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Izmailovo

Izmailovo
 
 
   
   
 
 

I LOOKED out from my fifteenth-floor hotel room eastward towards the first light of dawn through a small gap in the thickly overcast sky. A huge park extended out from the hotel for a couple of kilometres. This was the Izmaylovsky Park, one of the world’s largest urban parks covering a full twelve square kilometres.

I was staying in the Izmaylovo District, a historical part of Moscow several kilometres to the west north west of the city centre. The park is the ancestral land of the Romanov noble family who lived here dating back as far as 1389AD when Ivan the Terrible ruled Russia.

Izmaylovsky Park

Izmaylovsky Park

As the sun rose a thin slither of orange filled a gap in the clouds for a few minutes. With time to spare before meeting my guide, I decided to head outside to see if I could explore the park.

The hotel was one of several very long buildings standing about fifteen storeys tall. They were joined together and the hotel I was staying in had several walls removed between the buildings, so it was quite a long way navigating through the maze of corridors before eventually reaching the lifts. The Delta part was just one wing of the four part Izmailovo Hotel, built in 1879 as part of the development for the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Until recently it has been the largest hotel in the world accommodating over 7500 guests. There is now a larger hotel in Las Vegas.

Reaching the ground floor I headed through the elaborate reception area which was quiet but a few people were already leaving to catch flights or go on early tours around the city. The people here were mainly Chinese tourists, with few westerners.

Izmailovo Hotel

Izmailovo Hotel

I headed outside under thick overcast skies into the carpark. Aside from the grey hulks of the hotels, there was a two-storey restaurant made from darkly stained timber, perhaps in traditional Russian design. Surrounding the restaurant were gardens brightly coloured in orange marigolds, the only splash of colour around this area apart from the bright green of the grass and trees of the park.

Access to the park was blocked by high fencing, perhaps mainly to keep people from entering the hotel grounds. Maybe it was to stop all the tourists contained here from exiting to other parts of the city. After all this was where Moscow puts all of its tourists. There are hotels in the inner city, but these are mainly for business and government visitors. They seemed to like the idea of segregating the tourists out to this remote outpost of the city and fence us in here. I’m far too free range to be confined like this.

I couldn’t find a way through into the park, but noticed what looked like an amusement park, a few hundred metres away to the left. It had high walls almost looking like a fortified European village. It was still very early in the morning so wasn’t sure if anything would be open here.

With this new distraction, I gave up on finding a way into the park. I was tired from having been awoken at around 3:30 this morning on the Trans-Siberian train being told to pack up and prepare to disembark from the train as we were approaching our final destination at Moscow Station having travelled for four days across the vast plains and forests of Siberia from Irkutsk. Following the confines of the train I had been picked up from the station by a rather grumpy old man. Who can blame him for being so grumpy doing a pickup at 4:00 AM. He had done his job though, dropping me off here at the entrance to the hotel about two hours ago, giving me time to check in and settle in my room for the final hour of darkness.

Limos outside the hotels

Limos outside the hotels

With my pre-arranged guide for the day arriving in about an hour and a half I didn’t want to return to my room to snooze as I’d very quickly fall into a very deep sleep and miss the appointment. I needed to keep exploring to stay awake.

I headed towards the white buildings as they did look very intriguing. The buildings had several turrets and towers rising above the white wall enclosing it. A few people were entering and exiting through an arched opening through the wall, some appearing to be tourists, so I decided to head over and check it out.

The fencing ended at a road heading out of the complex beside one of the wings of the hotel. The road swung around along an avenue where numerous limousines of all sorts of colours were parked on either side.

A wide gangway led up into the main entrance of the complex. It was nearly wide enough to be a two-lane road it if were not for the rows of traditional street lights about a metre in from either side. It was still wide enough for small service trucks to enter if they needed to.

The buildings were white with bright red and yellow trimmings, unlike anything else I have ever seen before. It was quite a uniquely Russian setup. It is said to be based on a pseudo-Byzantine style of the pre-Petrine (before Peter the Great). The villages at that time wouldn’t have been this elaborate though. This village was constructed and decorated using a heightened reality of the Russian fairy tales.

Kremlin in Izmailovo

Kremlin in Izmailovo

The entrance passed through a wide gap between two storey buildings. The top storey continued over the entrance. A sign said entrance to the complex was free of charge and there wasn’t anything indicating this was closed even through the buildings within them would most likely be shut. This was the Kremlin in Izmailovo Territory main entrance. A couple of statues stood on either side of the entrance silently welcoming me in in their inanimation.

This was the Kremlin in Izmailovo, not to confuse with the more famed Kremlin in the city centre from where the Russian Federation is governed. In historical times, every Russian town had its own Kremlin, a military fortress with walls to protect it from invasions which were all too common back then. The kremlins were very similar in function to the walled castles of England, fortified for the same reason.

Invasions of towns are very rare these days, so any surviving kremlins no longer had any military purpose. Around twenty Kremlins left in Russian were still standing in Russia, the most famous by far being the one in the city centre. This was a much less known Kremlin. This kremlin was built between 1998 and 2007, not as a military fortress, but a museum of museums to complement the enormous nearby tourist hotel.

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28 September 2016

 

Moscow

Russia

 

55°47'40"N
37°45'00"E
163m ASL

 

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