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Moscow

The city of Moscow gradually grew around the Moscow Kremlin, beginning in the 14th century. Later on it has become the country’s capital and the most heavily populated city in Russia. It’s iconic symbols such as Red Square and St.Basils are familiar to mostly everyone across the globe. Moscow is named after a river called “Moskva” or the Moscow-river and actually is located around the Moskva-river banks. Moscow is also referred to as “the white-stone city” and “the city on the seven hills”.

It’s home to the largest university building in the world – the Moscow State University, one of the “Seven Sisters” (a group of seven skyscrapers in Moscow designed in the Stalinist style). Moscow’s Russian State Library, founded in 1862, is the biggest in Europe and second biggest in the World after Library of Congress in USA.Historically, Moscow has a radial-ring layout: garden ring, boulevard ring, Moscow ring road, “the third ring” etc. It’s all about rings! Trains in Moscow metro run more regularly than in any other metro in the world. At peak times the interval between trains is just 1.5 minutes.

Book tour to Moscow

The Moscow Kremlin. There are about 20 kremlins in Russia, but when people hear the word “kremlin” they automatically think about Moscow’s seat of power which by the way is also the world’s largest medieval fortress. Initially the Kremlin fortress was wooden, but Dmitry Donskoi (ruler in 1359 – 1389) rebuilt its walls with limestone. Further on, limestone seemed fragile to Ivan III, so he rebuilt the Kremlin in 1485-1495 inviting a number of skilled Italian architects to do the job. They chose red brick to be the main material of the fortress walls and towers, giving it the look, we see today. The Kremlin has always been the tsar’s residence until Peter the Great’s reign: he had aspirations to found an entire city for himself, hence St.Petersburg was born.

In accordance with some historical records the walls of Moscow Kremlin were regularly painted white until relatively recent times. In 1947, under Stalin’s order the walls of the stronghold were painted the color of the Revolution and Communism, red.

The Kremlin opened its doors to the public in 1955 (for the second time, previously this was done by Nicholas II). Its museums were established in 1961 and the current director of these institutions is Yuri Gagarin’s daughter Elena. Since 1991, the Kremlin has been the residence of Russia’s president.

 

Things to see around the Kremlin

Red Square

Lying directly east of the Kremlin, Red Square is surrounded by some of the country’s most distinctive and important landmarks such as St. Basil’s, the Mausoleum, State Historical Museum and the famous chime-tower – the Spasskaya tower. Over the centuries, Red Square had the function of a central marketplace as well as a meeting place for the Muscovite and city-guests. Centuries ago the Russian tsars took to the platform to deliver their annual messages to the Russian people. Its “lobnoe mesto” –  a 13-meter-long stone platform – used to be a public execution spot. Nowadays Red Square is a place for much more peaceful events such as parades, concerts, Christmas fares and etc.

St.Basil Cathedral
Not to be confused with the Moscow Kremlin! The cathedral itself consists of ten separate churches, built on the common fundament. The Cathedral was built by the order of Ivan the Terrible and commemorates the capture of Kazan and Astrakhan. Initially architectural ensemble was represented by eight churches surrounding the ninth – central church of Intercession. The tenth church was erected a few years later, it was built over the grave of the loval saint Vasily (Basil) and now the whole place bears his name.

GUM Department Store

GUM is the main department store. Actually back in Soviet times the Moscow GUM was one of the many similarly-named stores operating in many other Soviet republics. Literally GUM stands for “Main Universal Store”. Nowadays it functions as a shopping mall. What makes it unique is the architecture style combining multilevel arcades linked by walkways, unusual façade, divided into several horizontal sections lined with granite, marble and limestone and the glass-roof which though looks quite light is capable of supporting snowfall accumulation. etc.

Christ the Savior Cathedral
The tallest Orthodox Christian church in the world and a true masterpiece of the architecture art. The current church is the second to stand on this site. The original church, built during the 19th century, took more than 40 years to build, was destroyed in 1931 on the order of Soviet leade Joseph Stalin. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the current church was rebuilt on the site between 1995 and 2000.

Lenin’s Mausoleum

Lenin’s Mausoleum.  It’s the resting place of the Father of the Revolution whose the embalmed body has been kept there for already more than 90 years. The mausoleum is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and popular tourist destination.

The Bolshoi Theater
On 28 March (17 according to the old style) 1776, Catherine II granted the prosecutor, Prince Pyotr Urusov, the “privilege” of “maintaining” theatre performances of all kinds, including masquerades, balls and other forms of entertainment, for a period of ten years. And it is from this date that Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre traces its on-going history as a symbol of Russia for all times.

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