Loitering and musing in Krasnoyarsk
We are now over 4000 kilometres away from Moscow along the Trans-Siberian railway … and well, Krasnoyarsk certainly appeals to me … It looks and reads like my kind of place. I’ll have to pencil it in on that virtual list of must-sees that we all have.
Perusing the photographs, a certain style presents itself: a low, spacious quality of pleasing, sculpted architecture flowing leisurely out across the landscape and blending at times with the grass and trees that are never far away.
Low, rambling cities with breathable air are my thing; all exposed to …(and part of) the elements. An antidote to London’s huddled claustrophobia. Apologies though to Richmond and other outlying areas of pleasantness that I’ll surely never afford to live in.
So on the surface of it: Krasnoyarsk seems to tick a lot of boxes. Depends what you like of course; those who want to see yet another re-run of “Cats” … or who like to round the evening off with bouts of petty, vocal, drink-fueled vandalism, followed by a cosy sleep on the bathroom floor … may all be disappointed. A word of caution to the latter though: as evidenced from news and other reports over the years: the Russian police don’t “mess around”.
I’d best reserve a little caution though; the tourist snaps rarely show slums riddled with bullet-holes, though I did manage to unearth some utilitarian, Stalinist piles in Gloria-Hunniford-orange and with authentic corrugated-iron roofs. Lovely.
Krasnoyarsk is known (apparently) as the City of Fountains. Well, it is handy being on the banks of Russia’s second largest river, after the Lena. OK, it does depend on what flows into what … and where you put your tape measure: certainly part of the largest system flowing into the Arctic, period.
The fountains feature in the city centre, in various forms, with or without statuary: naked figures sit atop a viaduct exchanging an object … of unknown significance (at least to me) as water tumbles in steps to the basin below. An angel in black stone is fused mid-way into a rectangular column as arcing jets form the linear spokes of a peripheral, liquid dome rising from their circular basin. There’s even a representation of Father Yenisei sitting on a regal stairway amidst internally illuminated geysers in miniature. He extends a hand that protectively supports and conveys a river-going vessel in all its humanist vulnerability, as behind him depictions of nymphs, river elementals … (or just locals!) cavort in freeze-frame, oblivious.
Anton Chekov makes an appearance too, not spouting water from any part of his person; but free-standing, walking-stick in hand, with an air of dignified nobility, beside a column displaying a quote from his cursive handwriting, sculpted verbatim… I’m trying (and failing) to find a translation … See the statue for yourself in a previous blogpost.
Incidentally, this depiction of Chekhov is considerably more respectful than the whimsical, cartoon equivalent in Tomsk. Apparently he was none-to-flattering in his description of that particular city … so no surprises there …
Krasnoyarsk is also home to the familiar forced optimism of communist-sculpture too: a heroic Lenin and “futurist” objects … plus, neutral (?) items to be discovered on rambles across (and out of) town: a horse on the Yenisei river bank, an elderly gent with his umbrella in mid-stride, a drunk leaning against a lamp-post, a box-camera photographer and more … Now, are these playful 3D doodles? Or am I missing the references?… Sometimes: you just had to be there.
Next time: Trips and Tales (Part 55) Krasnoyarsk: things to do and where to do them
[Photo by zhaffsky]