Scribblings in Russia

For activities week in my school I went to Russia. We went to St. Petersburg and Moscow and went to see the culture and learn about its diverse history because some of us were taking history for National 5 and studying the 1905 and 1917 revolutions in Russia.

Day 1 St. Petersburg

A flat expanse of fields broken by lines of ferns and clumps of forest. Clusters of buildings huddled together separated by the fields in a random way.


Looking down at it, it looks small. Like a quaint toy set, but then i see the specks – cars – and realise how vast Russia is as the roads and fields roll on forever.


St. Petersburg is not what I expected, at only 312 years old it’s Russia’s youngest city and is hugely commercialised with concrete buildings, cemented rods, cords everywhere when you look up for the trams. And lit up, colourful signs in Russian next to huge logos.


Some of the buildings sagged, years of oppression etched into the greying concrete walls, window stained with smoke and rusting irons guarders.

* However, now looking back after writing this I realise the true goodness of these buildings. These were built after the reign of Stalin, after his death, after years of oppression. Khrushchev made these complexes to house millions of homeless Russians and pick up the broken pieces that Stalin left behind.


But into the centre you get peeks of the historic city it is. Palaces and Cathedrals sit next to apartment complexes and modern offices. Overlooking a canal from our room I can see ornate buildings with turrets and columns painted pastel blue and green with domes gilded with gold and marble statues.


Cars line the streets and streak light across the surface of the canal.


Glass buildings with gridded windows reflect a pixelated world with broken up Cathedrals next to concrete apartment complexes, next to palaces. The only constant is the water and the sky.


At Finland Station next to the statue of Lenin;

Looking up at the statue of Lenin – a leader of a nation who inspired the hope of millions for a better life without Tsars or Capitalist oppression. But who also resorted to coercive methods and over-contolling ways to retain power over Russia. It’s strange standing here with 20-30 15 year-olds when almost 100 years ago in 1917 crowds fought to catch a glimpse of their Charismatic leader Lenin react to the Tsar’s abdication and say his April Theses. Ready to have another revolution.


Day 2 St. Petersburg

It’s amazing how a city so young, now thriving with cars and commercial shops and billboards and modern buildings, was once dying of famine and hunger. How this hotspot, this ex-capital city was once at the same time under severe oppression under the Tsar and then Stalin.


Russia, a world super power, its size making it so influential and strong but weakened by its own population. Its conflicted past reflected in its architecture; marble portraits of Lenin chiseled into the walls of granite offices, drooping grey complexes next to luxurious buildings and palaces and cathedrals – whispers of Tsarist times. Many statues of Lenin echo its communist past that only ended slightly over 20 years ago.


In the Political history Museum;

I have been in the very room where Lenin worked and planned the 1917 revolution. I have looked out the window onto the balcony where he announced the Bolshevik Revolution to the population. I have walked over the same floorboards as one of the most influential men in history.

It’s funny how it’s a display in a little museum, how insignificant it seems. Just another room to display historic memorabilia but history was made in this room. How something so crucial and influential to what life is like today can dissolve into the background and be overlooked.


At Winter Palace;

We caught glimpses of Tsarist times as we walked into the extravagant palace. Walls made of marble columns gilded with golden leaves, flowers and cherubs. It’s crazy how the Tsar lived in such luxury when in that very city and all over Russia there were people living with almost nothing. Floors made of multiple woods in shapes of Russian emblems compared to the dirt floors in rural or streets with rats and sewage running down it. There were paintings by Leonardo di Vinci, Michelangelo and Rembrant.


Day 3 St. Petersburg

At the Leningrad WWII memorial;

It’s astonishing to see such a devastating loss of a country so powerful and so huge. To see its strength come crashing down to this. For 900 days and nights St. Petersburg was besieged by the Nazis and over a million lives were lost. The fact that Russia was and is such an influential, mighty country shows the mass brutality and cruelty the Nazis must have had if they were able to torture so many innocent lives. Palaces were destroyed, homes were wrecked, food was limited to only 125 grams per person a day. There was so much famine that people would resort to cannibalism and there was so much death that on every street you would see at least one dead body being lugged from place to place. This terror lasted almost 3 years.


Day 4 Moscow

Christ the Redeemer Church with white walls and sweeping golden domes in onion-like forms. This beautiful building was blown up by the Soviet government to build a place for the government. But after the end of Communism in Russia, it was rebuilt to its original state.

This shows the resilience of the Russian people.

They have put up with a lot of things in their lives – oppression under the Tsar sparked a revolution in 1905 that failed, but then in 1917 there was a November revolution that succeeded for the Bolsheviks. A new oppressive regime was then created under Stalin, corruption came and so did WWII, they suffered and many died but they lived through it and picked up the broken pieces and created what we see now.


At the Sculpture Park – “The Park of Fallen Idols”;

Filled with old statues and sculptures that were up all over Moscow in the past and were removed for some reason or other. One statue particularly stood out to me with the title: Let Us Turn Our Swords Into Sheaths.


Day 5 Moscow

I was so busy I didn’t have any time to write but I did take photos. That day we went to St. Basil’s Cathedral, the Kremlin and Red Square.


Day 6 Moscow then home

I also was so busy that day so I didn’t have any time to write but I did take photos. That day we went to Stalin’s bunker and a Russian market.



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