This could be the last blog for a while and the picture is a taste of things to come!
I visited the Kremlin this morning as the snow began to fall so took refunge in the Armoury - the treasure house of Russia. The jewels and regalia on display were beyond description! I had expected the Faberge Eggs to be the highlight - not a bit of it! They were beautiful and amazingly clever but relatively insignigicant alongside the incredible works of art alll around. The exquisiitness and artistry in gold and silver with diamonds and pearls and rubies and emeralds the size of small pebbles is truely breath-taking. Everything was beautiful - weapons, horses' bridles and harnesses - all studded with jewels, the coaches, sledges and coronation robes of the Czars, the vestements of the priests and the Patriach, embroidered with gold thread and literally thousands of pearls. What a legacy these artists and craftsmen left behind them - it wasn't just the quantity of treasure, it was the quality. Having witnessed such abundance and beauty, two thoughts occur - can there be any (unused) jewels remaining in the world and why are we no longer capable to creating such wonderful things?
The cathedrals of the Kremlin were similarly exquisite. They are very small compared with our lofty, soaring edifaces, but wonderfully decorated with icons and frescos. No space on the walls or ceiling is left undecorated and the impression is of warmth and intimacy - very different from the buildings of modern Russia. So, it would seem that while the Cultural Revolution cost China almost all its treasures, the Bolshevik Revolution cost the loss of very little and whilst ideas and doctrines comeand go, it is the treasures which endure.
Red Square was something of a surprise as well - it is much smaller than it appears when seen on the TV. I'm not sure how all those armies, tanks, etc managed to march through the Square, it looks far too small! It is most attractive, however. There is the wonderful fantasy of St. Basil's Cathedral at one end, all fantastical shapes and colours and looking like something from the Arabian Nights! What a pretty cathedral it is inside. All the rooms and passages are curved and arched - there is not a straight line anywhere - with flowery murals covering the walls and ceilings. At the other end of the Square are Triumphal Arches. The two sides of the Square are bordered by the very imposing GUM building (the Harrods, but much more up market, of Moscow!) on one side and the red walls, gold onion domes and exotically shaped spires of the Kremlin on the other side.
The young Russian women are very attractive, elegant and stylish; the men less so. Quite a few still favouring the long black leather trench coat and fur hat look! They also never knowingly stand if there is s spare seat to be had on the metro!! I do wonder what the older people feel about the advances of the past 20 years - so much terrible and, what appears now to be, completely unnecessary suffering in the past. I have a feeling that the Russians have embraced capitalism with the same fervor that they once embraced communism.
Well, that's it for now, next stop Siberia!!!