Russia: Red Square

Saint Basil's Cathedral's kaleidoscopic onion domes, seen above and peeking through the archway below, were our first encounter with the signature oddities of Russian Orthodox Church architecture. Watching these psychedelic twist-ice-cream-cone structures rise up from the cobblestones felt like stumbling across a character from a fable story in our mortal realm. It is awe-inspiring to see something in life that would definitely be at home in illustrations of imaginative tales like Gulliver's Travels or Arabian Nights, but isn't something you think anyone would actually build, especially not as early as the 1500's, and certainly not outside of Disneyland.

The fact that this whimsical edifice is dedicated to something as serious as God creates even more dissidence and makes the monument all the more bewildering to behold. But there it is, its frippery adding a diverting, almost light-hearted quality, to the Red Square's more grave overtones - where political protests have been held and Communist leaders have been entombed.

Below is a fuller view of Red Square - sans Lenin's Mausoleum (it would appear off to the right if this was a wider shot). As a history aficionado, I was actually very excited at the prospect of seeing Lenin, but then, when it actually came to it, I chickened out. Perhaps if I'd done it quickly without thinking it may have happened, but as I stood there deliberating, my mom mentioned reading about how he's occasionally besieged by fungus. I believe that's when the gruesome reality of the pilgrimage set in, after which, I just couldn't stomach the idea.

Just outside of Red Square . . . my dad is standing in the spot that denotes the very center of Moscow.

You can make a wish if you stand at the edge of the golden circle and throw a coin over your shoulder into Moscow's center (as my dad and sister are about to demonstrate).

There's a crew of little babushka gypsies who watch the coin's trajectory.

They unabashedly scurry around picking up the spoils of superstition.

Then the comrades gather 'round to examine and show-off their plunder. (I wonder what their stance is on the wishes . . . )


Bob said...

Very cool you should have had a shot of Vodka before seeing Lennin but yahh the fungus thing sort of freaked me out.I wonder if the women picking up the coins wish for more tourist to toss money at them if so you made thier wish come true.See how special you are you are like a fairy god mother granting wishes.Bob

whitney nožisková said...

Oh Bob! I like that! The idea that I could play the role of anybody's Fairy God Mother for any reason has this electric sense of possibility pulsing through it. The power to make anything so elusory come into being . . . granting wishes . . . wow. Of course, it seems the sort of power that's in danger of disappearing the second you ruminate on it too much . . .

You know, maybe the fungus too is a fairy god mother - encouraging people to fulfill Lenin's desire to be left in peace. Hmmmm.