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Published: January 30th 2009
St. Basil's Cathedral
A very cool looking cathedral.
Day 2 of 2 in Moscow was devoted to seeing those compulsory sights of Moscow - Red Square and the Kremlin. Now we had of course heard of Red Square before, but never seen it on TV. So naively, we were expecting some rather large impressive square, possibly painted red, and most definitely with fake soldiers parading around - maybe even allowing you to take a photo with them for a few rubles. Not so. Red Square isn't red - and to be honest, I don't think it was even square. Apparently, the Russian name for can be translated as both the colour red, or just beautiful - hence the lack of red paint. (btw, before you send a message explaining the significance of Red and Russian - yes, I know).
What is a lot better than the Red Square though is the state museum - a big red building with white trimming that looks a lot like where the government of gingerbread men would live. Even more interesting is the Russian Orthodox church right beside it, that happened to be having a service when we were there. We had a quick peek inside, and were fascinated by the huge
The State Museum
Official residence of the government of gingerbread land (because it reminded my wife of a gingerbread house)
arrays of candles and chanting inside. Lots of chanting. A tad creepy to be honest. And lots of people with head scarves. A very different kind of service from the one we go to back home.
On the opposite side of Red Square is another great sight - Saint Basil's Cathedral. Not sure who Basil was, but I do know that there was a Disney movie with a mouse called Basil - not sure if that is related in any way, but just thought I'd throw that in. Saint Basil's sports a whole bunch of domes, each a different color and size. Its a crazy looking church clearly designed by an architect who discovered the 'palette colour fill’ button in Photoshop. Very photogenic, but surprisingly smaller than you would expect. Unfortunately its not open to the public, so we had to be content with external photos only.
We then went for a jaunt around the walls of the Kremlin. They say that looking upon the Kremlin is meant to inspire awe at the greatness of mother Russia. I don't know why. From the exterior, all you see is a big red wall, and the tops of a few
An orthodox church beside Red Square. Lots of chanting and candles inside. A tad creepy but worth a peek.
buildings tall enough to poke out above the walls. Its not particularly imposing, or grand or even scary. No ugly gargoyles, or heads on stakes, or anything to inspire awe. The numerous hot dog vendors don't do anything for the 'awe-inspiring' image either.
But there is one very cool thing in the Kremlin - treasure. And lots of them. All housed inside the building known as the armoury. Its a collection of Russia's state treasures, and really ... copious amounts of bling-bling - well worth dropping the jaw in amazement for. Most famous of the collection is the Faberge eggs - opulent jewel-encrusted eggs that the Czar had specially crafted for his wife for every birthday. If you've watched the movie "Ocean's Twelve", its the big egg they try to steal. Interestingly, the Faberge eggs we saw were actually quite small, no bigger that two fists - so either the director's of Ocean's Twelve got the size of the egg wrong or we simply weren't special enough to see the really big ones. The armoury definitely is well worth a visit, if not just to gawk at opulent gem-encrusted treasures, but more importantly, to remind yourself just how grand
Just one of the pretty gates leading into Red Square
a country Russia used to be, back in the days of the Czars.
And so ended our second and last day in Moscow. Overall, Moscow was an interesting city to visit, but honestly, not the
most exciting we've seen. In particular, we're glad that we got to see it as part of a stop-over, rather than flying all the way to Russia. Alas, Moscow of today is much too modern and fast paced to allow a tourist with limited time (and budget given the exorbitant hotel prices) to discover its soul and culture. But we're told that Moscow and Russia are two different entities - the Russia outside a stark contrast to its capital. So on our next visit, we will definitely step out into the countryside, in search of those crouch-dancing Russian's and fat jolly Babushkas.
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