Thursday, April 10, 2014

Those Places Thursday (April 10, 2014) -- Russia

With all the recent news about Russia and Ukraine and the take-over of the Crimea, it made me recall a week-long trip I took to Russia in 2006 (St. Petersburg and Moscow only) with a friend.  It was definitely a different experience as these photos will illustrate.

The high goose-stepping young soldier above is part of a changing of the guard ceremony at a memorial to war dead in the shadow of the Kremlin wall (which can be seen in the background).

This photo is interesting. In view of the news reports of a resurgent interest in the Soviet Union in Russia and especially in the Crimea and eastern Ukraine as shown by the flying of the old Soviet flag and the playing of Soviet music, I remembered that the elderly couple in this picture were playing patriotic Soviet music full blast on the boom box the man is holding. They were in the porch entry to a building just outside Red Square and the open arch and brick made the music echo and sound even more strident.  The couple was largely ignored then, but I am not so sure it would be the same today.

This is a huge Eastern Orthodox church in Moscow within easy walking distance of the Kremlin and Red Square. I'm not sure if there is anything allegorical in the story of this cathedral given past history and recent news, but it sure made me think.

The church above is the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow.  It is 338 feet high and is the tallest Orthodox Christian church in the world. It was originally built in the 1800s and it took 40 years to complete.  Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture premiered in the cathedral in 1882.  

In 1931, Joseph Stalin completely destroyed the cathedral in order to make way for a stupendous structure to be known as the Palace of the Soviets.  The Palace was never built and instead a gigantic open-air swimming pool was constructed in its place. Then, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the pool was destroyed and cathedral was completely re-built in the 1990s to duplicate the original cathedral on the original site.  Pictured above is the second coming of the cathedral and it was largely funded by donations to a construction fund by over 1 million Russians.

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Photographs by the author (November 2006).

For more information about the Cathedral of Christ the Savior see For more about the story of the cathedral, historic photos of the original building, the swimming pool and the conception for the Palace of the Soviets, see 
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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