MOSCOW, RUSSIA
-APRIL 2011-

ALL PHOTOS © RUUD LEEUW

 

 

 

Visit to Moscow 2011


This is how the day and actually the visit to Moscow started: the view from our room at the Holiday Inn Sokolniki. In the distance is Park Sokolniki (alas, had no time to explore) and the small building dead center of the photo is the subway entrance to Sokolniki station. Only 6 stops away from the Red Square, 10-12 minutes.
The round extension of the building on the left is the entrance to a mall which conveniently housed a 24-hour supermarket and also a Starbucks coffeecorner.
Beneath the highrise apartments on the right was a small Subway restaurant, but none of the staff spoke English, so there was much pointing of fingers involved in ordering.

 

 

Red Square (Krásnaya plóshchad)

Visit to Moscow 2011
The first visit into town inevitably is to the Red Square. Quite a bit of work was going on in preparation of festivities for Moscow's Victory Day Parade on May 09th, to commemorate the 66th anniversary of the capitulation of Nazi Germany in 1945. The parade marked the Soviet Union's victory in the Great Patriotic War. Unfortunately we were long gone by then, something for another visit perhaps.

Visit to Moscow 2011
St.Basils Cathedral and on the right the stark Lenin mausoleum, a.k.a. Lenin's Tomb.

The rich history of Red Square is reflected in many artworks, including paintings by Vasily Surikov, Konstantin Yuon and others. The square was meant to serve as Moscow's main marketplace. It was also used for various public ceremonies and proclamations, and occasionally as the site of coronation for Russia's czars.
The name Red Square derives neither from the colour of the bricks around it (which, in fact, were whitewashed at certain points in history) 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 being rather archaic). This word, with the meaning "beautiful", was originally applied to Saint Basil's Cathedral and was subsequently transferred to the nearby square.

Visit to Moscow 2011
Most striking building at the Red Square is the St. Basils Cathedral, with those colourful and remarkable domes.
The Saint Basil's Cathedral was the first building which gave the square its present-day characteristic silhouette.

Visit to Moscow 2011


Visit to Moscow 2011
You can have your picture taken, in front of the State Historical Museum, sandwiched between these warrior-type persons.

MORE PHOTOS OF MINE TAKE AT MOSCOW'S RED SQUARE

Visit to Moscow 2011
The imposing Kremlin walls

The Red Square information on Wikipedia

Visit to Moscow 2011
Alexander park, along the Kremlin walls. It was too early in the year to have the water in.

 

 

GUM

GUM (Russian: ГУМ, pronounced as goom, as abbreviation of the Russian: Главный универсальный магазин Glavnyi Universalnyi Magazin, meaning 'main universal store') is the name of the main department store in many cities of the former Soviet Union, known as State Department Store (Russian: Государственный универсальный магазин, Gosudarstvennyi Universalnyi Magazin) during the Soviet times.
Similar-named stores were in some Soviet republics and post-Soviet states. The most famous GUM is this large store in the Kitai-gorod part of Moscow, facing Red Square. It is actually a shopping mall. Prior to the 1920s the place was known as the Upper Trading Rows.
Elsewhere I have seen this store also referred to as GOeM.

Visit to Moscow 2011 - GOeM
During this particular day of my visit the weather was sunny (lucky me, it had been dismally raining for weeks..) and while there was a need to wear a winter coat it was one of the better days of the entire visit. But inside here the temperature was like in a glasshouse where they grow tropical flowers! We found this to be the custom elsewhere too: the heat full up!

Visit to Moscow 2011 - GOeM
Visit to Moscow 2011 - GOeM

By the time of the Russian Revolution of 1917, the building contained some 1,200 stores. After the Revolution, the GUM was nationalised and continued to be used as a department store until Joseph Stalin converted it into office space in 1928 for the committee in charge of his first Five Year Plan. After the suicide of Stalin's wife Nadezhda during 1932, the GUM was used briefly to display her body.

