Already in the morning of my last day in Moscow, before heading to St. Petersburg, the sky was cloudy so it was a good time to plan time inside museums and I visited the Kremlin.
It was also the moment I understood where the Red Square got the "red" in its name, or so I assume. Red bricks are profusely used all over the Kremlin and I found it quite aesthetic. Before getting inside past the security control I took a look at what there were to see around it. I noticed the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier ① and its eternal flame located in the Alexander garden ②.
Here too, a wall surrounded the original outpost. With a perimeter length of over 2 km it is much mightier than anything I have ever seen thus far, especially in Switzerland. I find it amazing that Moscow, with over 12 million residents within the city limits today, used to be contained inside those walls. In most cities such constructions have been recycled or swallowed by a growing city with very few bits of surviving ruins.
While preparing this post I stumbled across the magnificent work of a Dutch cartographer named Joan Blaeu ③ who, in 1662, made the largest and most expensive book published in the seventeenth century ④. I was so impressed by the quality of his map of Moscow (now Kremlin) and also the splendid scan made available by the Department of Geography of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem ⑤⑥ that I chose it to be the cover of this album.
Aside from that and to obtain current information on the place and planned events one can safely head to the official sites as I did myself before my trip ⑦⑧.
➡③ Moscow map by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_Blaeu
➡④ Taken from the Grand Atlas: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlas_Maior
One of the most symbolic constructions in Russia's history can be traced back to the 12th century when Moscow was founded in 1147. The original outpost was surrounded by the first walls in 1156, which was most likely a simple wooden fence with guard towers. Destroyed in 1238 by the Mongol-Tartar invasion, the Moscow Kremlin was rebuilt by the Russian Knyaz Ivan Kalita. In 1339-1340 he erected a bigger fortress on the site of the original outpost which was defended by massive oak walls. Thought to be an impenetrable defense from raids, it was proven to be useless against raids which burned Moscow in 1365.
Nevertheless, the young knyaz Dmitry Donskoy in 1367 began a rebuilding of the fortress. All winter long from the Mukachyovo village 30 virsts (country miles) from Moscow, limestone was hauled back on sledges, allowing the construction of the first stone walls to begin the following spring. The walls successfully withstood two sieges during the Lithuanian–Muscovite War (1368–72). Within a few years the city was adorned with beautiful white-stone walls. Whilst it was successfully invaded by the Tatars again in 1382, the massive fortification suffered no damage.
Dmitry Donskoy's walls stood for over a century, and it was during this period that Muscovy rose as the dominant power in Northeastern Rus. By the end of the 15th century, however, it was clear that the old constructions had long passed their time and Czar Ivan the Great's visions.
Between 1485 and 1495 a whole brigade of Italian architects took part in the erection of a new defence perimeter including Antonio Fryazin (Antonio Gilardi), Marko Fryazin (Marco Ruffo), Pyotr Fryazin (Pietro Antonio Solari) and Alexei Fryazin the Old (Aloisio da Milano). The new walls were erected by building on top of the older walls (some white stone can still be seen at the base in some places). The thickness and height was dramatically increased requiring many wooden houses which surrounded the Kremlin to be torn down.
In the following centuries Moscow expanded rapidly outside the Kremlin walls and as Russia's borders became more and more secure their defensive duty has all but passed. The cannons which were installed in the walls were removed after the turn of the 17th century, as was the second, smaller wall which repeated the perimeter on the outside.
During the reign of Czar Alexei Romanov, the towers were built up with decorative spires and the walls were restored. However their historical mightiness was dampened as the material became brick not stone. Successive restorations of varying scale took place during the reigns of Empress Elizabeth and Alexander the First as well as the later Soviet and Russian times, preserving their original character and style.
With an outer perimeter of 2235 meters, the Kremlin appears as a loose triangle, deviating from the geometric ideal on the southern side where instead of a straight line, it repeats the contours on the original hill on which the Kremlin rests. Because of this the vertical profile is by no means uniform, and the height at some places ranges from no more than 5 meters quadrupling to 19 meters elsewhere. The thickness of the walls also varies from 3.5 to 6.5 meters.
The top of the walls, along their entire length, have outwardly-invisible battle platforms which also range from 2 to 4.5 meters in width (in proportion to the thickness). A total of 1045 double-horned notched "teeth" crown the top of the walls, with a height ranging from 2 to 2.5 meters and thickness from 65 to 75 centimeters.
Some of the interior corridors inside the walls have rooms with no exterior illumination (kamoras) where particularly dangerous criminals were contained. To date twenty towers survived, highlighting the walls. Built at a different time, the oldest one, Tainitskaya dates to 1485 whilst the newest one-Tsarskaya to 1680. Three of the towers, located in the corners of the castle have unique circular profiles. From the ground level it is only possible to enter six of the towers, the rest only from the walls.
