04.03.2016 - 05.03.2016
Moscow day 1
Once I had arrived, phoned home and taken a quick shower, I headed out to explore. I took the metro up to the station close to the Kremlin. After walking across Red Square I walked right around the Kremlin wall. I had hoped to go into Lenin’s mausoleum but it was closed on Fridays so I went into St. Basils Cathedral instead.
As I was standing outside the cathedral the police by the Tower next to me started moving people away from the area in front of me. A cavalcade of cars including both police and army vehicles came up from the direction of the river. In the middle of the cavalcade was a large Mercedes with the flag of the Russian president flying on the front. As the windows were very dark I could not see if it was Putin inside.
After this excitement!! I went into St. Basils. This is the first Russian Orthodox cathedral I have visited and it was interesting to see the differences compared to Catholic churches. As I was tired from the previous few nights lack of sleep I headed back to the hotel for an early night.
Moscow day 2
Today I planned to visit the Kremlin and 2 of the museums next to it. I got to Red Square at 9.00 and spent the first 30 minutes taking photos around the square and on the monument of the unknown soldier. As I was walking back up to the square there was a group of people with communist banners and a large red wreath. Today was the anniversary of the death of Stalin and they were heading to his grave to pay their respects.
At 9.30 I joined the queue to visit the mausoleum when it opened at 10.00, I was the 4th person in the line. At 9.55 another large group of people arrived to pay their respects and the opening time was moved to 10.30. When we were finally allowed in and after passing through a security check I walked alongside the wall and past the various graves of people buried behind the mausoleum. Entering the mausoleum, I descended down a flight of stairs and entered the central chamber. Lenin lies in a glass Sarcophagus facing Red Square. You have to walk through in silence and not stop.
Next I went into the Kremlin and visited the Cathedrals complex. The best 2 were the Assumption and the Archangel’s Cathedrals. The first is where the Tsars were crowned and the latter is where many of them are buried. Just to be inside the Kremlin complex is something I find amazing, when I was growing up during the Cold War, the Kremlin was the place where a real world war could have been authorized and the name alone was a point for mistrust and fear.
After lunch I visited first the 1812 Museum and then the State Museum. Out of the 2 I enjoyed the 1812 more as it is a subject that I find interesting. The displays covered the build up to the invasion, including the Battle of Austerlitz. The State Museum had a vast collection covering much of Russian history.