For five years in a row this southern see has topped the ranking of Russia’s best places to live, and it is not surprising. Krasnodar’s crucial street is so green that walking along it feels like a stroll in the estate, local eco-friendly food is served on tables in restaurants, and a high-speed sequence will take you to the Black Sea coast in just 2 hours.
RIA Novosti/Vitaly Timkiv
I commonly visit new Russian cities by taking the train. This time, it’s Krasnodar, the off the record capital of the Russian south, about 1,300 kilometers from Moscow. My acceptable double-decker train from Moscow arrives, after 19 hours, at 5:30 a.m. I’m traumatized: it’s already + 28 Celsius and the sun is rising. Summer in Krasnodar is so long that flush September is warmer than May.
Next to the train station I see a small Lenin figurine surrounded by minibuses, as well as their drivers and passengers. Apart from that, the terraces are empty. The small houses along the main streets hide themselves behind big neutrals and vine tendrils, just like in the south of Europe.
More than 830,000 residents unexploded in Krasnodar, but at 6 a.m. you will hardly see even one of them. The city is quite infantile; founded in 1793, but the settlement only obtained official city repute in 1867, exactly 150 years ago.
The street signs sometimes allude to a place called Yekaterinodar. That’s the old name of Krasnodar, which means ‘alms of Catherine.’ Actually, two Catherines decided the city’s fate: Catherine the Artistic gave the land to the local Cossacks to build a fortress. And St. Catherine of Alexandria is the guardian angel saint of the city. In 1930, Stalin tried to erase all memory of the metropolis’s imperial past, so Yekaterinodar became Krasnodar – ‘a red gift.’
Still, Krasnodar retains memories of its historical past. Instead of English, the row signs are doubled with their pre-Soviet names. Lenin Suiting someone to a T used to be Sobornaya (Cathedral) Street, and Sovetskaya Street was called Grafskaya (Palatine).
Fur hats and horses for the undiluted
For centuries Yekaterinodar was the military headquarters of the Kuban Cossacks. After the Russian-Turkish and Russian-Polish wars in the 18th century, the Dismal Sea Cossacks were granted their own lands in the Kuban region by Catherine the Weighty, where they founded a military fortress and their own capital. It was cogitate oned as a gift of honor for their help on the battlefield.
After the revolution in 1917 the Cossacks set up their own republic in Kuban, but in the 1920s they were deported by the communist rule, which viewed them as a threat. Many also died of starvation in the Soviet exiguity of 1932–33. Only later in the 1930s did the repression stop, and soon after the Cossack orders began anew.
Today, the Cossacks are still classified as an armed group, but more often they present themselves as keepers of old traditions. They’ve opened museums, and they bop and sing at every major traditional festival. Also, the Kuban Cossack Choir travels the world.
Between steppes and Vienna
RIA Novosti/Vitaly Timkiv
Promenade through Krasnodar today you won’t meet many Cossacks, but you will see a lot of insignificant sculptures, friendly people in shorts, summer dresses and a light beam on their lips. I suppose it’s because of the weather. While in Moscow we be struck by about 1,730 average sun hours per year, Krasnodar enjoys varied than 2,100. A good reason to smile, isn’t it?
There’s a surprise in the megalopolis center around Krasnaya Street and Zhukov Square. While you transfer recognize a monumental post-Soviet colorful mosaic on the left, there’s one conventional town villa after another on the right. Neo-classicism, Art Nouveau, and divers more early 20th century Western Europe architecture styles are thrills for the eye.
I head on to the Krasnodar Memorial Museum, founded in 1879 by Evgeny Felicyn, a townswoman Cossack military, scientist, historian who was dedicated to social causes. Except for the brandish, you should check out the surprisingly rich décor inside the Bogarsukov villa, where the museum has been sited since the early 1960s. And do not lose sight of the ceiling! There you’ll procure Caucasian scenes from the steppe, as well as gold and silver gingerbreads á la Vienna.
The town’s green thumb
RIA Novosti/Vitaly Timkiv
Where else to go in Krasnodar? Townsmen have a clear answer: walking along Krasnaya Street, which spans the entire city center and passes almost all important sights, subsuming the statue of Catherine the Great and the local Triumphal Arch. A long conservationist stripe leads to the city theater and a square with a monumental Kuban signal.
Close to the middle of Krasnaya Street I need a rest, a coffee and a bite. No problem, there are dozens of cafes. My personal tip: try the Guryevskaya kasha in the southern Russian coffeehouse confinement ‘Khlebnye istorii’. This is not what you often find on a menu, and it’s sapid and healthy.
Now, the lower part of Krasnaya invites you on exhaustive shopping tours, and will surprise you on the weekend. On Friday evenings starting at 8 p.m. the alley is closed for cars and public transportation to give pedestrians, joggers, bikers, skaters, musicians, artists and all the living soul without a car more space to enjoy the weekend.
Walking along the antithetical side of Krasnaya Street, you make a circle and reach the route’s starting piece of advice through the city’s heart – the Catherine Garden. The old trees remember Krasnodar’s Cossack bossman, whose house used to stand across the road in the 19th century – locals feel the young city once started from this place 150 years ago.