Moscow, top things to see
Red Square is located in the center of Moscow, not far from the famous Kremlin Ensemble, opposite its western wall. It is surrounded by the buildings of the State Historical Museum, GUM (in Russian Glavnyj Universalnyj Magazin or the Main Department Store at the Soviet times) and St. Basil’s Cathedral. For many centuries, this open square has served as the site of the most important historical events in Russian and world’s history.
Red Square was founded at the end of the XV century when Tsar Ivan III ordered to demolish wooden buildings around the Kremlin to prevent numerous fires. Soon after that, a market under the western wall started to function. At first the square was called Torgovaya (Trading in Russian), then it was called the Trinity Square, because the Church of the Holy Trinity was built in its southern part. The square got its current name in the XVII century.
In the 1555-1560s, instead of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Russian architects Barma and Postnik designed St. Basil’s Cathedral.
At the end of the XVII century, Red Square played a huge role in social and political life of Moscow and all of Russia. In 1697 the Mint was opened and in 1699, the Zemstvo Department. Later, the building of the Main Pharmacy was done, where the Moscow University was located.
In 1786, shopping galleries were constructed opposite the Kremlin Wall according to Giacomo Quarenghi’s project.
At the end of the XIX century, instead of the Zemstvo Department, a Historical museum was opened, the galleries upstairs, where GUM is now located, were also rebuilt in pseudo-Russian style to set a harmony with the towers and walls of the Kremlin.
The last stage of the formation of the ensemble of the square was associated with the Soviet era. Red Square, like the Kremlin, became a symbol of the new government, and its name was associated with the Socialist Revolution. Since 1918, the square has served as a place for military parades and demonstrations. One of the most famous parades was held here on June 24, 1945 when all people of Soviet Union and the world celebrated the victory over the fascism in World War II.
In 1924, a mausoleum was built, which became the grave of Vladimir Lenin. Blue fir trees were planted along the Kremlin wall and the covering of the square was changed from boulders to cobblestones.
As for the fate of Lenin’s mausoleum with the advent of the perestroika era, disputes begin about whether it could be a more logical, wise and humanistic decision that could put an end to the contradictory and tragic history of the Soviet era in Russia – to finally bury Lenin’s body. The discussions have not come to an end yet.
Red Square remains” The “Heart” of Russia, the main square of Moscow and Russia.
Every year, on May 9, a miltary parade dedicated to the Victory in World War II is still held on Red Square and on June 12, Russia’s National Day from the square you can have the best view on a fascinating fireworks.
The Moscow Kremlin is located in the very center of the capital and is a monument of big cultural and historical value serving as a symbol of the whole of Russia.
Russian tsars’ ancient palaces, museums with treasures of the Russian monarchy, legendary churches, and the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation are located on the territory of the Kremlin.
In the old Russian language the word “Kremlin” was used to refer to the part surrounded by a wall in the center of the city. At first the Kremlin was a wooden building.
Under Ivan III who was the first ruler appointed as the Grand Duke of All Russia the entire Kremlin ensemble was built of stone. Ivan III invited not only Russian architects but also foreigners primarily from Italy.
In 1475-1479, the Italian architect Aristotle Fioravanti rebuilt the old Assumption Cathedral according to his own design. Opposite this cathedral, another Italian architect Aloysius Novy designed the Archangel Cathedral. The palace of Ivan III was built in the western part of the Cathedral Square. The Faceted Chamber created by Marco Fryazin and Pietro Antonio Solari in 1487-1491, served as a throne room.
In 1485-1495, Italian craftsmen build new walls of the Kremlin, crenellated and with towers. In 1505-1508, architect Bon Fryazin built the bell tower of Ivan the Great, so that the ensemble of Cathedral Square was crowned with this architectural gem. The most important ceremonies like awardings are usually celebrated on the square.
