Monday, October 13, 2008

Red Square & St Basil's Cathedral

Bright and cheery picture of the boys in Red Square, with St Basil's Cathedral behind them. We went there right after Gorky Park last month (I was testing out my then-new DSLR remember?), but was too lazy to organise the pictures.

St Basil's Cathedral, built in the 16th century, is probably Moscow's best-known icon and it's as beautiful in real life as it is in pictures. Its design comprises nine individual chapels, each topped with a unique onion dome. The next two pictures were taken from the south side of the cathedral while the picture above was taken from the Red Square side, which I think is prettier and more vibrant. The cathedral is located on the south side of Red Square, and it is NOT part of The Kremlin, as many mistakenly think.

In front of the cathedral stands this bronze statue of Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky (picture below), who rallied Russia's volunteer army and drove out invading Polish forces during the Time of Troubles (late 16th and early 17th centuries).

So standing on Red Square and facing south, you see St Basil's Cathedral. Turn right and you'll see the Kremlin Wall (see picture below), the defense wall that surrounds The Moscow Kremlin. Originally designed as a medieval fortress, the Kremlin is the current seat of the Russian government and home of the President. There are churches, palaces, armories, watchtowers, beautiful gardens and a forest in the Kremlin.

One day I will take pictures inside The Kremlin; again the Red Square is NOT The Kremlin, even though many news reporters stand on Red Square in front of the cathedral when reporting news out of Kremlin.

See the 3 ladies (well one is cropped out of the picture) on the right? They kept looking at the boys, amused at their obsession with walking on lines/patterns. These ladies are from the US and in their vibrant coloured jackets, just remind me of the colourful fairies in the Sleeping Beauty cartoon, don't know why :)

The picture above is when the ladies first spotted the boys. Seelah, these boys, so uncultured, surrounded by history and all they want to do is compete with each other not to step out of the yellow line.

Anyway, imagine you turned right again after facing the Kremlin Wall (still on picture above), now you'll be facing the north side of Red Square. At the end of the Kremlin Wall is Lenin's mausoleum and next to this, on the right of the picture is a red building, the State Historical Building.

This red building has nothing to do with how Red Square was named. The Red Square is actually the 695 meters long and 130 meters wide city square that the boys are walking on.

From Wikipedia: The name of Red Square derives neither from the colour of the bricks around it nor from the link between the colour red and communism. Rather, the name came about because the Russian word красная (krasnaya) can mean either "red" or "beautiful" (the latter meaning is archaic).

After playing "Let's not step out of the yellow line", now it's "Step only on white lines or you're out". Tak boleh tahan them.

Next to the red building is the Kazan Cathedral (you can barely see it in the photo) and on the right is GUM, a shopping centre.

Closer look at GUM which is beautifully ornate both on the outside as well as the inside.

So how? Does it feel like you've already been to Moscow? And you didn't even have to take the 10+ hour flight here. But if you think my review was crap, do make your way here, Singapore Airlines flies daily to Moscow, 4 times weekly direct flights and 3 times weekly via Dubai. The seats on the direct flights are extra comfortable and spacious. Come lah...


Alcovelet said...

Wow! You live in this breathtaking city with the beautiful, northern sunshine and strange candy posicle buildings contrasted against baroque stateliness? Now I'm sorely tempted to impose ourselves on you guys, hahaha!

Lilian said...

That was a beautiful week; this week's turned significantly colder and gloomier and I am feeling like I want to stay in bed all day.

Come lah...but make sure you take your national airline okay?

bACk in GERMANY said...

Wow... the Byzantine influence in architecture can be found everywhere on the Red Square, esp so in St Basil's Cathedral. Indeed breath-taking and quite a different take from many cathedrals here in Central Europe. Read that Ivan the Terrible had the architects blinded so that they'd never build something as awesome as ever after St Basil's. How true. The cathedral is indeed one of her kind!
And wow, woman, you captured the colours so well... gotta send in your photo to update the site I visited... lousy faded pic of St Basil's.

Even GUM the shopping mall has a neo-classical yet the windows arches appeared to be strongly under the influence of byzantine... I can't imagine how magnificent the times were when it was built. Must have been a good time in terms of power and economy.

