Neelam Pratap Says Moscow Is All Things Big, From Spacecraft To Circus
It’s not everyday that you choose Russia as your destination. For me Moscow was a city with many different layers, from architecture to culture to moods and rivers. Talking of rivers, Moscow is named after the river Moskva that flows through it. Until I got there, I didn’t know it’s the fifth largest city of the world. It is believed that the city is eight and a half centuries old. The first record of it in the chronicles is dated in the year 1147, and they say Prince Yury Dolgoruky was founder of this city. I am passionate about history and trivia and my travelogue has plenty of that.
Russia always reminded me two things as a child. The Russian spacecraft and the famous circle. I made special trips to see both and they were positively a nostalgic experience.
Russian tourism has come of age. The beautiful weather and neat and clean city beckons tourists in hordes especially after last year when the world saw it through the matches of FIFA Football World Cup. Perhaps 2019 was a good year to go and so my trip has some really special memories.
Growing up, all things foreign would have that powerful unique image of the Kremlin. The intricate towers and walls of the Moscow Kremlin were built to a design by Italian architects. It’s breathtaking. The Russian Government works in the Kremlin, so tourists are only allowed to the part of its territory where the cathedral is, the oldest Russian museum, the Armoury Chamber, and the Diamond Fund with its unique collection of precious stones and jewellery are located. Nonetheless, it’s grand, colourful and so symbolic of the era that Russia ruled.
Moscow is named after the river Moskva that flows through it. Until I got there, I didn’t know it’s the fifth largest city of the world. It is believed that the city is eight and a half centuries old.
There are 5 airports, 9 railway stations and 2 river boat ports in Moscow. The length of the underground lines exceeds 260 kilometres to more than 160 metro stations, new ones are being continuously added. Some of the iconic sculptures and wall work dot these metro stations. The palace-halls of the metro stations, which are among the most beautiful in the world, were built about fifty years ago. But the first line was opened in 1935 and there were Mayakovskaya and Komsomol’skaya are considered the best of them.
Meet the Seven Sisters
The architectural silhouette of the city is quite recognisable due to the seven high-rise buildings constructed in the late 40s and early 50s by a direct command of Stalin, which are also called seven sisters. The most famous of them is the University of Moscow building on the Hills, and it’s majestic. The others, just as tall are occupied by the Foreign Affairs Ministry, some hotels, offices, or simply dwellings. As we have all heard, the city is now amongst the most expensive. So not surprising the pompous Moscow sky-scrapers with their steeples and sculptures have been raising the bar. And for me Moscow without them is just as unimaginable as Paris without the Eiffel Tower.
Among the scores of Moscow theatres, the most famous is the Bolshoi (Grand). It does give you goosebumps to think this is it. ‘The’ theatre. Introduction to the Russian classical ballet is a must. The Moscow circuses are also popular, perhaps their charm has worn off a bit from the 80s when they were world famous. But then if you want to relive the nostalgia, absolutely fun.
Like all European towns, there is life and entertainment over the rivers. The bridges across the Moskva and Yauza rivers are adornments of the city, especially in the evening when they are illuminated in a showy way. The longest of them is the Metro-bridge in Luzhniki, and the smallest one across the Yauza is only 20 meters long. Plenty to do, and even eat enough ice cream in knee deep of snow. The elegant single-arch Krymsky Bridge is perhaps the most beautiful bridge in Moscow. Bridges are constantly built or reconstructed in the city and sometimes they are even moved up-or down-stream by means of barges to let ships in and out.
One of the interesting facts about Moscow is that when the streets where made the huge buildings were shifted to another place. Shifting took place while people where still there in the buildings.
There used to be nearly five hundred Orthodox churches in Moscow. Now about 150 are functional and another 100 are in the process of renovating. The most impressive are St. Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square, the rebuilt Christ the Savior Cathedral, and the complex of Novodevichy (New Maidens) Convent.
At the highest point of Moscow there is a viewing area up on the hill from which you can see the panorama of the Moskva river bend and the Big Arena of Luzhniki Stadium where the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games were held in 1980. There are more than 60 museums in the capital; the most popular of which are the Kremlin, the Pushkin Museum of Art with its unique collection of impressionist and modernist paintings, and the Tretyakov Gallery. Personally for me this was touching many milestones, being here.
One of the interesting facts about Moscow is that when the streets where made the huge buildings were shifted to another place. Shifting took place place while people where still there in the building. At least that’s how the story goes. While I remain amused at such trivia, suppose you can expect anything from the Russians!
Views are the author’s own and the piece has been edited.