Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Russia 2: Borodino Battlefield

 On the train to Borodino, 124 Km west of Moscow. As I said you gotta pick it at the Belorusskaya station in Moscow. Just go there by metro (brown circular line) and get to the street, you'll emerge to a square with green classical buldings on a corner: that's the station. Buy the tickets in one of the machines inside: to go and back was around 530 roubles, entrance to the museum building 200Rb.

The place is surprisingly well connected and the timetables available here, but pay attention to both the platform and "pier" (rail line) number as the indications can be a bit confusing. 
The place is so well connected in fact that it's an intercharge station, as a result the train was crowded and I had to sit between two matrioshkas of considerable girth!
 Those ruskis got the gas!
 Arkansas? nope just Russia
 Here we are, better not go to the toilet in this station: it's just a hole!
Two hours and a quarter from Belorruskaya to Borodino, the previous station is Mojansk. Fittingly enough this line follows Napoleon's route ending in Smolensk which shows how well traced were the roads back then.
 There is half an hour to the monastery and fleches, half an hour from the flèches to the Shevardino redoubt and another half from monastery to the museum so be ready to walk. You cound carry a bike on the train however, forget the car, everyone says that to get out of Moscow by it is a nightmare.
Of course no one speaks any english so words like "redouta" redoubt or "poist" train come in handy. And remember to accentuate Borodinó if you don't wanna get any funny looks!
 Once behind the station head to this monument to the left and pick the road to the right that's perpendicular to the railway, it'll take you to the museum.
 This road is flanked by several monuments, so it's hard to miss it.

 Fleches ahoy! The main road goes to the museum while a turn left leads to the fleches first and then the Shevardino redoubt.
 Passing Semeonovskaya on the way, modern buildings since the 1800' ones were wodden and already rotten. With a little digging you might find post holes depending on the ground.
 The Spaso-borodinsky monastery was built by the widow of general Tutchkov, himself killed in the battle, she would even become its mother superior.

 Right flèche
 Gun ports still preserved, covered in grass to avoid erosion.
 The ditch
 View from a gun port, the place is well cared for
 The flèche is quite big and spatious but surprisingly short
 Monastery courtyard with visiting scouts. It turned out that they were encamped in the battlefield itself and were spending the summer holidays trekking around, encamping around fireplaces and such. Quite like the american ones but much more hard to spot!
 Our lady of Vladimir

 Vladimir's Madonna, an obvious reconstruction, since the original got "lost" in the turmoil of the revolution and posterior wars

 Rear fleche with church of the miraculous image of the Saviour, the wife and her son are interred here. Tuchkov himself could never be found since the bodies of he and his men were mangled by cannonballs in a counteroffensive around the fortifications that threw one of the french attacks back.

 The monastery proper is located behind the churches
 St john the baptitst church
 The monastery once again has nuns within its walls

 Heading to the museum it began to rain and kept on with more or less enthusiasm during the whole day. It was quite cold too, general winter paid us an early visit!
 The scouts got wet on their way home
 Scout encampment
 Borodino museum
 Opposite the great redoubt
 Some WW2 stuff
 Once inside the museum we are greeted by some archaeological findings (and a roof over the head)
 French map of late XVIII

 There is a pre 1812 room with the tale of french expansions some uniforms, painitings & paraphernalia

 Dragoon helmet

 1805 prussian & russian

 Conquest of Venice
 Black watch & light dragoon
 Crossing of the Niemen
 Borodino campaign
 Russian lines scheme
Resting before the storm
 Before the battle
 During it 
 The famous king of Rome scene
 Dead bavarian
 Cuirassier flag
 French captured guns, they lost most of the train during the retreat so there are french guns everywere, from here to the kremlin
 Kutuzov's ride, he knew how to travel in style

 Cavalry equippment
 Hall with a miniatures diorama! Looked 6mm to me: quite epic, they could have mixed different colours and make a light map of the battle phases, but as my father says "whoever criticises is always right"
 View from Utitsa northwards

 More findings
 Two uniform displays flank the diorama, one for side
 Averyanov's original!
 Artillery & pionnier tools

 Another famous one

 Guard squares
 French & allies
 Borodino from the front
 Great redoubt & fleches
 Murat's cavalry reserve
 Borodino's garrison was quite isloated, wouldn't last long in a Lasalle game!
 River Kalatsha & russian right

 Ortodox crosses
 Panorama made with four painitngs

 First aid kit
 Portable amputation set
 Napoleon's bed

 Kossack sword

 Holy Alliance docs
 Another famous original
 Opolchenie weapons

 Romanitc painting of the first memorial park
 With the rain ebbing (slightly) and feeling much more dry it was time to get out of the museum and to the redoubt
 The redoubt was used as a trench line with pillboxes during WW2, the panzers rolled over it in 1942 (they were surelly more reliable than cuirassiers apparently) and the nazis burnt the monastery and damaged the museum

 Inside the redoubt, imagine a column of frenchies coming out of the forest...
 Bagration's tomb
 View to the north, behind the forests lies the village of Borodino and beyond the river
 View to the south: the tip of the fleches monastery can be seen over the forest in the right, the houses are nowadays Semeonovskaya
 Ditch, much more steep than the fleches one
 Pillbox rear
 The scouts got quite a setup near the museum with guns, uniforms and lots of tents

 I then headed south since I didn't want to lose the train 

 Tombs and left flèche (wich I missed since it's hidden behind the monastery)
 Muddy, slippery vertex
 Ditch, much like the right one
 Several memorials here. Most of these monoliths are erected by regiments of the russian army wich took part in the battle

 Shevardino redoubt, where I got...
 ...thanks to a sympathetic bus driver that picked me up in the middle of the rain
 The redoubt is also on a small elevation like the great one

 The access is by the rear of the earthwork

 Looking towards the flèches

 The french attacked by the left
 What the french saw (with several angry looking russians thrown in!)
 In the russian steppe hills are hardly worth the name

 Moskovsky oblast! Not much to eat here since most of the land is covered in either forests or grassland

 Monastery guesthouse
All in all the visit took me four and a half hours from the moment I got to the station, mind that I got two lifts so I would throw a gross estimate of five hours and a half on foot. The village of Borodino is half an hour from the museum, and Gorki a full hour. Of course the ideal visit is to go first to the fletches and shevardino rdt. and then to the museum, unlike someone who missed the left flèche...
 Back in Moscow. I got to the station with time to spare thanks to two russian guys that gave me a lift, of course I gave their children what was left of the toblerone! 
Quite friendly folk those russians, in spite of having been trod on by a thousand years (or perhaps because of that) they have a strong sense of solidarity and will help you without a moment's thought. Altough you'll have quite a hard time trying to understand that they're asking you in russian from what part of Spain you're as it happened to me!
 Soldier's return in the station
Facade, it forms a weird right angle in a corner of the square.


  1. Thanks for sharing these wonderful pictures, worth a travel! Love Kutuzov's ride, very impressive...

  2. Fransec thanks for taking the time to post your pictures and travel tips! Really looks like a great place to visit I hope one day to be able to get there!

  3. You're welcome Darling