After a 10hour walking tour our first day, all of it within the Kremlin walls practically, we were pretty exhausted. Yesterday was a 12 hour day but most of it in a car traveling out to the countryside to see the most important church in the nation and to see how life once was when serfs and peasants were owned by the church.
The Kremlin and Red Square are huge and cover miles of acreage. The Kremlin contains palaces, armories, several churches and museums.. It was once the home of the Tsars when they stayed in Moscow during the Winter months. During the summer months they were in St. Petersburg. You cannot enter the Kremlin without an approved guide. We were fortunate enough to see the changing of the guard before the eternal flame, not unlike what we have at Arlington Cemetery. The main museum is incredible. It houses the gowns of the Tsarinas and wife's of Tsars, bejeweled bibles, icons, gifts from other countries, Faberge eggs, lots of goals, silver, armor etc.
Located at the edge of Red Square is St. Basil's Cathedral. Probably the most iconic and photographed place in Moscow. It's colorful spires and onion domes have come to represent the churches of Russia but are actually, in their history, a relatively new architecture. the inside of the church is rather small, somewhat ornate but certainly not the most beautiful church we have seen to date.
Kremlin means fortification and every town had or has a kremlin. Many places have Red Squares. They are called red squares because it is the place closest to the heart of the people who live in that place. We have visited many many churches at this point and we find this quite telling. The Russian people are very religious. even during the soviet times they secretly celebrated their religious holidays. Many churches have been restored since WWII, the Bolshevik revolution and Stalin's time. During the Soviet era many were used as museums. Now they are all back to churches, some active some not. The churches are almost always extremely ornate with icons, jewels, frescos etc.
I have included a picture of a convent in Suzdal not just because it is beautiful but because it has an interesting history. Apparently when Tsars got sick of their wives or another sweet thing attracted their attention; they would force their wife into a convent. The Russian Orthodox Church of old did not recognize divorce so this was one way to get around it. once in a monastery or convent you never got out. The convent in Suzdal was often the place where the Royal females were sent. Then Tsars could marry again. I don't quite understand the logic but this was acceptable to the church...probably because at the same time a great deal of money flowed in to the church at each arrival.
I also sent a pic of the ducklings. Across the pond is another convent, same situation. The ducklings were a gift from Barbara Bush to the Russian people. The ducks are an exact replica of those in Boston Garden. Russian children are told the story "Make Way for Ducklings". I was charmed by this as it is one of my favorite children's stories. Ask my kids and grand kids! There is a copy in each of their houses.
Today we head off to the Metro which in itself is a museum and on to another significant art museum.....we are learning lots.....