Sep 01

SAINT BASIL CATHEDRAL IN MOSCOW – AN EVERLASTING ARCHITECTONIC MASTERPIECE (СОБОР ВАСИЛИЯ БЛАЖЕННОГО, МОСКВÁ)

Although this famous cathedral is known worldwide as “Saint Basil’, its official name is “Cathedral of the Intercession of the Mother of God”. The alternative name linked to Saint Basil refers to the fact that the holy relics of Blessed Basil, who is highly revered in Russia, are buried inside the church. Saint Basil “the Fool” lived between 1468 and 1552 and had been buried in Holy Trinity Cathedral, which at that time was located on the current site of the famous edifice, a few years before the current cathedral was going to be built.

The raising of St. Basil Cathedral was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible in 1552 to mark and celebrate the capture of Kazan from the hands of the Mongols. It was completed in 1560 and although there isn’t any evidence known about its construction, the place is “haunted” by a lot of legends. For example, we do not know anything about the actual builders of the cathedral besides their names – Barma and Postnik Yakovlev – and the legend that after the construction was finished, Ivan blinded them so that they can no longer see anything and never make any comparisons. Historians have established, however, that this is nothing but folklore. Another legend has it that Napoleon love this cathedral so much that he wanted to bring it to Paris. Since this could not be done in that time, he was angry and ordered to be set on fire. A rain saved it in the last minute.

 

The architects of today cannot agree with the idea that has governed the plan behind the building. There is the hypothesis that the builders wanted to dedicate a tribute to the churches in Jerusalem, building eight churches around the ninth, representing the medieval symbol of the star with eight corners (reminiscent of the Lord’s resurrection day). On the other hand, the eight domes symbolize the eight attacks triggered by tsar against the Tatars of Kazan. The original concept of the Cathedral St. Basil remained hidden under layers of additional styles that have been added to the main building. Originally, the cathedral was completely white to match the white walls of the Kremlin. Regarding the towers, they were golden and not as colored as they are today.

In the 17th century a bell tower was added and the domes were replaced and decorated. In 1860, the cathedral was rebuilt, gaining a new paint and a new integrated and complex design, which has been kept until now. During the time of the Soviet Union was called into question the demolition of the church because it stood in the way of Stalin’s plans of organizing parades on the Red Square. The cathedral was saved only because of the courage of the architect Piotr Baralovski who refused orders to begin preparing demolition, sending the Kremlin a telegram of refusal, saying he will cut his throat in front of the cathedral if it will be destroyed; the telegram was going to cost him five years in prison.

Today, St. Basil Cathedral is a museum. During the restoration works of the 70s, in one of the walls was discovered a wooden spiral staircase. Visitors use this scale to enter the main church, which is an architectural masterpiece. Once a year, in October in the cathedral the priests hold the service for the Intercession Day.

Saint Basil Cathedral is open every day of the week, except Tuesday, between 11 to 17o’clock.

It is probably the best known symbol of Moscow and it represents the peak of human creativity and mastery.

Photo source:

Picture 1: famouswonders.com; Picture 2: en.spbrossitour.com; Picture 3: thetimes.co.uk; Picture 4: holeinthedonut.com; Picture 5: trekearth.com; Picture 6: reddit.com; Picture 7: worldsecretlocations.com
Jul 06

TRANS-SIBERIAN ROUTE – AN EXCELLENT ADVENTURE ON THE TRAIN! (TRANS-SIBERIAN ROUTE)

A trip on the Trans-Siberian railway is one of the most picturesque in the world. Stretching over two continents, this railway route links the frostbitten northern side of the Pacific to the Baltic Sea. Between these two points is the largest, the most amazing lengthiness of infinite land is unfolding in front of your eyes and includes the biggest natural lake in the world, the Forbidden City, Kremlin, the Mongolian steppe and taiga – whole kilometers so far untouched by human foot.

For those who plan a Trans-Siberian journey, the first step may be the most confusing. In the following paragraphs, you have a list of suggestions that will help you with the decisions that need to be taken before leaving.

