Monday, March 27, 2017

A Feast for the Eyes

Despite the flat brown pallet of the surrounding steppe - or more likely because of it - Elista is a city bursting with color and pattern. Even if you transplanted a bunch of Americans here and everyone was speaking English, it would still feel foreign to me.

Over the past month, I have enjoyed exploring on foot and photographing the details of the architecture and infrastructure. Two things that are more prominent here than in America are (1) colorful buildings, inside and out; and (2) intricate patterns in everyday objects such as street lamps and sidewalk pavers.

While you may see an occasional American home painted in a funky color, many public and private buildings in Elista are painted in pretty pastels and even bold primary colors. I wish there were a more eloquent way to present this, but the rest of this post is basically going to be a long scroll through many photos of Kalmyk/Russian architecture. A feast for the eyes!

Smaller shops close to downtown

Even when the exterior is more subdued, the interiors can still be quite colorful and interesting.

The hallways of the university

White House: a popular spot to have a "business lunch"
(We have to make a joke about Trump every time we go there...)

Upstairs hallway in a local Kalmyk restaurant (I think there might be business offices on this hallway.)

Stairway detail, looking up

It's not always the colors but sometimes the textures and patterns that really strike me as I'm walking around - textures on the buildings and even on the ground. Many sidewalks are paved in a variety of shapes and colors, even sidewalks in mundane places like convenience stores and bus stops.

It's never boring walking around here, as long as I've got my camera. Ted might be getting tired of waiting for me to stop and take a photo 10-20 times whenever we're on our way somewhere, but if he is he hasn't complained!

Something that adds to the foreignness: There doesn't appear to be strict zoning,
so you'll see residential and commercial buildings intermixed, even close to the city center. 

When we return to the U.S., I plan to have several of these architectural photos printed in large format to hang in our house. There's an almost vintage feel to some of them, but this is modern day Elista!


  1. Love the little blue cottage with the funky shutters...any more photos of it?

    1. I think that's the only one I took, but I can always go back! Are there specific details you want to see?

    2. The front door or entrance to the house.

    3. Entrances are always in gated courtyards rather than facing the street, so I don't think I'll be able to see it. Next time I walk that way I'll see what I can do, though!

  2. A+ on your architectural tour! (And photography!)

  3. You have a fine eye for detail, Mackenzie.

  4. I love these photos! When we were in Seoul, I was drawn to small details like these: manhole covers, pavers, intricate fencing and public garbage can "frames" that were practically sculptures. I would like to see more of this in the USA.
    - Jennifer (I don't know how to make this show my name)