Friendship of the Nations Fountain, VDNK, Moscow, Russia
This week’s theme is stately fountains, for reasons explained below, if you live in Switzerland finding a stately fountain is as easy as finding a snowball in hell (this post covers, hell, communism, catholicism, churches and fountains, what a friday!)
I had to dig through an old photo album to find the leading photo (and then scan it in..). I spent December in Moscow once, I highly recommend it, new year is excellent there, the snow is beautiful and there is something truly fascinating about being out and about in -35°C – also the hot chocolate I had, where the chocolate was so thick my spoon stood upright, in a small cafe opposite the Dom Knigi, the house of books, a favourite spot when I was in Moscow, is a memory I cherish. It all comes back to the food after all…
Living, as I do, in Switzerland finding stately homes is a bit of a challenge. Yes, I wasn’t thinking when I picked the theme, I admit it. Why is finding a stately home in Switzerland hard? Well, firstly, because the country is very small, and just a bit hilly :). Also it’s traditionally a country of farming folk, who tilled the land, while the influential families owned beautiful town houses. Town houses, which were very smart, and nowadays are worth a fortune, but not particularly ostentatious in any way. The influential families were wealthy and politically very powerful, however they derived their income, for the most part from trading. Absent a monarchy, landed gentry (and therefore tenants who could be taxed at whim), colonialism and wars and a subjugated population, and taking into account that Switzerland wasn’t well off until after the first and second world wars, there really was no call for stately fountains. As you would expect, we do have a great many fountains designed as troughs for the animals, and many smaller fountains decorate the city squares – see Jude’s Geneva fountain, but stately, not so much. In contrast, thinking of the impressive fountains I have seen around the world – most were designed with a purpose in mind beyond simply being a water trough. There are fountains designed to tickle the fancy of the wealthy, to celebrate wars won, scientific breakthroughs or other achievements, countries discovered, and those dedicated to the memory of the many, many soldiers who lost their lives fighting for their countries. Fountains celebrating peace and prosperity and fountains placed along city boulevards to ensure that as you enter a city you will be in no doubt as to your position in the “food chain”. A special variant of these fountains are ones I saw in Crystal Cathedral, California, where as the preacher reaches a key point in his sermon, the fountains, placed down the aisles of the church, spring into action. Very impressive, the Catholic church always understood that ceremony is an important part of motivating your flocks’ attendance and famous Reverend Shuller, a minister in the reformed church of America and the visionary behind the Crystal Cathedral, made use of this knowledge. I remember a mass I visited one Christmas, with a group of Muslim friends. There were multicoloured lights, and fountains, live goats, sheep and a donkey, for the nativity, and a whole wing of church windows opening to let the sun’s rays shine on the pulpit. Amazing showmanship. We were all very impressed and actually we enjoyed it a lot, as witnessed by the fact that I can remember the event about 20 years later. According to Wikipedia, the church was bought by the Catholic Church after Rev. Shuller filed for bankruptcy, I wonder if they too will use all the props? I might need to visit again one day (and it’s round the corner from dear Rhonda). The communists too, understood the need to motivate the people with big symbols, a sense of purpose and belonging, and a teensy bit of fear..Or a lot depending on which of the fearless leaders we are talking about. Visit the Vystavka Dostizheniy Narodnogo Khozyaystva (VDNK) (Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy in Moscow to experience the Russian way (although if the loudspeakers are still blaring pop music at you you won’t be able to stand being in the park long, unless you are a lot younger than me).
Specific fountains that spring to mind to elucidate my points:
- TICKLE YOUR FANCY: Versailles, beautiful landscaping and a very pretty palace, right behind it..a playground for the wealthy
- FOOD CHAIN ENFORCERS: Barcelona
- ACHIEVEMENT CELEBRATORS: Hero’s square fountain, Bridgetown, Barbados, erected to commemorate the bringing of water to the the city. Or the Tank Steam fountain. The Tank Stream Fountain was presented to the City by John Fairfax & Sons Limited in 1981 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Herald in 1831.
I could go on but then the day would end before I got anything else done. So I bring you, above the Fountain: Friendship of the People (the photo below is from Wikimedia), After searching for a better picture than mine I found this one below, however, I find that upon reflection, I prefer my photo. Grainy and out of focus as it is. Because you can feel the cold and the city and the frost. It has a reality to it that the photo below doesn’t have.
Want to join in, please do, you may find the guidelines below:
I shall post a fountain each Friday within a particular theme which will change each month. You are invited to join in by posting one or more of your own fountains within the month that fit into the theme and either add a link (ping-back) in your post to mine or link to it in a comment on my post.
To make it easier to find everyone’s posts, perhaps you could add the Tag ‘Fountain Series‘.
You don’t have to post on a Friday. Any day in the month will do. If you have loads of pictures that fit into a theme, feel free to post several times during the month or create a gallery or whatever works best for you.