Friday, February 15, 2013

In Mother Russia...

I've said it before and I'll say it again - Harbin's the most European city in mainland China.  Nowhere is this as apparent as in Santa Sophia Square.  I mean, I expect everyone to break into a rendition of "A Rumor in St. Petersburg" from Anastasia.  Yes, there are probably lots better Russian film references to make, but I teach little kids and love animated movies.  Moving on...
It may have looked like Mother Russia, but this was definitely China.  Know how I could tell?  The crowds of people rudely pushing their way in and out of the church was a pretty big giveaway.  Have I mentioned that, unlike Shanghai, Harbin doesn't empty out for Chinese New Year?  It bears repeating.  That was one of the nice things about Shanghai.
I was also reminded this was China because visiting the church was not the smoothest experience.  I got to the doors, observed this sign (pointing into the church), pushed my way inside, only to be told I had to buy a ticket outside.  I was a little upset.  So I pushed and shoved my way out, bought the ticket, and made my way back in.  Next time, I'll back up and go around the ticket taker - he wouldn't have noticed it in the stream of people going through (ok, I probably wouldn't do that, but it was a tempting thought).
I keep referring to Santa Sophia as a church, but it really isn't anymore - it's been transformed into a museum detailing the history of Harbin.  The pictures were interesting, but I spent most of my time taking pictures of the architecture (I've had architecture on the brain - thinking of how I'm going to integrate it in my classes this semester, because I believe it's something kids should think about).  Someone on tripadvisor (or was it Wikitravel?) wrote that you shouldn't expect the quality of a European church...well, you can't really compare them, because it only looks like a church.  The decorative motifs have had no preservation at all, which is a little sad, but what can you do?

1 comment:

  1. The first time I went there, about 5-6 years ago, the church still had some Russian Orthodox paintings on the walls and other religious relics, but when I went back 3 years ago they were all gone. I was very sad. It used to be so wonderful.