Sometimes at the end of the year, I contemplate all the places we have been and try to measure which ones have had the greatest impact on my soul by the amount of lingering time I find myself devoting to that place and the renewal of the impressions received. Many times I am not surprised by the leading imprints on my heart, but occasionally life brings its own unanticipated wonder. Two years ago Red Square in Moscow was just such a place.
I anticipated the highlight of Russia for me would be St Petersburg with its historic palaces reminiscent of Peter the Great and Catherine, the German princess who became more Russian than most Russians and dominated the powerful men who surrounded her. In the Church of St Peter and Paul lie the great, and not so great, Czars and Czarinas I had read and marveled about. Moscow, I thought would play second fiddle to the city on the Baltic, but Moscow gripped my soul and never let go. Burned to the ground during Napoleon’s invasion, Moscow rose from the ashes, eventually replacing St Petersburg as the capital of the largest nation on earth. Both cities had captured my imagination through the greatest novelists of all time. How Tolstoy and Dostoevsky played upon my inner world. They marched with stately dignity alongside Pushkin’s fairy tale wonderland with its talking fish and a witch named Baba Yaga emerging from her enchanted forest hut built on chicken legs which danced and turned to face you.
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This article is sponsored by Fun For Less Tours.