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Did you know?

Looking for free internet?

Did you know? In Moscow, St Petersburg and other cities across Russia, there is free wifi in the subway!

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It’s not a secret that Moscow and St Petersburg subways are stunning. They really are amazing, clean and travelling through the different stations is like visiting a museum. These subways are so beautiful and peculiar that we even organise guided tours of them

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But when you’re living in Moscow or St Petersburg you (unfortunately) get use to it and forget to appreciate the work of art that are these underground palaces. When you’re living there, you appreciate another characteristic (in addition to the extreme cleanliness)… the free wifi! It can sounds like I’m an internet addict, a geek or a true representative of my not-understood and under-considered generations. But trust me, when being in the metro for 45 becomes something absolutely normal and a short time, having access to internet isn’t something small.

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In facts, in the last years Moscow and St Petersburg set free internet in their subway (and public transports). You only need a Russian number and hop! Here it is! You watch an ad each time you enter the subway and you have full free access to internet! Magic and life-saving!

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Cultural Fact

Victory Day in Russia (9th of May)

In Russia, the end of World War II and the defeat of nazism isn’t celebrated on the 8th of May but on the 9th of May. Indeed, when the armistice was signed between the Allied and the Nazi leadership, it was already May 9th in Russia. Nowadays, the 9th of May is one of the most important day in Russia and in the lives of many Russians (if not the most important). Indeed, if in Western Europe the end of World War II is celebrated through official ceremonials and bank holiday, in Russia it became a real commitment for the people to celebrate the USSR victory over nazism and the sacrifice of millions of Soviets.

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The Victory Day became an official celebration and non-working day in 1965. Since then military parades have been held almost every five or 10 years to celebrate the different anniversary of the nazi defeat. Progressively the victory of the Great Patriotic War has been erected a founding myth for the USSR…and more recently to the Russian international power and strength. The military parade on the Red Square became an annual unmissable event in 2008. It aims, as almost every military parade across the world, at spreading patriotism among the population and showing to the world the military strength of the country.

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But what makes the Victory Day celebrations in Russia so special is what follows. Indeed, many countries can brag and show their newest military toys in city centers. But what is really unique and impressive in Russia is the Immortal’s Regiment. After the military parade, thousands of Russian march on Moscow’s biggest boulevard towards the Red Square, handling picture of their fallen relatives. Even more than 70 years later, and because the Soviet Union lost about 27 billions people during World War II, Russians continue to mourn their death and remember their sacrifice. The atmosphere there is unique: a mix of sadness, happiness, mourning, gratefulness and joy!

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Cultural Fact

The art of icons

Coming from the greek word “icone”, icona means “holy image”. Indeed, above the painting, an icona traditionally is a guide to the Holy Spirit.

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An icona should be representing things that are invisible and can’t be represented by the non-religious arts. That’s why the Orthodox art of iconas painting defined its rules and models more than 10 centuries ago…and never changed it since then! Indeed, how painting Holy iconas could be something else than pure truth and perfection?

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One of the first principle of iconas painting is the minimisation of material and physical objects. Usually, iconas are made on lime tree covered by linen. According to the millenary tradition, painters rely on the soak technic. They must also use golden leaves to represent the Holy light around Saints.

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In Russia some icons remain more important than others due to their spirituality or their beauty. Among them, we can think of the Virgin of Vladimir, the Virgin of Kazan and the Holy Trinity.

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Did you know?

Religion in Russia

Did you know? Religion remains a discussed topic in Russia, or at least when speaking of Russia.

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From the Soviet times during which religious activities were forbidden, to the current reemergence of the Orthodox Church on the public scene, religion is a thing. Currently, whereas 34% of the Russian population says that religion (so not only orthodoxy) is important in their life, about half of the population thinks that religious organisations should support public morals and ethics, and 30% that religious organisations should help to preserve cultural traditions.

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Therefore religion remains important in Russian lives and culture but according to them it doesn’t have to be imposed in private spheres or even influence the government decisions. And if orthodoxy is the first religion in Russia, and the most visible and influential one, it is crucial to remember that due to its multi-ethnicity, vastness and cultural richness, Russia knows a high percentage of islamic, buddhist and catholic believers!   

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Cultural Fact

Maslenitsa tradition for Easter

Each year, exactly a week before the Orthodox Great Lent, Russians are braving the cold to eat, dance and play in parks. Why? Because of Maslenitsa of course!

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Because Maslenitsa is a celebration during which we say bye to Winter and praise Spring to come faster. And we’re doing in a very Russian way: playing, dancing and eating!

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Maslenitsa relies indeed on two essentials go-to if you don’t want an endless winter (and seriously, who does?): burning the Lady Maslenitsa, and eating the Sun (aka a big and delicious blinis). While being an old tradition, it remains today a very popular celebration that gather Russians in parks to play traditional games, dance, and above all to eat blinis!

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If you have the opportunity, definitely go in Russia for Maslenitsa. It’s warming and delicious!

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Did you know?

Christ the Savior on Spilled Blood

Did you know? Christ the Savior on Spilled Blood isn’t an usual church (despite its name) but rather a memorial!  Do you struggle identifying Church on the Savior on Blood and Saint Basil’s Cathedral? Well, no worries, in fact the architecture of the first mentioned was inspired by the lattest, which explains why they resemble each other so much. You’ll get more comfortable with it by reading about both of them.

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The Christ the Savior on Spilled Blood cathedral has been built in 1907 following the orders of Tsar Alexander III. However, it has been erected as a memorial and mourning place following the assassination of Tsar Alexander II, the Liberator, on March 1st 1881.

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In fact, and even if weekly requiem and sermons are given to remember Alexander II, Christ the Savior on the Spilled blood became a cathedral only in 1923. It has been closed about nine years later on the orders of the Soviet leadership to become a garbage dump. Nowadays Christ the Savior on Spilled Blood is an annex of St Isaac’s museum due to its stunning mosaics. That’s why if many believes that this world-known building is one of the most important church of St-Petersburg, it rather is, due to its history and architectural style, a memorial symbolising the Russian dilemma between liberalism and conservatism. And of course, it demonstrates (if needed) the Russian savoir-faire when it comes to architecture and religious art.

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