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.



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.


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.


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.


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.

Oct 28

Serpeni Headbridge Memorial

The tourist attraction tackled in today’s article is situated in the Republic of Moldova, on the right bank of Nistru River.

The memorial was erected in order to bring homage to those fallen in the 1944 Iasi-Chisinau battle which was carried on with the goal of liberating the nation from under the fascist rule. All the participants in the battle have been martyred for making the ultimate sacrifice for the better of the majority and thus the memorial eulogizes their commitment to their cause for which they have paid with their own lives.


The 22nd of August, 2004, marks the day in which the Serpeni Memorial has opened its doors to the public. The inauguration was actually part of a more grand celebration carried on with the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the independence of Moldova.

The construction work for the memorial was initiated while the Soviet Union was still in power and consisted of only a few basic elements. It should be mentioned that the memorial was constructed on the exact land on which the aforementioned battle was unleashed, an area which did not spread over more than 8 kilometers.


More than 11 thousands soldiers have perished while defending their beliefs and hopes for independence and the name of each of them has been immortalized on granite boards which are spread all around the altar erected in the their memory. The commemorative monument also comprises a bell tower which rises high above picturesque landscapes, and which stands as evidence for the rebirth of Moldova. The memorial is completed by the ‘eternal flame’ which burns indefinitely for the fallen ones, lighting their path, and by two mighty towers which are connected at the top by a cross that watches over them.



The memorial is situated only 40 km away from the capital city of Moldova, Chisinau, so if you are in this neighborhood, do not miss on the occasion of visiting the Serpeni Memorial, where you will find yourself in the presence of heroes.

Dec 21

The Brukenthal Palace (Palatul Brukenthal)

In Avrig, right beneath the Carpathian Mountains, lies an architectural treasure which undoubtedly deserves the attention of the passers-by. This is the Brukenthal Palace, a unique castle which is the singular one in Romania to be surrounded by a park wonderfully created in the Baroque style.

The palace was constructed as the summer residence of the Governor Samuel von Bruckenthal. It was erected on the highest point in Avrig and it faces the River Olt. The craftsmanship with which it was designed has led to it being renowned throughout the country as the “Eden from Transylvania.”

Brukenthal Palace- http://commons.wikimedia.org

The artistry of the architectural design is mainly the result of the fine tastes of von Brukenthal, the influential political figure who had been the governor of Transylvania for 13 years. The castle contains a wonderful collection of paintings, books and ancient manuscripts, as well as elements of numismatics.

The palace, which has been constructed in the 18th century, together with the garden by which it is enclosed, extends over a surface of 16 hectars.  The construction was in fact initiated in the second half of the 18th century by the then governor Adolf Nicolaus von Bucow, but the one to stand by it in the later stages of the construction and the one to leave his mark on it was von Brukenthal – who had fashioned it to its particular taste. Due to the fact that the Governor of Transylvania had travel around the world it was impossible for him not to draw inspiration from some of the well renowned buildings in Europe. So it is basically no surprise that the constructions after which the Brukenthal Palace was fashioned are the Luxembourg Palace in Paris and the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna.


In terms of structure, we are talking about a U shaped building which consists of a central body and two lateral wings. In order to comprehend the fondness that Brukenthal had towards art you should know that the palace contained 212 paintings and 129 engravings displayed on its walls. The passage of time had not destroyed these works of art, in fact those who want to have a look at a beautiful collection should know that these works are preserved in the Brukenthal Museum (which is located in Brasov). The same thing cannot be said by the palace itself as this has not been preserved adequately. In time, the building had passed through several hands and the numerous owners did not look after it as they should have. The degradation of the edifice was further enhanced in the Second World War when it had been used as a military hospital.

U-shape structure – http://www.flickr.com

But with all the tumultous moments it had seen in its lifetime, the building had survived and it can still be admired by people interesed in fine architectural designs and in historical monuments. At present, the palace is protected under the law.

The park posed quite an interest due to the fact that it follows a Baroque design, being organized in terraces. The gardens were not characteristic to a singular architectural pattern, these being arranged after the French, English and Dutch models. This variaty was definitely enticing in the sense that, depending on your location in the park, you had a different perspective over the entire arrangement. Due to the fact that, like the building itself, the park had not been tended to properly, the original design got lost.

Intensive restoration is required in order to regain the former look. But in spite of it all, the Brukenthal Palace, as well as the park, still maintain a glimpse of their original self, their historical character still “beaming.”