Moscow is one of the most beautiful cities of the world. Tens of millions of people of different religions and ethnicities live here, side by side. Moscow, the capital of Russia, has celebrated its 869th anniversary and is getting ready for its birthday. The city’s architecture is a legacy of many epochs and a mixture of styles. The heritage of Tsarist Russia is present in a great number of old buildings, while the Stalin era left us monumental skyscrapers, the symbols of all kinds of former Soviet citizens’ achievements. The present day has contributed with more modern and high-tech architecture, adding even more variety to the city’s already patchy look with new business blocks of glass and concrete.
The Moscow Kremlin is rightfully considered the main attraction of Moscow, and indeed of all Russia. It has been the heart of the city since the times of the rule of the ancient Russian dukes. The Kremlin is the place where Moscow‘s history began. Throughout its history it has been reduced to ashes and rebuilt; it used to be wooden, white, and red. Its history is as old as Moscow itself. The Kremlin is not only an architectural monument and museum, but also contains the active residence of the President of Russia and the State Kremlin Palace, and the most important theatre and concert hall in Russia, where you can enjoy an amazing Russian ballet.
Red Square, the Kremlin with its towers, Lenin‘s Mausoleum, the Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed, and the monument to Minin and Posharsky, all are the symbols of Moscow, concentrated in a small area in the heart of the city. You can find them in geography textbooks and in Hollywood movies about Russia. Please note that all of them are open to the public. Near the northwestern wall of the Kremlin lies the Alexander Garden, the favorite walking place of Muscovites and a collection of monuments with the Eternal Flame burning in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Manezhnaya Square’s fountains make noise nearby and the neighboring massive Moscow Manege building always delights with interesting exhibitions. Next to it is the Okhotny Ryad underground shopping mall.
On anniversaries of the victory over fascism Red Square hosts military parades. A giant skating rink is set up there in winter, and on holidays the square becomes a venue for concerts or fairs. The Main Department Store of Moscow (GUM) is located on the square. It is Russia’s main department store and one of the most interesting structures in the architectural ensemble of the square.
In recent years many streets in the center of Moscow have become pedestrian-only. The most important of these streets is The Old Arbat. It turned pedestrian-only 30 years ago. It is worth taking a walk here. This street is considered the place where young non-mainstreamers gather. It is a venue for street artists and caricature painters. Abundant paintings, books, and traditional Russian souvenirs are available for purchase here.
It is easier to understand the dimensions of the city by looking at its map.
One could speak about the central part of Moscow infinitely, but at this point we will confine ourselves to a brief overview.
One should definitely visit the Tretyakov gallery, which holds the most famous art museums in the capital. It was founded by Pavel Tretyakov, a merchant and philanthropist, in the mid 19 century. Today it is a complex of eight museums; its main building is on Lavrushensky street. The second most important site is arguably the Tretyakov Gallery on Krymsky Val street.
Speaking about the building on Krymsky Val, it is impossible not to mention the Arts Park Museon, an open-air sculpture museum (over 700 items displayed), now a part of the Gorky Central Park.
The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, situated within walking distance from Kropotkinskaya metro station, contains the richest collection of works of art and archeological finds.
Next to this station is the newly rebuilt Cathedral of Christ the Savior, a structure of grandiose dimensions.
Let’s turn our eyes southeast. You see close to each other :
• The Ostankino TV tower with its observation deck at a height of 337 meters. The tower is open to visitors and offers tours. Tours include a visit to the museum and the opportunity to admire Moscow from the observation deck.
• Next to the Ostankino TV tower lies one of the estates of Count Sheremetiev (another estate and a park are located east of Moscow, in Kuskovo).
The Botanical Garden of the Academy of Sciences is the largest botanical garden in the city (it is worth noting that there are three botanical gardens in Moscow. A small, but very cozy Botanical Garden of Moscow State University, "Apothecary Garden", created by the order of Peter I is located near Prospekt Mira metro station, and the Botanical Garden of the Biological Department of Moscow University is within a 30 minute walk from the University metro station).
