Friday, October 02, 2015

Kremlin Comings and Goings

The Assumption Cathedral in the Kremlin, Moscow. It is
also known, somewhat confusingly, as the Dormition Cathedral. It is where the Czars were crowned
and inside its walls are covered with rows of glorious gold icons, including a very famous one from Novgorod in the early 12th century of St. George and the Virgin (not the dragon.)
I didn't notice much new in the Kremlin this time, except for President Putin's helipad near the Moscow River. By using it on his fairly infrequent visits, we were told, he avoids the horrendous traffic and causing problems for other drivers. Most of the time he works in a suburb southeast of the city, or works out at his gym in Sochi.
I asked our guide about what is happening with the site of the former Roosiya Hotel, just across Red Square from the Kremlin. The Roosiya with some 6,000 rooms used to be the largest in the world, but was demolished a number of years ago and the site boarded up. Now the plan is to turn it into a park--a good idea since green space is scarce in central Moscow, but perhaps also a sign of the economic downturn the country is suffering at the moment. 
I always enjoy seeing the Kremlin again, and this time there were a lot fewer tourists around than I had seen in June, 2011. Most of the tourists seemed to be Asian or Russian, with westerners in short supply. I didn't get a chance to take a picture of it, but on the bridge just south of the Kremlin there is still a memorial of flowers marking the spot where opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was gunned down earlier this year.


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