In September, thousands of military history fans flock to Borodino, to watch a re-enactment of one of the greatest battles ever fought by the Imperial Russian army. In September 1812, French and Russian forces clashed there in what became the bloodiest single battle of the Napoleonic Wars. But like Waterloo for the British, or Gettysburg for Americans, Borodino became a signature battle that had crushed Napoleon’s campaign in Russia.
Enthusiasts are drawn to reenactments by the button perfect uniforms, the neat formations firing at each other from close quarters, and the chivalry of officers from the period. Yuri Klepnikov, (photo) explains those who take part often lead very ordinary lives he has a day job as an office manager. But at Borodino field he is a hardy ranger. He found out about re-enactments more than 20 years ago, but his dream of taking part only came true eight years ago. “Nobody has ever made fun of me, my friends are intelligent enough to understand why I do this,” says Yuri.
Re-enactments are an expensive hobby. The tall hats, known as shakos, cost around $US 500. The uniform has a price tag of nearly $US 1,000. Even the sword knots can cost $US 100. To get fully kitted out, even as an infantry man of the lowest rank, can set you back more than $US 3,500 but for reenactment fans, it’s money well spent. They are back every year, wearing their uniforms, to re-live history once again.
Cost: 5000 rub
We are going to travel there on a train + a shuttle bus from the station to the event. It is a couple of kilometres walk, as no transport is allowed to come right to the place.