Visit to Moscow 2011 - GOeM
Visit to Moscow 2011 - GOeM

After reopening as a department store during 1953, the GUM became one of the few stores in the Soviet Union that did not have shortages of consumer goods, and the queues of shoppers were long, often extending entirely across Red Square.
Many of the stores feature fashionable brand names familiar in the West; locals refer to these as the 'exhibitions of prices', the joke being that no one could afford actually to buy any of the items displayed. In fact we saw little shopping going on, window-shopping perhaps, though the surrounding streets had a high number of Lexus and other extravagant cars parked.
More info on Wikipedia..

Visit to Moscow 2011 - GOeM
Not expensive at all, and an excellent choice of food available, is the Restaurant 57.
There is always a queue here, I was told, but it moves quickly. Heartily recommended.
Thanks to Svetlana, our guide for 2 days, for pointing this out.

 

 

Visit to Moscow 2011
We strolled into a book store near Lubyanka square and were impressed by the size and the expanse of books and noticed many people browsing and reading, much like a Barnes & Noble bookstore in the US. But even more daunting was the fact that we couldn't read any of it and no one spoke a word of English. They did have a very nice restaurant in the basement, so we could rest our weary feet.

 

Visit to Moscow 2011 - icons
One sees many of these icons in churches and one is obviously offered for sale here: trade or someone facing hard times?

 

Visit to Moscow 2011
We were looking for the Gulag Museum and couldn't find it. Not much use asking people as no one seems to speak English, people mumbling something that could be 'njet' or 'no', quickly followed by a redirecting of unsmiling eyes and perhaps a brusque movement of an arm: not much help. But you get to see other things like this theatre we walked into.

Visit to Moscow 2011
There seems to be a lot of dust in the streets, perhaps because of the cold, unrelenting winters.
This truck sprayed the streets, while driving at a considerable speed.

Visit to Moscow 2011
This was quite astounding: cleaning the white stripes of this street crossing. And it seems to work as one can distinguish by the difference between the ones that have been done and the ones yet to be cleaned. But it involved a laboriously moving to and from of the vehicle (while traffic passed left and right), instead of someone using a high pressure flexible hose to do the same. Also there were at least three more people involved, equally 'important' to the job at hand.

 

Visit to Moscow 2011
And another surprise we came across unexpectedly was this exhibition of statues, very nice indeed!
But we found no information whatsoever to tell us anything about it. Pity.

Visit to Moscow 2011
Visit to Moscow 2011

Visit to Moscow 2011
These young women obviously had a good time too.
Quite often younger people speak some English, but I drew a blank here too. Would have liked to know if all the statues were made by one artist or had more people involved.

 

 

Back to the streets, over and under...
Visit to Moscow 2011
A cinema. I liked the extravagant staircase at the corner of the building.

Visit to Moscow 2011
We walked hundreds of steps like these: either to get to the metro or getting ourselves 'across' the road or large square.

Visit to Moscow 2011
In these passageways we often found shops. It is comfortable here, a break from the unrelenting wind that seemed ever present during our visit. Perhaps a cool place during hot summers too.

Visit to Moscow 2011
Art in the street.
Considering the style it could have been painted by a Dutch master; or inspired as such. But again no information provided.

 

