In this post, we reach the end of our mini-series on Moscow’s most recent must-see attraction. What was originally planned as a brief summary is now a three part exploration of just what a “park” can be, when sufficient creativity and invention (and money) are liberally applied. Such is the scope of Zaryadye park. No wonder then that it has been such a success.
Perhaps it’s inevitable that any large scale showpiece project will run into criticisms in times of need, though it will always be a time of need for someone of course. For some, this latest beautification project is evidence of more resources and expenditure directed into central Moscow, whilst run-down, outlying areas of the capital go undeveloped and unrepaired. Significantly, the project followed a period of dissent from middle-class Muscovites, protesting against Putin’s consolidation of power following the 2011 elections.
A large protest rally was held in central Moscow, unprecedented in recent years and attended by 25,000 to 50,000 citizens, also mirrored by rallies held in other Russian cities from Tomsk to St.Petersburg. An opportune time to throw a lavish, headline-grabbing gift into the baying mob, perhaps? And just in time to be ready for the 2018 elections too. Cynical or not, this is the view of certain dissenters left behind by Putin’s all-consuming ascent. The Moscow protest was so large that it could not simply be sidestepped and ignored by the pro-Putin news media. Something, somehow had to be done by way of response.
Enjoy the view
None of the above shenanigans are on the mind of the average visitor, whilst wandering through the regionally landscaped zones, the panoramic and cinematic attractions and the high-tech enclosures of seemingly organic steel and glass. It’s a world far away. We’ve a few more highlights to mull over though, whilst leaving the politics behind.
Although underground, the Ice Cave is arguably part of the aforementioned landscape exhibit containing those regionally themed environmental zones on the park’s surface. No Santa’s Grotto here though; instead you may walk through a 750㎡ enclosure clad with 70 tons of frozen water. The glistening cave is a refrigerated taster of Russia’s frozen North and a reminder of a precarious past where ancient Slavic tribes sought rock-formed shelter from lethal winters. Well, the promotional copy reads something like that anyway.
If you are planning to visit, bear in mind that temperatures within the cave descend to -9℃ – not a patch on the extremes of a genuine Russian winter, but still enough to chill you as you wander in wearing your summer T-shirt. Blankets are available for purchase though (they’ve thought of everything).
History and refreshments
The underground museum is also worthy of note, featuring excavated relics from the 14th to early 18th Centuries plus warrior figures and interactive displays, including historically themed computer games! Interestingly, the commonality amongst the items on display is that they were found “during archaeological excavations in the territory of old Moscow” (probably not the computer games though). This is local history.
Finally, visit the Gastronomic centre for nationwide, edible samples of Russian culture. Here traditional, regional recipes from all regions of Russia have been gathered and reconstructed onsite for your culinary appreciation. There is a veritable banquet on offer. There are homely pies and and soups, or for something decidedly “upmarket”, try the Oyster and Champagne bar. My encounters with relatively prosaic Russian food have been overwhelmingly positive incidentally!
Photo by mos.ru