Parks & Recreation: Park Pobedy.

Moscow is one of the biggest cities in the world, and it is known for its pompous architecture and great boulevards. Many of the concrete structures are a reminder of past times which are still vivid in the people’s hearts, minds, and memories. One example of such a structure or area is Park Pobedy, a grand park located in the (South-)Western corner of Moscow.

Park Pobedy, or Парк Победы, was constructed in honour of the country’s victory in World War II or, as the Russians remember it, Great Patriotic War. It’s also where the name comes from – Pobeda meaning victory, so it’s the Park of Victory. It is actually a vast memorial complex that includes many monuments, fountains, museums, and a church, synagogue, and mosque. Every year on May 9, Russia celebrates Victory Day in which this park becomes the centre of celebrations.

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The park at Poklonnaya Hill is set as a reminder that Russia and its citizen suffered a great deal during the war. The area actually used to be the tallest point of Moscow and was an open-air museum to remind of Russia’s victory over Napoleon. The hill was leveled down to the ground in 1987 and has been gradually turned into the war memorial it is today.

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Right at the entrance to the park there is a long promenade that gives a great view over the area and the surrounding city. This big road lined with fountains leads to the obelisk, a war memorial museum and an exhibition of tanks, war planes, and other weaponry. The park ends into a forest.

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The park was carefully constructed, and certain numbers were kept in mind when planning it. For example, the central avenue, the “Years of War”, has five terraces which links to the five years of conflict. A total of 1,418 fountains can be found there – one for every day. The memorial chapel, mosque, and synagogue are for the different religions of the fallen soldiers. The height of the obelisk with a statue of Nike, the Greek goddess of Victory, represents every day of Russia’s participation in WWII (141.8 metres, 10 cm for a day). In 2005, 15 pompous bronze columns that symbolise the main fronts and navies of the Red Army were added.

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What I especially liked about this park is that it is such a huge “empty” space within such a big city. It is such an interesting feeling that you get when walking around in such a massive park surrounded by skyscrapers. It is a mix of feeling secluded from everything but also being in the middle of a huge town.


The Museum of the Great Patriotic War is open TUE, WED, SUN 10:00–20:00 & THU, FRU, SAT 10:00–20:50. The entrance ticket for the museum is 300 rubles (4.30€ or 5.05 USD), or for the whole exhibition area 400 rubles (5.74€ or 6.73USD). The park area is free.

Liechtensteinpark in Autumn.

A rather small park (but not as petite as the Japanese Setagayapark) in the heart of the 9th district of Vienna is the Liechtensteinpark. It is not the perfect picnic-park (stepping on the grass is forbidden), but it’s great for taking a brief exit from the stressful city life. And during autumn it’s magnificent in there! The foliage is amazing, taking a walk on a sunny autumn day is a great exercise to get your mind off things.

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A Prince of Liechtenstein acquired a garden in Vienna in the 1687 and had the grand palace built in the south of the park (Fürstengasse 9). The Palais Liechtenstein, a mix between country house and townhouse in Roman style, used to hold the art collection of the Principality of Liechtenstein which was transferred to Liechtenstein during WWII and was thus not damaged. In the years thereafter the palace was used as a museum until 2012. Now, there is still a part of the private art collection of the Prince from the early Renaissance to the High Baroque era which can be viewed as part of a guided tour. The palace can also be hired as an exclusive venue for certain events.

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At the North side of the park (Alserbachstraße 14-16) there is another grand building, a former “Belvedere” (a pavilion) erected in 1700 that was demolished and rebuilt as a garden/summer palace for the widow of a prince in the late 19th century. As far as I know it is home to various companies.

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The former baroque garden with its 5 hectares used to have many statues and vases, which were mostly sold in the 18th century, and was later transformed into a landscape garden. A part of the park is left almost untouched and there are even beehives there, so it’s a good mix between a cultivated park and wild-growing nature (I am fairly sure that it’s not 100% wild-growing, but whatever :D ).

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I live quite close to the park, so I thought I knew the ins and outs of the park, but turns out: I don’t (or didn’t). On my hunt for ivy leaves for the homemade all-natural detergent the other day I stumbled upon the wild-growing part of the park and found the beehives (my bf was like – duh, I knew about this all along *eye-roll* ). It’s always great to discover new things in your neighbourhood, if you ask me!

General information

The grounds still belong to the Prince of Liechtenstein Foundation, but this green oasis in the 9th district is open to the public during the day.

Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed in this park, so no dog-stalking for me :(

 

Parks and Recreation: Gorky Park

A park in walking distance from my current place in Moscow is Gorky Park (officially Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure / Центральный парк культуры и отдыха имени Горького / Tsentralny park kultury i otdykha imeni Gorkogo). The park got its name from the Russian and Soviet writer Maxim Gorky (1868 – 1936), a founder of the socialist realism literary method (whatever that is…) and a political activist.

Opened in 1928 and the first of such kind back then, the park stretches along the bangs of the Moscow river with an area of 300 hectres. It is divided into two parts – the first one more dedicated to entertaining kids with funfair rides and such things. It is also possible to rent boats or horses. During summer there is a ‘beach’ area that is also an open air club in the evenings, and in winter part of this area becomes a vast skating rink. The other part of the park is more restrained and consists of formal gardens and woodlands. It is also home to some old buildings that date back to the 18th/19th century.