Visit to Moscow 2011
A visit to the Lubyanka Square

The Lubyanka is the popular name for the headquarters of the KGB and affiliated prison on Lubyanka Square in Moscow. It is a large building with a facade of yellow brick, designed by Alexander V. Ivanov in 1897 and augmented by Aleksey Shchusev in 1940-1947.
The Lubyanka was originally built in 1898 as the Neo-Baroque headquarters of the All-Russia Insurance Company, noted for its beautiful parquet floors and pale green walls.
Following the Bolshevik Revolution, the structure was seized by the government for the headquarters of the secret police, then called the Cheka. In Soviet Russian jokes it was referred to as the tallest building in Moscow, since Siberia could be seen from its basement...
During the Great Purge, the offices became increasingly cramped due to staff numbers. In 1940 Aleksey Shchusev was commissioned to double its size by adding another story and engulfing backstreet buildings. Shchusev's design accentuated Neo-Renaissance detailing, but only the left part of the facade was reconstructed under his direction in the 1940s, due to the war and other hindrances. This asymmetric facade survived intact until 1983, when the symmetry was restored at the urging of Communist Party General Secretary and former KGB Director Yuri Andropov (image below) in accordance with Shchusev's plans.
Although the Soviet secret police changed its name many times, its headquarters remained in this building. Secret police chiefs from Lavrenty Beria to Yuri Andropov used the same office on the third floor, which looked down on the statue of Cheka founder Felix Dzerzhinsky. A prison at the ground floor of the building figures prominently in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's classic study of the Soviet police state, The Gulag Archipelago.
After the dissolution of the KGB, the Lubyanka became the headquarters of the Border Guard Service of Russia, and houses the Lubyanka prison and one directorate of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB). In addition a museum of the KGB (now called Историко-демонстрационный зал ФСБ России, Historical-demonstration hall of the Russian FSB) was opened to the public.
In 1990, the Solovetsky Stone was erected across from the Lubyanka to commemorate the victims of political repression.

[Source: Wikipedia]

 

Visit to Moscow 2011 - Andropov

Actually taken somewhere else, but it seems fitting to include it here:
Visit to Moscow 2011

 

 

Museum of Moscow's History, not to be confused with the huge history museum on the Red Square, is one of the oldest museums of the city and was established on the initiative of Russian scientific community in 1896.
The basis of the collection was formed with the exhibits of the pavilion "Moscow" at the All-Russian Artistic and Industrial Exhibition, which was held in Nizhny Novgorod in 1896.
Over time the museum acquired a great number of articles depicting life in the city throughout its history, from Moscow's ancient beginnings to the present day. Among them there were various maps, drawings, photos, documents, sculptural models of city buildings and districts as well as everyday objects.
This museum can be found on Novaya Ploshchad 12, across the Polytechnical Museum, which we actually intended to visit but a sign 'no photography' and loud noises of hordes of schoolchildren running around put me off. So we crossed the road and visited this modest one. A small fee had to be paid for photography, which is customary in museums here.

Visit to Moscow 2011
Large photos of Moscow's streets were on display, but no information in English was provided
so the year this photo was taken is anyone's guess.

Visit to Moscow 2011
Visit to Moscow 2011

Visit to Moscow 2011
There was no information in English, so we had to form our own impression.

Visit to Moscow 2011
A charming guard on duty; while dressed for a cold winter day, inside it was tropical. Did not seem to bother her at all.

 

 

Visit to Moscow 2011
Extravagant luxury is quite loudly on display. Fast driving SUV's are a menace here, the rich take right of way in Moscow.

Visit to Moscow 2011
There is a huge parking problem, the amount of cars is growing much faster then there are parking spaces available.
So impromptu parkings are created on spots like these or on corners of wide streets. Quite often we, humble pedestrians, had to resort to walking on the streets, dodging traffic, while cars had taken possession of all the entire pavement.

 

 

Visit to Moscow 2011

Starbucks, home away from home in a way. But for the real 'hot chocolate' you'll have to look elsewhere.

Visit to Moscow 2011 - Starbucks
'PYGU' was written on the cup when asked for my name: Rudi.

Visit to Moscow 2011
A restaurant that came highly recommended and indeed provided for an excellent dinner.
If I correctly translate the sign "ресторана Генацвале", this is Restaurant Genazvale where they serve Georgian food. It came recommended and this was found to be good advice! You'll find it at the Ulitsa Ostozhenka.

