Russia is geographically the largest country in the world, making up about one-seventh of the earth’s entire landmass. It spreads across 11 time zones and has a largely variable climate. The large expanse of Russia makes it richly diverse in its culture, history, art, and architecture. This diversity and some unique features are what intrigues the minds of travelers, thus making Russia a fascinating tourist destination. The art in Russia ranges from traditional ballet to woodwork, from byzantine architecture to rounded onion domes and fairy-tale palaces.
The Moscow baroque, Russian-revival architecture and impressionist art make Russia a creative capital for artists and architects for experiencing and experimenting with old and new forms in this timeless country. Thus giving us 10 reasons why Architects must visit the beautiful country of Russia:
1. Golden Ring of Russia
The Golden Ring of Russia is a popular tourist route or rather, an architectural route of a circle of cities lying to the North and East of Moscow, about one hour away from each other. The cities belong to five Oblasts, the cities included in the Golden Ring are Sergiev Posad, Pereslavl-Zalessky, Rostov Veliky, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Ivanovo, Suzdal, Vladimir, and several small towns.
These medieval towns and cities forming the Golden Ring represent elaborate Russian architecture from the 12th to the 18th century. These picturesque medieval cities have been preserved as they were, remaining untouched – showcasing the authentic Russian atmosphere of medieval times.
Vladimir, the 12th-century Russian capital boasts two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Suzdal is known for its old churches and wooden houses. The Novgorod Kremlin (traditionally known as the Detinets) is a masterpiece of medieval architecture in Novgorod. It also contains the oldest palace in Russia (1433) – the Chamber of the Facets. This served as the main meeting hall of the Russian archbishops.
It’s also the oldest Russian bell tower (mid-15th century), and the oldest Russian clock tower. This tour will take the art and architecture aficionado through finding the spiritual history of the Orthodox Church and ancient arts and crafts.
2. Byzantine Architecture
Byzantine architecture is a style of Constantinople (now Istanbul) after 330AD. It included Roman-temple features and a symmetrical central plan with the Basilica, a square central mass with a circular dome and four equal arms extending to the central mass making it a cross-plan church. The circular dome on the square base is made to rest using either of the two techniques – the squinch or the pendentive.
Other features of Byzantine architecture include marble inlay work and marble columns, mosaics on the vaults, gold coffered ceilings, and inlay-stone pavements.
The Byzantine Architecture of Russia is a result of a movement associated with both ancient Russian and Byzantine cultural connections. Russian style, therefore sponged the elements of both styles. An example of such architecture in Russia is the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow.
3. Baroque and European style architecture
The most defining feature of the Baroque style was the elaborate ornamentation. As the Baroque style spread across Europe from, it reached Russia at the end of the 17th century. The Baroque style in Russia emerged in the form of innovation in constructions, abundant decorations, and the use of colors.
The Church of the Intersection at Fili with a traditional Greek cross layout and arches used as decorative elements was built in 1694. The Menshikov Tower is a church that also has the traditional cross layout with the entrances at the four ends of the cross. The use of color and abundantly used white stone enhance the embellishments on its façade.
The Menshikov Palace (Saint Petersburg, 1710) was built as the Governor’s residence – the facades seem rhythmic because of the use of windows and ornamented columns.
4. Communism and Soviet Monumental Style Architecture
This style of architecture prevailed during the Soviet period (1917-1991). In this style of architecture, the government built massive structures that were symbolic of the power of the state and the eternal promise of Communism.
The most monumental and remarkable structures of this style were built during the reign of Stalin and still dominate Moscow’s skyline. Some examples include the Moscow State University (1949-1953), and the Palace of Culture in Warsaw (1952-1955) -both designed by Lev Rudnev.
5. The Moscow Metro
The Moscow Metro is an unparalleled grandeur displaying the art, architecture, and engineering of Russia. Built around the 1930s, in the era of Stalin, the metro is located underground and has some of the most elaborate metro stations to find on the commuting route. It connects the city center with the industrial and residential areas of Russia.
The Moscow Metro is also known by the name – the People’s Palace. The Station art comprises bas-reliefs, friezes, marble and bronze statues, colored glass windows, and mosaics of the Byzantine style. There are many incredible metro stations in Russia but Komsomolskaya in Moscow is something out of the world and shouldn’t be missed.
6. The Artful Russian Museums
There are a lot of Museums in Russia. They show the importance of ancient art, architecture, and culture in the values of the people of Russia – every artifact, artwork, historical evidence, etc. are preserved with utmost care and displayed for the public to see.
Few of the museums that help to get acquainted with Russia are – The State Hermitage Museum (St. Petersburg), the Fabergé Museum (St. Petersburg), the State Russian Museum (Moscow), the Pushkin Museum (Moscow), Garage Museum (Moscow), the Museum of Cosmonautics (Moscow), Moscow Museum of Modern Art, and the Kremlin Museum (Moscow).
7. The Red Square
The Glorious Red Square of Moscow is arguably the most famous in the world. It is home to the Capital city’s most legendary buildings, The Kremlin with its red bricks along with the colorful and unique St Basil’s Cathedral with its onion domes and Lenin’s Mausoleum are breath-taking. The Red Square is the most recognizable symbol of Russia in the world and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
All the major highways of Russia and major streets of Moscow are traced back to the cobblestones at the Red Square. The fortified complex of The Kremlin encompasses five palaces, four cathedrals, and the symbolic red-brick Kremlin Towers. The Kazan Kremlin is a historic citadel and contains the Qolsärif mosque (16th century).
The Qolsärif is the largest mosque in Russia and Europe. Today, it serves as a Museum of Islam. The environment of St. Basil’s Cathedral is such that it feels like entering a film set.
8. Russian-Revival Architecture
Post-War led to multiple expressionists and minimalist art movements. The confluence of these movements and the subsequent styles together are known as the Russian-Revival Style of Architecture. The principles of these movements were applied to architecture of the 20th century.
This style emerged due to the renewed interest of artists in national architecture and the interpretation and stylization of Russian heritage. Though the Revival architects did not directly reproduce the Old Russian heritage architecture, they did combine some elements of it with the 19th-century modern style.
9. Impressionist Art in Russia
The Impressionist period (1930-1980) made an important contribution to the evolution of art of Russia. As Communism ended and the Russian economy opened up, the freedom movement and the Commonwealth of Independent states opened up new arenas and opportunities for artwork to flourish and express itself openly.
Impressionists depicted the common people and celebrated them and their lives, hopes, dreams and emotions. This style of art was deeply focused on the land and its people rather than following the western artistic innovations. Impressionist art was meant to enrich the lives of all the people.
A museum of Russian Impressionism at Bolshevik Factory, displays all the artwork of the impressionists. The Museum, designed by John McAslan + Partners and Architect Avesta, is clad in perforated metal sheeting, referring to the site’s industrial past and a circular volume with radial exhibition spaces and other functional areas.
10. Contemporary Russian Architecture
Contemporary Russian architecture is one style that pervades the whole of modern Russia. It includes high, simple skyscrapers and blocks of buildings all over Russia. The architecture in Russia transitioned from having specific styles like Byzantine, Baroque, and Impressionist to designing modern and innovative contemporary architecture through its rich and diverse history.
The Russian Architects now have an impact in Russia and abroad – through their innovative design and technologies. They use a global international style of architecture seen across the world capitals – monumental, supersized structures symbolic of the power of international business on display.
Some famous examples are – the “Sparrow Hills” Complex (188.2meters) and the “Moscow-Citi” International Business Center(268.4meters).
.The Moscow-Citi International Business Center_by trendymoscow.com