The classic Trans-Siberian route begins Moscow and lasts for seven days. Finally, the train arrives in Vladivostok, a port city rather untidy, but nevertheless poetic and picturesque, placed at the Pacific Ocean. In Vladivostok you will find a cosmopolitan mix of Chinese immigrant and other Asian nations, and the feeling that dominates this city is very distinct. It doesn’t abound in tourist attractions, but it is worth roaming through it for a few days. If you continue your journey eastward from here you can take the ferry to Korea or Japan.

The Trans-Manchurian route crosses almost all of Russia in length before arriving to China. After you pass Lake Baikal and the city of Chita, the train is heading towards the southeast. This route can arouse the interest of tourists in wintertime, as the train stops the city of Harbin, where you can witness the spectacular annual festival of winter. The terminus of the trip is Beijing, where tourists can go on, or fly home from the international airport.

The Trans-Mongolian route crosses three countries, going south in Mongolia before ending in Beijing. This is the best route for those who want to experience different things. After thousands of kilometers across Russia by train you will pass through the wild and surreal beauty of the Mongol steppe. A stop in Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia, allows the tourists to spend some time in one of the least explored countries in Asia. The last stop is back in Beijing, and from here you have various options.

Decide when to begin your trip. Each season offers a different travel experience. If you are interested in the frozen landscape of Siberia, choose winter, but you should know that temperatures in January in Irkutsk can reach -26ºC. During summertime, the big cities can get really hot, but in smaller cities Siberian weather is pleasant and ideal for walks. Late spring and early fall are also two moments of the year, because they are less crowded.

Decide when to go forward and when to stop. There are people who have made a real passion for traveling on the Trans-Siberian routes. The most experienced travelers claim that a real traveling enthusiast hops on the train and takes it from Moscow to Vladivostok continuously, without getting down, admiring the scenery from the window. This unforgettable experience consists in the visual pleasure provided by the the path itself more than anything else (that’s only if you’re not a big fan of instant noodles).

But for many, such a test of resistance does not sound very tempting. Most tourists prefer to get off the train in certain cities and spend a few days there to somehow interrupt the monotony. Plus so you have access to some of the most spectacular sights in Russia. Among the most popular stops include Novosibirsk, Ekaterinburg, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk and Ulan-Ude or Harbin (on the Trans-Manchurian route) and Ulan Bator (on the trans-Mongolian).

Photo source

Picture 1: tsvoyage.com; Picture 2: nomadicexpeditions.com; Picture 3: nstravel.ro; Picture 4: russiasupplychain.com; Picture 5: edgrahamphoto.com; Picture 6: transsiberianexpress.net; Picture 7: siberiantimes.com
May 16

MOSCOW SUBWAY SYSTEM BETWEEN PRACTICAL REQUIREMENT AND ARTISTIC MASTERPIECE

The Russian subway system is among the oldest on the world. Its construction begun in 1930 and ever since then, the railways kept on being built. Nowadays it measures approximately 250 kilometers in length. It’s the second most crowded and most used metro system in the world, after the one in Tokyo.

mymodernmet.com

mymodernmet.com

The most impressive about the subway in Moscow are the stations: the beautiful architecture, the decorations, the several styles combined, everything makes you think of monuments and museums, rather than public transport.

Most stations have been built during Joseph Stalin’s regime, and represented one of his vanities – positive ones – and his endeavor to show the world that he such beautiful things will be a part of his legacy.

mymodernmet.com

mymodernmet.com

The stations are decorated in the same style as some of the Russian palaces: marble of different colors, Byzantine mosaics, and elegant combinations of tiles, stained glass, frescos, chandeliers, and bronze statues, all of them adorning all the 140 stations in Moscow. Few people know that these precious assets are the remains of thousands of churches and monasteries which Stalin had demolished, in his attempt to build the greatest socialist empire of the world, like in the case of Park Kulturii, Kropotninskaya or Okhotnii Riad, three stations where the marble pieces once made of the walls of Jesus the Savior Cathedral.

