Moscow served as Russia’s capital and has one of the best collections of architectural structures in the world. The Kremlin is a complex of palaces, cathedrals and walls.
Moscow has a huge number of museums as well displaying artworks from throughout the history of Russia. There is a grand display of priceless jewellery and state regalia in the Kremlin Armoury. The city’s nightlife is world famous and so is the shopping, symbolised by the GUM on the Red Square.
Cuisines from all over the world are available. Fast food joints like KFC, McDonald’s and others have their outlets. For local cuisine, there’s Russian Salad, Borscht (beef and cabbage soup), Blinis (Russian pancakes) and the famous Beef Stroganoff.
The city is served by a transit network which includes four international airports, nine railway terminals, numerous trams, a monorail system and one of the deepest underground rapid transit systems, the Moscow Metro, the fourth-largest in the world.
Not only one of the largest and most interesting museums in the world but also the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation, the Kremlin is the perfect place to begin your tour of Moscow.
For over 800 years, it has been a symbol of two imperial cultures, of medieval Muscovy and of the Soviet Union, a mix of affluence and secrecy. Two-thirds of the Kremlin is barred to visitors but the remaining one-third contains enough riches to occupy several days of sightseeing.
Although there is evidence of human habitation on the site of the Kremlin dating back to 500 BC, Moscow’s history really begins around 1147 when Yuri Dolgoruky, Grand Duke of Kiev, built a wooden fort at the point where the Neglina and Moskva rivers converge. Despite being razed by the Mongols in 1208, its power was acknowledged in 1326 when the seat of the Russian Orthodox Church moved there from Vladimir.
Under Ivan the Great (1462-1505), the Kremlin became the centre of a unified Russian state and this period saw the construction of the magnificent Cathedrals of the Assumption, the Annunciation and the Archangel, and the Russian Terem Palace, the royal residence. The addition of Ivan the Great Bell Tower completed Sobornaya Square and added to the imposing effect of the Kremlin skyline.
Ivan’s descendants further developed and adapted the Kremlin complex and, even when Peter the Great moved the capital to St Petersburg, Russia’s rulers continued to leave their mark on the town.
After the 1917 Revolution, the Kremlin regained its rightful place as the seat of the Russian government. The legacy of the Communist era is still visible in the large red stars that top many of the defensive towers and in the vast modern State Kremlin Palace, originally the Palace of Congresses.
Red Square, heart and soul of Russia, started as a shanty town of wooden huts beneath the Kremlin walls that were home to peddlers, criminals and drunks. It was cleared at the end of the 1400s but remained the province of the mob, the site of public executions and rabble-rousing.
Red Square came into its own in the 20th century. It was famous for military parades to demonstrate the might of the Soviet armed forces to the world. Since perestroika, the Red Square is used for holding rock concerts, classical music performances and events such as fashion shows, a huge firework display and street parties.
Moscow’s cathedrals, dating from the Middle Ages to the present day, are in different styles but are all grandiose and awe-inspiring.
Cathedral of Christ the Saviour is a prestigious project of the 1990s as this resurrected cathedral is an impressive symbol of post-Soviet Russia.
St. Basils Cathedral, recently renovated, is a landmark with its onion domes.
Kazan Cathedral, dwarfed by its Red Square neighbours, makes up in charm for what it lacks in scale.
Cathedral of the Annunciation in Moscow, once the private church of the Czar’s family, this 15th-century cathedral is now a museum.
Cathedral of the Assumption is the oldest church in the Kremlin and the original centre of the Orthodox Church in Moscow.
Moscow has over 100 parks and gardens, the better-known ones being Gorky Park, Tsaritsyno and the Alexander Garden, with attractions ranging from medieval churches to funfair rides. The city’s majestic thoroughfares, leafy boulevards and ancient side streets tempt you to walk around the sights of the Russian capital. The Bolshoi is one of the greatest theatres in the world with its own traditions and atmosphere. An evening at the Bolshoi really is an essential part of a visit to Moscow.