In 1547 the Grand Duke of Russia Ivan IV Rurikovich (known as Ivan the Terrible) officially assumed the title of Tsar. Since then the Kremlin has been considered the residence of the Russian tsars. In 1555-1561, the Cathedral of the Virgin Mary was built in memory of the conquest of Kazan Khanate by Tsar Ivan IV. Now it is called St. Basil’s Cathedral. It was constructed outside the walls of the Kremlin, near the Spassky Gate, where another center of Moscow was formed, the famous Red Square.
The XVIII century opened a new page in the history of the Kremlin with a terrible fire. Instead of the lost buildings, Tsar Peter the Great ordered to found an Arsenal or the Armoury Chamber. Opposite the Armory so called the Tsar-cannon, cast by the Russian master Andrey Chokhov in 1586, was placed. It has the world largest caliber at that time. In 1735, the gun carriage and the decorative cast-iron bullets were added to the cannon. Today the Tsar-cannon stands on a pedestal near the Church of the Twelve Apostles.
Another curiosity of the Kremlin, the Tsar Bell, was cast in 1733-1735 by the family of Russian masters Matorin. The bell cracked during a fire in 1737 and lost 700 «poods» (an old Russian measure of weight equal to 16.3 kg). Now it stands near the bell tower of Ivan the Terrible
In the war of 1812 against Napoleon Moscow was conquered by French army, looted and burned, and the Kremlin suffered greatly. After the end of the war, carefully rebuilt the walls and towers of the Kremlin were carefully rebuilt, the same as the Armory, the Asuncion Tower and the Pavilion of the Filaret Bell Tower of Ivan the Great. In 1814, the Armory as a museum opened its doors to the public.
At the turn of the XIX – XX centuries, the Kremlin was considered a real monument of the history and culture of Russia and the idea arose to found a large museum, but the Great October Revolution prevented these plans in 1917.
In March 1918, the first Soviet government moved to Moscow and occupied the Kremlin. Therefore, it was closed to visitors. In 1935, the double-headed eagle was removed from the Kremlin towers, and in 1937, Ruby stars were placed on each of the five towers (dimensions 3-3.75 meters).
Since 1955, the Kremlin has been open to the public. In 1961, the State Kremlin Palace was built instead of the first Armoury building (near the Trinity Gate). In the 1970s and 1980s, unique reconstruction works took place, and in the 1990s the Kremlin was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
St. Basil Cathedral is one of the most famous monuments in the history of Russian architecture. Back in the XVI century, travelers admired the beauty of the temple, which for Russians was a true symbol of their native history and culture.
In 1554 the Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible ordered to build a consecrated Church under the protection of the Virgin Mary in memory of the victory the Russians over the Muslims of Kazan and Astrakhan. The chapels of the cathedral in their decoration reflect the glory of Russia and celebrate the victory over the Tatars. Then Saint Basil the Blessed, whose name the church inherited, was buried in one of the side altars of the cathedral.
According to the chronicles, the church was designed by Russian architects Postnik and Barma. There is a legend that when Ivan the Terrible saw the finished temple, he was so stunned that he ordered the architects to be blinded so that they could never repeat its beauty in any other construction.
St. Basil’s Cathedral is an ensemble of perfect symmetry and consists of eight chapels around the ninth, which is the highest. It is topped with a pyramidal roof. Each chapel is named after the patron saint of the day when this or that important battle took place during the conquest of Kazan. The main one is dedicated to the feast of the Intercession of the Virgin Mary. The Church of St. Basil attracts with its elegant appearance. Until the end of the XVII century, when Ivan the Great built the Kremlin Bell Tower, it was the tallest building in Moscow (60 meters).
St. Basil Cathedral has nine iconostases of 400 icons in total. The walls are decorated with paintings and frescoes of the XVI century.
After the revolution of 1917, the Church of St. Basil on Red Square in Moscow did not escape the fate of many other churches and cathedrals in Soviet times, since 1934 it was closed for worship and became a branch of the State Historical Museum in Moscow.