mymodernmet.com

mymodernmet.com

The subway itself is one of the most important and popular touristic attractions of the Russian capital, and out of the 150 subway stations in Moscow, Komsomolskaya is considered to be the most beautiful. The subway station is almost like a museum. It is decorated with paintings by the greatest artists in Russia and is illuminated by crystal chandeliers weighing several tons each. It was inaugurated in 1935 and you can admire the tall pillars, gray-blue marble and granite floor. The imposing ceiling is decorated in a Baroque style with mosaics whose themes target Russians’ struggle for freedom and independence.

mymodernmet.com

mymodernmet.com

Mayakovskaya is considered to be one of the most beautiful stations; it was inspired by the Soviet poet Mayakovski’s visions on the future of the country. It has 34 mosaics made by Russian artist Alexander Deyneka, and during World War II, the station served as anti-missile shelter.

Entuziastov Shosse. The theme of this station is the Russian people’s struggle for freedom throughout history. Here visitors can admire many types of revolutionary marble sculptures and paintings created under revolutionary ideals; among the numerous works of art, you can distinguish the “Flames of Freedom” sculpture belonging to A. Kuznetsov.

mymodernmet.com

mymodernmet.com

Prospekt Mira is located in the northern side of the city, in an area where there are not many tourist attractions. This station was decorated by architects Vladimir Gelfreyech and Mikhail Minkus and was inspired by elements of the botanical garden nearby.

Ploshchad Revolyutsii: a station where you can observe the 76 sculptures arranged thematically, from parents with their children, athletes, students, farmers, workers or soldiers. At the entrance, there is the statue of a customs officer with a dog whose nose is often petted by passers-by, as the legend says that it brings them luck.

Arbatskaya station was built primarily to serve as anti-atomic bunker. It is the deepest metro station in the world (dug 41 meters underground) and is the second largest in Russia.

mymodernmet.com

mymodernmet.com

In Novoslobodskaya station visitors can admire handmade stained glass 32 in Lithuania, a country that prides itself on tradition in this area.

Kievskaya. This is the “pearl of the Soviet Empire”. This metro station is the first in Moscow and is named after the city of birth of Joseph Stalin – Kiev (Ukraine). The station is decorated with sculptures, paintings and mosaics made by the greatest artists of Russia.

There are dozens more and each bears a unique mark of classic elegance slightly touched by the socialist plate.

Either way, the Moscow metro represents one of the most sought sites in Moscow and will welcome you any day.

Apr 22

SANKT PETERSBURG, THE CAPITAL OF OPULENCE (SANKT PETERSBURG)

If we were to choose a capital of luxury, elegance and opulence, Sankt Petersburg could easily gain a top position. The imperial headquarters, the City of Tsars was meant to be a display of grandeur, from the very beginning, despite its modest start out, considering that prior to the majestic palaces and cathedrals, the surrounding place was nothing but a daunting swamp.

Kazan Cathedral  http://www.crestinortodox.ro/

Kazan Cathedral
http://www.crestinortodox.ro/

The Russian emperor who gave the name to the citadel, Peter the Great, gathered an army of the finest European architects to fulfill his desire of sophistication and luxury, and the dream came true, making the place the first modern city of the Russian Empire and the household of the Romanov Dynasty.

Centuries have passed, Russia faced tremendous turmoil and changes of the forms of government, but nothing crashed the splendor and greatness of Sankt Petersburg.

sankt2

http://turism24.net/

The home of some of the most prestigious museums, Sankt Petersburg is a macro-scale museum in itself and one of the finest collections of art, history and culture in the entire world.

Every corner, every building preserves the mark of a great historical moments or personality that you know of from your books.

Winter Palace  http://www.infotour.ro/

Winter Palace
http://www.infotour.ro/

However, be prepared to enjoy the visual exhibit of wonders and make sure that you adjust your visit to the harsh weather. To the locals, it doesn’t mean much and it’s a part of the city’s charm, but to those of you who are not accustomed to Russian winters, you might need to add some extra luggage to keep you warm. But the problem is not the chill itself, which is at the “normal levels” of any winter in the temperate zone, but the humidity: Sankt Petersburg is located on the Neva – fact that granted it with the nickname `the Venice of the North – and it gives a foggy disposition all year long.

