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January-2023: Excursions and Coffeehouses

In these 3 weeks I taught a lot, visited a museum, had numerous meetings with friends and colleagues, and did three excursions in my favourite part of Moscow.

I visited several temples, including a synagogue and a Lutheran cathedral, and discovered several new cafés and restaurants. I walked through GUM twice and had a meal and a coffee at BURO.TsUM.

And now I’m working on launching my community for studying languages and humanities. 2023 promises to become a tremendous year.

The Church of the Presentation of the Virgin in Barashy

The church of the Presentation of the Virgin in Barashy was built between 1688 and 1701. It can be accessed from Pokrovka St, close to the Kremlin.

The church of the Presentation of the Virgin in Barashy was built between 1688 and 1701. However, a church used to exist here as early as the 15th century. It belonged to Andronikov monastery until the tsar Ivan III granted it the lands beyond the Yauza River in exchange of this church. It can be accessed from Pokrovka St and is therefore located fairly close to Red Square and the Kremlin.

Barashy was a special area, a sloboda, where lived the tsar’s servants who accompanied him on his journeys and campaigns. They carried the so called “soft stuff”, or tents, which they put up and took down. The Russian word “barakhlo” is evidently related.

The church that we can presently see was built and decorated in the style of the Moscow Baroque. Its splendid architecture includes corniches, entablements and archivolts, columns and “kokoshniks”. The bell-tower was added during a restoration of 1741. Another round of restorative works took place between 1815 and 1837 when the church was slightly enlarged and a new iconostasis was consecrated.

The church’s two chapels are dedicated to Holy Martyr Longinus the Centurion and St Elijah the Prophet. As a matter of fact, close to the church there was lyinskaya sloboda (the sloboda of Elijah) that belonged to Russian tsars.

The church of the Presentation of the Virgin in Barashy stands in the Bely Gorod, or the White City, a historical part of Moscow where resided the aristocracy and the tsar’s (later – the emperor’s) servants.

In the Soviet times the church was to be demolished, and so several icons were saved by the Tretyakov Gallery. Miraculously, it was not destroyed although it first housed a hostel for workers and then – an electric plant. The restoration works began in 1976, and the sermons resumed in 1993. Between 2015 and 2021 here resided the Metropolis of Chișinău and All Moldova.

Wikipedia: Russian, French.

The church’s official website.

More photos.

More posts in Moscow churches.

World War One Memorial Park In Moscow

Until recently Russia celebrated the victory in the Patriotic War against Napoleon in 1812 and in the Great Patriotic War against Hitler in 1945. I spent 7 years in the country that faithfully celebrates the Armistice Day on November 11 that marks the end of one of the most tragic conflicts in world history in the 20th c., the First World War.

Although the Second World War was by many accounts more devastating, it is generally regarded as the outcome of the World War One and as such it was not unexpected. World War One also did not come out of the blue, being the consequence of the collapse of the Viennese system established in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars. And yet, whereas the nations tried to prevent the Second World War, the World War One was received with cheers, as if Europe was one huge playground where kids with rifles were going to enjoy themselves. Sadly, it immediately became obvious that there would be no quick results, and Europe slid down into one long killing spree.

European, British in paritcular, cities and towns are planted with cenotaphs commemorating the war effort, the victims, and the eventual victory of the Entente powers in the World War One. The victory was ridden with ambiguity, as all countries, France in particular, attempted to get the better out of Germany to solve their own post-war problems – forgetting along the way that Germany was just as penniless and devasted by war, as the rest of Europe. Nonetheless, Germany remained to be seen as an aggressor and a war-wager, and the  World War One continues to be regarded as a glorious page in European history, rather than a story of human folly.

Russia withdrew from the war following the Bolshevik Revolution, with a separate peace treaty signed by Russia and Germany in Brest-Litovsk in March 1918. Since the World War One was imperialist by nature, it is little wonder that in Soviet times it was given by a passing mention. The novels like And Quiet Flows the Don by Mikhail Sholokhov detailed the Russian part in the war, along with the growing disdain for the imperial power and the obligation to fight. But even then ordinary soldiers who fought in the war were barely remembered, as the war belonged to the tsarist, pre-Socialist part that had to be forgotten, and the sooner the better.