The treasury of the treasures of the Tsars, the famous Kremlin Armoury Chamber, is a part of the Great Kremlin Palace and is one of the most famous museums in Moscow.
The Armoury Chamber was created on the basis of the treasures of the tsars (from the family treasure of the princes of Moscow), mentioned in documents of the fourteenth century. It was founded by the Moscow prince Vasiliy III as a workshop where they produced and stored weapons and armor. Over the time it became the most important deposit of antiques of great historical and artistic value.
Numerous foreign ambassadors brought gifts of great value to the princes of Moscow: silver goblets, precious fabrics, armor, gala rigging for horses. Ivan III ordered the construction of a special two-story building inside the Kremlin intended to store the Tsars’ treasures, which had grown considerably. Different workshops like weapons’ workshops for example were located inside of the territory of the Armoury Chamber. Court craftsmen made gala weapons, combat weapons and armor; painters decorated the tsar’s palaces, cathedrals and churches in Moscow, painted icons and portraits of the nobility. The best and most gifted craftsmen from all over Russia came to work in the Moscow Kremlin workshops.
In the early 19th century, the Moscow Armoury Chamber became an imperial museum. The permanent exhibition opened only in 1814. In 1851 the new building for the Chamber was built on the banks of the Moskva River, it was a beautiful construction, designed in the traditional Russian style.
After the October Revolution of 1917 the Armoury Chamber’s collection has been replenished with the private collections brought from the devastated convents and temples. Since 1924 the Museum of Applied Arts was located there.
Now the only exposure to the Armory of the Kremlin enjoys world-wide fame and has about four thousand objects, which are a colossal collection of weapons of the tsars, European and Oriental gala-weapons of the XV-XIX centuries, military trophies of the time of Peter I, a collection of thrones and carriages of the sovereigns of Russia, gala rig for the horses, numerous gowns the Russian emperatrices, a collection of old clocks, gowns of members of the imperial family, a wide collection of orders and medals.
Among the particular pieces are the Cap of Monomachus, a chief relic of the Russian Grand Princes and Tsars. It is a symbol-crown of the Russian autocracy, and is the oldest of the “crowns” currently exhibited at the Imperial treasury section of the Kremlin Armoury (the great princes of Russia were crowned with this cap until the time of the reign of Peter I), the famous double throne on which the brothers, 15-year old Ivan V and 10-year old Peter (future Peter the Great) were crowned, the throne of Ivan the Terrible, 24 carriages including the summer carriage of Catherine II reminiscent of a gondola.
Since 1967, a permanent exhibition called the Diamond Fund has been located on the ground floor of the Chamber. Here on display you can see unique precious stones, big golden nuggets, masterpieces of world jewelry, among these the ancient coronation regalia that have great historical and artistic value.
The Diamond Fund is a Russian collection of jewelry exhibited in the building of the Moscow Kremlin Armory Public Museum.
The Diamond Fund is a unique collection of historical monuments, jewelry works, rare samples of precious stones, precious metals. It is one of the few treasures in the world that hold real imperial jewels and symbols of the imperial power.
The history of the Diamond Fund began in 1719 when Peter I signed the decree on the constitution of a special treasury to store gifts for the Tsars and gala jewels. According to that document, a special place was assigned to store objects of great state value, which was later called the Diamond Chamber (until the beginning of the twentieth century it was located in the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg). State gifts, insignia, and gala jewels worn by members of the tsar’s family on special occasions were accumulated there. The jewels were kept in a closed room with three closures, the keys of which were given to three officials specially appointed to open the treasury and take the Crown, the Orb and the Scepter, as well as other symbols of power and precious objects only for the most important state occasions.
In the course of the reign of the Romanov House the treasure was growing with jewels. In that period a multitude of different pieces and jewels richly decorated with precious stones were made. The Russian court stood out for its luxury and ostentatiousness, especially at the time of Elizabeth I and Catherine II. It was one of the brightest in Europe. The best jewelers worked at court, such as J. Pauzier, father and sons Duval, L. Pfisterer, G. Eckart. At that time the most privileged place among precious stones belonged to the diamond (the 18th century is usually called the diamond century).
