Russian culture in London

22 November, 2021

Russian culture in London

Despite having studied Russian for over 6 years, since being in Russia, I have discovered lots about Russian culture that I never knew before. Being in the country offers a new insight into the history and culture behind the language. However, as it turns out, there are more hints of Russian culture in my hometown (London), than I ever realised. If you ever find yourself there, and want a slice of Russian culture, why not check out some of the following places.

Peter the Great sculpture

Along the Thames Path, on Glaisher Street in Deptford, you can find a monument of Peter the Great. The statue was erected in May 2000, designed by Mihail Chemiakin (sculptor), and Viacheslav (architect). It was a gift from the people of Russia, to commemorate the Tsar’s visit to London in 1698. His trip was a quest for knowledge and experience, with the ultimate aim of establishing the first Russian Navy. William III (the contemporary English King), was keen to welcome increased trade with Russia. The statue depicts Peter the Great, looking onto the Thames, while holding a pipe and telescope. He is surrounded by a dwarf, a throne and parapets, with both Russian and English inscriptions. Chemiakin created a companion sculpture, of Peter sitting, which is located in Saint Petersburg. 

Romeo and Juliet ballet

During my first month in Saint Petersburg, I visited the Mariinsky II, to watch Ptokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet ballet. You can read about my experience here. However, if you are in London, you can also watch this production at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. This ballet is playing there from 5 October 2021 – 25 February 2022. The ballet is now recognised as a great modern ballet classic worldwide, but its roots lie with Russia. It would certainly be interesting to compare the production with the one I was able to see here in Saint Petersburg.

Pushkin House

In Bloomsbury Square, you will find Pushkin House, which is an independent arts charity specialising in Russian culture. Here, you will find events, talks, concerts and exhibitions all relating to Russian culture. I have been there once, on a school trip, to hear a talk about the controversial Russian contemporary artist, Pyotr Pavlensky. The talk itself was interesting, and it was also a great opportunity to meet others fascinated by Russian culture. If you ever want to join a network of Russian culture fanatics, or just learn more about an interesting aspect of Russia, this is the place to visit in England.

So, if you find yourself in or near London, you may not be as far from Russian culture as you would expect. Furthermore, your own hometown might also have unexpected reminders of Russia dotted around, even in the places you least expect. 

By Alice, currently studying at Liden & Denz in Saint Petersburg

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