No country gives me the impression of being an empire quite like Russia does.
Moscow, where I recently traveled for the first time in many years, is the capital of an immense and powerful empire, the vital center of which is the Kremlin, as it has been for centuries. I had imagined that after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russians would have been rushing to learn foreign languages, eager to communicate with the outside world. Hardly anyone I encountered in Moscow spoke anything other than Russian, and I didn’t get the impression that they had any intention to do otherwise anytime soon. They are a people quite satisfied with themselves, and yet still profoundly touching; Russia moves me. The intense atmosphere was such that I could not stay long. In any event, as usual, I was fascinated by this unfathomable and romantic empire, endless and alluring.
Since my last visit, a dozen or so years ago, Moscow has changed dramatically. A veritable forest of ultramodern skyscrapers greet you at the gate of the city, reminiscent of Shanghai or some modern Middle Eastern capital.
A Christmas tree stands in front of the KGB palace, a venerated institution still alive under a different name.
The Novodevichy Monastery. After Peter the Great took power from his half sister Sophia, he locked her in the monastery and forced her to watch the execution of two of her lovers. Recently, a fire broke out in one of the towers.
Near Red Square, the two clock towers were part of a 17th century gate to the city that was destroyed by the Soviets; reconstruction has just been completed.
Many of the most venerable churches in Moscow are located within the walls of the Kremlin. To the right is the cathedral where the coronation of the Tsars took place.
A small shop selling religious ornaments, including various ornate bishop’s miters.
Pictured is the view from our room in our daughter Olga’s apartment, the towers are those of the Kremlin.
The Tretyakov Gallery is home to the oldest and the most beautiful icons of the Russian Empire, including these masterpieces by the famous painter Rublev.
A view of the walls of the Kremlin and the palace built by Nicholas I, seen from the bridge crossing the Moskva river.
Within the medieval walls of the Donskoy Monastery is a small cemetery and the palace of the abbot.
This building, which sits beside the Andronikov Monastery, caught my attention, it seems to be incredibly haunted.
Inside the walls of the Andronikov Monastery sits this small 16th century church, a masterpiece of Russian architecture.