Weekly Photo Challenge–GRAND


The Cathedral of the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan, near St. Petersburg, Russia

Grand is the specified topic for this weeks challenge.  In the brief it was also linked to Big but to my mind I think Grand is also an abbreviation of Grandeur.

Well my chosen subject is both big and grand.  From the outside the Cathedral looks large, dramatic….. but perhaps just a little ‘stark’.  It is only once you enter the Cathedral that its grandeur suddenly hits you between the eyes. Whilst the walls are plain the screens are lavishly decorated in gold, framing Russian religious paintings and ancient Icon’s.  The windows may also be small but what little light* they allow in just seems to be magnified by a multitude of golden reflections.


Golden Crosses atop traditional Russian Orthodox Domes where the only hint of all the glitter that awaited both worshiper and visitor within.  I did describe the exterior as being stark, and to me it is, but none the less there is much detailed architecture in its construction giving lots of added shape.

* I also mentioned that there was little light within and that is true….but cranking up the Nikon ISO to 3500 cut through the gloom to bring you the true colours…even though you can see a good deal of noise it was in my view worth it!.


7th December

© David Oakes 2013

Gulf of Finland…a day in the country

A change from the noise and bustle of St. Petersburg…a trip along the coast and through the forests of the Gulf of Finland…a real breath of fresh air….


You can understand why the Russia nobility and now the nouveau rich have there summer houses or Dachas and to-day great mansions…it is a peaceful and beautiful region..


But our objective for the days was to Zelenogorsk where the Cathedral of the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan.  By Russian church standards it is not the old being built in 1915 but has still had to endure several wars and of course the Revolution. So it is a minor miracle that it is still intact.

The characteristic domes are the first signs that you are approaching the Cathedral…


Then you you get your first full view of the building and appreciate it true size…


But as with all Russian Cathedral and Churches (no matter the sect) it is the interior that is so special and Kazan will not disappoint….





But time outside is also well rewarded with lovely views of Kazan in its woodland setting….



Our next stop was to pay our respects to the the famous Russian artist Ilya Repin…his influence and legacy has demanded that the town in which he lived for most of his life was renamed Repin.

The forests, its wildlife and the coastline inspire his work. For most of his life he lived in the Dachas…a wood typical wood construction hidden in a woodland glade….


Inspiration was all about and his studio was well placed for Repin to work surrounded as if deep in the woods….








His wish was that when he died he be buried within his garden estate, on a small hill and that an Oak tree be planted to mark the spot…his wishes were fulfilled…..

A slow drive back along the granite bolder lined Gulf ended a welcome quiet day on this trip…



Tomorrow it is back to St. Petersburg and all its hustle and bustle and another helping of old Russia…..

25th July

© David Oakes 2013