Kamchatka Land of 10,000 Bears, Part 5 Victory Day

by david on December 28, 2019

Saturday, May 4th

I was up at 8:00 AM. It is hard to believe I slept soundly for 11 hours even though my room was facing the street. I don’t remember any traffic at all, meaning there wasn’t much, or the noise levels were not sufficiently loud for me to hear without my hearing aids. I’ll vote for the latter. I made it down for breakfast by 8:30 and had my fill of coffee, crêpes and carrot cake. Sweets and caffeine, is a good start to any morning.

Vasily picked me up at 9:45 and we headed to Red Square for tickets to get inside the Kremlin and the “Armoury”. “Armoury” is the Russian spelling, which we would spell Armory and is actually a museum. Since it was during the Victory Day Holiday, a lot of other people had the same idea. We ended up in line for an hour and forty minutes. One very cool thing happened while we were in line. There is a big parade on Victory Day and there are rehearsals of parts of it during the preceding days. The fly-by rehearsal happened while we were standing in line. The various helicopters came first, followed by the cargo and large reconnaissance planes, fighter jets, and finally the Russian version of the US Blue Angels. The whole flyby took at least fifteen minutes and I enjoyed every second. I have always been an aviation buff and this was a treat even though I ended up with a crick in my neck.

We finally made it into the Kremlin a little after lunch. The place looks big from the outside, but it is absolutely huge on the inside. The best way I can describe it is that it is like a fort. There is a defensive wall around a complex, including several churches, an opera house, a courtyard, a park, government offices, a museum, and a few things I forgot to mention. First stop was the Czar’s cannon and bell. Both were immense. The cannon is 17 feet or so in length with cannon balls about 4 feet in diameter. The bell is twenty two feet in diameter and twenty feet in height. Both of them are worthy of the Tsars. The churches were ornate and full of frescoes and Icons. Everything was well maintained and immaculate. Inside the Kremlin and Moscow generally are the cleanest public spaces I have ever visited. I saw no litter anywhere and no overflowing trash cans, despite the increased number of people in town. Next stop was the Armory.

Why a museum was named the Armory was never really explained by anything in any of the literature.  Only thing I can figure is that it did originate as an armory / arsenal storage and just kept the name. Inside were some of Russia’s “treasures”:  jewelry, china, silver and gold serving pieces, art, clothing, were among some of the smaller items. There were also edged weapons, firearms and actual suits of armor dating to the time the site was an armory. Some of the larger items included thrones, carriages, and sleds. I was pretty much enthralled by everything except the clothing. If it is not camo, Gortex or denim, I am afraid fashion is pretty much lost on me.  Luckily for Vasily, or at least his voice, there was an audio guide in English. The guide was a good one and provided more information than anyone could possibly remember. I found myself wishing there was a printed text I could take home with me as it would be the only way I could remember more than a few highlights.

The cannon is huge no matter which way you look at it. The cannon is huge no matter which way you look at it.

 

The business end of the Tsar's cannon The business end of the Tsar’s cannon The Tsar’s bell. The Tsar’s bell. Part of the huge courtyard with the Spasskaya Tower in the background. Part of the huge courtyard with the Spasskaya Tower in the background.

 

The Cathedral of the Assumption The Cathedral of the Assumption is the oldest church in the Kremlin and also the most important

 

The Cathedral of the Annunciation The Cathedral of the Annunciation A view from the park looking out over the wall and down towards the river. A view from the park looking out over the wall and down towards the river.

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