Four gate towers exist, all crowned with ruby stars, they are Spasskaya, Borovitskaya, Troitskaya and Nikolskaya. Although up to the 1930 it was also possible to enter the Kremlin via the gates of Tainitskaya tower, however these were covered up yet leaving their portal clearly visible.
The main gates in the Spasskaya tower are normally (with the exception of official and religious ceremonies) closed to the public. The gates under the Nikolskaya tower are often used for service duties only. Visitors to the Kremlin normally enter the premises via the gates under the Troitksaya tower. Except for those who wish to visit the Armoury chamber and the Treasury fond, which are accessible via the gates of the Borovitskaya tower.
Before 1917 it was also possible to book an excursion, lasting over two hours, to walk along the perimeter of the Kremlin walls, beginning at the Borovitskaya tower.
The southern part of the wall faces the Moskva River. The eastern part faces Red Square. The western part, formerly facing the Neglinnaya River, is now part of the Alexander Garden. The bridge which previously crossed the river still stands, and is done in the same style as the Kremlin wall.
I somehow feel it connects me to the past, say 1808, when Beethoven‘s n° 5 symphony was first played in Vienna. If he had come to Thun to celebrate - or rather escape from - his wild success he would have seen very much what we can still see today.
So this afternoon I happened to be going back near that same location where I saw the red tractor and I paused a bit longer to give it a second look.
In case you would like to hear its little diesel voice we have Patrick Scherrer who can help with a video clip: https://youtu.be/m6sITxvCWZ4.
We're dealing here with a Hürlimann model D-115 built in Switzerland and first introduced in 1974.
Our roads and trails always lead to places, as they wouldn't exist otherwise. One of the little pleasures we get from travelling into the unknown is not knowing precisely what come after the curve, or at the destination.
By now I have an exact answer to these questions for all nine cases you see here, and many more. Could it be that this is what keeps me moving?
All these pictures shot during the last few weeks
These 13 pictures conclude our exploration of the no longer existing Bel temple. Back then my daughter's main focus was finding quick little friends so I thought I'd bring them both in that final post.
My Palmyra archive has still a lot to offer and in subsequent posts we will visit the rest of the site.
The temple was built on a tell with stratification indicating human occupation that goes back to the third millennium BC. The area was occupied in pre-Roman periods with a former temple that is usually referred to as "the first temple of Bel" and "the Hellenistic temple". The walls of the temenos and propylaea were constructed in the late first and the first half of the second century AD. The names of three Greeks who worked on the construction of the temple of Bel are known through inscriptions, including a probably Greek architect named Alexandras. However, many Palmyrenes adopted Greco-Roman names and native citizens with the name Alexander are attested in the city.
The Temple of Bel was converted into a Christian church during the Byzantine Era. Parts of the structure were modified by Arabs in 1132 which preserved the structure and converted the Temple into a mosque. It remained in use as a mosque until the 1920s. Most of the Corinthian columns of the inner colonnades still showed pedestals where the statues of the benefactors stood. The temple was aligned along the eastern end of the Great Colonnade at Palmyra.
I am looking at an extra long weekend before me and I hope many of you are enjoying the same perspective. To make a clear cut with the short week that I just closed and to celebrate the nice weather which is forecasted I revisited one of my older image.
Adapted with: https://pixlr.com/express/; Effects: Too Old --> Gordon, Retro Poster --> Beam, Border --> Soft.
I didn't expect to find such animals in this location but two sphinges are to be found in the Alexander Garden just above the "The Ruins". I couldn't obtain anything online about these statues. I suppose the nearby presence of the obelix called for an added Egyptian touch.
From older images I have seen they have been recently and skillfully cleaned. Tourists of the stupidest kind have already taken advantage of the clear surfaces to tell the world (who clearly couldn't care less) that they have been here.
➡ The obelix via Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/9yvcUekLwNN2
➡ The rich Alexander Garden street view imagery: https://goo.gl/maps/zWeM8TL9cDM2
I hope I am not forcing anyone to go to faraway places they wouldn't like.
Apples have an old reputation in protecting one's health. They contain vitamin C, and phenols, which reduce cholesterol. They are said to reduce tooth decay by cleaning one's teeth and killing off bacteria. It has also been suggested in a study (➊) that the quercetin (➋) found in apples protects brain cells against neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's Disease.
Edit: Gee! As you might have witnessed in this post or other ones, apples do not help when afflicted by a missing words disorder. My brain has a growing tendency to fill blanks where it shouldn't.
Here is another, older, variant:
❝Eat an apple on going to bed, And you'll keep the doctor from earning his bread.❞
I had 10 minutes this morning before catching my train so I reached for the nearby lake. The sky and mountains were just wonderful. Today is going to be memorable for the future passengers of these ships.
Now to illustrate my values let's just look a bit back in history. Definitely no need to reinvent the wheel here.
✿ "There is no force so powerful as an idea whose time has come." Everett Dirkson
✿ "A little help at the right time is better than a lot of help at the wrong time." Teyve
✿ "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." Voltaire
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