FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Victory Park

Posted in Moscow, Russia by folkestonejack on January 20, 2007

As the sun rose on Saturday I realised that a very light dusting of snow had fallen overnight, although calling it snow would perhaps be too strong a word… it really was the slightest of dustings imaginable. Nevertheless, I decided to wander over to the All Russia Exhibition Centre to take a couple of pictures before starting my day.

My initial plan was to head to Izmaylovski Park, take a look at the bazaar and walk from there to Stalin’s Bunker. However, the increasingly heavy snowfall and a map quite at odds with reality persuaded me that my efforts were futile! Accepting defeat, I trudged back through the snow and headed down to the metro. Instead, I re-visited Red Square and the Kremlin to get some shots in the snow.

In the afternoon I headed out to the last stop on the blue line at Park Pobedy (Victory Park) for a collection of sights celebrating Russian sacrifice and victory across the centuries. The place impressed with its scale from the start – with the escalator taking two minutes to transport me out of one of the deepest stations on the system. It was also one of the easier experiences, as a subway links the station to the victory arch and provides easy access to both the Borodino Panorama and to Victory Park.

St. George's Church in the snow

St. George’s Church in the snow

I stopped halfway along the subway to take a peak at the Victory Arch and was surprised by how strongly the snow was coming down… I retreated back into the subway and carried on for the short distance to the far exit and began trudging through the snow along the column lined walkway towards the memorial obelisk – although to be fair there were two sweepers out on the pavements and around the obelisk doing a marvellous job of clearing the snow away as fast as it fell.

As I reached the obelisk a wedding party arrived at the foot of the obelisk and had their photograph taken, as is apparently traditional. It seemed a strange sight – the bride in her white gown standing in front of this stark memorial against a landscape of snow with more falling all the time – not to forget how cold it must have been! Later as I walked through the park I came across a whole convoy of wedding parties lining up in their limousines ready to undergo the same ritual.

The Museum of the Great Patriotic War (1941-45) surrounds the obelisk with a semi-circular sweep. After paying the foreigner’s entrance fee I made my way down into the basement which contains a number of three-dimensional dioramas of significant military campaigns such as the Kursk and the Siege of Leningrad. They all looked rather stunning.

Diorama of the siege of Leningrad

Diorama of the siege of Leningrad

After making my way through all of these I headed up into the main building and looked around the stunning Hall of Glory, a circular chamber with a heroic statue at its centre and a dome topped by the emblem of the red star. All around the hall the names of the heroes of the Soviet Union are inscribed on panels that cover the walls.

The Hall of Glory

The Hall of Glory

The rest of my time in the museum was spent wandering around a gallery of art based depicting Moscow in the war (including a very famous portrait of Stalin in his white uniform) and the central display about the war, which provided a chronological series of exhibits with explanations in Russian and English for each exhibit (quite unusual in my experience of Moscow). Some of the stories were quite fascinating, taking me beyond my very anglo-centric understanding of the war. The stories of individual heroism recorded amongst the exhibits were quite moving.

The conning tower of Russian submarine L-3 in Victory Park

The conning tower of Russian submarine L-3 in Victory Park

After completing my tour of the museum I headed out into the park behind the museum to see some of the other sights. These include a monument to the victims of war, various statues, a line of tanks, a mosque, a church and a synagogue. I carried on my walk and found a number of exhibits that remember the naval contribution in the war – including the conning towers of two submarines and whole ships. Further on into the park there is apparently a display of artillery, planes and dugouts but time was running out so I made my way out – heading back in the direction of the Victory Arch.

Section of the Borodino Panorama

Section of the Borodino Panorama

In keeping with the military theme to the day, my last stop was the Borodino Panorama and the monument to Kutuzov surrounded by soldiers and peasants which stands outside. I paid an incredibly small amount (I think it was something like R60) to enter the museum and view the panorama. The panorama was an impressive sight even without an english language commentary to put the scenes into perspective.

After a long day out I headed homeward from Park Pobedy – ending the day with a good meal at My-My, a spell at the internet cafe and a quick look at a snowy All-Russia Exhibition Centre by night before I finally gave in to exhaustion!

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