The 20th century changed the fate of the Diamond Chamber. At the outbreak of World War I, all the jewels in the Diamond Chamber were evacuated from St. Petersburg which was too close to the border, taken to Moscow and placed in the Armory of the Kremlin. According to the evaluation made in 1915 the value of the jewels exceeded one billion rubles.
It is known that at the beginning of the October Revolution (October 1917) no country in the world, except Russia, had so many jewels stored in temples, museums, palaces and private collections. That is probably why in 1919 an expert commission was formed to select and evaluate the pieces of the tsars ‘ treasure, and then sell them abroad. In 1923, part of the Russian crown jewels appeared in the markets of Amsterdam and Antwerp.
Most of the jewels were placed in the so-called Gokhran (Public Treasury), successor to the treasury of the tsars and it was called later the Diamond Fund. Until 1967 the Fund was closed to visitors. In 1967 the most valuable objects were exhibited in an exhibition dedicated to the 50 years of Soviet power. Theexhibition caused enormous interest which predetermined its fate, later it became permanent. In the second half of the twentieth century the collection was completed with jewelry of Soviet manufacture.
On December 25, 1812, the Russian Emperor Alexander I ordered to start the construction of a temple dedicated to Russia’s victory in the Patriotic War against the invasion of Napoleon in Moscow. But the first project was not accepted, and after 1825, the new Tsar Nicholas I entrusted the architect Konstantin Ton to be in charge of the new project.
Nicolas I also chose a new location on Volkhonka, which at that time was called Chertolye; the buildings located there were bought up and demolished, including the Alekseevsky Convent – a monument of the XVII century. There is a legend among the people that the abbess, dissatisfied with the demolition of historical buildings and the transfer of the Alekseevsky monastery, has cursed the builders and predicted that the cathedral will not stay more than 50 years. However, from the architectural point of view the construction site was chosen ideally: you can see this temple from anywhere in the city.
It took a bit more than 40 years (1839-1883) to build and decorate the cathedral. On May 26, 1883, the church was consecrated in the presence of Emperor Alexander III and his family.
The shape of the cathedral is similar to a cross. Contemporaries admired the cathedral and its size, it could accommodate up to 10 thousand people at once. The luxurious interiors of the cathedral were distinguished by paintings and ornaments made of semiprecious stones like labrador, porphyry, and many others. Well known Russian artists Vasilij Vereshagin, Vasilij Surikov, Ivan Kramskoy took part in the decoration of the cathedral.
The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was preserving its original appearance for 48 years, so legend of its curse was almost forgotten. But the temple did not conform to the principles of Soviet ideology, and Joseph Stalin ordered it to be demolished. The cathedral was exploded on December 5, 1931.
It was decided to build on this site a giant tower with a statue of Vladimir Lenin on its top – the Soviet Palace but the Second World War prevented these ambitious plans of Soviet leaders to become true. In 1958-1960’s, the moat of the foundation of the palace was converted into an outdoor swimming pool named “Moscow”. The pool existed for 30 years.
The time of Perestroika came, and in the 90s the idea to rebuild the cathedral arose. In July 1992, the President of the Russian Federation Boris Eltsin approved the reconstruction project and by 2000 (when Russia celebrated the millennium of Christianization), the reconstruction work was completed, and now you can admire one of the country’s beautiful cathedrals.
Novodevichy Convent is located in the southwest of Moscow, on the bank of the Moskva River. The ensemble of the monastery is known as a unique architectural monument of the XVI-XVII centuries.
The most impressive building of the convent is the Cathedral of Our Lady of Smolensk. This monumental five-domed temple was built in the style of the Moscow Baroque, decorated with paintings of the XVI-XVII centuries, rare icons of the XVI century and a five-row iconostasis.
