A conversation with Alexander Pudov


photo: Yannis Bournias

“There are no hidden corners that only a guide can show you. The art of guiding is to show you the same things you have seen many times in a different way. He can help you to understand what you see. The city is a big Encyclopedia. Looking around, you can see a lot of things that can tell you lots of stories. For example, most people on Tverskaya street don’t look up to see a panel of ceramic tiles with pictures high up on the National Hotel. If you look at the pictures you will see oil rigs, chimneys, steam engines, oil refineries… Those pictures speak about the glory of Stalin’s success in industrialization. You can definitely tell that they weren’t there when the Hotel was constructed in 1903!

Between the arches of the Iberian gate to Kremlin there is a small chapel which has an angel on top and two golden reliefs around the doors. One of them is holding keys in his hand and is Saint Peter, the other one is holding the Bible and is Saint Paul. And if you think about it you will come to the conclusion that Peter and Paul are standing at the gates of heaven. Because at that time—in the 16th century—Moscow was seen as a paradise on earth. And before getting into the paradise everybody had to go to the chapel to be purified. Those are the stories the city tells you”.

Alexander Pudov knows Moscow better than his own backyard.  His guided tours are special because they are tailored to each visitor’s needs and tastes: from a stroll around the historical shops of Moscow to a tank ride outside the city. Laura Wilson met him to learn some of the city’s secrets that only he knows. (NOMAS, Moscow p.85)