|Every park could use a sweet ginormous CCCP sculpture|
|What the hell is that thing?!|
The statue is allegedly based on a design [by Zurab Tsereteli] originally intended to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the first voyage ofChristopher Columbus in 1992. When an American customer for the project could not be found, it was repurposed with a Russian theme. Tsereteli denies this story. A separate, equally colossal statue of Columbus by the same designer eventually wound up in Puerto Rico after being rejected by various US cities, but, as of 2011, remains disassembled."
So.. a Russian architect in bed with the Moscow politicians decided that he would take a ginormous, freaky Christopher Columbus statue, change the head on top to look like Peter, and resell it to Moscow. I'm sorry but that is hilarious.
Anyway, after placing my eyeballs back into my head, I neared my target: the awesome Fallen Monument Park. At the entrance you are greeted with an array of whimsical statues -- old skinny men, girls, cartoonish animals, you name it. But I wasn't here for these. Finally after wandering around a bit, in a quiet corner I hit the jackpot: the greatest collection of old Stalin and Lenin statues in all the world! Stalin looking serious, Lenin grimacing in deep thought, Stalin smiling menacingly. Perhaps my favorite was the now headless Stalin body pointing boldly to ... a shrubbery. Oh Stalin! What were you pointing to back in your days of glory?! After the wall came down and the USSR crumbled, a lot of these statues were pulled down. And it seems quite a few found there way to this pretty sculpture garden along the Moscow river. Being an American strolling next to these bearded kings of Communism in the heart of Russia has a certain thrill--I felt like I was breaking some rules just being here.
|Why so serious Len?|
|Cmon quick! Which is Lenin, which is Stalin?!|
For most visitors to Moscow, the prime target is Red Square and for good reason. Of course I got the obligatory picture shaking hands with the leaders of the Soviet world. Upon walking inside the gates you are greeted with the massive Square itself. The north is flanked by the impressive ornate walls of the historical museum and pretty Kuzan church; the West by the Kremlin walls and the pickled corpse of Lenin; and to the East a ... well ... a high-end shopping mall called "Gum." Chew on that. (Welcome to Russian city planning.)
I immediately thought of one of those old photos of ICBMs being paraded right here in this very spot. A missile designed to obliterate America. And here was I, an American, warmly welcomed. It was all very surreal.
|1965: The massive "Brezhnev Blockbuster". Lenin's tomb in background|
I waltzed up to the Tomb and was surprised not to find a line. Huh. And then I saw it: a sign in English stating that the tomb was closed on Sundays. I checked my watch. It said Sunday.
|Nothing makes a shiny bald dome glow like mummy wax|
(For a wonderful article on pickled Communist leaders (the list is surprisingly extensive) see this Atlas Obscura link!)