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Russia, Ukraine: A View From the Roof

Last month, St. Petersburg lost one of its landmarks: built between 1828 and 1835, the Trinity Cathedral (Troitsky Sobor) caught fire on August 25, while under reconstruction.

As the cathedral's main dome, one of the city's most noticeable roofs, went down, LJ user english_voodoo posted an R.I.P. note in the LJ community of St. Petersburg “roofers” – spbroofs (RUS):

This community is for all those who not just love Piter [St. Pete], but are also prepared to have a look at its most secret places. For those who wouldn't mind looking at the world from above. For those who would like to climb onto a certain roof of our city and take pictures.

The community's goal is “to unite all Russian-speaking kryshers [roofers, from the Russian word for “roof” – krysha] (and perhaps not them alone) at one site.” Currently, there are 829 members in spbroofs, and it is “watched” by 1,081 bloggers.

The roofers’ world is becoming smaller, and they can basically reach for one another while travelling in the city's other, higher, dimension. This, at least, is what happened to LJ user yuri32, who posted a photo of fellow roofers on a neighboring roof:

So I climbed one roof and saw people on another.

[photos omitted]

The next day, I had no problem finding that building, but we weren't able to get onto its roof :(

Who knows how to get there? :) I suggest we exchange information: you give me this roof [spelled ruf in Cyrillic script], and I give you some other one :)

LJ user qnick, a dedicated member of the roofers’ community, posted a photo of the doomed dome of the Trinity Cathedral, taken just one hour before the fire started, at 4:06:23 PM. The photo is from an amazing series shot by LJ user fool_4_lifetime during a typical roof walk. The report (RUS), despite its brevity, is very vivid; the word “breathtaking” in it is, most likely, used literally, not as a figure of speech:

[…] With qnick, we've covered the area along [Fontanka], from near [Nevskiy Prospekt] to Rubinshtein St. Fantastic experience, breathtaking. It was even scary a couple times: first, when I realized that my head was right between two high-voltage wires, and then, when it started to rain, and the roofs got very slippery, and we had climbed on the highest and the steepest one, and we couldn't even see the embankment on Fontanka's nearer side, only the other side, and tourists on tour boats were waving to us. […]

The roofers’ community has some rules (RUS):

A BIG REQUEST: DO NOT DIRECTLY REPORT EXACT ADDRESSES OF THE ROOFS THAT ARE OPEN. SUCH POSTS WILL BE DELETED IF I NOTICE THEM. AND ONE MORE: PEOPLE, DON'T GO 12 PEOPLE AT ONCE. SO MUCH NOISE, LIKE A HERD OF ELEPHANTS. [You'll end up having the roofs closed…]

There are cases, however, when exploring a new roof on your own is out of question (qnick, RUS):

I've found a cool roof across [the Neva] from the Finland Train Station. Only there are bomzhi [homeless people] living in the attic there, so it'd be good to have some stocky people around (no one's going to fight, but just in case). Who's going with me?

And as roof-walking is becoming increasingly popular, it's time to remind the adventurers of the most basic physics laws that might prove critical for survival (qnick, RUS):

Due to the increase in extreme situations on the roofs, I'll allow myself to have a small [educational session] here.

From the physics course, you know that when you stand on one foot on a steep surface, you increase pressure and, hence, increase friction. And when you lay yourself flat, you decrease both pressure and friction. The conclusion is: when you lose balance on the roof, never fall down on your stomach (back, side). Also, don't try to grab the sticking out metal parts – you'll cut your hands and make your companions nervous.

To avoid slipping, you should decrease as much as possible the area of the roof that your feet touch – that is, you should walk on the seam line (that's much quieter, too, by the way). And if you crawl (on your stomach, on all fours or in some other way), then you have more chances than others to roll down.

P.S. And, for g-d's sake, do let [your companions] know that you are afraid of the heights BEFORE you get out onto the roof.

Another LJ community similar to spbroofs is ru_roofers – besides Moscow roof photos, there are postings (RUS) from Kyiv and Lviv, Ukraine.

There is also a roof_kiev LJ community – and the latest entry there is by LJ user bastan (Stas Bokach): roofs in Yalta, Crimea – “Somewhat far from Kiev, but still…”

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