Russia - Domes and Scenery

First impressions of a country and of new experiences often stay with a person for most of that person's life. I remember my first day in Russia like it was yesterday. There were so many new and different experiences and I could practically retell the whole day down to several small details. One of the experiences that I don't think I'll ever forget occurred on my first day in Russia. As we were driving from the airport to the city, we began coming into the city and I remember very clearly two huge buildings standing on the outskirts of the city. I think my mouth was hanging wide open at what I saw. The buildings were probably 15 stories high and looked like the following.

A look up at a large building in Russia.

These huge buildings are probably the first thing I think of whenever I think of Russia. These buildings are the apartment buildings that stand row after row all throughout the cities of Russia. Each apartment building ranges in size from 2 to 20 stories (maybe higher but I have never seen one that big) and have hundreds of apartments each. If there are 5 stories or less, no elevator for you, otherwise there is one that hopefully works. I know only a handful of people that don't live in an apartment in Russia as it is the way that most everyone lives. The domes (each building is called a dome) are made of metal and concrete (pretty much they are slabs of concrete stacked on top of each other).

Standard elevator inside a dome.

A typical dome has about 5 entrances (each one called a podiezd) and on each level, 3 to 6 apartments. Just for a general idea, the dome that we are in has 6 podiezds, 6 apartments per level and 9 levels. That is over 300 apartments in this building alone. Just from outside the front door of the podiezd, I can see at least 10 domes of the same size. 3000 apartments in site from where I stand just outside. Tomorrows post will be more about the apartments themselves, but that is a lot of people in a small amount of space.

The entrance to one of the podiezds. You need a key to get in, or dial on the dom-a-phone.

A look up the podiezd.

Don't expect any important mail.

The biggest problem with the domes is how beat up most of them are. Most of the buildings were building during the USSR period and have seen a lot since then. The buildings are very run down and from outside, you definitely get the feeling that you are in a third world country. The problem is that there really isn't enough people who would want to take care of the domes by painting and doing other repairs. I wouldn't want to either up on the 13th floor of a building. I don't blame anyone for that.

A beat down Russian dome.

A typical Russian dome.

However, the thing that I love about the domes is that they leave so much space for trees and other greenery. Just walking outside of your apartment building you will find more green beauty then in most places in the United States.

Later this evening we are going up to the top of the hill here in Penza, and we are going to look out over the city. There are two things that I am excited to see that truly define the landscape of Russia – the huge domes that cover the land and that are filled in by the beautiful greenery. Don't let the outward appearance of the domes make you think that this is a torn down country. It really is a wonderful place.

View of the beauty of Russia.

A couple other notes:

There are regular homes in Russia but they are even more beat down than the apartment buildings and the roads are all dirt. Imagine what it is like in those rainstorms. I've included a picture of the outside of one just for you to see.

The funniest description I heard of the dome was from my grandmother in law who called it the beehive.

A regular home with a dome behind.

Some more domes:


BJ said...

Very similar to Italy - almost everyone lives in an apartment like this (some nicer, some the same condition.) Once you get out of the cities though, you see more houses

Stream said...

The typical home you show appears to be built out of logs. Is that typical as well?

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JC said...

Most the homes are built out of wood. No idea when they were built but it would seem that most of them were built about the same time as the apartment buildings. I would prefer to live in an apartment compared to the homes.

Ethan and Anna said...

I'll never forget staring out the window of Roman's bumpy ride on the way into town. I couldn't take my eyes off the people in bulky leather coats, all in tall funny hats, walking in dirty snow, with the beehives and Samara's infamous corn-cob building behind them on my first evening in Russia back on January 15, 2003.

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JC said...

Oh yeah...I remember that building. One of the tramvai's went right by it. I remember now that you told me you spent the night there.