osteuropakompetenz

Lychakiv Cementary (Cmentarz Łyczakowski/Личаківський цвинтар), Lviv

In Eastern European Cities, cementaries are usually interesting places of history, if you know what to look for. This one here is a prime example: Situated in Lviv, the oldest parts near the entrance are dominated by tombstomnes and little mausoleums even for the Polish, often aristocratic families which ruled the city until the Second World War.

If you walk up the hill, Polish inscriptions on tombstones are exchanged by cyrillic ones, and a little later, even the design of the graves change: Since under communist rule, religious symbols especially among the elites of the society were taboo, a whole new aestethics of gravestones emerged not only in Lviv, but everywhere else in the soviet Empire. For example Busts of the deceased, or symbols related to their profession. I have seen a Red Army General is buried under a massive marble artillery grenade, or a famous clown of the Russian Circus sitting on the edge of his own grave while smoking a cigar, with his dog to his feet.

Metro//

Tbilissi, Georgia, 2013

everywhere in the former Soviet empire, the look and feel of the metro has preserved quite well. The escalators are like a little time machine on which you travel into the underground past in cities like Moscow, Tbilissi, Kiew or St. Petersburg.

First of all, there is no elaborate ticket system with different options for long or short rides, or daily tickets, or stuff like that. There is a one ride=one ticket policy. Tickets come sometimes in the form of coins which you can keep in your wallet.

The escalators are in contrast to their western counterparts really fast and often quite long, because the stations are very deep. Sometimes, the ride takes you 2-3 minutes, and you feel air pressure in your ears. In 2010, when heavy fire in the forests around Moscow produced thick fog, the metro was one of the few places where you could escape the heat and the smoke for a few moments.

The stations are in many cases very beautifully decorated. Forms and features of classic architecture (arches, statues, mosaiques and frescoes), and sometimes even chandeliers. Everything is guarded by a small army of metro security people, which have small booths by every escalator, at the platforms, and upstairs by the entrance doors.

At the stations, there is a little digital clock which counts the time that has passed since the last train came through. At first, you think this is really weird since the information is not very useful. But on the other hand, trains come really often, every minute or two. Sometimes you catch yourself getting impatient because you waited for the metro already 90 seconds.