Let's walk in the Space (Park)

I lived near the Metro-station called VDNH (or as they would write in Cyrillic: ВДНХ) – and it stands for the Exhibition of the Achievements of the National Economy (an oxymoron, if there is one), whose exhibits probably included the products (or lack thereof) of the Soviet collective farms.

The palatial rocket thing I can see from my room is called the Space Obelisk and it was the centerpiece of the Memorial Museum of Aeronautics next to VDNH. According to my DK guidebook, it is 100 m high, and erected in 1964, to celebrate Comrade Gagarin’s space flight three years earlier.

I didn’t pay a visit to the Space Museum underneath the monument (I will wait until my Cyrillic is a little better) but the park was gorgeous. It was full of those giant Soviet era statutes; the Russians revere their cosmonauts and engineers so the park was spared of the fate that had befallen to many other Soviet era statutes. With my limited knowledge of Cyrillic, I was able to spell out one or two names I recognized from my history books.

Two globes (the Earth with major cities spelled out in Cyrillic, and the other with constellations), a giant copper sundial surrounded by planets with their names and facts inscribed at their bases, and marble stars decorate the avenue up to the Space Obelisk. On each star is a brass plaque celebrating the highpoints of the Soviet space program; there are still stars without a plaque—the achievements of the great Soviet space machine seemingly stopped in the late 70s.


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