So, time to wrap up Moscow, if I can. The second day we spent here can be divided into two halves: the first, which I spent in the Kremlin with the rest of the group, and the second, where I went off on my own to do a little exploring.
Our Kremlin tour that morning was pretty cool...the weather was significantly less frigid than the prior evening. I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more if I had actually been able to get any sleep the night before. As such, I was in a bit of a mood when we started our tour, and it didn't really dissipate until much later in the day. Which is a shame, because there was some awesome stuff to see in the Kremlin, including Empress Elizabeth's ridiculous carriages, some of the more famous Faberge eggs, and Peter the Great's coronation throne. Oh, and this thing:
This thing is the so-called Tsar Cannon, built by Tsar Fyodor Ivanovich, son of Ivan the Terrible. At the time, it was the largest artillerypiece in the world, and still has the largest caliber for any cannon in history. According to our tour guide, when Boris Yeltsin came to power, he looked out the window of his office and saw the cannon was aimed directly at his window. Twenty minutes later, Yeltsin had moved to a new office.
After a lot of cathedral touring, during which I saw the tombs of some of the most illustrious rulers of Old Muscovy, including Dmitrii Donskoi and Tsar Alexei, everyone split up and went their separate ways...which, to be perfectly honest, I can't say particularly bothered me. There's nothing that's been more annoying in Russia for me than having to go through tours with some of my fellow students, many of whom couldn't give a damn about Russian history.
Anyway, I decided that with my free afternoon, I was going to go visit the reconstructed Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, which had been demolished in the 1930's on the orders of Josef Stalin. In its place, after deciding that his 'Palace of the Soviets' was physically unbuildable, he built......wait for it......a giant swimming pool. (sigh)
...As you can see, this thing is both gorgeous and absolutely GIGANTIC. Once you get past the Kremlin, it absolutely dominates the skyline of central Moscow from all directions. It's lovely enough on the outside, but on the inside, the beauty and elegance are magnified by a factor of 10.....upon stepping inside, I honestly felt that I had somehow entered a purer, more spiritual place, as cliched as that may sound. The beauty was unquestionable, but not excessively so, and the decoration didn't constantly clamor for your attention like it does in other places, such as Westminster Abbey. Alas, as a working Orthodox cathedral, photography of the interior is strictly forbidden.
Tomorrow, I PROMISE that I will finish up with Moscow and then move on to more interesting crap. Cross my heart and hope to die.