• The Exhibition of Economic Achievements (VDNKh) is an interesting place because of its architecture and the amusement park inside it. Atop the arch of the main entrance, built in the ancient Roman style, a tractor driver and a collective farm woman hold a wheat sheaf high above their heads. The Friendship of Peoples fountain amazes with its striking brilliance and dimensions. Numerous pavilions of the Exhibition are worth a visit. Not far from the northern entrance there is the famous statue by the architect Mukhina, The Worker and the Collective Farm Woman, which became the symbol of the Mosfilm Studios. The monument was renovated and put on a high pedestal (ten meters higher than the previous) with a museum and exhibition center inside. The biggest ice rink is set up in VDNKh in winter. Not far from the main entrance, outside VDNKh there is the Cosmonautics Museum.
In the southwest of the capital there are excellent views from the observation decks beside the building of Moscow State University and the Russian Academy of Sciences that let you take pictures of the beautiful views of the city or stargaze (for astronomy enthusiasts and romantics).
The Victory Park on Poklonnaya Hill often hosts different public events and is one of the country’s largest memorial complexes dedicated to the victory in the Great Patriotic War.
Nearby, on Kutuzovsky Avenue, there is Triumphal Arch, a copy of the arch on Tverskaya Zastava street, built to commemorate the victory in the War of 1812.
On Kutuzovsky Avenue there is a panorama called the Battle of Borodino, also dedicated to the War of 1812. It currently has three exhibitions.
What interesting things can you see in the south of Moscow?
• The Museum-Reserve Kolomenskoye features historical and architectural monuments, such as the Palace of the Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich from the 17th century, the museum of wooden architecture, the mysterious Golosov ravine (named after Veles, the Slavic deity of the underworld), festivals, and exhibitions and fairs, which take place here every month.
Tsaritsino Park, Museum and Reserve. This was opened after an extensive renovation. Be sure to visit Tsaritsynski palace. It was built in the 18th century by order of the Empress Catherine II, but didn’t become her residence.
If you like to walk in parks, take note of Izmailovo Park. The park is partially a developed recreation area, and the rest of the park is covered with a real forest, where hares, squirrels, and other small animals live.
In the eastern part of Moscow (and partially in the Moscow Oblast) there is a forest, the national park Losiny Ostrov (Moose Island) with the status of a natural reserve. It has its name for a reason: a lot of moose live on the reserve. There is even a moose research station. From time to time moose stray into the city, and police cars accompany them back to their habitat. It is a rare but interesting sight.
Over the past 10 years five major art zones or art-clusters have emerged in Moscow: Flakon, Vinzavod, Arma, Artplay and Red October. The premises of old idle factories have become attractive and convenient places for creative studios, designer shops, art galleries, trendy clubs, and bars. Spacious rooms with high ceilings and white brick walls look as if they are saturated with the spirit of free creativity. They gather representatives of Moscow’s bohemia under one roof.
The first sign of creativity was the premises of the Red October, a former factory located on Bolotny Island. There is a Red October Gallery, and a Center of Photography named after the Lumiere brothers. In the latter, in addition to three exhibition halls, there is a library with a lecture hall aimed at collecting all the best literature on photography from the past 80 years.
Beautiful views of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior and the Kremlin open from the island. All walking routes in the center of Moscow will certainly lead you here.
Speaking of Moscow, we cannot forget about the metro. The stations of the Moscow Metro, the so called underground palaces of Moscow, are notable for the magnificence of their entryways and underground halls. The underground complexes are decorated with statues, reliefs, and monumental and decorative compositions (paintings, mosaics, glass paintings and murals), created by the country's leading artists. 45 metro stations have been recognized as cultural heritage sites.
The stations at Mayakovskaya, Revolution Square (with 76 bronze sculptures by Manizer), Kropotkinskaya, Komsomolskaya-Circle (with mosaics by Korin), Novoslobodskaya, and others are among the most interesting monuments of architecture of the mid-20th century.
The system consists of 13 lines with a total length of 338.9 km (double-track basis), for which there are 203 stations. In fact, this information becomes outdated every month because more and more stations are being put into operation. New metro stations usually have a simplistic and concise interior design. In 2016 a new metro ring was commissioned. It was built on the site of the Moscow Circular Railway.
Book original guided tours to learn more about the Moscow metro first-hand. It is going to be noisy and crowded, but also very interesting.
Moscow is a vibrant and dynamic city. Life never stops here, not even for a second. Moscow amazes with its diversity and always charms travelers. Reading about this city is interesting, but, believe us, it is not enough. Moscow is something you should breathe and taste, feel the warmth of the ancient walls with your fingers, enjoy the visual splendor ... Come, explore and enjoy! You will love this city!