November 8, 2011

0031 RUSSIA (Yaroslavl Oblast) - Rostov Kremlin (UNESCO WHS - tentative list)

It’s known, a small country doesn’t have to enjoy by the neighborhood of a great power, and the Romanian Lands had the misfortune to be, for centuries, not near a great power, but between three: the Ottoman Empire, the Kingdom of Hungary (became afterwards the Austro-Hungarian Empire) and the Tsarist Empire. The first two have ceased to exist after WWI, but Tsarist Empire became the Soviet Union and continued a similar foreign policy. After WWII Romanians used to say that when it's raining in Moscow, are opened umbrellas to Bucharest. Very true, unfortunately. Meanwhile things have changed, and Russia is no longer our neighbor, a good news, because just when we haven’t been neighbors we have best understand, namely on the time of Ştefan cel Mare (Stephen the Great), who was married with Evdokia, daughter of Prince of Kiev, and later married his daughter, Elena, with Ivan the Young, son of Grand Prince of Moscow, Ivan III.

It's exactly the period in which Rostov, a major source of opposition and revolt against the Mongols in the 13th and 14th centuries, was incorporated into Muscovy (1474), but it continued to be one of the largest religious centers of Russia, despite the city’s initial reluctance to the orthodox faith (first bishop, Leonty, was killed in the 11th century when he attempted to convert the locals). Known in nowadays as Rostov Veliky (Veliky means the Great - only Novgorod longer enjoys of this honor), to distinguish it from much larger Rostov-on-Don, is the one of the country's oldest documented settlements, first mentioned in chronicles in 862. Actually on the shores of Lake Nero was a settlement a long time before, named Sarskoye Gorodishche or Sarsky fort, build by the Merya, a Volga-Finnic people who preceded the Slavs.

Rostov is part of Golden Ring, a ring of cities northeast of Moscow (formerly comprised in the region known as Zalesye), which preserve the memory of the most important and significant events in Russian history. Situated on a hill near the water, the 17th century Kremlin (kremlin is a major fortified complex found in many historic Russian cities) is the city’s main landmark and was proposed in 1998 to be among UNESCO World Heritage Sites, under the name Rostov Kremlin. I quote an excerpt from the description present on the UNESCO’s site:

"The Kremlin consistod of three independent areas. The central one (Bishop's Yard) is fenced by high walls with towers. Two other smaller parts are: north-Sobomaya Square; south-territory of Gregory Seclusion. In the second half of the 17th century in the time of Metropolitan Ioan Sysojevich these three parts were united and the integral architectural ensemble was created. High fortress walls with eleven towers enclose metropolitan residence. Above the solemn gate from the south and west temples flanked with towers [seven towers can be seen in the picture as well as two gates]. Metropolitan Chambers, personal church, palace for grand sovereigns advents and others set inside the yard. Metropolitan Residence is one of the best Old Russian ensembles reached our days. It combines masterpieces of Old Russian architecture and monumental painting. In Rostov Bishop's Yard (Rostov Kremlin) there is Museum under the State protection Rostov Kremlin which is included into the State Code of especially valuable objects of cultural heritage of Russia."

Two various facts would deserve mention. The first is that to the construction of the Kremlin Metropolitan has benefited by the assistance of Irina Lugovskaya, the great grandmother of Alexander Pushkin who not only was courted by Tsar Alexei, father of Peter the Great, but later fought at Smolensk with the Poles disguised as the younger brother of her husband, Count Alexei Musin-Pushkin. The second is that on August 24th, 1953 (some months after the death of Stalin, who didn’t dare to touch the Kremlin when it was in life) a tornado had ripped every church dome within the Kremlin’s walls.

About the stamps
The first, issued on February 27, 2006, is the comemorative one and is dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the painter M.A.Vrubel (1856-1910), the biggest representative of symbolism in the Russian fine arts. The painter’s self-portrait (1904-1905) is depicted on the stamp, designed by A. Povarihin. The second, issued on May 5th 2009, is about astronomy, the theme of traditional annual issue on that year, organized by Association of the state post operators of Europe (PostEurope). Actually 2009 was declared the International year of astronomy by the Association for the United Nations. Stamp represents Terskolsk observatory of the Institute of astronomy of Russian academy of science and on armillary sphere against the background with Big Dipper constellation.

sender: Yulia Makarkina (direct swap)
sent from Zelenograd (Moscow / Russia), on 24.10.2011

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