Visit to Moscow 2011
About a ten minute walk away from our hotel was the Kolbasoff Restaurant; a good place for an affordable meal and they also serve some nice beers (I particulalry liked a dark one, similar to a stout, but cannot recall the name if indeed I was ever told what it was; knowledge of English was rudementary but that was never a problem).
Most restaurants have a staffed cloakroom, made me uncertain about tipping (should I have done? email)

Visit to Moscow 2011
Most locations we visited for a cup of coffee and a sit-down break looked like expensive nightclubs and quite often we were in doubt whether we actually could get a coffee or tea and were supposed to order champagne instead.. But we were never disappointed and ice cream or cake was also readily available; but indeed these places were never a cheap option. For budget alternatives there are these kiosks, but not a viable option for those who want to take the weight of their feet (such as I).

 

 

Visit to Moscow 2011
Remarkable differences in building styles: colossal apartment blocks, delicate churches and glass & chrome modernities.

Visit to Moscow 2011
Very nice these original Soviet relics!

 

 

The Moscow Metro, or subway, is a very efficient mode of transport; every 2 or 3 minutes a train will pass. The metro is very clean and often fabulously decorated with tiles, chandeliers or statues. Over 6 million people will use the metro every day! It is an inspirational place to be, also because one needs to be alert on where to go, with the confusing Cyrillic script and hordes of people passing left and right. I am sure we overpaid our tickets at times, because the cashiers hardly spoke English and must have misunderstood my 'dva', meant for tickets for 2 persons, for a return ticket.. Or I misunderstood their questions. Anyway, travel is cheap so I wasn't much bothered by sometimes overpaying. Next time I must try to get a card for multiple use over several days.

Visit to Moscow 2011  - metro
A confusing task, to get tickets for those of us who don't speak Russian. Perhaps that was why we never noticed other Western tourists travelling on their own during these few days?

Visit to Moscow 2011 - metro
It pays to have some understanding of the Cyrillic script (e.g. the 'P' should be read as an 'R' and the 'C' as an 'S'.
What I found helpful is to learn a few words such as restaurant and Lenin and use those letters in translations.
If you look on the sign on the photo above you'll be able to see which station is Sokolniki.

Visit to Moscow 2011
Over six million people use the metro every day!


The Moscow Metro (Moskovsky metropoliten) is a rapid transit system that serves Moscow as well as a neighbouring town of Krasnogorsk.
Opened in 1935 with one 11-kilometre (6.8 mi) line and 13 stations, it was the first underground railway system in the Soviet Union. Currently, Moscow Metro has 182 stations. Its route length is 301.2 kilometres (187.2 mi). The system is mostly underground, with the deepest section located at 84 metres (276 ft) below ground, at Park Pobedy station.
The Moscow Metro is the world's second most heavily used rapid transit system after Tokyo's twin subway.
WIKIPEDIA, more..

 

 

 

Visit to Moscow 2011
Visit to Moscow 2011

The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour (Russian: Храм Христа Спасителя) is a Church in Moscow, Russia, on the bank of the Moskva River, a few blocks west of the Kremlin. With an overall height of 105 metres (344 ft), it is the tallest Orthodox church in the world. WIKIPEDIA, MORE <--
Stalin had the original cathedral here destroyed during the 1930s, in order to build a 'Palace of the Soviets' here. World War Two spoiled his plan, instead during the late-1950s work started to build world's largest open air, heated swimmingpool...
President Boris Jeltsin decided during the 1990s to rebuild the Cathedral. Costs: over a billion dollar!
Work continued 24 / 7. Workers endured temperatures of 30 degrees below zero Celsius.
Most of the funding was provided by the oligarchs, some pressure was applied left and right... It was completed in 2000.
Most of the above found in an article by Pieter Waterdrinker, in Vrij Nederland (11aug2012).

Visit to Moscow 2011

Cold wind blowing!
There was an unrelenting, cold wind blowing, which also was a torment to the people of Moscow, it seemed.

