Sunday, April 27, 2008

In Which We Look Around

Some photos for you on this Orthodox Easter Sunday.

This is the House of Friendship. My guidebook says it is an example of Eclecticism. No kidding.

Yesterday, we went to visit Novodevichiy Convent. It is a fortified religious institution. The oldest parts were built in 1524. Other buildings were added in the late 17th century by Peter the Great when he decided he needed to get his half-sister out of the way. He deposed her in 1689 and essentially had her locked up here for the rest of her life.

This is a bell tower on the convent grounds. The bottom two layers are occupied by a church.

All these people are standing outside the Church of the Assumption (still within the convent grounds). You can't see him, but an Orthodox priest is working his way through the crowd, splashing holy water over the Easter cakes with what looked like a paintbrush. We saw the altar boy, in his purple and gold finery (over his blue jeans), carrying a red plastic dishpan that apparently held the holy water. His parents made him pose for photos.

Here are worshipers carrying home their baskets of blessed Easter cakes, eggs, and candles.

This is just trouble.

Next door to the convent is Novodevichiy Cemetery. Lots and lots of famous Russian and Soviet writers, composers, scientists, and politicians are buried here.

I love cemeteries. I spent a lot of time in Recoleta cemetery in Buenos Aires (final resting place of Eva Peron . . . maybe). They tend to be quiet places, with trees and nice places to sit. Plus they say a lot about the culture.

Here some gravemarkers I liked (but I don't know who these people were).

I especially liked Cat Lady.

Now we have some Russians even I know of. For example, below is Nikita Kruschef.

I dunno. Upclose he looks a lot like Don Rickles to me.

Josef Stalin, Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko were all buried beside the Kremlin wall. Boris Yeltsin is not. He's at Novodevichiy.

This abhoration is the new Yeltsin monument, just unveiled this week on the one-year anniversary of his death. According to the Moscow Times, the new monument was created by sculptor Georgy Frangulyan in the form of the Russian tricolor flag, which was reintroduced by Yeltsin.

"It is proper that his tombstone is covered with the Russian state flag -- the tricolor, the national flag of Russia, which was returned by Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin to our history, our country and our people," Putin said.

Channel One news showed Putin appearing to fight back tears as he watched Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Alexy II bless the monument.

Back to the normal people. There were a lot of visitors in the cemetery yesterday, cleaning graves, bringing flowers and other tributes like the ones above. This grave has a small Easter cake, two eggs, and a candle. Very touching.

Between visiting the convent and the cemetery, we stopped for a little lunch at an outdoor cafe. In the shade, it was a little chilly, so Skittles assumed her Hollywood glamour look.

Baboo was more pragmatic.

Finally, a Moment of Moscow. Below is a little medical center that features GYNECOLOGY and DENTISTRY. I can't help but find those an odd combination of specialties in one center.