Amphibious Trilogies

Dragon slayer

It is the archangel St Michael that gives this city its name and who points to its religious origins. St Michael is a visible presence in the city’s history, a healer and warrior saint, defender against the snares of evil. He is a dragon slayer. Winged and bearing a sword, he soars above the world, as can be seen in historical paintings in the Regional Lore Museum but also in the city’s modern bureaucratic heraldic identity on its coat of arms.

Unlike Baroque and Romantic images, this urban flier is a different sort of dragon slayer, the beast invisible, his almost cartoon like figure in a red, white and blue combination, the colours of the national flag. His cap and tunic are bright blue, and on his sturdy set of legs he wears matching calf length boots. This emblematic figure flies above a modern polity and citizenry, but contemporary challenges are not shown, just a disoriented winged devil figure in black. St Michael is a survivor of godless twentieth century times. He rises again rises above the city streets in the shape of a new landmark, his dazzlingly bright cathedral.

The vast cathedral stands alongside the river and beside the official city port and its modernist maritime architecture shown also in the background on the 500 rouble note.

The domes shine brightly, passages between earth and heaven marked by glowing golden onion shapes.

Later light rain returns. The golden onions are rippled with water from above. The fresh water seeps below through the sandy earth and down the concrete ramparts into the river towards the salty sea.

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