No matter how short a trip you may have in Moscow, and no matter if you’re going in sun, rain or snow, I’d highly recommend a trip to Victory Park. It gives a great sense of perspective when it comes to the size of Moscow, and a fantastic view over parts of the city, as it sits on top of Poklonnaya Hill; attempting to orientate ourselves in this huge Russian capital took up a lot of our time in the park. When an area this large can make up only a small piece of the city, you start to realise just how vast this part of the world is. If you have a full day to fill it’s a great option, as we found one morning only took us over one small section and there was still plenty to see.
Victory Park is also a great place to experience a bit of Moscow and Russian history.
You pop out of the Park Pobedy Metro Station and instantly clap eyes on the ‘Triumphal Arch’. When we visited Moscow was covered in a ceiling of grey cloud and a curtain of constant rain was falling. The Arch was still visible through the gloom, though it looked subdued in the grey rain with its black and grey stone. I took an awkward one-handed photo from underneath my umbrella so that I didn’t get myself (or more importantly my camera) wet.
“Ok, Victory Park is behind us,” our friend and ever patient tour guide said, pointing back down the road.
When you turn around at the top of the Metro stairs, the sheer size of Victory Park hits you. For a sense of scale, it would probably have ample room for a couple of Russian space rockets to lie side by side, and still have space left for a large shopping centre with a full car park. It’s like the size of a city in itself.
In the distance you can see the curved bow-shape of the white museum; the snappily titled Museum of the Great Patriotic War. On our visit it was just about visible in the rain and low cloud.
In front of the museum, and an eternal flame memorial, is a towering black obelisk that pierces the sky above. It just adds another jaw-dropping element to an already hugely impressive area.
Everything at Victory Park is almost frightening in its size. St George’s church, which as you head towards the museum sits on your left, would be quite a sizeable building in any other setting. In Victory Park it looks like a toy church dropped by a child in the middle of an empty car park.
Scaling the enormous red steps up to the obelisk and museum is a challenge in itself. Standing on them and looking back down the park gives you an idea of how far you came, and how just how small the office skyscrapers look in the distance.
There’s a lot to look at in Victory Park, not just because of its size. Everything has an historical meaning, and it would take a full history book to understand it all. The museum is there to commemorate World War II, which the Russians call The Great Patriotic War. Behind the museum lies the rest of the park. As the map on the back of our museum ticket shows the actual bulk of Victory Park lies behind the museum building. In the park grounds there’s even more to see; a memorial synagogue and mosque, some tanks, and a lot of trees to wander around in.
Check out the gallery of pictures I took in Victory Park in the rain.