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Snowy park landscape

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The thing I like most about this park is that it stretches along the Moscow river and you see grand buildings on the other side of the river. Also, the bridges over the Moscow are beautiful and nice to look at. The park has plenty to offer for everyone, regardless of the seasons. Obviously, the pictures from above are more than a few weeks old, and the park is wrapped in snow (more or less). I can’t wait to go there and try myself at ice skating there.

Parks and Recreation: Kolomenskoye

I have already reported in my first edition of ‘Parks and Recreation’ in Moscow that the city offers a great amount of parks and places where Muscovites and non-locals can enjoy their free time and just have a stroll. In this edition I will share my trip  to another grand park/estate here in Moscow – Kolomenskoye (Коло́менское).

The 390 hectare park is located in the southeast of Moscow on the ancient road that leads to Kolomna (hence the name). The former royal estate overlooks the Moskva River. The village of Kolomenskoye was first named in a testament in 1339. It was founded by refugees from Kolomna, a city not far from Moscow. However, pre-Slavic civilisations dating back over 2,500 years have been found in this area. Between the 15th and 17th century the village transformed into a favourite country residency of a Grand Prince and several Tsars such as Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, or Alexander I.

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In 1923 was the Museum of Wooden Architecture was founded in Kolomenskoye. Various wooden architecture examples were brought to the museum from all across the country, for example Peter the Great’s little house from Arkhangelsk. People were still living in Kolomenskoye as it remained a normal village, that became part of Moscow in the 1960s. Only after 1985 the villagers were resettled and it became the museum and park complex that it is now.

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Probably the most noticeable and famous building is a great white church in the middle of the park. The Ascension church was built in 1532 in order to commemorate the birth of an heir to the throne – the future Ivan the Terrible. The church is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage monument. Right next to the Ascension church are other ‘old’ buildings – the St. George the Victorious Bell Tower (16th century), the Water Tower (17th cent.) and the Hunting Pavilion (19th).

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Another beautiful building in the park is the Church of the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan. It served as a family temple for royalties and is devoted to the Our Lady of Kazan icon, one of the most respected icons in Russia. This church was built in the 1630s, first as a wooden church and two decades later replaced with a brick one. It has the typical domes and plenty of gold which is a very familiar image of Russian religion.

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What also really struck me was that the Moskva river is really beautiful here. You can take a stroll along the riverbank and have a beautiful view over parts of Moscow.

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At one end of the park is the reconstructed palace of Tsar Alexis I, representing beautiful Russian architecture from the 17th century. Tsar Alexis I had all the previous wooden structures demolished and replaced with a new great wooden palace in the 17th century. Due to its fairytale roofs foreigners referred to this palace as an ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’. During Peter the Great’s reign the court was moved from Moscow to St.Petersburg, as a result the palace fell into disrepair and was demolished at the end of the 18th century. Luckily, detailed plans of the original palace survived so it was reconstructed in 2010.

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Actually, I have been there twice – once during the day and once in the late afternoon/early evening. So I also got to see the park during that special time of the day that I really really like! Especially when the sky turns pink/violet.

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The park is really huge and there is a lot to see and do. There are playgrounds, cafés and other recreational activities offered. However, there is also more than enough space to find tranquility and solitude – something that is often needed in a megapolis such as Moscow. It is the perfect place for people who want to escape the big city noise. I definitely want to go there again when there is snow – I’ve heard that it is beautiful and quiet place to be during winter.


General information about the park:
The park is open daily from 8am to 9pm – free entrance to the park, small fee for the some sights to see the inside. To get there you just take the metro to Kolomenskaya Station, from which it is a ten-minute walk.

Parks and Recreation in Moscow: ВДНХ.

Moscow – a city with millions of people, massive roads and pompous buildings. Some of the parts in town still reflect the former communist era of the country, whereas other parts are super shiny. A city of superlatives almost. Even though it is such a big city, Moscow also offers a great amount of parks that invite people to relax and enjoy a little bit of nature. From time to time the parks also mirror the grandness of the country and its rich history. Sometimes I get the feeling that the Russians really want to show off a little bit. But hey, I guess every city or country does or did that at some point ;)

In the short time that I have been here I really tried to make the best out of the ‘good’ weather and went to a few parks already. I assume that doing some exploring in minus degrees will not be as much fun as it sounds…

VDNKh (ВДНХ) – Vystavka Dostizheniy Narodnogo Khozyaystva

On one beautiful not too cold late afternoon we gathered a few people to explore the VDNKh ‘park’ (Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy), which is actually more a permanent trade show and amusement park. It is spread over 237 hectares (bigger than Monaco!) and it was first opened in 1937. Since then it has been rebuilt, expanded, reshaped and renamed several times. The main idea of the park was the creation of several pavilions – one for each republic of the USSR and for each major industry.

Before entering the park itself we were already greeted by the 110 metres tall Monument to the Conquerors of Space, which was erected in 1964 as a celebration of achievements of space exploration. Inside the base of the monument there is also the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics.

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To enter the park you go through the Propylaea – the central entrance gate. Straight after entering the park you already get the feeling of how big VDNKh is as you see the central pavilion and a great avenue with flower gardens and small fountains.

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The sunset was just beautiful and we had to take advantage of that and made lots of pictures!

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In Moscow there are around 600 fountains, and some of them are in VDNKh. The Druzhba Narodov fountain (‘the friendship of people fountain’) is one of them. Unveiled in 1954 it shows 16 young women, each symbolising a national republic of the Soviet Union.

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We stayed in the park for a few hours and really enjoyed strolling around for a bit. We did not manage to see everything that is in there and we also did not enter the amusement park. It was a very impressive park with so many impressive buildings and I will definitely go there again :)