Moscow (Mon) 10 May 2010

It was the Victory Day fireworks last night.

Everyone flocked to see it and it woke me up briefly around 10pm, but I couldn’t careless. I was passed out from 8pm to 8am. I was probably the only tourist in Moscow who didn’t see the fireworks.

Re-energised after 12 hours in bed, I made my way to the Novodevichy Convent (a UNESCO heritage site) and the adjoining cemetery where lay buried the rich, famous and honoured of Soviet and Russian history.

I know zilch about Russian history so wasn’t able to fully appreciate the names on the gravestones, but the stones themselves were impressive enough to look at. Busks of men in full military uniform, one with a rocket flying skywards, figure skaters, machines guns, a fragile woman in white…anything you can think of, they’ve created as a gravestone. I might want mine made as a giant donut. Just coz I can, because it’ll make people think, because it’s not machine guns, and Homer Simpson likes donuts.

The Red Square is finally open today after being closed for the Victory celebrations. Workers were still dismantling all the parade decor.

Did you know that the Red Square is not actually red? And that it has nothing to do with Communism? It’s apparently named after the once-upon-a-time-red bricks that line the square.

I arrived at St. Basil’s Cathedral just an hour before closing. This world famous icon turns out to be  a lot smaller than I imagined. I actually contemplated not going inside, since I thought I didn’t fancy going in yet another church. But I was very glad I did, for I did not know that Russian Orthodox churches differ so vastly from western European churches.

I’ve always marveled at the grand, vast spaces in western European churches. Immensely high ceilings, colourful glass windows and long marble corridors.

A Russian Orthodox church is just about the opposite. Although the area occupied by the whole building may be huge, the inside is built very differently.

It turns out that St. Basil’s is actually eight small churches joined together. Each of those churches is actually very very small, sometimes allowing the occupancy of just a handful of people, each joined together by narrow doorways and dark corridors.

Although it may feel small and cramped, all the entirety of the walls, ceilings, and domes are extensively painted and decorated.

Never have I thought that I’d set foot in such an iconic structure, nor did I thought it would be such a fresh marvel.

Later, I visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier nearby, commemorating those who died in WWII (I hope I got that right!). An eternal flame burns and a pair of soldiers stand guard. Lots of flowers have been laid due to Victory Day.

I stayed to see the change of guards when they goose-stepped about. Pretty impressive how in-time and precise they are will each step, though it must be one of the most inefficient and energy-wasting ways of walking ever!

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