Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"K" is for Kremlin

K is for Kremlin. Not Gremlin. I’ll be honest I thought there was only one Kremlin and it was in Moscow and I thought it was the area around St. Basil's Cathedral, like Central Park or the Mall in D.C. Turns out most Russian towns have a Kremlin and it’s not a little furry animal you can’t feed after midnight. Kremlin is Russian for “fortress or castle”. It describes a wall around a Russian city and the fortified area inside it. Turn’s out St. Basil’s isn’t even in the Moscow Kremlin. I have been misinformed! Allow me to enlighten you, dear friends.
Pskov's Kremlin is called “Krom”. When you Google images of Pskov- a picture of the Kremlin always pops up. It’s the center of the city and from the looks of it- the prettiest part of the city. The large rocky wall overlooks the Pskova and Velikaya Rivers. The wall leads to Dovmont Town, often called the “Pskov Pompeii” because of it’s also an archaeological dig site. To defend the wall, the men of Pskov carved a moat into the cliff on which the Krom stands. This moat, called the "Greblya" joined the Pskova and Velikaya rivers. There were two gates to the main tower, the Holy Gates, or “Tyomnye” Gates and the “Smerdy" Gates for the common people.

There were two bridges across the moat: the Great Bridge and the Smerdy Bridge- you guessed it- one for “important people” and one for the peasants. In the middle of the wall there is a bell tower holding the Trinity Cathedral Bells. Two of the bells are very important- one chime summoned people to town meetings, the other to State Council meetings. State prisoners were held in cellars beneath this second wall. In May of 1608 fire destroyed the walls, but was rebuilt. An act of robbery inside the Krom was a crime punishable by death! If you walk to the “kuta” or the corner of the Kremlin, behind the Cathedral, there is a garden where the famous Russian poet, Pushkin, liked to stand overlooking the Velikaya River and write poetry. Pushkin was a hopeless romantic who died as a result of a sword wound while defending the honor of his wife in a duel. Bummer.

Some words of Pushkin perhaps concerning Pskov and it’s beauty?

"Love passed, the muse appeared, the weather of mind got clarity newfound; now free, I once more weave together emotion, thought, and magic sound."

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