There is a very special nasty pleasure, familiar (as I believe) to a considerable number of Muscovites who decide to arrange personal city tours for their friends, especially foreigners and those who visit the capital for the first time.
It begins with innocent classic sights, which are familiar to everyone: Red Square and its surroundings – Sparrow Hills – a variety of entrails of the Boulevard Ring.
Now you can include here a park couple of Muzeon and Gorky Park, but overall, when it goes to classic and breathtaking sights, Moscow is if not poor, but at least to a certain extent predictable.
Having gone through a few of these hiker tours, the Muscovite who often avoids the high points of the touristic interest just goes crazy. So he has two options: to resign with his pained fate or to start pulling out of the corners of his memory remarkable facts about the city to make the walk less mournful, and to show his guests the true face of the megalopolis.
In Moscow, unlike St. Petersburg, there are no “pissed on courtyards” or terribly shabby historical buildings left. It was swept away by the wild capitalistic hurricane of space-functional transformations. You’ve got to go the other way, in a roundabout.
The city, which was given the title of the most important city in the infinitely huge area of the country turned to be over-saturated by all possible functions and institutions.
Hyper-centralization brought thousands of Research Institutes, hundreds of theaters, museums, shops and new housings to Moscow.
The same wave placed in the city all the most credible and incredible infrastructure and technological facilities. Yes, here we have formed a microcosm–a shaken, mixed and embellished model of a lunatic state.
This means that an attentive Muscovite, finding a point of joints of urban reality with a bad history in the 20th century, will not only plunge into a journey through the urban space himself, but also will be capable of introducing others to cherished secrets of our lives here.
The mentioned nasty pleasure comes in those moments when the unfortunate guest with due support would be dropped into an insane intertwining history of Moscow detected in spatial artifacts.
You can start in the town center, walking along Plyushchikha, passing the frightening Military Academy and then coming to the Garden ring that has about 20 traffic lanes. Such an inhuman scale and spatial insanity usually causes great amazement, which must be rationalized and comprehended somehow.
Why is this? How to live with it? And, finally, how to cross the road?
By the way, it is practically impossible to give rational answers. How how? – You just afflict and you live!
That is how it could go well! Tourists get a surprise, and we gratify our pride in a kind of perverted way: “look, here, where we live, everything is so unusual!” Boyishness, but still exciting.
Following the currently notorious Moscow River bridge, getting the Baltschug island across from the Kremlin walls, you have to enter a completely abandoned gateway.
Poring over it, – Muscovites know – you will find a shabby wooden house with a dark garden and garage canopy, where an old man, the researcher of one of the Moscow universities lives.
The house, battered by years and seeming eternally moist due to lack of sunlight in a shady pier, lacks only the cackling hens and bleating goats.
Where is it from? How did it stay here for half the twentieth century, and even all of the two thousands?
Rationality swims somewhere back and the usual image of the city is broken.
What the hell is going on here? You come out at the Sofia Embankment again and peer into the Great Kremlin Palace. Maybe somewhere there Putin is walking today…
And the best place to tear off all the masks of this city is definitely Kolomenskoye! Believe me. There is the expanse! View from the steep bank to the extending greens and hipped roof peak of the Church of the Ascension.
The Vodovzvodnaya Tower and pass-gate look northerly cold, but beautiful. Over the ravine there is an old orchard and a cemetery with massive stone slabs and tombstones of the 19th century.
Gradually prepare your guest for the entire shaft of information about the true nature of the city.
Coming to the newly built Palace of Alexey Mikhailovich Romanov, you can casually mention that it not only originally stood in another place, but also looked, in general, a little differently.
The architectural monument was “restored,” guided by very careless ideas about how it should look.
Here they added some architectural elements, and there they attached a wing that was never there before.
However, this all is just trivial. At the Kolomenskaya subway station the bulk of brutal cancer center sags, and it’s time to open the card about the toxic nature of the place.
Turns out those greens on the opposite side just covered a sewage treatment plant, where all the Moscow crap accumulates, phew!
In the woods downstream, there is a polymetallic factory. The presence of polymetals means the presence of nuclear power. During the last few decades an impressive dump of radioactive waste has grown on the river bank near the plant. Now it’s carefully burrowed underground and topped by a “Danger” sign. The radiation level here is 200 times higher than the natural background. Only…
How could a nuclear waste dump have been left in the city? Why is it left right on the bank of the river not far from the kindergartens?!
I do not know the answers, I sincerely tried to find them before, but I couldn’t. At some point, the humility comes, then curiosity. The more such kind of facts you know about Moscow, the safer you feel; now you’re not alone with the unknown.
This Moscow toxicity corrodes the consciousness, distorts the idea of what is beautiful, logical and correct. Or simply extends them, I’m not sure already.
But in all the cities that I will ever visit, I want to be led through them in the Moscow style, where there is a large and complex history behind a historic façade, and where uncleaned human dirt clods will be left.
In other words–it’s gonna be damn boring.