Now the situation has changed. The park dedicated to World War One in Moscow is located in the territory of 11,5 hectares in a walking distance from Sokol metro station. Presently there are many green stretches, and commemorative monuments have been pleasantly incorporated into the landscape. There is a small chapel on a hill and a few cenotaphs. A monument at the park’s entry (from Sokol metro station) reminds us that in the park’s grounds the first common cemetery to the soldiers and medical sisters who died in the war had been created as early  as 1915. Those graves had been subsequently moved to another cemetery, but the present park is located in the cemetery grounds. It is a peaceful and solemn place where one can’t help but meditate on life and death, war and peace.

World War One Park in Moscow – Entry Memorial


World War One Park in Moscow –
To the Victims of the World War 1914-1919


World War One Park in Moscow –
A Memorial Close-Up


World War One Park in Moscow –
Aviators Memorial
World War One Park in Moscow –
One of the cenotaphs


World War One Park in Moscow –
One of the cenotaphs


World War One Park in Moscow – A Chapel


World War One Park in Moscow –
Moscow To the Dead Russian Soldiers


World War One Park in Moscow –
A Second World War Memorial


World War One Park in Moscow –
A Church Monument


World War One Park in Moscow –
One of the cenotaphs, featuring the symbols
of principal military awards
World War One Park in Moscow –
A commemorative stone on the former location
of the common cemetery for soldiers and
medical sisters from Moscow communities
who died in the World War One

My Most Musical Week

I suppose I could recall a week when I visited a few Art events, but I don’t remember a single week when I’d attend three musical events. On Monday I went to the Yauza Theatre, to listen to a program dedicated to the Four Seasons. The recordings included Il Inverno (Winter), Concerto no. 4 in F Minor, RV 297 by Antonio Vivaldi (the famous 1st movement), Winter in Buenos Aires by Astor Piazzola, a couple of extracts from Haydn’s Four Seasons oratory, which were followed by the witty commentary and brilliant performance of Tchaikovsky’s Four Seasons by a well-known pianist Alexei Skanavi.

The Yauza Theatre celebrates 100th anniversary next year. Erected in 1903, the building used to house the Mossovet Theatre when it was headed by Yuri Zavadsky. Then it changed the hands and for several decades belonged to the Electric Factory located in the vicinity. The legends of Russian rock music performed there, including Viktor Tsoi and Boris Grebenschikov, and the film director Sergei Solovyov filmed bits of ASSA movie there. In 1992 I visited this “house of culture” with my Dad on the occasion of celebrating Paul McCartney’s birthday. The event included a screening of Let It Be, followed by a concert. Towards the ends thereof a hard rock group jumped on stage, and die-hard Beatles fans moved outside, into a mellow summer evening, where young guys played and sang the songs, some of which I’d already known by heart. Obviously, being a child, I doubt I took much notice of the outside decor or interiors. This time it was different, and the best I could describe it to myself was a “working class Bolshoi Theatre”.

Yauza Theatre, facade
Yauza Theatre, detail

On Wednesday I went to Moscow’s oldest cinema, Khudozhestvenny (Artistic), near the Old and New Arbat Streets and Arbatskaya metro station. A young composer Arseny Trofim, originally from Nenets Autonomous Region and now based in St. Petersburg, has composed a new score to Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights.

Yauza Theatre, foyer

And on Saturday I went to the Armoury Chamber of the Moscow Kremlin, to listen to the first in a series of concerts by Alexei Skanavi. I came across this wonderful pianist in 2003. Apart from all the good things he does to promote classical music, I appreciate and enjoy his performance manner. The impression I often gather from pianists is that they’re trying either to destroy an instrument, or to showcase their “emotional integrity”. With Skanavi, there’s nothing like this, he doesn’t wriggle excessively at the piano, make faces, but produces the exact tempo and level of sound with seemingly little effort. Needless to say, a lot of hard graft remains behind the curtains, but each time his performance is pleasure to heart, ear, and eye. The first concert was focused on the music of the fin de siècle. Claude Debussy, Camille Saint-Sans, Sergei Prokofiev, Igor Stravinsky…


Yauza Theatre, ceiling
Yauza Theatre, hall

Next week promises to be slightly less eventful. From this, I took with me not just new music, but new ideas, a half translated book, and inspiration.

