Yesterday I went to Red Square, as one must when in Moscow. Having arrived the evening before from Uzbekistan I had been a bit off colour and still wasn't feeling the best.
Red Square is not a square but a rectangle. St Basil's Cathedral, the proper name of which is The Cathedral of the Protecting Veil of the Most Holy Mother of the Moat, is at one end of the Rectangle and was built in the 16th century at the instigation of Ivan the Terrible. It is indeed terrible. It looks like a concoction from a Gelateria Italia using tutti frutti as the base with a bit of everything else thrown in. It is so completely over the top it deserves being given, as I think it has been, the Disney fantasy cartoon treatment. Apparently it had no architectural precedent at the time and has not spawned any new architecture. It is truly unique, which is understandable.
The building is actually an agglomeration of 10 churches or chapels each of which is quite small. There is some beautiful internal decoration in the Byzantine style and some wall adornment that could have inspired William Morris.
On the long side of the Rectangle adjacent to the Cathedral is the giant Rym store. It is quite gross with polished marble, glass, stainless steel, fluoro lights and bling everywhere making its relentless, shameless appeal to vanity and greed. Our Cate is here, doing it for Georgio Armani; Nic too is helping out Omega. A mighty Cathedral of the Consumer to match St Basil's.
Ironically, across from the Consumer Cathedral is the Kremlin, where the Communists used to plot the downfall of the West and now Vlad the Klept plots its takeover. That's more Western arrogance I suppose. I didn't go in; the Chinese and the school children are here in force and the queues are long. I was off-colour. If I planned better I could have booked online.
The 4th side of the Rectangle is constituted by an enormous pile of red bricks in heavy Russian style which now serves as the Historical Museum. Next to it, tucked away in the corner, is the little Kazan Cathedral which I liked the look of, but not the colouring. Grim inside; no joy there.
I also went to Arbat Street which is a precinct formerly housing artists and is now a tourist attraction. The tour buses were parked up at each end disgorging their contents into a street which is entirely given over to servicing them with coffee, eats, and junky souvenirs. There is the odd forlorn artist doing 10-minute charcoal portraits and rappers pumping out deafening incomprehensible muzak. There is a Starbucks, MacDonalds, Hard Rock Cafe and a California Diner featuring a life-size roller skate waitress, Elvis and John Belushi in painted fibreglass. Unbelievable!
I found a good sculpture of Marx with friend opposite the Bolshoi but that just shows how dated l am.
I think I had better stop now. I'm not in a good mood, and it shows.
Tomorrow Berlin for some R&R.