Another particularity is the White Nights phenomenon, which takes place from nay to July, due to the placement in the Northern hemisphere. The sun hardly goes underneath the horizon (for not more than one hour daily) and it bather the city in an endless twilight which confers a surreal other-worldly charm to the already staggering beauty of the city.

During this time of the year, you have to opportunity to enjoy many artistic events; such as music and theatre festivals that take place, making Sank Petersburg the liveliest spot on the planet, with people roaming the streets in seek of exhilarating and unforgettable performances.

http://www.turismistoric.ro/

http://www.turismistoric.ro/

However, if you decide to plan your visit during this time, keep in mind that all the touristic spots will be overcrowded.

I would mention a few popular venues which every person who appreciates art must see at least once in a lifetime.

Hermitage Museum one of the most famous museums on the planet and probably the most visited spot in all Russia. What is more to say about this collection of some of the finest artistic treasure worldwide?  The Hermitage is a fabulous castle that gathers more than three million masterpieces signed by names such as Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Rembrandt or Picasso. Do not expect to manage to visit the entire museum but make sure you decide prior to the entrance which areas to go to. For instance go to the section of your favorite artists, or favorite epoch, as it is impossible to see everything in only one visit. First of all, there aren’t enough hours in a day…

https://www.pinterest.com/

Jupiter’s Hall, hermitage Museum https://www.pinterest.com/

A fun fact which you’re probably missed is that some of the most respected employees of Hermitage are a few cats that have the clear task to protect the masterpieces from mice!

The Pushkin Palace – with its famous Amber Room -, the University of Sankt Petersburg, the Winter Palace, Menshikov Palace, Kazan Cathedral, Mikhailovsky Castle, Petrodvorets Palace, Peter and Paul Fortress – a military complex which houses a former prison and the cathedral where the Romanov family is buried -, Alexander Nevskiy Monastery are just a few options that you must not miss.

You can talk endlessly about this historical and architectural gem, you can return for many times but you will always remain with the feeling that there is still something left to discover and let it mesmerize you.

 

Feb 10

Lenin’s Mausoleum

A while back, I have published an article on the website in which I have presented the famous Red Square in Moscow. Today, I ‘return’ to Russia and to the Red Square in order to depict more accurately  one of the attractions located here  which has only been mentioned in passing in the previous article.

I am talking about Lennin’s Mausoleum, which has been erected in the Red Square shortly after the death of Vladimir Lenin. Located in the center of Moscow, the mausoleum is a well-known tourist attraction, especially since visitors can actually gaze upon the communist revolutionery.

Shortly after his demise, which occured on the 21st of January 1924, a wooden burial chamber was constructed in order to lay to rest his earthly remains. But such a construction was not worthy of the Soviet ruler. Thus the architect Aleksei Shchuse was commissioned to erect a much appropriate and lasting mausoleum for Lenin.

http://www.onthegotours.com/Russia/holiday/Lenin%27s-Mausoleum

http://www.onthegotours.com/Russia/holiday/Lenin%27s-Mausoleum

The construction was completed in 1930 and it was exquisitely executed, inasmuch as it complements the Kremlin which stands behind it, the architect having used the same pallet of colors and materials, so that the two seem to be part of a unity. The pyramidal construction appears to be small which is quite a surprise taking into account the Russian masterpieces which impress not only through their architectural designs but also through their impressive stature.

But the eye is oftentime deceiving and that is the case in what concerns Lenin’s Mausoleum. Looking at it from the outside, the vault is relatively small, but exploring the mausoleum unveils that its width enlarges towards the underground. There are two levels underneath the building. One floor was designed as a resting space for public figures who visited the place and for Kremlin guards, while the other had administrative functions, more accurately it was used for supervisory purposes during the embalming procedure. Unfortunately for tourists, this areas is not open to the public, even if it has lost its initial scope and it is no longer used.

