[Photo by Mary Zahl]
a piece by Paul Zahl (of The Zahl File) about another strange place he
visited this summer. Paul forgot to take his camera along on his visit
and I wasn't able to find any images of it online, apart from the
low-res view of its exterior below — the modern-day travel industry in
Russia doesn't seem interested in promoting it as an attraction and no
tourists seem to have left snapshot records of it on the Internet —
but Paul vividly evokes what he saw there in prose:
This past August, I slipped away for an afternoon from the tour group I
was helping to lead in Russia and the Baltics. I slipped away in order
to see a weird museum in St. Petersburg.
I had heard heard of it before, and its original form under the
Soviets, the notorious Museum of Atheism. Until a few years ago,
Russian young people used to be taken to the former St. Isaac's
Cathedral in Leningrad/Petrograd/St. Petersburg to witness a
State-operated exhibition displaying the folly, ignorance, and
wickedness of Christianity, with side-exhibits on Buddhism, Animism,
Judaism, Islam, and the Greek and Roman Gods.
After perestroika, the Museum was dismantled and St. Isaac's became a
Russian Orthodox cathedral again. The exhibits persist, however, in
a big old gray crate of a building about three blocks away . . .
Click here, if you dare, to take the full tour . . .