Assumption Cathedral, I just loved the architecture and detail
Part II: Touring Moscow on Foot, Underground and with my rather disagreeable colleague Peter (the Brit)
This is the second part of my visit to Moscow: the first was the business nature of it. It was now late November and the flowered trees that I had seen in September were gone, the trees bare and the wind swift as if to bring vengeance for past injustice. One this first November day of touring I almost missed the beauty of Moscow as I walked the streets with my head held low, my hand shielding my face from the bitter wind while I dogged the not so visible patches of ice on the ground.
Everyone seemed to be dressed in huge heavy fur coats and fur hats walking at a pace I would normally associate with my hashing (fun run). I was tempted many times to enter a coffee shop to warm myself: I did submit to the temptation most of the time by the way. Hmmm huh!, nothing like a hot cup of coffee on a cold Moscow day (which was everyday of my stay there). In the previous business part of my blog I mentioned that Moscow is a beautiful city (actually beautiful is an understatement). The cars in Moscow are always hooting (honking) and it seems there are always police sirens going, well at least on the few occasions I was on the road, the noise was over powered by the sirens. I had learned a little about using the underground station but the maps were in Russian of which I spoke zero words. Even though many Russians speak English, they are not easy to ask directions from unless you know them a little more than just "hello can I ask you where I'm going?" On two occasions I got completely lost and I had to call Peter who was not too thrilled to come find me amongst the cold and not so cheerful crowd.
The Cathedrals at the Kremlin from behind the security walls
The Assumption Cathedral: smaller domes at the side of it made in gold and pastel blue
Another November morning came and I excused myself from the office, I told Peter I was going for coffee and he declined to be an escort because I would not help him complete a project that was due two months down the line. My coffee break turned out to be a great day to tour the Kremlin and it's surrounding buildings that are art pieces in themselves. I took a taxi and the only thing I told the driver was "Kremlin". He looked at me as if I was a lost child who need help finding her mother and as an after thought smiled and shook his head as if to say "yes I will take you there, hang on tight" and he speed off with me in a direction I don't remember. As we went passed Red Square he turned as if to tell me something but then decided against it, later on I found out he was gesturing towards Red Square so i could see.
Fortunately he dropped me off where everyone looked foreign even the Russians themselves. The huge cameras and video recorders were a give away for tourists. I wrapped my scarf around my neck and nose to shield me from the cold, my eyes burned from the cold at first, but after a moment the pain passed and I began my tour.
This Bell Tower was ordered by Ivan the Great
The Kremlin: The Kremlin is right next to Red Square, it is the seat of Russian parliament or government for that matter. It is one of Russia's most popular tourist attractions and I had to see it. The Kremlin is the one building that shows off the splendor of Moscow’s princes and rulers. It is a fortress of power within whose walls the world's most revered rulers made decisions that caused so much pain and bloodshed, history records such ruler like Gorbachev, Ivan the Great etc.
It is a historical building that was constructed on a smaller scale many hundred years ago and was added onto in the years that followed; Kremlin apparently means fortress or fortified stronghold of a city. It was made larger during the reign of Ivan the great who decided the best builders were Italians, so he shipped in many Italians to build fortification walls and add to the existing structure as well as build more cathedrals. Of course this is a government building so tourists are not allowed in, at least I was not able to go inside but the hour that I managed out there, I barely saw half of the grand architectural achievement that the Kremlin is. The fun part of my tour began once I started seeing the Cathedrals. I saw three Cathedrals and that was it.
The Assumption Cathedral
Assumption Cathedral: O' my God I think this is the best of all the cathedrals that surround the Kremlin.
It is older too and meticulously kept. The golden domes are a sight to see: the architect was an Italian who is said to have died in a Russian prison because Ivan the great would not grant him his freedom to return home to Italy for fear of having the cathedral replicated. I spent almost 40 minutes just taking snap shots of the domes from different angles, when I finally had them printed Peter asked me if that was the only building in the whole city. I remember being very disappointed with Peter because he refused to see what I saw, the beauty and talent that went in it all. But then again he never really showed his true emotions, if he was very impressed, and I mean really impressed he would go "How lovely indeed" and this was the extent of his excitement, imagine that. Well back to my fun with architecture, on the side of the Cathedral were these smaller domes of Gold and pastel blue with detailing only an artist of the old could have come up with.
They gracefully lined the side while at the front the huge onion like domes shine on as if to say "come on in", such an inviting sight.
The next cathedral was the Archangel Cathedral: a class of it's own, nothing like the Assumption cathedral but never the less an architectural achievement indeed . . .