 

Visit to Moscow 2011

Visit to Moscow 2011
We crossed the bridge, from the Christ the Saviour Cathedral over the Moskva river onto an island created by Vodootvodnyy (drainage) Canal which has many warehouses these days (being) converted for other use such as restaurants, art academy and galleries, entertainment clubs and such like. Remarkable area to walk through.

Visit to Moscow 2011
Visit to Moscow 2011
Visit to Moscow 2011 - Peter the Great
Visit to Moscow 2011

Again crossing the Vodootvodny Canal onto the mainland, walking along on the Moskva river banks (Kadashevskaya naberezhnaya, Yakimanskaya naberezhnaya and Krymskaya naberezhnaya we passed the giant statue of Peter the Great. It is one of the world's tallest outdoor statues! The statue was commissioned by the Mayor of Moscow, Yury Luzhkov, to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the foundation of the Russian Navy in 1998.
Further along we passed an impressive outdoor gallery of paintings offered for sale, very nice work too!

Visit to Moscow 2011
In an underpass we found more paintings for sale, with a great variety of subjects: landscapes and portraits of famous people among them.

 

 

GORKY PARK


Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure is an amusement park in Moscow, named after Maxim Gorky. It featured in many a (spy) film. It wasn't open yet for business, people were removing the remaining snow and cleaning it from dust, litter and debris. For us nevertheless and inspiring place for photography.

Visit to Moscow 2011
Someone should free these horses before harm overcomes them by suffocation!

Visit to Moscow 2011
The befitting entrance in Soviet values.

Visit to Moscow 2011
Much cleaning going on...


Soon hordes of people will again take possession of these streets and carnival noises will shatter the peace & quiet.

Visit to Moscow 2011
During the winter the footpaths flood over and freeze, which allows ice-skating around the park.

Gorky Park was opened in 1928 and is located at Krymsky Val and situated just across the Moskva River from Park Kultury Metro Station.
The Park was planned by Konstantin Melnikov, a world-famous soviet avant-garde and constructivist architect. Gorky Park was created by the amalgamation of the extensive gardens of the old Golitsyn Hospital and the Neskuchny Palace and covers an area of 300 acres (120 ha) along the river.
Gorky Park has children’s play areas, fun fairs, various amusement rides, (the enormous Ferris wheel has been removed from Gorky Park at some point) and one of the mockups (test units) from the Buran space shuttle program, which allows children to take part in 'the Cosmic Experience'.
[Wikipedia]

Visit to Moscow 2011

'Gorky Park', the book by Martin Cruz Smith (1981) and film (starring William Hurt & Lee Marvin)
Gorky Park the book and film

 

 

Visit to Moscow 2011
Crossing the Moskva River once more..
Tthis covered bridge provided a gentle calm, an oasis as it were, from the unrelenting wind.

Visit to Moscow 2011
24-hour supermarkets seem quite common

This remarkable building would not be misplaced in Barcelona
 
 

 

MOSCOW MUSEUM OF PHOTOGRAPHY

Visit to Moscow 2011
Visit to Moscow 2011

Visit to Moscow 2011
In an exhibition dedicated to portraits of Mick Jagger, taken by world renowned photographers,
I was pleased to see also photos by Anton Corbijn, a favourite photographer of mine.

 

Visit to Moscow 2011
View from the Holiday Inn Sokolniki at sunset
We take a rest,
or move to PAGE TWO - MORE OF MOSCOW & OUTSIDE THE CITY

 

 

MORE PHOTO OF MINE, OF THIS TRIP, ON FLICKR.COM:
Moscow (general)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dutchsimba/sets/72157626718820635/
gorky park -
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dutchsimba/sets/72157626710166653/

 

EXTERNAL LINKS:
www.moscow-cityguide.com
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moscow
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrillic_alphabet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Created: 14MAY11 - Updated: 13 Augustus, 2012