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Monday 10 September 2012

[Sunday 9 September 2012]
Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius
According to the itinerary:
Half-day tour of the Kremlin including a visit to the Armoury Chamber
As mentioned yesterday, the half-day tour of the Kremlin had to be postponed, and instead we went to the monastery at Sergiyev Posad, some 46 miles NNE of Moscow. “We were up just after 8.15am,” Janet wrote, “and went down for breakfast just after 9am.… We met Лидия, etc., in Reception at 10am, but it was around 10.30am before we set off in a lovely and toasty, much more modern and posher coach than yesterday’s.” As we waited, and waited, I decided to find myself a seat just off from where the group was gathered in the lobby and hopefully avoid my feet getting prematurely painful. We were waiting for the coach to arrive: newer and warmer than yesterday’s.
Click on the photos, below, for a larger view.

10:04:20 Our party gathers in the hotel lobby.


10:25:42 Radisson Royal Hotel — formerly Hotel Ukraina — one of the “seven sisters”, on the opposite bank of the Moscow River

10:31:30 One of many onion-domed churches

10:35:02 Southwest corner of the Kremlin, with views of (from left): the Armoury, the Armoury Tower, the Borovitskaya (Grove) Tower, and the Water-Supplying Tower

10:36:12 Passing the west side of the Kremlin

10:36:56 Passing the Bolshoi Theatre

10:46:56 Travelling along Prospekt Mira (Peace Avenue) with the Monument to the Conquerors of Space ahead, and the Moscow-850 giant Ferris wheel

10:47:58 The Monument to the Conquerors of Space, 110m tall, with 77° incline, made of titanium

10:48:46 Vera Mukhina (1889–1953): Worker and Kolkhoz Woman (stainless steel, 1937)

10:48:52 Vera Mukhina (1889–1953): Worker and Kolkhoz Woman (stainless steel, 1937)
Much of the terrain en route was forested, and from time to time we saw clusters of dachas, mostly wooden, some quite ornate, some with Dutch-style gambrel roofs, in various states of repair or disrepair. At one point, perhaps more than one, there was a car parked at the side of the road, and Лидия said the people were picking mushrooms in the forest, adding that Russians have a passion for mushrooms.

11:44:50 Approaching Sergiyev Posad

11:51:28 In Sergiyev Posad, with the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius ahead
The coach turned right and parked up a bit of a hill, on the opposite side of the main road from the monastery, which was a good vantage point for photos. From there we walked to the wide, unfortunately (for my tender feet) cobbled, yard in front on the monastery wall. Monasteries such as this were dotted round cities, and fortified as a defence against invasion of the same.

11:56:30 Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius



11:59:12 “The wide, unfortunately (for my tender feet) cobbled, yard in front on the monastery wall” appears as a beige strip to the right of this photo. The green-roofed, gold onion-domed “Beautiful Tower” rose over the arch through which we entered the monastery.

Sketch of the Lavra found on the internet
  1. Trinity cathedral (1422-1423)
  2. Holy Spirit Church (1476-77).
  3. Assumption Cathedral (1559-85).
  4. Monastery walls (16th-17th centuries).
  5. Pyatnitskaya Tower (1640).
  6. Beautiful Tower (16th-19th centuries).
  7. Assumption gate (17th century)
  8. Drying Tower (16th-17th centuries).
  9. Duck Tower (17th century).
  10. Ringing Tower (16th-17th centuries).
  11. Salt Tower, lower tier (16th century).
  12. Pilgrim Tower (1758-1778).
  13. Carpenter Tower (17th century).
  14. Cellarer Tower (1642-1849).
  15. Beer Tower (16th-17th centuries).
  16. Water Tower (17th century).
  17. Water Gate (16th-17th centuries).
  18. Onion Tower (16th-17th centuries).
  19. Metropolitan's Palace (16th-18th centuries).
  20. Treasury Building (16th-19th centuries): housing the exhibitions of Early Russian Art, Russian Art of the 18th to Early 20th Centuries, Russian Folk Art of the 18th to Early 20th Centuries, and Exhibition of Decorative and Applied Art.
  21. Infirmary with the Church of Saints Zosima and Savvaty (1635-37): housing the exhibitions of The History of the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius, the Necropolis of the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius, and The Architectural Ensemble and its Restoration.
  22. Refectory with the Church of St.Sergius (1686-92).
  23. Tsar's Palace (late 17th century).
  24. Chapel-over-the Well (late 17th century).
  25. Gateway Church of St.John the Baptist (1693-99).
  26. Church of St.Micah (1734).
  27. Church of the Virgin of Smolensk (1745-48).
  28. Bell Tower (1740-70).
  29. Godunov family mausoleum (1780).
  30. Sacristy (1780): housing the exhibitions of Early Russian Applied Art.
  31. Obelisk (1792).
First, we followed Лидия into what looked like a chapel, but which was the ticket office. I paid 100 Roubles there for a photo permit, which was excellent value, for it came with a CD of hymns, etc., by the monks. Thence, across the wide (and somewhat painful) yard, through the arch of the “Beautiful Tower”, and immediately behind it through the arch of the “Gateway Church of St. John the Baptist”, into the monastery enclosure.

