With Love From Moscow
With its name deriving from the Moskva River on which it sits, Moscow is a major political, economic, cultural and scientific centre, with great global influence due to its economic power and population. From world-class architecture to a wealth of history and culture, this city is one that every a traveller would like to visit in their lifetime.
While Moscow is big, you can explore historical centre by foot as it is converted into pedestrian-only streets! Combine walking with taking the metro and you’ll definitely take in a lot more than you would if you took taxis everywhere.
The Moscow Metro connects the city centre with the city outskirts; you can pretty much go everywhere. The metro opens at 6:00 AM and closes at 1:00 AM. I’d recommend downloading the Yandex Metro app that is also available in english and avoiding the metro during peak hours if you can.
The most beautiful and punctual underground in the world - The Moscow Metro - carries over 9 million passengers daily and is the 5th busiest system in the world. The metro line is a result of Joseph Stalin’s eagerness to show Communist Party’s power to the world. The Koltsevaya line features the most beautiful stations; to name a few must visits: Mayakovskaya, Prospekt, Arbatskaya, Kievskaya, Novoslobodskaya, Belorusskaya. Komsomolskaya metro station is one of the 44 stations (out of 200), on Unesco's list of cultural heritage. In each station you'll be welcomed by such diverse architectural movements as baroque, art deco or futurism, and face stained glass windows, marble columns, crystal chandeliers, gilded mosaics and painted scenes from Russian history. At Ploshchad Revolyutsii Station, it is considered that rubbing the nose of the frontier guard’s dog brings good luck.
Sat perfectly at Moscow’s very core, Red Square was formerly a market square and parade station of Soviet army.The square is where you’ll find many of the city’s most recognisable and significant relics including the iconic Saint Basil’s Cathedral. It was ordered by Ivan the Terrible to mark the 1552 capture of Kazan from Mongol forces and was completed in 1560. Legend has it that Ivan had the builders, Barma and Postnik Yakovlev blinded so that they could not create anything to compare. When built, the Cathedral was all white to match the white-stone Kremlin, and the onion domes were gold rather than multi-colored and patterned as they are today. For a time in the Soviet Union, there was talk of demolishing St. Basil's - mainly because it hindered Stalin's plans for massed parades on Red Square. It was only saved thanks to the courage of the architect Pyotr Baranovsky which in fact earned him five years in prison. The Cathedral today functions as a museum. A visit inside St Basil's small, intimate chapels may shock the visitors who are used to the vast open spaces of Western European cathedrals.
Kazan Cathedral, owes its modern appearance to a brilliant Soviet architect and restorer P. Baranovsky. The naryshkin baroque styled church was recreated in 1990–1993, so the modern building is, in fact, a brand new structure and not the 17th century church it seems to be at first glance.
The State History Museum has an enormous collection covering Russian history from the time of the Stone Age. The building, dating from the late 19th century, is itself an attraction – each room is in the style of a different period or region, some with beautiful interiors echoing old Russian churches.
Nikolskaya Tower, next to the museum had survived in its original look much longer than others. Its gate was an entrance to the boyars' estates and the Kremlin's monasteries in 16-17th centuries.
Standing outside the front of the State History Museum is Marshal Zhukov Monument. The statue of Zhukov trampling over Nazi banners, is the work of the well-known sculptor Vyacheslav Klykov.
The bronze plaque marking Kilometre Zero (Nulevoy Kilometr Goroda Moskvy) is located in the passage connecting Red Square and Manege Square, it is directly in front of Resurrection Gate (or Iberian Gate). There are in fact 2 legends, one that your wish will necessarily come true if you make it standing in the center of the plaque by throwing a coin over your shoulder, and two, that picking up the coins carrying negative energy may cause sickness.
The other red building right next door is the Museum of Patriotic War of 1812, telling Russia’s victory over Napoleon.
Opposite the Mausoleum of Vladimir Lenin – the founder of the Soviet Union whose body is embalmed and on display, stands GUM - State Department Store. Occupying a large part of the Red Square’s eastern side, the mall has the aspect of a royal palace or a large European station. Preserving the 19th century architectural style, it is structured on three stylish floors that are connected by bridges and topped with a glass roof. The site has been used for trading throughout history. In the Soviet Union, it was used as the headquarters for officials working on the first Five Year Plan. The top floor was home to Section 100, a secret clothing store only open to the highest echelons of the party.
The Kremlin and the Red Square, two of the most famous and momentous sites of Moscow are located right next to each other. The Moscow Kremlin is a massive complex housing the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation, four palaces, four cathedrals and the Kremlin Armoury Museum; the oldest museum in Moscow and home to 10 beautiful Faberge eggs in addition to Russian Imperial regalia and treasures of gold and silver. Alexandrovsky Garden, in front of the Kremlin walls is excellent to take a stroll and get down to some serious people watching as well as admire the sheer scale and immense size of the Kremlin walls and towers. The biggest essential sight of the garden is the tomb of the unknown soldier near to the entrance to Red Square. A high-kicking guard change ceremony takes place here every hour in front of the eternal flame.
