FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Monumental monuments

Posted in Moscow, Russia by folkestonejack on January 16, 2007

After leaving Lenin behind I headed to the Schusev Museum of Architecture for a fascinating exhibition about the competition to create a design fit for the Palace of the Soviets – specifically the entry submitted by Armando Brasini.

It was a remarkable competition with no limits to the creativity possible, as can be seen by many of the designs entered. It attracted architects of great reknown including Le Corbusier, Gropius and Brasini. Boris Iofan’s winning design would have seen an extravagant tower constructed with a giant statue of Lenin at its pinacle but the war intervened and construction was abandoned. The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour had already been demolished to make way for the palace – but would be rebuilt at the end of the twentieth century.

The exhibition I saw was about Brasini’s proposed design, Italian Palace Of Soviets, which was incredible in its own right. You can see a couple of image of the proposed building in an Italian architectural blog post on the Italian Palace of the Soviets which includes an external view and a picture of the vast interior.

The next stop on my itinerary took me a relatively short distance by metro to the Museum of the Contemporary History of Russia – an intriguing museum which was frustrating, with fascinating exhibits on display but captions only in Russian. English language summaries highlighted key items on display for each room so I was able to understand and follow the displays up to a point (items of interest included the phone of General Paulus from the bunker at Stalingrad, banners captured and laid down in the victory celebrations in Red Square, gifts given to Stalin on his birthday and various items relating to the revolution).

Later, in the afternoon, I went to find the Gagarin monument – an amazing metal column soaring into the sky with a figure of super hero proportions atop and a metal Vostok at its base. It’s a little out of the way (Metro: Leninsky Prospekt) but it really was one monument I felt that I couldn’t miss. Finally, towards the day’s end I re-visited the cemetery at Novodevichiy to complete the visit that I had to abandon yesterday.

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