12:18:38 Looks like a chapel, but is the ticket-office, where I bought a photo-permit for 100 roubles, which included a CD of hymns of the Russian Orthodox Church.

12:22:18 Beautiful Tower (left) — entrance to the enclosure — and Assumption Gate (right)

12:25:38 Beautiful Tower, infested with “sky rats”. I also heard jackdaws but can’t make any out on the photo.

12:26:58 Entrance of Gateway Church of St. John the Baptist

12:30:50 Exit of Gateway Church of St. John the Baptist
We were accompanied, at least initially, by a black-robed young monk. Nevertheless, it was Лидия who did the talking and describing. Although he understood some English, he was shy about speaking it. I can’t remember exactly what Лидия said, but I have the impression that it was expected that the young man would complete his service in the monastery after so many years, WOULD MARRY, then become a priest. The first church we went in was the Church of St. Sergius.

12:34:14 Church of St. Sergius

12:39:02 “She made me do it!”

12:38:14 “[God] drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.”

12:40:14 “Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.”








12:50:14 Ceiling

12:50:14 Same view, rotated




13:03:36 I understood at the time this to be the “monks’ refectory”; but on the sketch, it is labelled “Metropolitan’s Palace”, and the church we’d just been in “Refectory with the Church of St. Sergius”.

13:03:48 Trinity Cathedral
We next went in the Holy Spirit Church.

13:04:44 Holy Spirit Church

13:06:10 Iconostasis, left

13:06:22 Iconostasis, right

13:06:50 Above the iconostasis

13:08:18 Holy doors, customarily shut

13:11:26 Bell Tower

13:12:28 Bell Tower
The third and last church we went in was the Trinity Cathedral. There was a service in progress, and photography was not allowed. There was a priest chanting and a few soprano choristers singing responses. I couldn’t make out where their sound was coming from, and wondered whether it was pre-recorded, but Janet several days later told me that they were seated on the benches that were along the walls. I thought it was remarkable that there was piety among Russians of all ages. It was not only babushkas (in the Russian sense) there wearing babushkas (in the English sense), there were a lot of young women on the site similarly attired too.

13:13:40 Trinity Cathedral

13:15:06 The Chapel-over-the-Well, in front of the Assumption Cathedral

13:20:46 Heading to the entrance of the Trinity Cathedral
After that we were left to our own devices with a rendezvous outside the tower, by which we’d entered, of perhaps 2.30pm. We wandered around. There was a vendor selling «квас» (“kvas”) from a cylindrical tank on a trailer, a cloudy, muddy brown, sweet brew of negligible alcoholic content. We visited the gift shop, through the door to the right in the above photo and upstairs. There were glass cases containing matryoshka dolls and other locally made wares, and a room beyond that selling icons. I was glad of the latter room because it had some chairs, of which I was in great need. Janet bought a small matryoshka doll for 340 Roubles.

14:07:50 This covered drinking (or washing?) fountain reminded us of a similar structure in the Mosque of Muhammad Ali in Cairo.

14:15:38 Heading back towards the Gateway Church of St. John the Baptist

14:17:54 View to the left: the Assumption Gate, presumably

14:19:20 The actual gateway of the Gateway Church of St. John the Baptist, and beyond it the arch of the Beautiful Tower

14:22:54 Feeding the sky-rats


14:23:58 The cat seemed a bit half-hearted. Perhaps it had already dined on pigeon.
We seemed to be hanging around for a long time before everyone gathered and we walked across to the coach. If my feet hadn’t been hurting the time would have seemed shorter.

14:43:58 I was surprised to see a statue of Lenin in the yard outside the monastery.
On the way back, we saw one or two cars parked at the roadside, but this time the people weren’t picking mushrooms; they had them laid out and were selling them.

15:13:36 Self-portrait through the driver’s mirror

15:13:36 Self-portrait, flipped right-to-left

15:47:24 Traffic jam causes a rethink of route.

16:45:24 One of the Moscow “Seven Sisters” buildings that we passed

16:45:50 The same “Seven Sisters” building

16:46:28 Another “Seven Sisters” building

16:47:28 Moskva River and Kremlin

16:48:50 Heavy traffic near the Kremlin

16:50:00 Approaching the Kremlin

16:51:56 Passing the Kremlin on the Moskva River side

16:52:54 The former British Embassy, presumably still occupied by the British because the Union Flag is flying

17:00:34 Traffic jam
At the hotel reception Janet booked a wake-up call for 6.00am tomorrow. Edited seven of today’s photos (18:13–18:42). Meanwhile, Janet started the packing, because after our morning outing we wouldn’t be returning to the hotel; our luggage would be in the bowels of the bus the whole time. We went for dinner at 8pm. We were the first people there — some of our party arrived when we were on dessert — and unlike yesterday there were no delays; we were served immediately: smoked salmon with asparagus; beef Stroganoff with mashed potato; and I can’t remember what. Back up in the room, Janet had a shower, packed some more stuff, then went to bed. I stayed up half-an-hour or more longer; I was editing the remaining 63 of today’s photos (20:52–22:51).
[Tuesday 11 September 2012]

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