In the XVI-XVII centuries, the convent served as a refuge or a prison for many women of the Tsars’ family who were forced to become nuns due to the political and personal ambitions of their husbands and brothers. For example, the widow of Ivan the Terrible’s eldest son lived here for more than 10 years. After the death of Tsar Feodor Ivanovich, his wife Irina Godunova left the world for this monastery, her brother Boris Godunov later became a Tsar. Peter the Great’s elder sister Sophia also spent her last days here. She was forced to take a vow, the same as the first wife of Peter I, Evdokia Lopukhina had done before.
The Novodevichy Convent has always been under the patronage of Russian sovereigns and owned large lands, so the nuns, who came from the nobility didn’t need to work.
In 1724, part of the monastery was given to a hospital for soldiers and officers of the Russian army and also an orphanage for girls.
During the Patriotic War of 1812 it was occupied by Napoleon’s troops, and, leaving it, the French wanted to put it on fire. However, the nuns managed to extinguish the wicks and save the convent.
In the XVI century, a cemetery was made on the territory of the convent for noble clerics, representatives of the Old Russian nobility, wives and sisters of the tsars. In the XIX century, heroes of the war with Napoleon, famous writers and historians were buried there.
After the Communist Revolution of 1917, it became a museum. Only in 1994 the religious function of the convent was restored, and since 1995 masses have been held here.
The Novodevichy Convent is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is considered one of the oldest and most beautiful monasteries in Russia. On August 10, 2024, the convent will celebrate its 500 years anniversary.
The Kolomenskoye museum is one of the most picturesque and popular places in Moscow. Since 1971 the Kolomenskoye estate became a National museum and the restoration works of its monuments, including the Ascension Church, Church of Our Lady of Kazan has begun. The wooden palace of Tsar Aleksey Mikhailovich, built in 1667-1671 and called by the contemporaries “the eighth wonder of the world”, was rebuilt according the original plans and opened to the public in 2010. Today it is called the Kolomenskoye Estate, Museum of History, Architecture and Nature.
The ancient village of Kolomenskoye is located in the southern part of Moscow and is the only place where they had created and kept for many centuries historical relics of Russia. Near the Kolomenskoye estate are the ruins of the oldest town of the region, Dyakovo Gorodishche which is more than 2.5 thousand years old.
Kolomenskoye was first mentioned in the chronicles of Prince Ivan Kalita in 1339. Since the 14th century it served as a summer residence of the Muscovite princes and later of the Russian tsars. Peter the Great spent his childhood here. Conquering the city of Azov in 1696 and winning the battle of Poltava in 1709, Peter the Great spent time in Kolomenskoye before triumphantly entering Moscow.
The original palace was dismantled 300 years ago by order of Tsarina Catherine II the Great, who had her own palace in the new capital of the Empire, St. Petersburg, and was unwilling to keep another residence. However, she ordered the plans of the building to be made and kept, thanks to that it was able to rebuilt later.
By the 19th century other buildings of Kolomenskoye were very old indeed and in 1860-1880 after partial restoration popular festivals and even bear fights were held here.
The architectural ensemble of Kolomenskoye has a lot of historical and cultural importance. It includes the Church of Ascension, Temple of St. George with bell tower, Church of The Beheading of John The Baptist in Dyakov, Church of Our Lady of Kazan, and of course, the main attraction, the wooden palace of Tsar Aleksey Mikhailovich.
The wooden palace was built in 1667-1671 by the order of Tsar Aleksey Mikhailovich (or Alexei I), second tsar of the Romanovs, the last dynasty that ruled Russia. Contemporaries called the palace “the eighth wonder of the world».
Aleksey Mikhailovich (Alexei I), known to his contemporaries by the nickname “Quiet”, endeavoured to build friendly relations with the European monarchs. Far from the European Renaissance and Baroque, the palace was built according to the medieval and colorful Russian wooden architecture, to the surprise and delight of Prussian, Dutch or French ambassadors already accustomed to stone buildings.
