Moscow is a fascinating city, whose distinctive architecture reflects the stormy past that has characterized Russia over the years. Majestic cathedrals, stunning mediaeval fortifications, and sumptuous structures can all be seen in this intriguing city.
It is possible to find remnants of the Soviet Union in almost every corner of the city, among the famous monuments of Imperial Russia such as the fabled Red Square, the massive Kremlin, and the stunning St Basil’s Cathedral.
Discover a fascinating world of Cold War bunkers, golden-domed basilicas, world-class art museums, and the fabled “castle of the people,” as the Moscow Metro has been dubbed, as you journey around the city. Whether you’re interested in seeing a classic Russian ballet performance at the Bolshoi Theatre, perusing the fine arts at the Pushkin Museum, or marveling at the sheer scale of the monuments to the Soviet state’s achievements at the All-Russia Exhibition Centre, this small travel guide will assist you in your endeavors in Moscow.
Moscow, being the capital of one of the world’s most populous nations, is expected to be something spectacular, and it certainly does not disappoint. It’s a completely mad metropolis, full of raw and frenetic energy, where 80 percent of the country’s money and ten percent of its inhabitants are concentrated in one place. Moscow is both unpleasant and lovely, filthy wealthy and terribly poor, fast-paced and lethargic, stylish and kitschy – all at the same time. It is a city of contradictions.
Tip 1: Moscow Kremlin
The Kremlin (constructed between the 14th and 17th centuries by renowned Russian and foreign architects) has been inextricably tied to all of Russia’s most significant historical and political events from the 13th century. It served as the Great Prince’s palace as well as a religious center.
The Moscow Kremlin is the city’s oldest structure, and it is located in the physical and historical heart of the city. After being first mentioned in the Hypatian Chronicle in 1147 as a fortification erected on the left bank of the Moskva river by Yuri Dolgoruki, Prince of Suzdal, the Kremlin developed and grew with settlements and suburbs that were further surrounded by new fortifications as the city grew and developed. This resulted in the creation of a radial and circular layout for the center of Moscow, which is similar to that of many other Old Russian towns.
“Above the city is the Kremlin, above the Kremlin is only God,” goes a Russian proverb. Behind its thick government walls, the Kremlin has seen many rulers: Tsars, communists, presidents. Today it also partially opens its doors to visitors. Tourists have the opportunity to visit the magnificent churches and icons on the premises, as well as the armory with tsar’s crowns and golden carriages.
Tip 2: Red Square
It’s quite common to believe that Red Square was named for the city’s red brick buildings, or perhaps as a reference to the Communist government that ruled the country for the better part of the twentieth century, when you’re standing in Red Square and looking around at all the beautiful architecture. However, the Russian term for red – krasnaya – is quite close to the Russian word for beautiful – krasivaya – which was the original name for the plaza and was derived from the word for lovely.
It is located in the center of Moscow’s historic Old Town, in front of the eastern walls of the Kremlin, and is considered a landmark of the city with buildings such as St. Basil’s Cathedral, the Lenin Mausoleum and the GUM department store. It has also been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990.
A number of key events that have changed Russian history have taken place in and around Moscow’s picturesque Red Square over the course of many years.
Tip 3: Bolshoi Theatre
The Bolshoi Theatre, located in Moscow, Russia, is one of the most significant theatres in the world. In Russian, it is referred to as the Great Theatre. Its international recognition is tied to the dance and opera groups, which are among the oldest and most prestigious in the world, who have performed there. The Bolshoi Ballet, which has more than 200 dancers, is by far the biggest dance company in the world, and the Theatre’s Dance Academy is perhaps the most prestigious ballet school in the world, according to Dance Magazine. Tchaikovsky’s legendary Swan Lake, the best-known and most performed classical ballet of all time, had its world debut here on February 20, 1877, in front of a capacity audience.
The theatre was established in 1825, but it was destroyed by fire in 1853, and the Italian architect Alberto Cavos was tasked with restoring it nearly fully. He completed the project in 1856. The ultimate result is the magnificent neoclassical structure that stands before you today, with a huge portico supported by a single row of columns at its center.
The Bolshoi Theatre is a symbol of Russia for all time. It was awarded this honor due to the major contribution it made to the history of the Russian performing arts.
Tip 4: Tretyakov Gallery
This magnificent ancient edifice, which was formerly the residence of a noble family, serves as the home of the Tretyakov Gallery, which is one of Moscow’s most attractive museums. Painting artist Victor Vasnetsov created the spectacular façade, which was built to the building in the early 1900s and is based on a classic Russian fairytale style.
While the museum’s beginnings may be traced back to a private collection of a businessman named Pavel Mikhailovich Tretyakov in the mid-19th century, it has evolved through time and now comprises over 130,000 objects, having expanded into adjacent buildings.
It is possible to see such famous works of art as Andrei Rublev’s Trinity icon, The Appearance of Christ before the People by Alexander Ivanov, Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan by Ilya Repin
Tip 5: Novodevichy Convent
The Novodevichy Convent is one of the most beloved historical landmarks in Moscow, and it is a must-see for anybody visiting the city. Designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, it is one of the most beautiful monasteries in all of Russia.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, important boyar families and even the tsar’s family sent their daughters there. The monastery is located next to a small lake, which served as inspiration for Tchaikovsky’s famous Swan Lake ballet.
The Novodevichy Cemetery, which is located next to the convent and is the most renowned cemetery in Moscow, is where many important people from Russian history are buried, including former Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Chruschtschow, Molotow, Rubinstein, film director Sergei Eisenstein, and musician Dmitri Shostakovich, among others.
The five-domed cathedral is dedicated to the “Holy Mother of God of Smolensk”; it is the oldest building of the monastery. It was built in the first half of the 16th century by Italian architects. Its interior is decorated with frescoes of extraordinary beauty and golden symbols.