Ok lah... I confess I know nothing about Moscow...

Haha... My kids will also challenge each other: Let's pretend the yellow line is a tight rope! Yay, tight rope walking, here we come!
And of course, the zebra crossing... crossing only on whites!

How long more will you be in Moscow? Gotta know till when this invitation is open mah...

Lilian said...

Wow, PP, you really know your stuff huh? How the heck do you know so much?...shikes I'm feeling more and more like an ignoramus amongst you ladies here. Lots of info I have here are culled from the net while writing this post. And Byzantine is a word I remember from guidebooks on Florence but ask me now what it means, and it draws a blank. All I know is the buildings are gorgeous!

Ai...Brian's been asking me fairly often how long more we'll be in Moscow...I asked him why? He says he doesn't want to leave cos he likes his friends here very much...aiyoh...foresee our move out of Moscow to be an angst-filled one. Anyway, my answer to him (and now to you) has always been, "Darling, we never know, it could be next month, it could be next year, it could be longer, we never know."

bACk in GERMANY said...

If i don't remember wrongly, one distinct characteristic of byzantine is the very adorned column, i.e. after the arch, there's a break of ornamented decor and then followed by the column. Also very elaborate fresco, mosaic and bright colours - which is of course difficult to tell, coz colours fade over the years... e.g. Piazza San Marco in Venice is another place filled with byzantine exemplars.

I have this book in Sg... gotta go dig it out... It's a short guide to architecture. Very fun to have it with you when you are in Europe... Can't remember the title now. But next time when you are back, I'll try to dig it out for you. I'm hoping it's not in German though.... can't remember again! Sigh...

Aiyah, to each his own mah... you wanna be an all-rounder meh?
Didn't Hsien discuss the matter with you before already?
You are so clever with numbers.

Anyway, like I mentioned... I don't know much either... just a little reading here and there... with the internet today, people will learn more and know more.

Lilian said...

Sure I want to be an all-rounder, BUT NOT all rounder, else I wouldn't be on a perpetual diet. :P It's late here, and my corny side emerges after midnight.

Don't you just love the internet? Opportunities for learning every single day is boundless. Also, while blogging about places takes a bit of effort, it's well worth it, cos now I know more about Red Square etc than ever before.

bACk in GERMANY said...

Yep.... wow... your directions... almost made me lose my way around Red Sq! Hahaha... kidding lah.

Knew you thought of that. So all-rounder with an hypen! ;)

Oh yes, the Internet is so powerful. If I only I had this then when I had to do research during uni days.
Nowadays, kids don't need teachers anymore! Or rather, teachers are just mere facilitators of knowledge.

Lilian said...

Wah give you free virtual tour, still complain. Yup, I reckon it'll be confusing, have edited a bit, hopefully a teensy bit more clear now. Complain some more, fly over and see for yourself lah.

You're right about teachers being facilitators. I wouldn't want to be a teacher these days, kids will know much more than I do. The internet of course also makes homeschooling a lot more viable.

bACk in GERMANY said...

Ok.... complaint retracted!
Really, I appreciate your hard work, esp after you hinted twice that you learnt alot after blogging about a place.

I was on my way to compliment your nice tour. Thanks, really for opening up my interest in Red Sq. I very suaku here... ;)

bACk in GERMANY said...

Hi Lil!
Was back at your post again.
I think Sean is sporting a double chin in one of the photos. The one with him facing the camera and some of the American ladies cropped out of the photo.

Alcovelet said...

Hey Cindy, your knowledge is impressive! I just love these architecutural icons but never had the time to look it up. S-art, again I say!

monlim said...

ei, you promoting SQ again ah? I know Eddie works there lah, but...

Very nice, looks like something out of a story book. Funnily enough, when I see the Kremlin wall, I think of Big Ben! It's like the exotic version :D

Lilian said...

BiG: Where got double chin? The little fella stuck at 20kg for months and doesn't seem to have grown taller.

Mon: Nolah, most of you guys are from Singapore, so naturally link to an airline that flies here from Singapore lor ;) Can't go wrong with the recommendation anyway, it is after all, the best airline in the world. Eddie working there has totally nothing to do with it hehe...

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