Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Mother Russia

Russia 2005

what an amazing country -- how many surprises -- and how many stereotypes that i carried around and had to adjust. Most of all impressed me the extremely friendly people; such a difference to the rude folk you meet at the russian embassies. then the rich cultural heritage and the strong european influence (and cross-weaving). there was so much cross-fertilization: e.g. napoleon - aleksander II, voltaire, josephine (napoleon's wife) - kathrine the great. peter the great studying in holland and italy, etc ....amazing all this history! all this certainly awakened my taste buds and i'd love to go and explore more of this beautiful country in the future. e.g. the provinces further east of Moscow, etc ....


Dostojewski Haus (crime & punishment)

Eremitage: Da vinci?? Madonnas …?

Peter & Paul Fortress: the fortress was the first building in St P. constructed and designed 1703 by Peter the Great. The original timber construction was over the next few years replaced by a stone building. Under the protection of the fortress the town rapidly developed. Never used as a fortress, but served over two centuries as the country’s main political prison: Tsarevitch Alexey, son of Peter I who was against the policies of his father was incarcerated here. And princess Tarakanova who claimed to ascend the throne died a horrible death (see paintings) when the prison was flooded by the Neva.

Cathedral of Peter & Paul: The golden angel on top of the spire is said to watch over St. Petersburg. Served as a royal burial vault: Peter the Great, Alexander II. The last Russian Tsar Nicolas II and Alexandra Fedorovna + their children and servants (the Romanovs). ???

Princess Tarakanova:

Claimed to be Elizabeth’s daughter

Seduced by count Orlov, Kathrine the Great’s lover who secuded her to come with him from Paris?? To St. P and on the ship imprisoned her.

Peter the Great – 2m tall, traveled incognito to many European countries, e.g., studied shipbuilding in Holland; big modernizer of Russia

Cathedral – architect was chopped off his hands

Tsarskoye Selo (literary - "tsar's village") – Pushkin:

Preferred palace of Catherine the Great

Lyceum where Pushkin studied

Great damage during WWII – the Nazis dismantled the Amber Room which mysteriously disappeared after the war. Sunk with the Wilhelm Gustloff? The reconstruction opened in 2003.

Saviour of the Blood Cathedral :

Built on the site where Alexander II was assassinated 1 March 1881. the original part of canal fencing and cobblestones is still visible in the middle of the church. Built 1883-1903.

Archangels in orthodox churches: Gabriel with 8 wings symmetrically attached to a bodyless, cherub-like pink face.

Gipsy taxis: riding at 120km/h through Moscow! Lots of traffic accidents at night. Overturned cars, head-on collisions with Mercedes and all airbags deployed.

Smolny Cathedral and monastery: Built by Elizabeth, dauger of Peter the Great.

Like many other churches used as a storehouse during communist times.

Alexander Nevsky Monastery:

- Tikhvin Cemetery: Dostoevsky, Mussorgsky, Rimski-Korsakov

Kaviar & Vodka & champagne :

Swan Lake Ballet:

Bridge Opening Neva:

St Isaac Cathedral: like St Peter’s in ROme

Plattenbauten: in the 50s/60s super: running warm water, heating, bath rooms


Lomonossow Museum; first observatory of Russia; Riesenglobus: transport from Germany; first in Peterhof

Curiosity collection of peter the great: aborted fetuses, grim!

Nevsky Prospect


Conceived by peter the great in 1714 he took an active role in the construction and design of the palace (incl. intricate details of the architecture and of the fountains).

100s of remaining

Russian Hydrofoil

Sea canal – like mirror pond in Versailles but oppeninig out onto the sea


Practical jokes: hidden water jets in trees and in the ground.

100s of fountains

Samson fountain with the spewing lion is a monument to the Russian victory over the Swedes in 1709. Its symbols can be easily interpreted as the lion was depicted on the coats of arm of Sweden and Peter the Great was often compared with Biblical Samson. This victory was significant as it opened naval access to the Baltic sea (“window to Europe”) and was the beginning of the royal Russian navy.

Lots of reconstruction work necessary after WWII.



Gorki Park

Gorki Leninskije :

- Lenin Statue und originalappartments from Kremlin ; brought here by Yeltsin


Madame Butterfly (Puccini) in Bolshoi Theatre.

Torquato tasso: tankred & Herminia


Jonah and the Whale

Stalin-gothic skyscrapers (The Seven Sisters): Kotelnecheskaya appartments is one of seven Stalinist-Gothic towers that were built just after WW2. The architects used a "wedding-cake style" construction, to give each building a sense of "upward surge" toward a central tower. Built by POWs, it is said that when prisoners expired while working on site, their bodies were immured!

The towers owe their design to a monumental building that was never built, the Palace of Soviets. Starting in the early 1930s, planning competitions were held for the proposed 1,410-foot-high structure, which was intended to stand on the banks of the Moscow River where Stalin had destroyed the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in 1931. But despite 25 years of plans and revisions, the gigantic palace never materialized. On the same site today, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov rebuilt the original cathedral. ( In between swimming pool!)

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