After seeing all of London out before me like on a dinner plate at Primrose hill, I wanted to finally tick something off my list that has been there since I arrived. I wanted to find the viewing platform at Sparrow hills. Of course, we (Katie and I) chose a sunny day to do it.
Rumour has it that the view is actually much more spectacular at night- but when the daytime is already -9 degrees Celsius you might reconsider the idea of heading out in the dark. We walked a fair distance towards MGU (Moscow State University), which stands at the top of Sparrow Hills. The university building also has a museum from which you can enjoy the view over Moscow, although this will take a bit of arranging before you go. This building is a tall, Gothic skyscraper, and when you look out over the city, you might think you are seeing double- there are seven of these skyscrapers dotted around Moscow, giving them the nickname ‘the seven sisters’. Stalin had these built (he intended there to be eight) in order to provide more space and demonstrate that the government was actively working on the housing shortage in Moscow. Now, they have been re-invented and used for various different purposes, including this university, two hotels, two apartment blocks, and two government buildings.
It is safe to say that you get a sense of the sprawling size of the city from up, on that hill. You can see the large Luznihki stadium in front of you, the domes of St. Christ the Saviour and the Ivan the Great Bell tower in the background, and the Ostankino TV tower, all the way in the distance. One of the surreal things about Moscow, though, is the way that everything shifts in perspective depending on where you are (particularly if you are walking along the river, it feels like the buildings are moving too). Here, from our vantage point, we cant even really make out the Kremlin Walls- all of the other buildings are blocking it. Some of the seven sisters seem to have moved further away, the smoke stacks that I orient myself by look to close to the centre… It is all pretty disorientating.
My eye is immediately drawn to the tall towers of Moscow city and the large, squat stadium in front of us. This is a city that has a central heart that remains largely unchanged by modern architecture- definitely by skyscrapers. But the edges of the city are dotted with projects, development and work to create ‘the new face’ of Moscow. The landscape is also dotted with cranes, half finished buildings, structures, scaffolding. This is a city that is working on itself continuously, growing, up, out, and rejuvenating.