Red Square and St Basil's Cathedral
Finally we had worked out how to get from our nearest metro station (Prospekt Verndaskogo - проспект Вернадского) to home, both on foot and on bus, both down the road and through the park, so felt is was time to venture out onto the much acclaimed Moscow Metro and discover greater Moscow. When in Moscow it is probably pretty obvious that the first place you will want to go and visit is Red Square, so off we set. Luckily it is a direct line to the Biblioteka ima Lenina (Lenin Library) Station from our station, so was just a case of remembering how many stops till we got off. At this stage we didn't have a clue as to how to read any Russian words, and in these Moscow Stations it is hard to find the name of the station you are arriving at anywhere, and on the line we are on, the trains don't even seem to show where you are at on the line, so to start with you just have to work out how many stops you need to go past and just get off at what you think is your station. Luckily Jimmy's counting was on the mark and we arrived at the right station. As an aside commuting here is great value, the cost to get the four of us into Red Square (a 20+ minute journey) was $NZ 3 each way.
We make our way out of the station and find ourselves in front of the Lenin Library, with its huge statue of the father of Communism (Vladimir Lenin) in front of it, although I don't know how happy he would be with all the pigeons shitting on him...
|In Alexandrovsky Garden|
|Tomb of the unknown Soldier|
We follow the signs to Red Square past the Kremlin and the great exhibition hall, through a little park (Alexandrovsky Garden) with a sunken stream dotted with statues of famous Russian folk tales. Not being fully aware of exactly where we were, we stumble across the tomb of the unknown soldier at about 5 minutes from the top of the hour, which is when they change the guard. This is a large gas torch, which is guarded continuously by a motionless soldier each side. We were aware of the timing of the changing of the guard so managed to find a position right at the front and hung around to catch this elaborate ceremony of high stepping soldiers which was well worth it. After the guards were changed we headed off towards Red Square having been able to orient ourselves now we knew the location of a few key landmarks. Red Square is entered through Resurrection Gate, and the whole area is filled with historic buildings and churches and cathedrals, and dotted with statues idolising those who have shaped Russia through history. We visited the numerous market stalls, all selling the same range of typically Russian souvenirs (Mastroika dolls, fur hats, fox skins, military memorabilia and Russian shirts) all hassling you for a sale, before heading through Resurrection Gate into Krashnaya Ploshchad (Red Square) itself. Having admired the coloured domes of St Basil's Cathedral for many years and having wanted to see Red Square where so much history has happened, it was an amazing feeling to enter it for the first time. Molly was so excited to be within sight of her favourite building as well and couldn't wait to get to the other end of the square and have a look through St Basil's. Red Square was bustling full of people everywhere, and also was in preparation for an international festival of light. We found the ticket office and got our tickets to enter the Cathedral, which again were extremely good value (about $10 for the 4 of us from memory), and off we went. This is an amazing building consisting of numerous chambers and hallways, full of colourful imagery and gilded icons, unlike any similar building I had experienced. We took the narrow winding stairs to the upper level and stumbled upon a quartet singing religious songs in the upper chapel area, was an amazing sound, as it reverberated around the huge cavernous interior. Also from the upper level you can get a great view back up Red Square.
|St Basil's Cathedral|
|In Red Square|
|Statue of Kuzma Minin & Dimitry Pozharsky, one a butcher the other a prince, who together raised and led the army that ejected the Poles from the Kremlin in 1612.|
After the cathedral, it was back towards home, and finding somewhere to eat, unfortunately we didn't get to visit Lenin's coffin on the way out as it was sealed off due tot he light festival, perhaps another time. We saw a sign pointing to KFC so thought this would be as good as any, so followed it to find ourselves in this huge underground mall, where KFC was finally found in the furthest end in the lowest floor of this mall. So we were able to sit down and at least eat something similar to what we knew. After a quick look around the mall, it was back to the Metro, on our train, 7 stops and off at our station for a walk through the park back home again to get ready for the first day at a new school the next day.