Moscow State University in the Fog

The missing part
Full view

You already know that I adore the Moscow State University building. If I ever get the chance to live nearby so as to see it from my windows regularly, I’ll grab it with both hands. And it’s not just because the MSU building is so majestic; you see, it hides so perfectly in the fog that each time it is as if the entire upper part of the imposing edifice has disappeared completely. And then it slowly emerges through the fog. Nothing beats the MSU building on a day when its upper part vanishes in blizzard. I don’t have the photo of that now, so let’s hope I can update this post in the course of winter.

La Vie en Jaune: Ivan Bunin’s Cursed Days and the Christ Saviour Cathedral in Moscow

Christ the Saviour Cathedral


Christ the Saviour Cathedral

I am reading Cursed Days by Ivan Bunin, the Russian 1933 Nobel Laureate in Literature. In the 1917-18 Diary that precedes the narrative there are many remarks about the advance of autumn season. First, Bunin notes the slight chill of August mornings. As September wears on, he painstakingly jots down the changes in colour: maple burn red, while many more trees turn different shades of yellow. “Life in the yellow colour“, he says at one point.

As someone who’s always loved autumn, I was touched by this sentence – all the more so that it could so perfectly be translated into French and to become a paraphrase of a famous song by Edith Piaf, La Vie en Rose.

A chapel by the cathedral

Жизнь в желтом цвете. Life in the yellow colour. La vie en jaune. Naturally, when I was walking from one venue of the Moscow Design Week to another, passing the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, the cathedral’s dome seen through the leaves was something I instantly knew I had to photograph.


Moscow State University – Main Building

The main building of the Lomonosov Moscow State University (and I’m its graduate, yes!)

Moscow State University – Main Building, originally uploaded by loscuadernosdejulia.

The Moscow sky is somewhat like the one you see in the picture. It’s very chilly, too, and I feel pretty much like when I came to England for the first time in 2002. I didn’t bring a single sweater with me and only had light footwear. I’m only wearing a sleeveless dress and light shoes today, and I already wish I had a cardigan with me. Nay, I shall brave it till I am home where I’ll cosy up in bed, with a book.

The Views of Moscow from the River

Surviving the Moscow summer is no small feat, although this year it is bearable, compared to 2010 when there were forest fires, and the smog was penetrating every pore of any living creature. During the week I try to do as much as possible, so that at the weekend I could go to the park or even to another town. But sometimes you feel you’ve got to take a walk, so you go somewhere serene where you can unwind. On Thursday I walked around the Vorobyovy Gory a lot where my University is situated. And on Friday I had a wonderful time on board of one of those yachts that offer Moskva-River cruises. I have to say, it was absolutely amazing, but you can see for yourself: below are a few photos from Thursday and Friday.



St Basil’s Cathedral Marks 450th Anniversary

One of Moscow’s celebrated monuments, The Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin by the Moat, otherwise known as St Basil’s Cathedral, marks its 450th anniversary today. The celebrations will be held until October 14, the Russian holiday of Intercession.

The cathedral was built by two Russian master-masons whose names were only discovered in the 19th c. The cathedral commemorated the victory over Kazan in 1552 and was finished by 1561. The legend states that Ivan had ordered the masons to be blinded, lest they created anything similarly beautiful.

The cathedral indeed stands on the site where St Basil (Vassily), the ‘holy fool’, was buried, and hence bears his name as an alternative. In front of the cathedral, as well, is a statue to the heroes of the Civil War against the Polish invaders of the 17th c. – Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky.

Amazing as it may sound, the cathedral nearly perished during the Soviet times when its location interfered with Stalin’s plans for military parades. The architect Pyotr Baranovsky categorically stood up for this gem of Russian architecture and saved it.

The Lomonosov Moscow State University – Two Frontal Views

Moscow State University 1

This grand, pompous building is one of my favourite, if not the favourite, in Moscow and on Earth. This amazing edifice looks serene in summer when it is surrounded by flowerbeds and leafy alleys. And it looks majestic in winter when it resembles an outlandish palace, as its silhouette only slightly protrudes through the blizzard.

Moscow State University 4
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