Hi, the city with no face. Oh, I’m sorry! Of course, you have thousands of faces..
Hi old witch! Oh, I’m sorry! I mean you’re my beloved granny, but from time to time you and I have some tension and misunderstanding in our relations. The evening is coming and I immerse myself into the mystery of the endless net of your streets. Tonight, Moscow, I want to merge with your bright illumination and fly together with the ghosts inhabiting your enormous space. I know I will really feel your aggressive and lonely spirit. You are so beautiful and sad in the city lights! I will jump from one hill to another, admiring your sparkling highways and domes of ancient orthodox churches. I will try to discover where is your beginning and where is your end. I will never find it among your huge circles of roads. You’re made of them, like a gigantic matrioshka. They are always rotating, one inside another. Each of them is like a self-sufficient ancient Babylon, not depending on others and full of its own unique life.
Oh my God! Although the word «god» is not appropriate, when I see the demons, swinging on the Moon above the Red Square. Absolute silence covers this place, just the simultaneous sparkling of the Kremlin’s stars with stars in the black velvet sky destroys the calm. There is an incorrect stereotype about Red Square always full of military parades. Most of the time during the year it is very quiet and peaceful like a tomb. When Spasskaya tower chimes midnight the ghosts of all Russian historical characters walk there, frightening passers-by. Just on Christmas and New Year’s is there a fair and expensive skating rink here which disturbs the ancient walls with their joy.
St. Basil’s Cathedral shines in the moonlight like a toy house. Looking at it I usually have a strong desire to bring it home and put it on my coffee table and let it cheer me up when I have some troubles. You start here, Moscow, with you mystery and hospitality. Sometimes your hospitality looks like hostility, but I’m sure you’re very kind. Your name in Russian is Moscva, which takes the feminine form and that’s why you can’t be rude and aggressive.
The Kremlin’s towers magnificently reflect in the Moscow river that slowly runs with indifference to the whole entire world. Sometimes I imagine how the souls of drowned people float here, winking to the demons on the Moon and to the guards on the walls. In response to them the demons wave their tails and the guards turn the spotlights. All this bacchanalia scares and excites tourists, but irritates the residents of neighboring houses. Although people who live next to the Kremlin are also a little bit possessed by the Devil.
I mentioned the Devil, who actually visited Moscow in the beginning of soviet period. According to Bulgakov’s novel «Master and Margarita» he arrived on Patriarch’s pond and converted Moscow into his den. But the truth is that this city always looks and looked many centuries before like Devil’s headquarters, that’s why nobody noticed his arrival. I think Lucifer likes all big cities, because they are full of negative energy which he can consume.
Leaves rustling brings me from Patriarch’s pond to Tverskoy boulevard, where the wind whispers beautiful songs of the great Russian poets Pushkin and Yesenin. My whole soul plunges into delight. I’m not surprised seeing splendor in neighborhood with diabolism and death. Century-old oaks escort me, waving me by with their wide branches. They probably know something mystical and hide it inside their thick trunks. Ancient buildings wink at me with their large shining windows. I want to fall asleep in this endless enchantment. I fall asleep on the bench under the shades of the trees.
Park Tsaritsino that used to be the estate of Empress Catherine II, where small boats slide silently along the ponds’ surfaces, is amazing red palace and the pan-house hide in the crowns of the large trees on a hill. A musical fountain cheers people up on the small island in the middle of the pond. Quiet chords of music are flying from it to the dense forest. A huge pine in the center of the round meadow are waving branches in the rhythm of music. Somewhere in the grass hedgehogs rustle and dwarves whisper. Flocks of butterflies together with elves cover long beds of flowers. The sign «I love Moscow» naturally merges with breathtaking scenery. On the spruce, squirrels stage a dramatic fight, entertaining passers-by. Maybe they aren’t squirrels, but mysterious fairyes guarding the park against evil forces.
Across the apple orchids I’m flying to the amazing Kolomenskoe Park. Ancient walls tower under the hill, hiding hundreds of years of Russian history. Beautiful churches decorate the landscape by their sparkling domes. The Moscow river glitters in the distance reflexing pure blue of the sky. Hiking paths bring me somewhere into the middle of a fairy forest, where I can see a dramatic performance from Russian folklore. The witches, wood goblins, eared hobgoblins, mermen live act their eternal play, not noticing my presence. At the bottom of the ravine, admiring the babbling brook, I feel merged with nature.
VDNKh is the Exhibition of economic achievements. The gigantic statue of a worker and a peasant woman greets everyone at the front gates. They cross hammer and sickle somewhere in the sky, symbolizing the victory of labor over capitalist exploitation. It seems to me that the woman stares at me, scaring me with her enormous sickle. I need to run from here.
From the main gates across millions of flowers and small fountains I go to the pearl of this place – the spectacular fountain named Friendship. Fifteen golden sisters in a circle mean eternal friendship of fifteen soviet republics. Hundreds of silver jets bond them forever. The Soviet Union no longer exists, but they are still here, standing in silence, contemplating their own reflections in the water.