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:Lenin_Mausoleum_Moskau.jpg

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:Lenin_Mausoleum_Moskau.jpg

One is allowed to enter into the funerary chamber, but items such as bags or cameras have to be left in the coatrooms because photographing or filming is forbidden inside the premise. Even though tourists get the chance to literally look Lenin in the face, this occurance is swift in the sense that guards rush visitors so that they do not glance at Lenin more than a few minutes. The reason? Well, there has been a lot of controversy in the past regarding this matter. Some have actually implied that it wasn’t actually the body of Lenin deposited in the mausoleum. At least not any more. It was rumoured that the body was substituted long ago by a wax figure and this is why visitors are ushered out of the funeral room so quickly. Whether or not this is the case is debatable. Maybe you should venture yourself on Russian territory and see the body with your own eyes. Then you can judge for yourself.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2139527/Vladamir-Lenin-poisoned-Joseph-Stalin-Russian-communism-founder-bumped-political-rival.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2139527/Vladamir-Lenin-poisoned-Joseph-Stalin-Russian-communism-founder-bumped-political-rival.html

Besides the fact that you cannot film inside the mausoleum, there is an etiquette you need not overlook. Respect has to be shown when inside the tomb which means no talking out load, no smoking, no keeping your hands in your pockets and no wearing hats (with the exception of women).

With the exception of Mondays and Fridays, as well as legal holidays, the mausoleum is open for visits daily from 10:00 until 13:00.  Tourists still wait in line to get access inside Lenin’s tomb and it is really no wonder because who would not want to visit the resting place of such an important historical figure?

Oct 29

The Kazan Kremlin

When it comes to masterful blending of history, art, cultural characteristics and architectural wonders, Russia occupies one of the highest places among the world’s countries. It is not my intention to undermine the impressive artistic expression of other countries around the world, but today we are going to bring homage to the architects who with an utmost care and immense craft managed to create architectural jewels.

http://goeasteurope.about.com

http://goeasteurope.about.com

The Kazan Kremlin is an ensemble of archeological and architectural testimonials of great cultural value, as we have already been accustomed with when it comes to Russia. The complex, which consists of numerous monuments which date from different centuries (from the 16th up to the 18th century), has become a part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage since 2000.

Up next, we are going to look at some of the constructions that make up the Kazan Kremlin and even detail brieftly some aspects about their history.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Annunciation_Cathedral_-_Kremlin_-_Kazan_-_Russia.JPG

First of all, I will mention the Söyembikä Tower as it is one of the most recognizable monuments within the complex. In the incipient stage of the city’s kremlin, this leaning tower was one of the tallest structures constructed. In time, the inclination of the edifice became more and more visible so that by the first years of the 20th century, its tilting was measured at about 194 cm. Due to the obvious advancement of the tower’s leaning rate, various methods to stabilize the construction were undertaken all throughout the 20th century.

The exact moment when the Söyembikä Tower was constructed is unknown. There are several theories according to which the tower was erected at the end of the 17th centuries, but other scholars claim that the tower came into being in the second half of the 16th century when this type of construction became widespread in Russia.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Spasskaya_Tower_of_the_Kazan_Kremlin.jpg

Legend has it that the tower was in fact built under Ivan the Terrible and its construction lasted for only one week. The most important part of this tale is actually meant to explain the name given to the construction. According to this legend, Söyembikä, who was the queen of Kazan in that time, committed suicide by throwing herself from the tower.

The main entrance to the Kazan Kremlin is made up of two elements: the Church of the Holy Savior’s Image which incorporates a gate within it, thus allowing access within the complex, and the Spassky Tower. The aforementioned church was initially constructed with the purpose of holding within items which stand as testimonials of the battle carried in Kazan in 1552.

The Preobrazhensky Gate Tower is a four-sided construction with two levels which is encircled at the bottom by fortified ramparts for sustainibility.

http://www.11che.ru/kazan.html

As it has been previously mentioned the complex is also renowned for its archeological discoveries. In the later years of the 20th century, excavations in the area have revealed stone gates built between the 11th and the 16th centuries. Pylons and other fragments have help scholars put the pieces together and untangle some of the historical past of the area.

The Governer’s Palace was artistically designed by a well known architect, K.A. Ton, who has also designed the plans for two other famous buildings: the Cathedral of Christ the Savior and the Grand Kremlin Palace, both situated in Moscow. This particular building was finished in 3 years time (1845-1848).

