranging from the obscenely lavish and expensive royal clothing, jewelry, furniture, carpets, tapestries, and carriages to every day items worn and used by the commoners. The disparity in the quality of life between the ruling class and the ruled class was extreme. And I suppose this disparity set the table for the Marxist ideology preached by Lenin and set the fuse for the communist experiment that ultimately failed under its own weight of corruption and and the failure to account for the yearning for individual freedom and right to work hard for individual success.
In the end, the peasants simply traded one brutal and selfish set of Royal overlords for a newer more sophisticated proletariat overlord pretending to be equal to the governed while taking the best of everything for themselves. Regardless of the politics – the museums display a wonderful array of items that could keep you entertained for weeks if you had the time.
I’m not sure why but I am always drawn to houses of worship in my travels. Even though I am a confirmed heathen I am fascinated by the beauty and majesty of historical churches, synagogues and mosques. The architecture and decorations of these historical structures are to me high art. In a time before multi media, movies, tv, radio, novels and the internet – religious buildings seem to not only have served as houses of worship and moral intimidation – they were also entertainment. The frescos, tapestries, and sculptures contained in these huge architectural wonders must have seemed wondrous to the local peasantry.
The Churches and Cathedrals of Russia and the east are like no place else in the caucasian world. The architectural highlight is based upon multiple onion shaped and multi colared domes and the interior christian based thematic art is painted directly on every available inch of the walls by anonymous painters and not on canvases by famous artists.
I have included a number of exterior photos of the sites I visited but unfortunately many of the interior areas are off limits to cameras. So you will just have to trust me when I tell you the wall art is worth the trip.
And of course, no visit to Moscow would be complete without a visit to the GUM Department Store on Red Square. Calling this a department store is a complete misnomer. The structure is more like an elaborate three story three wing high end mall. Today the GUM is packed full of western (both American and Western European) high end stores selling everything from Rolex watches to Gucci Purses, Brooks Brothers Suits to high end jewelry. I was told by a local that Russians only go to the GUM these days to buy ice cream from the formally dressed ice cream vendors and that the market for these high end stores are wealthy tourists. Back in the day, the average Russian would spend hours in line waiting to buy items in the GUM and unlike in the west there were no choices of style or color. you bought what they had.
While I was wondering around the GUM I took the time to enjoy a fabulous lunch at the Bosco Cafe. I enjoyed a very good Seafood Soup with Russian Rye Bread and then a very good three level chocolate cake and black tea.
I’ve attached photos of my time in Moscow.
Next post will document my three day and three nights on the Trans Siberian Express from Moscow to Irkutsk.