Quantcast
Latest Stories

Did you know the Kremlin is full of churches?

By

IN FRONT of St. Basil’s church in the Red Square

I never in my wildest dreams thought I would ever go to Russia. But when I was planning my six-month sabbatical trip to Europe, a Scholastican, Marla Lazaro Beyer, invited me to visit her and her family in Moscow. Her husband Philip works as attaché in the American Embassy there.

So after a month of spiritual renewal in Dublin, I flew to Moscow.

I arrived at 10:55. A driver picked me up at the airport. His name was Vladimir, and he spoke just one word to me: Rosinka? It turned out Rosinka was the subdivision where Marla and other embassy officials and foreigners lived.

If in Ireland everything is small, in Moscow, everything is big. Our first day touring covered the important places of the city, concentrating on Red Square. The most prominent building there is, of course, St. Basil’s Church, the church with all those colorful towers. It really looks amazingly beautiful.

INSIDE a typical Orthodox church in Moscow near the Spaso house

From there, we went through the grandest mall I have ever seen, the Gum, which looks like a palace but is full of elegant signature shops. We saw a sign saying “historic toilet”; the guide said it is the most fabulous toilet in the world, and you can enter if you pay 83 rubles.
Then we went into the Church of Kazan, another beautiful church built to commemorate the victory over the Polish. (The St. Basil Church commemorates the victory over the Tartars.) The Red Square used to be a moat, and has as a boundary the wall of the Kremlin. In the middle of the square is the tomb of Lenin.

Along the way, our guide Tatiana would point out the house or statue of Tolstoy, Chekov, Tchaikovsky and other famous people. She also pointed out the KGB headquarters, which gave me the shivers.

We visited the Cathedral of the Orthodox Church, the Christ the Savior Cathedral, which is massive. It is a pity we could not take pictures inside; it is hard to describe—the beautiful icons, the intricate designs, the gold everywhere were just breathtaking.

In the museum below is a temporary exhibit of about 50 icons totally covered in pearls and semi-precious stones.

WITH Filipinos at the Moskova river cruise

We visited the grounds of an active monastery of nuns, the Novodevici, beside a lake which our guide said was the inspiration for Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake.”

Along the river, Tatiana showed us the metal “trees” hung with locks. After their weddings, couples go there, hang a lock on one of the branches, and throw the key into the river to symbolize their wish that their union will not be broken.
‘Indifference’

Across this is the Swamp Square, where they used to execute criminals condemned to death. At the end of the square, which is now a garden, there is a beautiful arrangement of statues by a famous sculptor, entitled “Evil Deeds Done to Children by Adult Vices.”

The different statues personify these evils like prostitution, child labor, alcoholism. In the middle is a statue of a person covering his ears. And the label of the statue reads, “Indifference.”

PALACE of Catherine the Great

Around the city are seven buildings built by Stalin which are exactly alike, called the Seven Sisters.

We also went to the cemetery where famous people are buried. A ballerina has a statue of the dying swan on her grave.

The next day we went to the Kremlin. When you hear “Kremlin,” you imagine a grey, sinister place with cloak-and-dagger activities going on. Actually, it is a beautiful place; it is like entering a castle.
Inside is the office of the President (like the White House). There is the glass building by Stalin, and there are the barracks topped by five golden domes. There is also the house where Lenin lived and worked.

And believe it or not, there is a Cathedral Square where four cathedrals face each other. The Cathedral of the Assumption is the main church, where the Tsars used to be crowned. The amazing thing is that this church has every surface of its wall covered with icons; not one inch of wall or ceiling space can be seen. Did you ever imagine that the Kremlin would be full of churches?

“WHITE House” in Kremlin, administrative building

The last thing we visited was the armory, which should have been named the treasure house because there are more treasures than armor. Our guide Igor told us the story of the Romanov family by showing us the different gowns they wore and talking about the intrigues, the love-hate stories, etc.

Did you know that Catherine the Great was actually just a German girl from impoverished nobility who was chosen by Sophie, the sister of Peter the Great, to be the bride of her nephew, Peter III, who was a weakling?

Crowns of the Tsars

There was a glass aparador with the crowns of the Tsars studded with pearls, diamonds, amethysts, emeralds and other precious stones.

Another room was full of precious gifts from neighboring countries. There was a room full of carriages which they used during ceremonial processions. And there was a beautiful collection of original Fabergé eggs.

Our next stop was the Tretyakov Gallery, which is the unsurpassed museum of Russian art. It was the collection of a rich merchant and industrialist, Pavel Mikhailovich Tretyakov, who donated his gallery of more than 1,500 works of art to the Moscow City Duma. It now boasts 100,000 works.

Then Igor brought us to the most important metro stations, which looked more like palace corridors than metro stations. Each station was dedicated to some victory—against Poland, Napoleon, World War II, the annexation of Kiev, the rescue of Ukraine. There were always beautiful chandeliers hanging in the middle of the hall.

