Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

streets, have visited the boulevards, which are numerous, and much handsomer than anything of the kind at Petersburg, and have made a few purchases in the fashionable shops of the Pont des Marechaux, or Blacksmith's Bridge, as the Regentstreet of Moscow is somewhat uncouthly named. Our chief attention, however, as you may suppose, has been devoted to the Kremlin. The view from the terrace, where the troops are paraded in front of the imperial palace, is most beautiful and striking; the river, which though small, is highly ornamental, lies immediately beneath, and the city is stretched out under the gazer's feet; but on the highest spot of ground in the Kremlin stands a lofty slender tower, which rises high above any other point in the city. This pillar-like edifice is called Ivan Veliki, or Long John; and from its top, to which we ascended by a timeworn winding stair, we had a most magnificent panoramic view of Moscow, and the country around for many miles on every side. The sky was cloudless, the keen frosty air was bright and clear, and there was no smoke to obstruct the view. I need not describe the arsenal, which contains arms for a hundred and forty thousand foot-soldiers, and eighty thousand cavalry, all arranged in excellent order; nor the cannon, some of enormous size, which have, at different periods, been taken in action, and are arranged in the square outside the arsenal.

The imperial palace contains a fine room, of sin

gular form, richly decorated, and hung with crimson velvet, studded with the imperial eagle, and the cypher of Nicolas the First, in gold. There is a throne in the room, and here the Emperor receives the congratulations of his subjects and the foreign ambassadors, immediately after his coronation, which takes place in the cathedral church, a small ancient building close by. A small set of apartments, which, in former days formed the abode and the prison of the grand duchesses for the time being, are curious, as showing how the Russian princesses were lodged. These apartments consist of three or four small rooms, the windows of which are formed of small panes of coloured glass, affording no view but that of an old church opposite. The furniture is rich, but scanty and comfortless, and the apartments have been recently fresh painted and gilt, and all the old ornaments and decorations restored without any alteration or addition. In this small and cheerless dwelling were the daughters of the Czar, whether few or many, brought up and immured in ancient times, never being allowed to go forth until the day of their marriage.

The remainder of the palace is in no way remarkable, either as curious or splendid; but the prospect from the windows is magnificent, standing, as the palace does on the elevated ground of the Kremlin, and raised above the town; and, perhaps, no sovereign in Europe has so fine a site as this for a resi

dence in his capital. A new and magnificent palace has been determined on, and its erection will, I am told, be shortly commenced. I must not forget the “great bell of Moscow,” which can now be seen to much advantage. It was cast in the year 1733; but soon after it was hung, it fell and buried itself in the ground. In this state it remained until the year 1836, when, by orders of the Emperor, it was with some difficulty raised, and placed upon a circular wall about four feet high, on which it now stands. An iron gate in the wall enables one to see the interior of the bell, the diameter of which within is about fourteen feet-its weight is upwards of a hundred and eighty tons. A piece, which is now placed by it, was broken out of the bell in its fall; this fracture enables one to see the thickness of the metal, which is about half a yard.

There is a bell now hanging in the Kremlin, which weighs between ninety and a hundred tons; it is rung twelve times a year, and it takes three men to move the clapper for the purpose; the bell itself, as is always the case in Russia, being fixed, and the clapper alone moveable. There is, probably, no country in the world where there are so many fine bells, or where there is so much ringing as in this; but the Russians have no idea of a harmonious peal, and their style of ringing is as annoying to the ears, and as discordant as possible.

One of the gates of the Kremlin is called the Holy

Gate, and while passing through, it is necessary to take off the hat. Near here is a circular stone platform, surrounded by a low parapet, where criminals were formerly executed.

The most ancient portion of Moscow, is called the White City, and is surrounded by a wall, at one of the gates of which is placed a celebrated image of the Virgin, covered with diamonds and other jewels of great value. This image, which is endowed according to popular belief with miraculous virtues, is often carried to sick persons in their houses, and there is a copy with paste diamonds and false jewels, which does duty at home during the absence of the original, and which is found, we may presume, to be equally efficacious

Near the Holy Gate of the Kremlin, stands the church of Saint Basil, an ancient building, remarkable, not only for the singularity of its architecture and its spiral ornaments, but also for the fate of the architect, whose eyes were put out, as soon as he had completed the work, by his master, John the Cruel, in order that he might never build anything else like it.

One of the most remarkable modern buildings in Moscow, is the Exercise-House, a magnificent room, in which troops of all arms are drilled and man@uvred in winter. Eight thousand men can, I am told, be exercised in it at once. The floor is covered with fine gravel, and the room is effectually warmed by means of stoves at the corners and sides. Its

dimensions are about five hundred and sixty feet by a hundred and forty-five, with a proportionable height, and the roof is ingeniously supported without the aid of pillars. I was not so much struck by the immense size of this gigantic room on first entering, as when afterwards on casting my eyes around I saw here and there carts bringing in fresh gravel or water for laying the dust, which called my attention to the enormous proportions of the building in which they were employed.

I should have observed that when we visited the palace, the servants who showed us over it, refused to take any money for their trouble, alleging that they were strictly forbidden to do so.

To-morrow we start for Tamboff, about three hundred and eighty miles to the south, where, as you know, we intend to pass the winter with M_'s eldest brother. He has sent his carriage for us, with a trusty servant well accustomed to travelling, whom we shall doubtless find highly useful upon the road. On a long Russian journey two servants are very desirable, one to relieve the other; or on arriving at a station, one to busy himself in getting fresh horses, while the other is in attendance on the travellers.

Our passport is in due order, our padoroshna is procured, and the weather promises to be extremely favourable : a matter of no small importance, as I am told that after heavy rains, the road we have to

G

« ForrigeFortsett »