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I described our group's trip on the wild Moscow Metro on the "First Day" page. Muscovites love to show off their subway system to visitors. It is world-famous, and is, perhaps, the most magnificent system anywhere, at least in terms of the main stations. When Stalin started construction of the subway in the late 1920's, he set out to make it a showpiece of Socialist engineering. Some of the main stations have vaulted ceilings, marble columns, crystal chandeliers, beautiful icons and paintings on the walls and ceilings. Some above-ground stations even have stained-glass windows! We were able to gawk at all of these wonders in the three stations we went through. Here are the two pictures I took that turned out well.
The next morning, Tuesday, we had a sumptuous buffet breakfast at the hotel before boarding our bus to begin seeing the city. The Russians threw everything in the kitchen on the buffet tables. Since the Cosmos is tourist-oriented, there were plenty of American favorites to choose from. After breakfast, out first stop was - Red Square. This time, Lana gave us an explanation of everything of interest. The square is bounded on one side by the huge GUM department store, and on the other by a side wall of the Kremlin. Lenin's tomb is the most prominent structure on that side. (There are no lines waiting to view his body anymore. No one really cares.) But the real gem lies at the far end - St. Basil's Cathedral, built by Ivan the Terrible.
By the way, the word "Red" has nothing to do with the color. "Red" is a Russian word meaning "beautiful." After leaving Red Square, we went around to the Kremlin entrance. The local police are ever watchful here. We had to go through metal detectors to get inside the walls, and once in, soldiers armed with automatic weapons were everywhere. This is only natural, since the Kremlin is the seat of Russian government. Many government offices, including President Putin's, are located here.
The word "Kremlin" means "fortress" in old Russian. Every major city had a Kremlin. These structures served the same purpose as the castles of Western Europe. When invading armies approached, the people went inside the Kremlin walls for safety, and the defending army fought off the intruders from the walls. Many old cannon are still on display, and there is an armory where weapons were manufactured. The main attractions for visitors today are the Armory, now a museum where Russia's national treasures of past eras are on display, and the cathedrals of the Czars. The grand palaces are not open to tourists.
(Above - Kremlin cathedrals) (YES, THAT'S REAL GOLD. Russia has more gold on it's buildings and monuments than we have stored in Fort Knox!)
(Cathedral interiors, Armory treasures - priest's robes and royal coronation wear)
(Another priest's robe and royal carriages)
Here are some final Kremlin photos. I didn't take them. I swiped them from a guide book!
(St. Basil's) (Kremlin, from (Crown Jewels) (Cathedral interior)
After our visit to the Kremlin, we spent the rest of the morning and afternoon riding around the city. That evening, we had a real treat - a visit to the circus, complete with clowns, acrobats, a small bear and six magnificent Bengal tigers! Sorry, no photos there. This concluded our sightseeing in Moscow. Wednesday morning, our bus headed for Novgorod, where we spent the night.
Continue to Novgorod
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