I’m sorry for the lateness of this post! I will try to be more consistent in the future.
Many people are interested in the architecture of Moscow and Russia in general, picture St. Basil’s soaring spires on one hand, and bleak Soviet cinder blocks on the other. Instead of monuments like those found in other European cities, for centuries Russian czars built churches to commemorate victories and other events. Even though many were destroyed during the USSR, Moscow still has over 600 Orthodox churches. The survivors rode out the Soviet period as museums, libraries, and even office buildings.
Last weekend I saw the cathedrals inside the Kremlin complex, where Russian czars were crowned, even while the capital was St. Petersburg. Photos were not permitted inside, but I cheated once 😉
In Moscow you will find juxtapositions like no other, with incredible and varied architecture next to just plain ugly Soviet buildings. There is a distinctive style of building from the 1960s called Khrushchyovkas, 5 story panel buildings of tiny apartments. They were Nikita Khruschev’s response to Russia’s housing crisis. At the time, they significantly improved the everyday lives of many Russians by allowing them to move out of communal apartments into their own family homes. Cheaply constructed, most are now falling apart and there have been several proposals in the last decade to tear them down and resettle residents.
Because it is so expensive to live in the center of the city, there has been a building boom in the “suburbs” of Moscow. I tutor two kids in English who live in one of these bedroom communities, about 30 minutes by metro from my apartment near the center. They live in a modern building on the 25th floor, next to two identical buildings. The complex also has a movie theater, American fast food restaurants, retail shops and more. As someone who grew up in a traditional suburb of single family homes outside Detroit, seeing such a huge building in the middle of nowhere seems just plain… weird. However, the advantage is that everyone has access to a much larger outside area, rather than each home having a small yard to themselves.
Russian word: квартира (kvar-tee-ruh) apartment