The Kazan Kremlin constain many more noteworthy monuments and if I have managed to capture your attention even just a little bit, then you will have no problem in finding further information about this one-of-a-kind touristic attraction. And who knows? Maybe you might even make it your goal to visit this place sometimes in the future.

May 29

Gorky Amusement Park

Are you ready for the ride of your life? Or should we say ‘rides’? In many of the articles posted on this website we have emphasized the importance of retreating to a tranquil resort and of finding that inner peace which would make us return to our day-to-day routine with a new energy. But while an escape into nature is always a good idea, there are moments when you simply need to have fun, and a lot of it.

http://www.moscow.info/images/children/Gorky-Park.jpg

http://www.moscow.info/images/children/Gorky-Park.jpg

And what can be more appropriate in this department than finding a great amusement park where you can leave everything behind and experience the thrill of the ‘dangerous rides.’ Yes, it might be a bit crowded for some, but this is part of the definition of an amusement park. In fact, you would not find it that interesting if you were to go on a roller coaster ride all by yourself, would you? And even if you have to wait in line for what seems to be forever, the best part is that when you finally reach the top of the line, and the machine starts to move, you know that the wait was worth it.

In this department of amusement parks, Gorky is renowned. Gorky Park, or Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leasure, as it is officially known, is situated in Moscow and has opened its gates to the public in the early 20th century (1928). The beauty of this park is that it comprises several gardens which extend over an area of 300 acres and it neighbours the Moskva River. And among this natural landscape you discover fun fairs and great rides which fill you with adrenaline.

http://www.irinaglobal.com/irina/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/GorkyPark-jpg.jpg

http://www.irinaglobal.com/irina/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/GorkyPark-jpg.jpg

Gorky was designed by the famous architect Konstantin Melnikov so it is no wonder that the avant-garde influences are noticible within the architectural style of the park. It comes as no surprise that the park had became popular immediatelly after opening. The novelty of this particular type of entertainment attracted masses of people who were impressed not only with the architecture of the park but also with its rollercoasters, space shuttle, big ferris wheel and so on.

But the park was changed almost completely in 2011 when the new administrator of the park decided to take Gorky to the next level and transform it into a ‘green’ recreational facility. This meant removing the majority of the food stands and some of the fun rides and replacing them with different types of leisure activities such as yoga or aerobics. The idea was to get people interested in sport and thus boost their energy level throught healthy activities. Other attractions include various fairs which revolve around art, thus emphasizing the importance of culture and promoting it as much as possible, an open-air cinema and several coffee shops.

In winter, there are specially arranged areas where people can engage in skating or hockey and the best part is that the area dedicated to these activities extends over 18.000 square meters so there is room for everyone to enjoy themselves on the ice.

Mar 12

Azov Fortress (Cetatea Azov)

There are many touristic attractions throughout Eastern Europe worth mentioning, but all will be tackled in due time. For the time being we will focus our attention towards Russia, and more precisely, towards a town situated 16 kilometers off the coast of the Azov Sea. The name of the town is actually Azov, due to its close proximity to the mentioned sea.

What is it that makes this town enter our list of ‘places you ought to visit’? Probably it has something to do with its historical background. Many peoples have settled on this land and each had had its influence on the way in which the landscape changed throughout the years.

Azov Fortress

But the ones who we are going to mention in this particular article are the Ottomans, due to the fact that their control over the area in the latter years of the 15th century (1471) had led to the appearance of an imposing fortress, the Azov Fortress. This is actually the touristic attraction on which this article revolves.

The construction was erected with the purpose of hindering the Don Cossacks from invading the Ottoman Empire and from gaining control over the Black Sea, which represented an important trading instrument.

Of course, this particular aspect did not impede the former from attempting to attain their goal and that is to crush the Turks and gain control over the area. Thus, the fortress was the main target due to the fact that it was a well fortified construction in which the rivals could resist for time on end against their attackers. Azov Fortress witnessed a great number of battles and if you are interested in finding out more about the turnout of each of the mentioned clashes, you should definitely look into the subject. But for the time being, we will turn to the reasons for which you should definitely visit this less known part of Russia.

