Saturday, 28 January 2017

Mound of Warsaw Uprising

A mound or a tumulus is an artificial hill made by people either as a tomb or to commemorate a famous person. Today, I will take you to one dedicated to a very special event.

 Do you recognise this special sign on top of it?

Yes, it is the sign of the Warsaw Uprising.

At the bottom of the mound you will find a small plate explaining its history. It was finally arranged in 2004, on the 60th anniversary of the Uprising.

Behind it you can see a little area surrounded with wooden sticks. It is a flower meadow.

Obviously in winter time all plants are covered with snow.

Those wooden logs are hotels. No, I am not kidding, they are really hotels, just not for humans but for wild bees.

Let's move on to the top of the mound.

There are a number of steps to be taken.

The road is bordered with wooden crosses.

They commemorate those who perished in the Warsaw Uprising.

Finally, we reach the top. The view is quite disappointing.

On the other hand, the sign on the top is truely impressive.

The inhabitants of Warsaw do not forget about their heroes, this lights are always lit up.

It is getting really cold, time to go down. I hope that you have enjoyed this little winter walk. Watch your steps!

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Illumination of the Royal Route in Warsaw (2017)

Last year I missed to take you to our traditional walk along the Royal Route in Warsaw. This year we will be making up for it and strolling along the nicely illuminated streets once again. Let's get out on the Świętokrzyska metro station.

On the left hand side you can see the Nowy Świat street with some garlands on top and a type of Christmas tree bulb on the lamps.

But we will go this time to the right, to the Krakowskie Przedmieście street.

Here, the lanterns are decorated into something I do not really understand. Any ideas what this shape is supposed to symbolise?

First, next to the monument of Copernicus and the Polish Academy of Science, you will see the solar system.

A few steps further, you can try to imagine yourself entering the gates of the Warsaw University, allegedly the best in the country.

As we move on, we pass besides a very special book, exhibiting the highlights of Warsaw.

Look, this is a Chopin bench, like the one we have seen in Łazienki.

And here comes the Presidential Palace, with the Christmas tree lit up in the colours of the Polish flag.

Finally, we arrive to the heart of the Old Town.

This is also a station for a very special train.

That transport a very special cargo.

Finally, we enter the Castle Square. The streets around it are nicely decorated.

But it is the Castle itself that is the most impressive this year.

The Christmas tree is so tall. Looks like a good omen for the upcoming year.

Happy New Year everyone!

Saturday, 14 January 2017


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.