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Showing posts with the label Russia

The Two Lives of St. Isaac Cathedral

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Due to decades of Soviet Communist rule, something startling happened to cathedrals and churches across the Russian Federation. With its chief creed of having no religion except the ideology of socialism, all churches within the vast Soviet empire were secularized; meaning they were stripped of their religious significance and turned into museums.

* And what's truly amazing about all of this is that these churches are not just simple places of worship; a lot of them are among the largest, grandest, and most majestic churches on earth!

The Shocking Origin of Russia's Church on Spilled Blood

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As far as Russian landmarks go, few rival the spectacular Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, located at the heart of St. Petersburg. 
In fact, this structure along with St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow are top-of-mind for when one thinks of icons that are "authentically Russian".

* However, this awe-inspiring building holds a very dark and shocking origin story.

The Hermitage: Museum and Former Home of the Russian Emperors

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If one wants to truly see how diligently focused and meticulous the Russian Tsars and Tsarinas were in trying to outdo their European neighbors in culture, wealth, and grandeur, one only has to look at their insane collection at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.

* The Hermitage Museum is a sprawling art museum that is second only in terms of size to the Louvre in Paris.

Other Cultural Attractions of St. Petersburg

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Thanks to its prime location on the Neva River, at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea, St. Petersburg has become a cruise ship destination hotspot. 
And when visiting this majestic city, it is not enough to see the sights from its streets, plazas, and squares; for some of St. Petersburg's most majestic views can only be seen from the water!

* A typical St. Petersburg cruise generally starts along the vast and open Neva River, which is filled with water vehicles of all types: rowboats, sailboats, motorboats, luxury yachts, and massive cruise ships.

Anastasia and the Grand Burial Place of the Romanovs

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Before St. Petersburg became what it is today, the finest of all Russian cities full of magnificent palaces, grand churches, and impressive monuments, the center of power lay in the citadel that Peter the Great himself founded, the Fortress of Peter and Paul.
It was from here that the Russian Empire exercised its constabulary might; using the island-fortress as a prison for political opponents and execution site for those the empire deemed too dangerous to live. Despite that rather grim reputation; however, the fortress contains what is perhaps the greatest treasure of the former Russian Empire.
For it is here that all the Russian Emperors and Empresses, Princes and Princesses are entombed.

* And for contemporary standards, there is no more famous Russian royal family than that of Tsar Nicholas II, the last Emperor of Russia.

Trinity Lavra: Russia's Most Important Monastery

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An integral part of WHY I travel is my personal desire to visit and pray in as many spiritual centers as I can. Christian, Buddhist, Shinto, Muslim, Hebrew, I personally believe that each faith offers wisdom, guidance, and philosophies to help us be what we were meant to be: good human beings and dependable people. 
In Moscow, I had the privilege of visiting the Russian people's most important monastery and spiritual center, the Russian Orthodox Church of Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius.

* Located almost two hours from downtown Moscow, the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius can be found  in the town of Sergiyev Posad.

The Incredible Metro Stations of Moscow

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Usually, city attractions take the form of monuments and squares, museums and palaces, boulevards and shopping plazas; but sometimes, the sights shine most brightly underneath the surface.
Touted as one of the most comprehensive, most efficient (minimal delay rates), and most well-maintained train stations in the world, the Moscow Metro can also add to its list of accolades the title of most beautiful and most nationalistic. And indeed, several of them are tourist attractions in itself!

* The adventure starts at ground level! Built during the Soviet era, the Moscow Metro is the perfect example of the State proudly exhibiting its most positive virtues: nationalism, productive citizens, efficient systems, unification, organization, and coordination. 

Moscow At Night - The Sleeping Beast

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Evenings in Moscow are breathtaking. While generally not as safe to walk around in as compared to other great European cities, there is still much to be explored, gawked at, and admired. 
Here are several shots of this glistening, sleeping beast.

* The Radisson Royal Hotel, once the Hotel Ukraina and tallest hotel in the world, was personally commissioned by Joseph Stalin to look this incredible.

The Kremlin: Home of Vladimir Putin

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At the very heart of the beast that was the Soviet Union stands the fortified complex known as the Kremlin. Separated from Moscow's iconic Red Square by thick impenetrable walls, the Kremlin was for Centuries the official residence of the Russian Tsars.

* And this fine tradition continues to this day, as the Kremlin is the home of Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation. He lives in the Kremlin Senate building, which is obviously the most secure part of the fortress.

Moscow: Heart of the Soviet Union

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Every hero has its main rival; and for the better part of the 20th Century the two great rival powers were the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. It is a story of dualism: West vs. East, NATO vs. the Warsaw Pact, Democracy vs. Communism; and at the heart of the two beasts, Washington DC and Moscow. I was privileged to have had the opportunity to visit Moscow, and these were some of the amazing photos from that journey.

* Nothing symbolizes Russia quite like the iconic Saint Basil's Cathedral.