Azov

There is no doubt that Russia has many tourist attractions and that most of them are located in Moscow and Sankt Petersburg, but a tourist interested in comprehending the entire history of a given country and in visiting even the most secluded places in order to gain insight into the development of a specific place, will not think twice before embarking in a ‘quest of discovery’.

To put it in simpler words, the fortress had changed many hands throughout time, only to be ceded to the Russian government at the end of the 18th century when the Treaty of Kuchuk-Kainarji was signed (the peace treaty signed at the end of the first Russo-Turkish Wars in 1774).

The Old Fortress of Azov

But enough about historical facts. Tourists will be pleased to hear that the climate of the region is characterized by mild precipitations and that the weather is relatively good. Even if the time of the year in which they decide to travel to Azov is relevant, the temperature is not the same as in other parts of Russia. The summers are very warm and while winters are cold, they are by no means comparable to the other areas where extremely low temperatures recorded.

Many legends revolve around the fortress and more particularly around the cellar, where it is said that the Ottoman Empire used to preserve its outstanding riches.

In the 20th century, the fortress was declared a cultural monument and the City Council took all the measures to preserve the remnants of the glorious past, especially since the construction was such an artful depiction of military engineering development. Thus, the fortress, with the cellar, gates, walls and ditches that had survived the passage of time, was declared a monument and restoration was initiated. The goal was to preserve the ancient structure for the posterity.

The Entrance Gate- Azov

The cellar was reconditioned and passed on into the patrimony of the historical museum. When Azov celebrated its 900th birthday, the City Council organized a special event in which all the important battles of Azov were reenacted with the help of an exhibition organized by the Russian artist Arseny Chernyshov.

The authenticity of the exhibition was remarkable and the fact that the fortress was preserved so well until this day it can only mean one thing: that tourists are given the possibility to indulge themselves with a piece of historical recollection. So do not hesitate to visit this unique monument.

Oct 04

The Pskovo-Pechersky Monastery (Manastirea Pskovo-Pechersky)

The Pskovo-Pechersky Monastery is the Russian Orthodox monastery which also goes by the name of the Holy Dormition Monastery. The Holy Dormition Monastery is situated in the western part of Pskov, a city located in close proximity of the Estonian border.

It is definitely not on your route, if you are on your way to visiting Moscow and Sankt Petersburg, but if you find yourself in this region, you should make some time to visit this beautiful monastery.

http://www.dreamstime.com

The edifice is considered to have been founded in the second half of the 15th century, in 1473, when St. Jonah had sanctified the monastery of the Dormition of the Holy Mother of God. But historically, the life of the monastery began several years in advance as a number of hermits who wanted to isolate themselves from the material word and all its temptations and who wanted to seek spiritual rebirth, had decided to live in the caves found in this place. In fact, the vestiges of some of the hermits are still located inside the caves and many decide to take this road in order to pay their respect and express their adoration to the holy remains of the saint.

The monastery had seen both times of happiness and sorrow, but after centuries had gone by and after the experiences it underwent, it is still standing and believers still give voice to their prayers in this place.

http://www.123rf.com

As time went by, the size, as well as the status of the monastery has increased. It was in the 16th century that the Monastery of the Holy Dormition had expanded extensively, becoming a monastic ensemble. Two churches and a bell tower were constructed and the entire complex was fortified by means of a stone wall which comprised several strongholds within its design. It was around this time that the friary increased in size, numbering as much as 200 members.

The importance of the monastery intensified and due to the flourishing period it traversed, the abbot in charge of the complex decided to begin recording all the events which were even remotely connected to the specific construction, but more importantly those of religious significance. The monastery also comprised a workshop designated to teaching the craft of icon-painting.

http://rolfgross.dreamhosters.com

After this glorious period, came a troublesome period in which the edifice was heavily damaged due to the constant attacks directed at it. These came from different sides (Poland and Lithuania), but the attack with the most devastating effects was carried out in 1581 by Stephan Batory, the Polish King of that time.

