June 15, 2005 2 Comments
This is a picture of an African scalp outside Kazansky Cathedral in St. Petersburg. I am living just up the street and have spent an inordinate amount of time seating in a small park next to the cathedral. It was, I am told, built at the beginning of the 19th century by Alexander I. It was during one of the Russian-Turkish wars thus the decision to build a large duplicate of St. Peter’s in Rome to prove that Russia was a serious superpower that Turkey shouldn’t mess with. It amazes me how notions spring up in a Czar’s head and they are brought to life at such horrific costs. One look at the huge looking mass with its dark stones is enough to let you know that folks done died putting it up. Anyway, word is that the project succeeded though I cannot really understand how. The Turks surrendered before the cathedral’s completion and therefore it was decided to not build a southern colonnade to match the northern one facing Nevsky (the main avenue where to be a woman not wearing high heels earns you an instant mob beating).
Now I quote and will put up more pictures the moment I am recovered from my lack of sleep:
In socialist times the cathedral housed the ideologically-slanted Museum of Religion and Atheism and had a graphic Spanish Inquisition exhibition in the basement, complete with a pair of legs jutting out of a cauldron. The current exhibition has a small section (in Russian only) on the history of Catholicism and a larger section on Orthodoxy which includes church art, historical paintings, and various religious knick-knacks.
Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov, hero of the Napoleonic War, is buried in the cathedral and there are monuments to him and to General Mikhail Barclay de Tolli in Kazan Square, facing Nevsky. From a certain angle, General Barclay de Tolli seems to be doing something that he shouldn’t be doing in public; this is revenge on the randy general for sleeping with the sculptor’s wife.