Monday 22nd February
Hello readers. We have updated previous posts on this trip. Hope you find it interesting.
What a surprise it was this morning as we were met with a snow covered Moscow! Teams of snow clearing machines and people were at work keeping roads and footpaths clear. Overnight the temperature rose from -5C to 0C.
We began by exploring Red Square. The Square is known as such because in old Russian the word ‘red’ meant beautiful. It is certainly impressive in the number of buildings and the area it covers. The Square has been at Moscow’s centre for more than 500 years. it was here that Ivan the Terrible mutilated prisoners and funded the construction of St Basil’s Cathedral. In 1812 a victorious Napoleon addressed his troops on the Square. Lenin’s Mausoleum was added by the Communists who later demolished some of the buildings to make way for enormous military parades. The Square has since been restored to its pre-Soviet appearance.
St Basil’s cathedral dominates the river facing end of the Square. It has red brick towers and swirling colourful domes. Ivan the Terrible ordered its construction to celebrate the capture of a Tartar stronghold in 1552. The Cathedral has 8 chapels each representing the assaults made on the Tartars. A ninth chapel was added later to cover the grave of St Basil.
We walked to the Moscow River to see how the Kremlin dominates this part of the city.
The Kremlin itself is a collection of palaces and cathedrals and is home to the Russian President. Later we explored the GUM (State Department Store). It was built in 19th century on the site of a market that had existed for 400 years. It has three parallel halls at different levels each covered with marble and the whole building is covered with a glass roof. It is reminiscent of the Arcades of Leeds though on a grander scale, but today it is just another shopping mall with global names.
We finished our explorations with a sightseeing bus tour around most of the sights of the central area of Moscow.
We witnessed how Moscow’s daily life continued despite the quickly falling snow which was rapidly and constantly being cleared. By the end of the afternoon all areas were being treated in readiness for any overnight freeze.
During dinner Moscow experienced a blizzard but life continues, unlike in Britain.