Stone Flower is another fascinating and enormous fountain which represents very popular in Russia fairy tales of Ural’s writer Bazhov. It seems that the Mistress of Copper Mountain built it herself, using her magic power. Mysterious pond of the fountain hides all treasures of the Urals mountains. Huge flower in the center pours out tons of water demonstrating the power of its underground kingdom.
Сosmos museum is located next to VDNKh. Yes, in the Russian language it’s not space, which is very broad term that can mean, for example, the space within a small box or the space in a stuffy and cramped subway car. No, cosmos always means infinity of the Universe. It’s possible here to see the first satellites and the first manned space ships. One of them brought to the cosmos the first of Earth’s cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.
Hi, the city with no face. Oh, I’m sorry! Of course, you have thousands of faces, which reflect into your quiet rivers, shopwindows and into the deep and wide puddles after the rain. You look like an immense stage where millions of characters act as though they are still alive or already dead.
The skyscrapers of the district named City impressively hang over the river. Their tall silhouettes are visible from any place of downtown. Moscow is not a city of high buildings, that’s why this area is unique and unrepeatable. Shining watches on the Federation tower point to the time, which has no sense in the eternity. Every night the thousands of souls of the drowned float down the river, passing the biggest business center of the city. The luminous giants look at them by their glistening windows. I follow the poor souls to the Russian Government house. There is the spectacular building of the hotel Ukraine built on Stalin Empire style on the opposite bank of the river. Its sharp spire rebelliously and reproachfully rises in the sky, staying on the opposite banks of the river. As though in a face to face battle of these two buildings gaze with hate towards each other.
Christ the Savior Cathedral is a real pearl of modern Moscow, although many religious people complain, that this place is not so holly anymore, the domes are not as aureate like it used to be 200 years ago. I agree with that. The original temple was blown up by Soviets and there used to be an open air swimming pool here. Now it’s very touristic place and really amazing, especially inside. When I want to pray I find a small ancient church lost in the narrow backstreets of old city. When I want to be proud of my country I come here to contemplate the temple, the river, spectacular view of Kremlin from the pedestrian bridge.
Walking over the bridge I went down to Zamoskvorechye, across the Moscow river. It’s an ancient district of merchants, full of adorable small churches and marvelous houses mixed with soviet buildings. Unfortunately Soviet architecture is everywhere in Moscow, because the city changes so fast. You, Moscow, my huge and scary granny, never preserve what you have and always destroy the old world in order to build rapidly a new one.
At the Bolotnaya square (Marsh square) I pause to watch the monument called «12 sins of adults that children suffer». Somewhere between gluttony and alcoholism I remember my childhood, where I was really happy - almost really happy. This sad monument is very close to the Luzhkov bridge where beloved couples hang the locks with their names on the artificial trees. Admiring small fountains in the river, I fly to Tretyakovskaya gallery, which is part of this warm and cozy district.
Poklonnaya hill (the hill of bows) and Victory park meet by cascade of excellent fountains. Before Victory Day, 9 of May, it’s the most popular place for Russians. We usually go here to remember our ancestors who won the WW2 at the cost of their lives. For us this War is still important, we still hear its echoes.
The crackle of fireworks aсcompanied the playing of Russian folk accordion called garmoshka brings me into a dark epoch when humans lives costed nothing. However, I also doubt that they cost something nowadays. The wings of the WW2 museum hug the merry crowd of celebrating people.
Arkhangelskoye manor is one of the most beautiful and mysterious aristocratic estates in the suburbs of Moscow. It has a rural landscape in the mixe with arty-crafty gardens and buildings. It used to be the princes Yusupovs family estate. The spirit of Felix Yusupov, who organized murder of Grigory Rasputin, still roams among centuries-old trees. Sadness and pain cover the whole place. Felix’s mother spent years there, mourning the death of her elder son Nikolay, who was killed in a duel.
There are tunnels made of bushes, alleys among gigantic pines, meadows with flowers, a family pantheon, the palace and the small amazing church on the hill above the ravine. Additionally, the bayou of Moscow river creates the incredible and unique landscape of the manor. Somewhere next to horizon the forest of Zayachiy (leporine) island complete an infinite harmony. You would never guess that enormous city is next to this place.
Moscow subway (or Moscow metro) is a real underground museum of soviet architecture. The chic and shine of the ancient stations in downtown Moscow attract millions of tourists every year. But there are others, which you, Moscow, hide from strangers’ eyes. For example, Dostoevskaya station, named after famous Russian writer, looks abandoned and sad in the evening when there are almost no people there. Foyodor Dostoevsky himself stares at everyone from his portrait on the wall, who dares to enter this place. The first imagination is that there is nothing in the station except for empty walls. But then you notice the shadow of Raskolnikov running from his conscience. If you follow him you will discover all the characters of Dostoevsky’s books on hidden walls in the back of the station. Ploshad Revolutsii (revolution square) station is one of the most popular among tourists and locals. It’s full of magical soviet statues. If you make a wish and touch one of them, your wish will become true very quickly.