At present the monastic complex comprises 10 churches, but the number of brothers that are part of the friary has greatly diminished in comparison to the large community (200) that existed in the 16th century.

The friary goes on with its day undisturbed, the monks working in the field in order to sustain themselves. The workshop which was established such a long time ago is still functional and besides engaging themselves in icon-painting, the participants are also thought how to carefully tend to a damaged icon in order to restore its original appearance.

539 years have gone by since the monastery was erected. The world has changed extensively during this time, edifices have been constructed or have been transformed into ruins, but the monastery has preserved its position and now stands proudly as the stronghold of Russian Orthodoxy.

Sep 20

Tretyakov Gallery (Galeria de Arta Tretyakov)

Russia is a ‘reservoir’ of culture and art and the multiple galleries and museums that spread throughout its territory are a clear example of this. The State Tretyakov Gallery is an art gallery located in Moscow which is renowned for the exquisite exhibitions found within its walls.

The gallery officially came into being at the beginning of the 20thcentury, but its history goes back half a century. In 1856, Pavel Mikhailovich Tretyakov, a Russian merchant, had begun collecting works of art signed by Russian artists that lived in his time. His goal was to acquire paintings, drawings and sculptures which would in time evolve to encompass a considerable number of works that represent the Russian national art in its different forms. The purpose was to put the basis of a museum.

http://www.artactmagazine.ro

Between 1856 and 1892, he dedicated his time to finding exquisite works of art, his collection reaching more or less 2.000 pieces at the end of this term – the collection comprised 1,362 paintings, 526 drawings and 9 sculptures.

It is no wonder that everyone was taken aback when faced with such an impressive assortment of works of art. Thus the construction of the Tretyakov Gallery was put into motion. The edifice to house the collection had to be worthy of the privilege it was bestowed on it. The façade of the structure was artistically created by Victor Vasnetsov, the painter who conferred a unique Russian fairy-tale architectural design to the gallery.

http://www.studylanguages.org

The construction work took only two years to be completed (from 1902 to 1904) and the site chosen for the gallery was near the Moscow Kremlin (to the south). But the gallery did not remained unchanged, on the contrary, expansion was underway and it can actually be said that in the 20th century the gallery experienced a ‘boom,’ having expended to encompass a number of adjacent buildings. Among these edifices was the Church of St. Nicholas in Tolmachi which dated from the 17th century.

At present, the Tretyakov Gallery is home to more than 130.000 pieces of art, one more valuable than the next. Just to name a few, ‘Trinity’ by Andrei Rublev, ‘Composition VII’ by Wassaily Kandinsky and ‘Black Square’ by Kazimir Malevich can be admired at the gallery.

Painting by Vasily Perov – http://www.wikipaintings.org

But the Tretyakov Gallery is not solely a place where artistic pieces are on display. The institution also organizes various events which are in a way connected to culture. For instance in 2012, the gallery was the site of the famous FIDE World Chess Championship which was disputed among Vishwanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand. There might be some voices to disagree with this type of events taking place inside the gallery but there has to be underlined that culture comprises several segments and chess might just be one of them. It is in effect a form of art, especially when discussing it at the level at which it is played in the championship. Not to mention that the event attracted two types of audiences, those interested in fine arts and chess lovers.

1985 marks an important year in the history of the Tretyakov Gallery this being the moment when the gallery merged with a gallery of contemporary art, but solely from an administrative point of view. The latter gallery still kept the position it occupied to the south of the Crimean Bridge. This addition was quite important for the museum as it consisted of an important collection of sculptures which were representative for Socialist Realism.

http://www.zoomandgo.com

In close proximity of the gallery of contemporary art tourists can admire sculptures which have been ‘exiled,’ so to speak. The statuettes are representative for the Soviet Union and when the URSS had fallen, every reminder of that time had to be erased. But the sculptures were not destroyed; they were relocated in this garden which comprised the remnants of a fallen regime.

Those who visit the State Tretyakov Gallery will not regret their decision because they will have the chance to admire unique works of art, some of them having been created more than a century ago.