A Swiss in Petersburg – with Anna in my heart

My Russian teacher and friend for many, many years

Anna is in my heart. She also is no longer with me. She was my Russian teacher for many, many years, and she became a wonderful friend. She completed her education in Leningrad, lived in Switzerland teaching Russian to a small group of enthusiasts that stayed together for more than 30 years, and she told us about her roots in Leningrad – now renamed to Sankt Petersburg:

  • Her grand-father was an artist specializing in tiles and ceramic. Anna told me that he made the blue tiles on the mosque, when the mosque was built in the beginning of the 20th century. Under Stalin he then could no longer work as an artist and earned his living by making the ceramic isolation bells for the electricity power lines. (Later I find the German journal “DU” from Dec 1998 and it confirms that it was the workshop of P. K. Vaulin that made the ceramic decoration of the portals and of the cupola, and – yes, Vaulin is the grand father of my friend Anna Vaulina).
  • Her brother in law was the composer Andrej Petrov. She participated in the festivities for his 70th birthday. The Russians built a small violin park for him.

I visited the mosque and the violin park with Anna in my heart.

Visiting the mosque – for ladies, only when wearing a scarf and skirt

The elegant cupola and towers of the mosque with its blue tiles are a landmark that can be seen from far in Petersburg. When there are no prayers, the door is open to non muslims, and ladies have to wear a skirt and a scarf. Trousers are not allowed, and hats are also not suitable for ladies. At my first attempt to enter the mosque, I only had a hat and I was wearing trousers and was not allowed to go in. So I acquired a small scarf to cover my head and a large scarf to cover my trousers (which also counts as a skirt), and gave it a second try later. I liked the interior with only few ornaments and kneeled down on the carpet, keeping myself to the back of the mosque, as I did not want to disturb the men praying peacefully in here.


The violin park of Andrej Petrov

My wishes guidebook tells me that near Kamenoostrovsky prospekt 26/28 there is the small park with violins devoted to the oeuvre of the composer Andrej Petrov. The violins take the form of a swan, a woman, a high heal shoe, a sphynx etc and visitors can get inspiration for music. I find the small park – no tourists here, just children on the integrated playground and some Russians taking a rest next to the violins. My favorite violin is the slipper – скрипка на каблуках. Not being a musician, I just enjoy it and do not expect any inspiration.



I am not sure, Anna, whether you have still seen this park, but I know that you would be proud of it.

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