If you've been reading this blog, you already know that I am deeply fascinated by Russian history and the freedom of being able to go and visit places that were once forbidden, the famous Soviet closed cities. Imagine, then, when I discovered that today you can visit a place once so secret that you were not only forbidden to visit it, but also to ever mention its very existence outside the restricted circle of a few thousand military personnel who knew about it. Bunker 42 in Moscow is a former secret military underground center for long range bomber command, now fully declassified and turned into a privately owned museum.
A few months ago my wife Nastya and I discovered a great way to get to see as many museums as we like in Moscow and Saint Petersburg and even enjoy free coffee and cappuccinos as a bonus! After a few months of using PassCity I am ready to recommend it to you without hesitation. Full... Continue Reading →
The city of Smolensk is one of the oldest in Russia. The first recorded mention of the city was 863 AD, two years after the founding of Kievan Rus'. Throughout its history, also due to the fact that the city lays in the westernmost part of Russia, geographically very close to other European powers, Smolensk saw a great number of battles and foreign invasions. In the early 1400s the city was conquered and became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and with tens of thousands of people living there, Smolensk was probably the largest city in 15th-century Lithuania.
Did you know that less than a century before being admitted to the USA as the 49th State Alaska was part of Russia and it was called Russian America? Alaska was actually discovered by Russia and it was part of the Russian empire until the emperor Alexander II sold 586,412 square miles (1,518,800 km2) of land to the United States on March 30, 1867 for $7.2 million.
The Bulgakov House is situated on the ground floor of Bolshaya Sadovaya ulitsa no. 10 in Moscow, in the building where the Soviet writer used to live, and in which some major scenes of his masterpiece are set. In the novel, though, Bulgakov didn't situate the building at number 10, using instead the number 302-bis, to denounce the complexity of the Soviet administration in his time.
Pictured above is Pygmalion's point of view when admiring his beloved statue/wife in the interpretation of Italian sculptor Pietro Ceccardo Staggi (1754-1814) in his Pygmalion and Galatea (1790-1792). The attribution of the statue to Staggi comes directly from the Hermitage museum, where it is on permanent display in the European Fine Art Collection, alongside statues of Antonio Canova.
The Qolşärif Mosque in the city of Kazan is one of the most impressive mosques in Russia and arguably in the whole world and it is the main mosque in the Republic of Tatarstan. Situated inside the Kazan Kremlin, it was built between 1996 and 2005 in honour of the old mosque of the Khanate of Kazan, which was destroyed in October 1552 during the siege of Kazan by the Russian Tzar Ivan the Terrible.
The Vostok rocket, still proudly sporting the USSR (CCCP in Cyrillic) acronym in bright red letters on the side. To understand the historic importance of this rocket suffice to say that the first human spaceflight in history was accomplished on this spacecraft on April 12, 1961, by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.
The Coronation Egg at the Fabergé Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia. This, perhaps Faberge’s most iconic egg, was presented by Emperor Nicholas II (the last Emperor of Russia) to his wife, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, as a memento of her entry into Moscow on May 26th, day of their Coronation in the Uspensky Cathedral.