The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour is a Russian Orthodox cathedral in Moscow, Russia, on the northern bank of the Moskva River, a few hundred meters southwest of the Kremlin. Entailing the destruction of the medieval Alekseevskiy Convent, the cathedral was originally commissioned after the defeat of Napoleon. Designed by Grand Kremlin Palace's architect, Konstantin Ton, its construction did not begin until 1839. When Stalin's project to turn the church into Palace of Soviets, was abandoned, the site turned over to become the world's largest open-air swimming pool, with a temperature of 27°C all year round. The result was a thick covering of fog that shrouded a number of gruesome deaths and murders. An ambitious attempt to resurrect the cathedral for $360-million was completed in 2000.
As you head west from Red Square along the Moskva river, you will no doubt spot a rather prominent statue – the monument of Russian Tsar Peter the Great. The statue was created by Russian-Georgian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli in 1997 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the establishment of the Russian navy. It stands at 98 metres tall, taller than the Statue of Liberty in New York, and weighs over 1000 tonnes. Peter the Great famously disliked the city of Moscow, even going as far as building a new capital, St Petersburg, over 600km away. Rumour has it that the statue was not meant to be Peter the Great at all, but was designed as a monument to Christopher Columbus. However, Tsereteli couldn’t find any city with a connection to Christopher Columbus willing to take it. So instead, he turned to mayor of Moscow and Luzhkov rebranded the statue. Over the years the statue has been referred to as one of the world’s ugliest pieces of public art and has even been branded as “The Moscow Monster”.
Named after famous Russian and Soviet writer Maxim Gorky, Gorky Park is a large green space in the heart of built-up Moscow. Covering an area of 300 acres and sitting side-by-side with the Moskva River, the park was redeveloped in 2011 and houses a range of attractions from an incredible viewing point to a ferris wheel.
For a ‘sparrow’ eye view of Moscow, go up to Sparrow Hill (nothing to do with the somewhat disappointing movie "Red Sparrow") also called Lenin Hills. Located on the right bank of Moskva River, Sparrow Hill is one of the highest points in Moscow and offers spectacular, panoramic views of the entire city.
Another delightful way to explore the city of Moscow, albeit from a distance, is by taking a Moskva River cruise.
Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery is a world heritage site, counting among Moscow's top cultural attractions. The convent grounds include a majestic five-domed cathedral (containing some of the country's finest frescoes, as well as a large gilded iconostasis), a six-tier bell tower, a monastic cemetery, long coveted by prominent Muscovites as a prestigious place of burial, containing the tombs of Anton Chekov, Nikita Krushchev, Boris Yeltsin and Turkish patriotic writer Nazım Hikmet who died in exile.
Novodevichy Ponds Park in Moscow is home to Nancy Schön's children story “Give Way to Ducklings!”. In the story, one day the mother- duck decides to take her kids for a walk to the pond but she has to cross a busy street, and then a kind policeman Michael blockes the trafﬁc to make the duck family continue its way. The book was so popular with the young Americans that it was decided to perpetuate the story in bronze. And in 1991, during the formal visit of the USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev to the US, the heart-piercing bronze family captured the attention of Gorbachev’s wife who was taking a walk in the Boston Park with the ﬁrst lady of the USA Barbara Bush. During the return visit to Russia Barbara Bush presented the Muscovites with a copy of that sculpture — and just as in Boston, it was decided to locate the stature group in a green park with a pondlet. Ever since, the bronze ducks have become the Moscow sightseeing attraction.
For all the art, dance, and music lovers out there, Moscow is a treat. Russia is home to some of the hardest and most prestigious ballet schools in the world, while Russian classical music has been solidified for centuries by composers such as Tchaikovsky, Glinka,Rachmaninoff. If you’re looking to attend a ballet, I’d recommend checking out the Bolshoi Theatre, the Theatre of Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko, or the Kremlin Palace. For classical music, check out the Philharmonic Hall of Tchaikovsky or the Moscow Conservatory of Tchaikovsky. While some tickets are available online, it’s also worth checking the theatre’s site before the show for a last minute, second hand option. Don't miss the chance to witness the harmony of music, dance and the costumes. Don't forget to dress up!
Crowds of tourists take in Old Arbat for shopping, restaurants and entertainment venues. Do keep in mind, Moscow is an expensive city.
The golden Princess Turandot sits atop a fountain by the theater bearing Vakhtangov's name, where the milestone play is still performed.
For some inspiration b your visit, you can check out a movie called Stilyagi, which means ‘Hipsters’. It’s a musical comedy-drama, describing Russia – in particular Moscow – during the 1950s. It’s about youth and what it was like to live in Moscow back then.
It's your turn to go and see the city of Moscow. Tell me what you think of it once you do 😉
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