Sunday, 10 September 2006

A Saturday in Moscow

Chirst the Savior Church, Moscow

Yesterday on Saturday we (I and my mother who is visiting me in Moscow) went to see the Christ the Savior Church (earlier during the Soviet period in place of that Church there used to be a swimming pool), a newly built Church just a stone’s throw from the Kremlin (Fort where the Russian President lives). As we reached near the Church we saw a very large crowd (more than thousand people) queued up to enter the Church. It was a frightening sight for us as this was the second time we had to return from the gates of the Church. The last time it was the last Sunday, the second anniversary of the Beslan School tragedy. The Church had been closed for the visitors as the Archbishop of the Russian Orthodox Christianity(equivalent to Pope of the Orthodox Christianity) and the President Putin themselves were present at the Church to perform a service. May be we shall try once again for the third time the next week to see this grand Church that has become the symbol of New Russia, a place where people are deeply religious, a significant change from the Soviet times when people secretly had to pursue their religious beliefs and rituals. I asked a friend later why there was a huge queue outside the Church. The reason was that a part of the body of the Jesus Christ was brought from abroad to Moscow for the believers to see and was kept in the Christ the Savior Church.

St. Basil's Cathedral

The view of the GUM and the Red Square
the St. Basil's Cathedral

On the interior wall of the St. Basil's Cathedral

Slightly disappointed we moved towards the Red Square where we straight away went towards the St. Basil’s Cathedral, the colorful onion shaped domes you often watch on TV while any story of Russia is reported. When we got near we saw that the Cathedral was open for the visitors. What a miracle! Since last one year it was undergoing renovation and I always returned from the Red Square looking at Cathedral’s domes. We rushed to buy tickets (no free entry if you were thinking). I presented my Studentichisky Billet (Student Card) to get a fifty percent discount as the charges for the Innastranets (foreigners) are really huge for entering Muze (Museums). It was a long held secret we just wanted to quickly know seeing through our own eyes. Inside it was not disappointing as there were a lot of things to see, beginning with a model of the St. Basil’s Cathedral, the richly decorated coffin of St. Basil, a number of items used in the Cathedral during the past centuries including a bible with golden covers. The floral printings on the walls inside the rather dark and narrow alleys of the Cathedral were remarkably well preserved.
The Red Square and the GUM (a huge shopping centre for the most expensive international brands) looked different from the heights of the Cathedral.

Bibles with Gold covers inside the Cathedral

Statue of a lady coming out of bath in Historical Museuem

We took a turn again, walked across the Red Square towards the Historical Museum. We spent hours there looking at the various historical artifacts from the past centuries of Russia. Dresses, pottery, weapons, precious metals, statutes, furniture, vehicles filled the museum. Recently the Museum has got some Terracotta Soldiers (UNESCO Heritage) (For More) from China especially for the Muscovites to see the achievements of other cultures and civilizations. What struck me looking at these clay soldiers was the story behind their making. The Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang wanted his whole army to be killed when he would die to protect him after death and he was very adamant on that. Somehow he could be convinced towards the end of his life that terracotta soldiers could be equally good and he was buried along with a large number of such soldiers, horses, carriages etc. all made of terracotta.

Terracotta Soldiers in The Historical Museum

Smiling in the Historical Museum

Floral prints on the walls of the St. Basil's Cathedral


Blogger Lindsay Lobe said...

A very interesting post. I would love to visit your wonderful Cathedral, but reading about its rich history and viewing your pictures is the next best thing. I do hope your idea about Christianity may help turn away progress from just unbridled capitalism. In the west there is an ugly side to it; capitalism needs a new base to embrace sustainable development for communities and to adopt human rights. That is to say spirituality and concern for human rights can go together in sustaining the new capitalist secular state.
Best wishes

10/9/06 5:49 pm  
Blogger abhay k said...

Thank you so much Lindsay,
You are welcome to Moscow anytime of the year. Let me have the opportunity to host you!
I could not agree with you more on capitalism...

10/9/06 9:06 pm  
Blogger rachana said...

thanks for sharing interesting information..good luck to you for next time,,when you will successfully visit the "church"!! and will share your experiance with us..

11/9/06 10:04 am  
Blogger abhay k said...

Thank you so much Rachana,
Let's hope for the best!

11/9/06 12:05 pm  
Blogger mikim said...

This post is truly breathtaking - thanks, for the splendid tour.
And, thank you for your kind words on my site.

11/9/06 4:51 pm  
Blogger abhay k said...

Hi Mikim,
Welcome to I&U,
thank you so much for your visit and wonderful words!

11/9/06 6:51 pm  
Blogger paris parfait said...

Thanks for sharing these wonderful photos and history, along with the glimpse of your day with our mother! Lovely.

11/9/06 10:16 pm  
Blogger Scheherazade said...

Oh my what a treat Abhay!

Thank you for sharing this marvelous photoessay.

Your mother is a doll--a slender matrushka!

12/9/06 12:24 am  
Blogger abhay k said...

Dear Tara,
Thank you so much! Calling her "our mother" is a great thing to say...

Hi Yasmin,
I am so glad to know that you liked it. Thank you so much for being here!

12/9/06 11:41 am  
Blogger Varoon said...

Hi Abhay

It nice to see a diplomat interested in Arts and Culture. I am a literature student studying at University of London. My main aim in life is to establish a base for Postcolonial studies and literature in India. Its a shame that we Indians have not taken interest in this area. I guess you are interested in reading books. I would suggest Edward Said's Orientalism and Culture and Imperialism, try getting hold of these books, read them, I am sure you will get a new insight into the struggle of we Indians against the colonialists.

take care

17/9/06 12:54 pm  
Blogger abhay k said...

Hi Varoon,
Welcome to I&U,
Thank you so much for taking out your time and suggestion. I would get hold of Edward Said's book asap.
I really appreciate your idea and please let me know if I could contribute in someway in achieving your aim.
Best wishes!lets keep in touch!

18/9/06 12:28 pm  

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