appreciating the finer things – adventures in Russia

My brief stint in Russia has opened my eyes and mind to a whole new world of arts and architecture I didn’t know existed before. Before coming here, I had never paid much attention to church architecture outside of Notre Dame in Paris and definitely had no appreciation for the unique Russian architecture with its many influences. In fact, when I first saw St. Basil’s Cathedral in the famed Red Square during my first weekend in Moscow, I found it garish and likened it to a castle in Disney World.

Now, after having seen numerous churches in different Russian cities, I find the colorful onion-shaped domes that sprinkle every Russian cityscape to be quizzically endearing. There is something so cheerful about them, set against a landscape that is otherwise known to be cold. The more of them I see, from the gracefully fading churches in Suzdal, to the majestic and ornate ones in St. Petersburg, the more I grow to love them.

Russian architecture in of itself draws from so many different European influences. From the ornate buildings that line the streets of St. Petersburg in the baroque architectural style that originated in Rome, to the classical-style churches like Kazan and St. Isaac’s with their huge columns and preference for symmetry, there are somethings for every taste. The Stalin buildings nicknamed the “7 Sisters” in Moscow are just as intriguing with their spires that loom high in the skyline.

Whether it was my trip to the ballet to see Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece, Swan Lake, learning more about legendary Russian authors like Gogol, Pushkin and Nabokov, discovering pristine and cheerful churches hidden in alleyways, revisiting my childhood playing with colorful matryoshka dolls in the Russian markets, or getting my fill of bliny (Russian pancakes), kvas and borsch, Russian culture has a lot more to offer than I would ever have imagined.

Beautiful old churches in Suzdal
Monastery dotted with colorful domed churches
The classical facade of Kazan Cathedral, St. Petersburg
Example of Baroque architecture
Suzdal, Russia