Saturday, 14 January 2017

Kolomenskoye

Today we will visit the last UNESCO World Heritage Site in Moscow. Actually, it is only part of Mosco for a bit more than fifty years and it was in fact founded as a summer residence of the dukes of Muscovy. Welcome to the Moscow State Integrated Art and Historical Architectural and Natural Landscape Museum-Reserve. Or in short - welcome to Kolomenskoye.


Let's enter by this leaf-like gate.


Then, we will take the Front Gate, built in 1672, and leading to what used to be the tsar's courtyard. You will notice the two-headed eagle on top of the bell tower, the emblem of the Russian Empire.



As you may imagine, the taste and likes of the kings and tsars changed over time. As a result, almost mothing remained from the original summer residence which was demolished and rebuilt several times. For some of the older buildings, all that you can admire nowadays are the stone foundations.


As always, the building which were the most lucky are the churches. You can find here quite e few. Some with multiple blue domes, like the church of Our Lady of Kazan ...


... others with a single golden dome, like the church of St. George the Victorious.


But the church that has drawn the attention of UNESCO does not have a dome at all. It is the church of the Ascension, built in 1532 to thank God for the birth of a male heir to the throne. The mother of the baby boy called him Ivan. The history added the nickname "the Terrible".


The church is rather small but very high, white and topped with an unusual conic structure. It looks a  bit like a space rocket, doesn't it?


In fact the is the first tent-roof stone church in Russia. It was designed by an Italian architect.


Inside, you will find the iconostasis, a wall typical for orthodox churches, usually richly decorated, with numerous paintings.  Though to be honest, that one looks almost modest. You can see it was only a holiday home location.



Besides the churches, Kolomenskoye includes also a museum, where you can see some olf Russian icons, often depicting Mary the mother of God.


There is also a collection of white stone.


Time to move forward. Next week we will still be in Russia but this time, I will show you what the world looks like outside of its capital. Even the Russians say that it is a different country.

Talking of differences, have you noticed that huge Christmas Tree. Do not be surprised to find it here. The orthodox church celebrates Christmas on the seventh of January so only a week ago. So we are here in full Christmas period. Thanks to our travels, this year we can celebrate Christmas twice!


Saturday, 7 January 2017

Novodevichy Convent

We will continue today to explore Russia's capital city.


Last week we were discovering the Moscow's Red Square. I do not know if realise, but it is by far not the only amazing place in the city. Let me take you today to another (and not the last!) UNESCO World Heritage Site in Moscow - the Novodevichy Convent.


The Novodevichy Convent (literally - the new convent of the Virgin, as opposed to the old convent of the Virgin located on the Moscow's Kremlin) was founded in 1524 to commemorate the successful siege of Smolensk by the Russian forces. It is red and white, surrounded by a high wall. Let's e enter by the gate that is located in the Gate-Church of the Transfiguration.


 The most important building in the complex is the Smolensk cathedral.


To be honest, when I think of a cathedral usually I have in mind a picture of a much larger church. The five domes represent Jesus and the four Evangelists. It is maybe not fully visible on the picture but the middle one is golden and visibly larger while the other four are smaller and blueish.


Next to it, you will find a number of other churches, painted in either deep red combined with white ...


... or simply in white. Or at least some colour that probably used to be white.


We will leave the convent through the Gate-Church of the Intercession.


And then look to the other side of the Moskva river.


The Moscow city at its best, just so close to the convent.


And now, turn one more time to embrace the real beauty of the Novodevichy convent. In full sun and the snow around it is really breathtaking.


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Saturday, 31 December 2016

Red square

Over the last years, we have been in over twenty countries. Some of them were very small, like Liechtenstein or Tonga, other really large like USA or Canada. But today I will take you to the largest country on the planet. And if you want to start your first visit in Russia, there is no better place than the Red Square in Moscow, a UNECCO World Heritage Site. Let's enter by the Resurrection Gate.


On your right hand side you will immediately see the State Historical Museum, which is a museum of Russian history.


On your left hand side, you will see a church in bright orange colour. It is the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan. It was built to commemorate a very important event in the history of Russia (to which I will revert later) but Stalin made it demolished completely. It was rebuilt entirely in 1993.


Next to the cathedral you will find a huge shopping mall. Or to be more precise the Main Department Store.


Let's have a look inside.


I am not sure if this place recalls you of anything? Well, for me it looks a lot like the Victor Emmanuel II Gallery in Milan, which we have visited last spring.


We have seen on the Red Square a church, a temple of wealth, now time comes for yet another type of temple. A modern type of pyramid where a human god lies, allowing believers to pay him tribute.


Yes, you are right, the red square structure in the middle of the Red Square is the Lenin's Mausoleum. As of what I have heard, Lenin actually wanted to be cremated and buried in St. Petersburg. But the communists knew better. It is not allowed to take pictures inside but if you have a special interest in mummies, you can take a look at another website.


The Mausoleum is located next to a high wall. This is the wall surrounding Kremlin, the most important place of power in Russia. Nowadays the gates are mainly decorative items but in the past they were really meant for protection.


A total of twenty towers survived, four of which are gate towers. Each is topped with a red star.


On the far end of the square, you will find one of the landmarks of Moscow and the only church which survived Stalin's orders. This is the church of Saint Basil.


In front of it stands a monument dedicated to Minin and Pozharsky. They were leading Russian forces which expelled from Moscow the forces of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1612. This victory was believed to be a miracle brought by the Virgin of Kazan, hence the church devoted to her on the Red Square.



Looking from the Saint Basil's church, the Red Square shows its size, even if only a part of it is visible.


Everything here is meant to make the visitor understand what an amazing country Russia is. The wall of Kremlin and it gates incite the proper respect ...


... the multi-colour domes of the Saint Basil's church bring hope in the divine protection.


But to be honest, I had a feeling that the further I walked from the Red Square the stronger the sun started to shine. Revealing the grandeur and uniqueness of this place.


Saturday, 24 December 2016

Transparent Factory

Have you ever wondered how luxury cars are made? Today we will have the opportunity to visit an amazing car factory - the Transparent Factory in Dresden. It owns its name to the material from which it was built - almost all the walls are made of glass! 


The factory is large but is located relatively close to the city center in an area that used to be a fair area.


To limit the impact of the factory on the city, a special CarGo Tram was designed. It uses the regular tram rails and brings three times a day components from another site to the Transparent Factory.


Do you want to see the factory inside? Not only is it possible to enter inside but the factory offers a number of guided tours, available for many language and age groups.


As you see, the inside walls are also made of glass.


On the upper floors all stages of car manufacturing take place.


Here the so-called body-in-white arrive for the final assembly.


It is not allowed to take pictures inside but I took a few shots from a movie shown in the lobby. You can see how the seats are installed ...


... and doors are mounted.


The round-shaped tower houses ready-made cars awaiting for clients to pick them up.


The Transparent Factory is the birthplace of Volkswagen flagship car Phaeton.


Have you ever had the chance to sit in a car worth well over a hundred thousand euro?


The steering wheel made of well polished wood and high quality leather smells and feels like real luxury. 


Though I must tell you honestly that out of all the cars that I have seen in Dresden I liked best that one.


It is a Horch 951, built in 1938 by the father of the Audi brand. It does not have ABS or safety belts. But looks just amazing.


Who knows, maybe one day I will be able to afford a car like this. For the time being, I will keep on travelling by all means available. Because travelling is the essence of my life.