Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Graveyard of Fallen Heroes

Sadly, my two weeks of vacation are coming to an end soon, but I've had a great time despite the fact that most of my American/British friends went home for the holidays, and my Russian friends went to Bali/Egypt/Bulgaria/UAE (lucky, lucky!).

Despite a few emo-esque self-portraits I was forced to take of myself in Red Square, I still managed to have fun and explore some new parts of Moscow. Plus, I also got SERIOUSLY into Jane Austen, and did a lot of reading, a lot of yoga, and a lot of running.

Oh, and a lot of soup-making. The fact that I've grown accustomed to the smell of cooked cabbage (and actually LIKE it!) scares me a little, as it means the odds of me becoming a babushka one day have greatly increased. At least I'm not hitting people with my purse or screaming at young girls for sitting on the cold pavement. Yet.

I went to the Graveyard of Fallen Heroes, a really cool, eerie, and moody sculpture park that is right across the street from Gorky Park and next door to the New Tretyakov. I got off at Park Kultury on the red metro line and walked across Krymsky Most (bridge). This was right around 4pm and there was an absolutely gorgeous sunset:

Ignore the mushroom cloud in the distance. Apparently
Russia was testing nukes the other day. Also, yes, that is a roller-coaster!
(in Gorky Park)

The Graveyard of Fallen Heroes is a collection of several statues that were toppled down in the wave of anti-Communist fervour that swept the Moscow area in the early days of the fall of the Soviet Union. Massive Lenins, Stalins, Brezhnevs, and more are set up in between modern sculptures. With the blanketing snow, the setting sun, and the deserted gloom of the place, it was both creepy and thought-provoking - reminding me of that quote by Napoleon: "Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever." All of these men were convinced that the USSR would last forever, that the answer to everything lay in Communism, but in the end their statues no longer proclaim this truth they held to be self-evident. Their glory was certainly fleeting, lasting only from 1917-1991, and now their statues are set up in a small little park full of gloom and shadows. Memento mori. Remember you must die. Sorry for waxing a little morbid here, but it was hard not to feel this pervasiveness of death while weaving in between the walkways. Definitely creepy, but also definitely something I'm glad I saw. (Incidentally, today my friend Zach was asking me how I entertained myself for the past two weeks, with mostly everyone gone from Moscow. "Oh, I took emo-pictures of myself in Red Square and visited a graveyard," I told him. "What's happened to happy, smiley Katie???" he asked in mock horror. Fear not, I am still my usual happy self!! Here is proof:)

Warming up with tea back in my flat!

Anyways, I definitely recommend checking out the Graveyard of Fallen Heroes if you're in Moscow. Here are some more pics:

Felix Dzherzhinsky, the founder of the Cheka secret
police, which later became the KGB, which is now the FSB.
This statue used to be in front of the Lubyanka, the KGB
headquarters, before it was pulled down by protesters in the
early 1990s.

A statue of Stalin standing guard over a collection of
"statue faces" - a symbolic tribute to the estimated 28-50
million victims of the Soviet concentration camps (GULAGs)
and of Stalin's Great Purge.

Close-up of the statue heads.

The New Tretyakov Gallery, an annexe of the Tretyakov, is right next to the sculpture park, and it houses 20th century Russian art. I LOVE the work of the avant-garde artists (like Natalya Goncharova, whose 1912 still-life painting The Flowers was auctioned at Christie's for 10.8 million USD, setting a record for any female artist!) and really wanted to check this musuem out, but for some reason the line snaking outside the door to the gallery was longer than the old Soviet queues for bread, so I decided to come back another day! It was SO cold out!!

I've also gotten to see quite a bit of Red Square in the past few days, but its almost 1am and I'm really tired, so I will post some pictures and stuff about that tomorrow. Tomorrow, also, is the Orthodox Christmas and I've been invited to a traditional Christmas meal! I'm betting it will be a lot like a traditional New Year's meal, so I'm preparing myself for more M&M...meat and mayonnaise...

P.S. I still have no idea what to think about this! On the one hand, I'm a little happy that they got their chance at some redemption after the Olympics...but I was sincerely cheering for Canada on this one...


  1. Katie, we were literally speechless after that hockey game. The Russia boys have been top news stories for the past couple of days with their partying and being kicked off of their flight home. I wonder what the Canadian boys would have done?
    I am proud of you for making the best of your time off. Just like mum told you, sometimes it is best to just be on your own, look at all you have done.

  2. And we have enjoyed skyping with you on an almost-daily basis. Oh how we will miss that. Back to routine ......

  3. I have loved getting to skype with you guys so much too!! :) Maybe tomorrow (Saturday) if you're around? If not Sunday for sure, I miss you!!!

    Yes, I can't believe their behaviour...I understand they are excited and proud about winning, but they just totally negated their win by acting like that! I've been anxious to see what the newspapers are saying about it over here, but The Moscow Times is on holiday until the 10th...I think its safe to say that Canadian boys wouldn't have done that. But apparently the Russians were drunk? That doesn't surprise me to be honest...