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The Manezh Square Equestrian Fountain in Winter

Manezh Square fountain, October 2010

I couldn’t resist commemorating a snowy silhouette of this equestian fountain in Manezh Square. You first saw what it looks like in October 2010. And this is it in January 2012.

Manezh Square fountain in snow, January 2012

To tell you the truth, after looking at the last photo at home I couldn’t resist drawing an analogy between these “horsy” profiles with one of the best-known images of the Soviet era: the four profile portraits of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin, and Joseph Stalin, as the figureheads of the international revolutionary movement. Obviously, the only thing that unites both images is the symbol of quadriga, but I thought it was a peculiar parallel nonetheless.

The quadriga of the global revolution (courtesy of izhvkpb.narod.ru)


Moscow Christmas Trees in Shopwindows, Squares, and Streets

#1, Mokhovaya St
#2, State Historical Museum

I promised to show Moscow Christmas trees that were apparently waiting for me to take photos of them, and here we go. I’ll let you follow my route on the evening of January 16, 2012.

There were several spots around Moscow that I hoped to visit on my Xmas trees hunt. After looking at the list, I realised that my best option was to start in Mokhovaya Street, near Borovitskaya metro station and thus to walk into the city. So the first Christmas tree was the one in front of the Russian State Library.


#4, GUM, Red Square
#3, Manezh

I then crossed Mokhovaya Street via subway towards the Manezh Square. The second Christmas tree stood right in front of the back entrance of the Manezh Exhibition Centre. And the third Christmas tree “grew” in front of the State Historical Museum, facing Tverskaya Street.

#5, GUM, MaxMara
GUM, Bosco Cafe


GUM, Paul Smith
#6, GUM, I Pinco Pallino
Revolution Square

From there I took to the Red Square. This traditional touristy hot-spot becomes extra dazzling and busy in winter, when the famous GUM opens its annual ice-skating rink. The Bosco Group, headed by Mikhail Kusnirovich, have for years been organising these festivities, hence the fourth Christmas tree, GUM-branded, is one of the most lavish in the city. My walk past the GUM shopwindows brought more Christmas trees, in different sizes and styles, like I Pinco Pallino tree with tiny kids pullovers or MaxMara’s minimalist Christmas tree.

#7, Theatre Square (the Bolshoi Theatre)


Petrovsky Passage
Petrovsky Passage

I walked out from the Red Square and turned right, into Revolution Square. I took a photo of the Christmas tree #3, accompanied by the equestrian statue of Georgy Zhukov. In Revolution Square I found a rather inconspicuous Christmas tree, and then I walked through a small park where Karl Marx monument has been preserved and crossed the street via subway to the Theatre (Teatralnaya) Square, in front of the Bolshoi Theatre.

The Medici Factor: Bosco di Ciliegi


#8, Sberbank Xmas tree
Stoleshnikov Lane

From there my path led me up Petrovka St, past a couple of exclusive shopping malls, Tsum (ЦУМ) and Petrovsky Passage. The shopwindows again boasted a few lovely Christmas trees. And at the bottom of Stoleshnikov Lane there was a Sberbank-branded Christmas tree. I saw at least three more like this in Moscow, two from Sberbank and one more from DHL Moscow.

Prince, Santa, and Snegurochka
Moscow Townhall

And so, via Stoleshnikov Lane I walked to Tverskaya Street, where Moscow Townhall faces the equestrian statue of Prince Yuri Dolgorukov, the founder of Moscow. I showed the Townhall Christmas trees already, and the tree next to the Prince is flanked by Father Frost (Santa Claus) and Snegurochka (Snowmaiden).

And a few closeups of Moscow Christmas trees:

GUM, Red Square
GUM, Red Square (closeup)
Mokhovaya St


Theatre Square
Manezh Square

Want to use any of the photos? Don’t forget to credit the author (Julia Shuvalova).

Epiphany Dips and the Role of a Photographer

January 19 (that’s tomorrow) is Epiphany, or the Baptism of Our Lord. All over Moscow there are numerous spots for those who’d like to dip into the ice-cold water. The idea is that on Epiphany all waters transmit sainthood of God Our Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, although, of course, in his own days Jesus dipped into the Jordan in the weather conditions nowhere near those in Russia in January. In a way, those who undertake dips on Epiphany in the name of Jesus express a far greater religious zeal than believers from sunnier and warmer places.

Year 2012. “Help! Any doctors here?” – “I’m a phographer. So am I. Me too. And me”

Some of the places that the Big City magazine has put on the map are described as an “unorganised places for bathing“, meaning that they are not designed to be used for Epiphany dips. And I was actually thinking of going to take a few photos. Then I saw this picture (right) and remembered a Russian saying: “salvation of the drowning people is in the hands of such people themselves” (i.e. a drowning man saves himself). As we have seen a few times in photos from various events, sometimes tragic, the passion for documenting every second of the event is all-consuming. It gets to the point when the police beat up a young man, and 3 or 4 guys with cameras diligently snap every movement. So, if I go to an “unorganised place for bathing” I may well witness an accident scene because the police aren’t required to be on the spot. Worse still, I won’t be able to do much, apart from dialling 911 because I cannot swim.

Here’s the rub: once there were mere onlookers. Now onlookers have cameras and seek to document every minute detail. Previously they were idle watchers, now they are concentrated on an important task. You can no longer accuse them of standing idly because they may be honest citizen journalists who do the work. See the difference?

Vintage Polish Postcard – Skaters (1901 and 1902)


Skaters, November 1901
Skaters, January 1902

These postcards from my family archive have just marked their anniversaries: one turned 110 years last November, another just recently, on January 3. This is a Victorian-style gallant photo showing two skaters in the park. Both postcards have something written on them in Polish, I presume; sadly, I don’t know the language to even transcribe the lines. If you know what is written and can help and tell us what it says, please feel free to do so. Otherwise, here’s a turn of the 20th c. impression of the romantic winter pastime.

And this evening (it’s actually midnight in Moscow already) I came home only to grab my camera and go back out to make some winter photos in my native city. I was after Christmas trees. I was trying to make photos of them before the New Year, but there wasn’t enough snow. The city authorities were planning to take the New Year and Christmas decorations down by January 15th. I suspect they decided to extend the date until after the 19th, the Russian Orthodox festival of Epiphany (Baptism of Our Lord). So, when I saw Christmas trees still intact this morning, I thought it must have been for a reason. Perhaps, the reason was my inexplicable desire to snap Xmas trees. As a teaser, here is a photo of the Moscow Townhall with two conic Christmas trees.

Moscow Townhall, Tverskaya St (January 2012)

Moscow: Heavy Snow and a Beautiful Blizzard

Miroslav Valek, illustration to The Blizzard

Usually I can see the Moscow State University’s main building from my window – but now it is barely seen through the most beautiful blizzard. The snow is falling so regally, and the roads are already fully covered with soft white carpets. Considering this is 11.11.11, I believe this superb snowfall came down especially to make this great day ever more magical.


Winter!.. The Countryman, Enchanted…

Those who follow my Flickr have already learnt that I fulfilled my long-term dream of going out to ski. Frankly, I don’t think I’d get as much pleasure from skiing indoors at the Trafford Centre, so I’m glad I waited for so long. While skiing, I noted two things. First, I haven’t lost the skill; better yet I never fell! Second, as Paul McKenna teaches (and one would have to fight hard to disagree), we are already richer than we think we are. It seriously doesn’t matter that I fulfilled my dream in my native town and not somewhere in the Alps. The ability to savour the experience has nothing to do with the price of the experience.


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