Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Moscow - The Kremlin and Armoury

On Day Two, we did the quintessential tour of the Kremlin and Armoury with the entire Gorman family.  It's fun traipsing about as a group of 9.  No, really.

The embarrassing thing about the visit to the Kremlin is that aside from the word "Kremlin" and the idea that the President sort of works from there, I knew nothing - absolutely nothing - about it.  Now, I know a little more, but there was so much imparted during the 5 hour tour that I couldn't possibly put it into a coherent story.  Read all about it online.  Several churches to mark the stages of the new ruler... a church for baptism + a church for coronation + a church for after dying + more, a display on Boris Godunov, a lovely park with falcons for killing crows that ruin the golden domes, a 2-ton bell that broke before it could ever be hoisted (much less used), an enormous canon built for looks that couldn't actually shoot the canon balls made for it....

I never had even a basic understanding of Russian Orthodox churches, but now I've seen enough to understand that they don't hold services for the people and are largely for icon worship. And they are tiny.  There's no cathedral as I've always known a cathedral.  As huge as the buildings look on the outside, the interior rooms are tiny, the artistry covers every inch of the walls and ceiling, and "going to church" essentially means lighting a candle.

Yes, it's a simplification.

We visited the Armoury (no photos), which is how we coerced the boys. Sad for them, the Armoury is a history of the tsars and had very little to do with weaponry.  One room was dedicated to actual armour and swords and such.  Another room was all about coronation clothing.  Another held chariots across centuries (very cool).  A really large room held silver and gold and painted plates and cups and... well, you get the idea.  The big draw are ten Imperial Faberge eggs.  They are as stunning as one would expect.

Lunch was in a brilliant mall just off Red Square with a restaurant that touted itself as a Soviet-style cafeteria called Stolovaya 57. Seriously quirky, but the food was decently good.  If you go, get the honey cake.

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