Day of Moscow, 865th birthday: День Москвы!

День Москвы! (Day of Moscow). 865 is an impressive number for a lady who like a fine wine, grows better and more beautiful with age. Happy birthday, Moscow!

Moscow 865 in 2012.

Saturday was the day to mark her birthday at 865 years and a variety of events from open air shows, fireworks, street fairs, talent exhibits and church services ushered in the weekend festivities. Last year the premier was an impressive light show up on the hill at Moscow State University but this year the focus was on historic Red Square.

Red Square, Day of Moscow 2012.

In addition to speeches, international military bands took part in an annual festival, reenacting some of the key events of Moscow’s long and turbulent history.

This year’s theme of “Best City in the World” was taken from the old Soviet song by Муслима Магомаева – “Лучший город земли”! As the song dates back to 1964 and other than the similarity to Elvis Presley, one has to wonder if this was done to please Vladimir Putin.

Not to be outdone, today’s generation has re-cast the idea just a bit and while the production is good, maybe the Elvis-like sound isn’t that bad after all.  🙂

Speaking of President Putin, he and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin did get out and about. These days however there is a security noticeable space between the people and their leader effectively enforced by the Presidential Protective Service. The crowd gathered at Red Square were carefully vetted and security was high.

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, President Vladimir Putin, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin.

President Putin and Mayor Sobyanin delivered remarks to the crowd that had been vetted by special invitation on Red Square.

Admission to many museums and art exhibits across the city were free. School began also on 1 September and many of the city day activities were designed to include the history of the city and interesting exhibits for children.

1 September is also the “Day of Knowledge” or “First Bell” across Russia as the opening day for schools and universities. President Putin and Mayor Sobyanin visited Gymnasium (school) number 1519 where they sat in on a history class.

President Putin and Mayor Sobyanin visited Gymnasium (school) number 1519.

Later Mr. Putin joined Olympic champion gymnast Anastasia Grishina in a lecture to students about physical education.

President Putin spoke to a PE class.

Moscow has grown into Europe’s largest city and rivaling London in modernity.

Kremlin bell towers at one time were the tallest structures in the city.

Conspicuously absent from public observances was Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his wife Svetlana. On Thursday he chaired a meeting on programmes for orphans and children with disabilities. His official calender only lists him as on holiday through the weekend.