Moscow, Russia – Red Square

When I think of the color red, one of the travel destinations I think of first is Red Square. Russia, for many years a place that was off limits to travel for fear of the anti-Western political regime that held sway over its people, finally is accessible and turns out to be a very interesting place to visit.

If there were one word I would use to describe Moscow, it would opulent. Never have I seen as much gold as I saw there- and it was everywhere, most notably on the onion-domed churches which dot the landscape.

But today, we are going to Red Square. Here is what one sees walking toward the entrance:

Approaching Red Square

Everything is on a grand scale. No expense has been spared.

Entrance, between the two towers

The actual entrance to Red Square is through the arches under those two towers. Military equipment and large numbers of troops would file through those arches for shows of military might on May Day. Inside Red Square, there is a very very large area that is open for assembly and military exhibitions and there is also a building that houses Lenin’s tomb. People line up and file through the mausoleum to view Lenin.

At the opposite end of the square is the incredibly magnificent St. Basil’s Church. Here it is from afar.

St. Basil's, Red Square, Russia

The church was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century and presumably, after completion, he had the architect blinded so that he could never create anything more beautiful. I am not certain that beautiful would be the word I would use to describe it, but it certainly is noteworthy and unique.

Here is a picture of some detail:

Close up of St. Basil's Moscow

OF course nothing compares to Red Square at sunset, especially when sunset is after 10 p.m. in early summer

Red Square at night (10 p.m. in July)

I found both Moscow and St. Petersburg to be a delight to the senses. More about both of them in the days and weeks to come.

rubytuesday

Moscow, Russia

Moscow was one of the places I visited that surprised me the most. I thought of it as a dark dour place and it was anything but that. I was amazed by the creativity and the art and here I will show you just a couple of examples.

We went to a number of synagogues while in Moscow and one of them was a Chabad Lubavitch synagogue. We passed this fence while walking toward the synagogue.

Fence in Moscow

For those coming from Shadow Shot Sunday, please consider taking my challenge Round the World with Rona

So what do people do with an old synagogue which was probably not used for more than 70 years until after the fall of the Soviet Union? Well, it could be refurbished, which this one was, both inside and outside, but suppose one wanted to update it, expand it, and yet preserve the facade? Well, here is the result:

Chabad Synagogue, Moscow

Chabad Synagogue, Moscow

As one walks toward the synagogue, this is what one views, a modern looking, concrete and glass structure. As one nears the entrance, this is what one sees.

Synagogue, Moscow

Yes, it is a glass wall that is in front of the old facade of the building. It provides additional space and insulation as well as an updated look.

And here is the original facade

Chabad synagogue, Moscow

Fortunately the synagogue is not only beautiful to visit, but it is thriving. While we visited there were groups of people praying in the main synagogue and the large, beautifully decorated chapel, and upstairs there is a snack bar and a roof garden and other recreational facilities. After years of suppression of religious worship, it is amazing to see what has happened. This is not the Russia I thought I would be seeing. It was a pleasant surprise!