Ascension Cathedral is another gem of the ensemble, because it was the first domed religious building in Russia. The church was made in 1532 in honor of the anticipated birth of the son of Grand Prince Vasilii III. He was the future Tsar of Russia, known as Ivan the Terrible. It is possible that the church was built by the Italian architect Petrok Maly (Peter Franzen), who also built the walls of KitaI-Gorod. The temple of good proportions with arrow-shaped windows and high octahedral dome was predestined only to members of the Tsar family.
The State Tretyakov Gallery is an art gallery in Moscow, Russia, the foremost depository of Russian fine art in the world.
The gallery‘s history starts in 1856 when the Moscow merchant Pavel Mikhailovich Tretyakov acquired works by Russian artists of his day with the aim of creating a collection, which might later grow into a museum of national art. In 1892, Tretyakov presented his already famous collection of approximately 2,000 works (1,362 paintings, 526 drawings, and 9 sculptures) to the Russian nation. It was 13th on the list of most-visited art museums in the world in 2020.
The façade of the gallery building was designed by the painter Viktor Vasnetsov in a peculiar Russian fairy-tale style. It was built in 1902–04 to the south from the Moscow Kremlin. During the 20th century, the gallery expanded to several neighboring buildings, including the 17th-century church of St. Nicholas in Tolmachi.
The collection contains more than 130,000 exhibits, ranging from Theotokos of Vladimir and Andrei Rublev‘s Trinity to the monumental Composition VII by Wassily Kandinsky and the Black Square by Kazimir Malevich.
Today Zaryadye Park is a city landmark attracting tourists from all over the world, a symbol of modern Moscow. On the Park territory, the cultural heritage objects of the 16th century neighbor upon innovative architecture and high-tech attractions.
Originally this area got its name from the located “behind the rows” of retail shops – so called the Lower market behind the Moscow Kremlin, which stretched from the Moskva River to Varvarka along Moskvoretskaya Street.
The first mention of Zaryadye dates back to 1365, but settlements of merchant people appeared here already in the XII century. In the XVI—XVII centuries, Zaryadye was a fairly prestigious area that was inhabited by artisans, Russian and foreign merchants. Under Ivan the Terrible, a Mytny Yard, where a tax for using roads was collected, appeared on Varvarka Street in 1555, which included a complex of buildings, including an English courtyard, the oldest stone building in Moscow outside the Kremlin.
In the XIX century, the area was mainly built up with stone buildings, in which ordinary people settled – artisans, longshoremen who worked on the pier, merchants, clerks, inn-keepers.
In Soviet times, the territory of Zaryadye was allocated for the construction of the Rossiya Hotel, the largest hotel in the world at that time. It started working in 1967, but by the 90s it became unprofitable and was closed and later demolished. The space of 13 hectares on the site with a rich history and the best panoramic views has become the largest wasteland and the most expensive piece of land in Moscow. For several years, there was a plan to build a new hotel complex on this site, until in 2012 Vladimir Putin proposed to organize a park on this site and five years later, in September 2017 the new park in the very center of Russian capital was opened.
The street of Arbat is located in the very center of Moscow and is one of the most famous streets of the capital. It can be said that it is one of the symbols of Moscow just like the Kremlin or the Red Square. Today what is called Arbat is a pedestrian street with the adjacent district.
Arbat street is one of the oldest in Moscow and its exotic name comes from the Arabic word “arbad” (“rabad”) which means “suburb”. Probably this word was brought to Moscow by Crimean Tartars or Arab merchants in the fifteenth century.
