From vodka to beloved opera classics – DW's Anastassia Boutsko takes a look at World Cup host Russia's most popular exports and clears up some cultural cliches.
Whichever way you look at it, we Russians often hear that we hail from a land of bears, forests and drunkards. Those of us living abroad and flying to Russia for Christmas are warned against over-consumption of vodka. If my son recounts tales of wild bears attacking our dacha (country house) near Moscow, none of his fourth-grade classmates doubt the veracity of his story.
Have you ever searched for "Russia" in Google Images? In addition to the map of the enormous country, right near the top of the search results comes the epic Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat, better known as Saint Basil's Cathedral on Red Square. There's a general perception that this is your average Russian church.
According to recent research, the imposing church was built in the 16th century by Italian architects who also built the Moscow Kremlin and its cathedrals.
The Moscow Kremlin, with Saint Basil's Cathedral to the right, embodies the Russian architectural cliche that actually has Italian Renaissance roots
It is believed that the builders of the church, which has a foundation stone laid to mark the victory over the Tatars, were inspired by the Italian Renaissance but also by oriental architecture.
The 10 domes stand for the 10 saints who were celebrated during the siege of Kazan by Ivan the Terrible; St. Basil is one of them. In any case, the cathedral is absolutely atypical for Russian church architecture. But like many Russian stereotypes, this one is worth a second look.
Click through the gallery above to explore Russia's most popular exports — which often tie in with the national cliches.