There is a station in the Place of the Revolution where people rub the nose of a dog statue held on a leash by a soldier. This ritual has eroded the dog’s nose, like the toe of St. Peter in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

On our third day, our goal was shopping at the Izmailovo Market. This is like Baclaran or Divisoria, but full of matrioska dolls, icons, and other Russian handicrafts. For lunch we bought barbecued lamb and salmon from a stand. It was delicious!

Razed to the ground

On our fourth day, Tatiana brought us to the Tsaritsyna, the palace of Catherine the Great in the outskirts of Moscow. There actually was an original palace built by Paul, the son of Catherine the Great, whom she hated and whom she suspected was plotting against her. So she had this palace razed to the ground, and had another built which she never got to occupy before she died.

The rooms are filled with statues and paintings of Catherine the great, her sons, and collections of archaeological artifacts and other works of art. It boasts two beautiful ballrooms shimmering with gold, and is said to give one a glimpse of the palaces of St. Petersberg.

The last pavilion housed a collection of the dresses of Russian actresses and of the famous Russian ballerina, Ulanova. We went home through the woods to another station of the metro, and when Tatiana traced how far we had walked, including the walking tour of the palace, we realized that we must have walked about five kilometers!

On our fifth day, we visited the Pushkin Museum, which has a collection of European art—Spanish, English, Dutch, French, and German. It also has plaster copies of famous Greek and Roman sculptures.
In the afternoon we went to the Spaso House, the residence of the US ambassador to Russia, because Donna, his wife, had invited us for tea. It seemed she Googled me and told Marla she wanted to meet me.
She is a very simple, friendly woman, a Catholic who studied with nuns and who has an advocacy called Moms Rising, looking after the welfare of mothers. She asked me all about my work with women. She also invited two Filipino men who work in the house, and we talked about the Filipinos in Russia.

My second to the last day in Russia was spent with Filipino workers from the Filipino Association in Russia (FAR). They organized a river cruise along the Moskova River, and I was asked to give an inspirational talk during the program. Then the boat docked at a picnic ground in a wooded area of birch trees. I was asked to lead in shibashi, and another woman taught some yoga postures. And of course, we had pictures galore.

Even in Russia, “kodakan” can never be absent from Filipino gatherings.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Kremlin , Moscow , Travel

  • Topioquin

    at the back of your mind, you wanted to go back.why not?



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. How to enjoy Buntod
  2. World bids Gabriel Garcia Marquez ‘Adios’
  3. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  4. ‘Wild West’ Masbate’s pristine marine gems
  5. Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  6. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  7. Life lessons I want to teach my son
  8. Garcia Marquez left unpublished manuscript
  9. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  10. Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  4. Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  5. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  6. This is not just a farm
  7. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  8. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  9. 12 other things you can do at Pico de Loro Cove
  10. President Quezon was born here–and so was Philippine surfing
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  3. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  4. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  10. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer

News

  • Maid confesses in killing of 2 and stabbing of employer in Laguna
  • N. Korea finally offers condolences over ferry tragedy
  • 16 CADPI sugar refinery workers now out of danger after toxic shower in Batangas
  • PNP denies Purisima’s involvement in questionable deal with courier firm
  • Pro-Russian insurgents hold journalist hostage
  • Sports

  • UP nips St. Benilde; Adamson blasts RTU in Filoil women’s caging
  • Kevin Garnett responds to Raptors’ GM F word
  • Albert Pujols hits 500th HR of major league career
  • UST posts twin kill in Filoil pre-season cup opening day
  • Wizards beat Bulls in OT to take 2-0 series lead
  • Lifestyle

  • Entering the monkhood a rite of passage
  • Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  • Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  • Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  • Life lessons I want to teach my son
  • Entertainment

  • Bollywood Oscars, film stars come to Florida
  • Ex-Fox exec denies allegations in sex abuse suit
  • Kris Aquino backtracks, says Herbert Bautista and her are ‘best friends’
  • Summer preview: Chris Pratt enters a new ‘Galaxy’
  • Bon Jovi helps open low-income housing in US
  • Business

  • SM to rebuild Tacloban hospital
  • PSEi slips after 4-day rally
  • Toyota sells 2.58 million vehicles, outselling GM
  • McDonald’s 1Q profit slips as US sales decline
  • SEC approves SM’s P15B retail bond offer
  • Technology

  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Brazil passes trailblazing Internet privacy law
  • Opinion

  • One-dimensional diplomacy: A cost-benefit analysis of Manila’s security deal with Washington
  • No ordinary illness
  • Reforest mountains with fire trees and their kind
  • Day of the Earth
  • When will Chinese firm deliver new coaches?
  • Global Nation

  • US Secret Service in Manila ahead of Obama visit
  • Palace thanks Estrada for successful HK mission
  • Hong Kong accepts PH apology; sanctions also lifted
  • China won’t budge, wants PH gov’t to apologize to HK
  • Cha cha train to follow Obama visit?
    Marketplace