Initially Arbat was inhabited by merchants, but at the end of the eighteenth century it gained popularity among representatives of nobility. In the middle of the nineteenth century it became a place of prestige and fashion. The noblest and most powerful families preferred to build their mansions here. It was a quiet and safe district, where they built empire-style mansions and relatively small wooden houses with gardens and courtyards. In addition, doctors, lawyers, poets, writers and artists preferred to reside here. In due course Alexander Pushkin, Sergey Rakhmaninov, Alexander Skryabin, Nikolay Gogol, Lev Tolstoy, Mikhail Saltikov-Shchedrin, Anton Chekhov and Alexander Block stayed on this street.
At the end of the nineteenth century Arbat Street began to take its current appearance. Numerous trading houses, shops, theaters, restaurants were built here.
In the Soviet era, in the 1980s, Arbat became the pedestrian street with a lot of shops, cafes and places of street trade. Here one can see the numerous artists portraying pedestrians, singers, gift sellers. The Old Arbat is very popular, especially among tourists.
In Arbat there are memorial museums of Russian writers, picturesque old mansions with moldings, balconies and caryatids attract attention. The famous “Prague” restaurant, which opened its doors in 1872, is located on Arbat Street. Not far away is the world-famous Vakhtangov Drama Theatre. But the most important and attractive is the atmosphere of Arbat Street-artistic and fun.
The Moscow Metro is a serving Moscow, Rand the neighbouring Moscow region cities. Opened in 1935 with one 11-kilometre (6.8 mi) line and 13 stations, it was the first underground railway system in the Soviet Union. The system is mostly underground, with the deepest section 74 metres (243 ft) underground at the Park Pobedy station, one of the world’s deepest underground stations. It is the busiest metro system in Europe, and is considered a tourist attraction by itself.
The Moscow Metro opens at 05.25 a.m. and closes at 01.00 p.m. The exact opening time varies at different stations according to the arrival of the first train, but all stations simultaneously close their entrances at 01:00 for maintenance, and so do transfer corridors. The minimum interval between trains is 90 seconds during the morning and evening rush hours. As of 2017, the system had an average daily ridership of 6.99 million passengers. Free Wi-Fi has been available on all lines of the Moscow Metro since 2014.
The Moscow Metro is famous for the unique decoration of its stations similar to the real underground palaces with its walls lined with marble, bronze and granite sculptures, mosaics, stained glasses and lamps of rare shapes.
By 2010, 44 stations were recognized as objects of cultural heritage and more than 40 are architectural monuments. Among the most interesting in design and decoration are Ploschad Revolutsii (Revolution Square), Mayakovskaya, Novoslobodskaya, Komsomolskaya, Arbatskaya, Kievskaya, Teatralnaya, Dostoevskaya stations.
For the first time the idea of the subway in Moscow arose at the beginning of the 20th century, when the population of the city exceeded one million inhabitants. The construction project presented in 1902 was remarkable for the innovations of engineers, but it was not approved, first of all because of the resistance of the tram companies.
At the Soviet times, again the transportation problem arose and the first experimental tunnel was built in 1931. In 1932 construction began, which spent about 21% of the Moscow budget. The plans were great, but there was a lack of technical equipment and technologies. Thus only the propaganda and enthusiasm of the people allowed to finish the construction works. Youth from all over the country took part in underground construction.
The first Moscow subway line was opened on May 15, 1935,at 7 am. Moscovites waited all night to be the first passengers of this extraordinary novelty.
The stations were designed by the illustrious Soviet architects, the stations resembled palaces by being decorated with marble, granite, stained glass, paintings, majolica and even sculptural compositions.
During World War II, Moscow’s underground stations were used as anti-aircraft shelters by citizens. For example, in Kirovskaya station resided the General Council of the Red Army. After the war, subway stations did not seem so imposing and luxurious because cheap materials were used, such as reinforced concrete. But in the 1970s and 1980s each station was re-decorated according to a special design that was a matter of the country’s prestige.
As of 2021, the Moscow Metro, excluding the Moscow Central Circle, the Moscow Central Diameters and the Moscow Monorail, has 250 stations (287 with Moscow Central Circle) and its route length is 435.7 km (270.7 mi), making it the fifth-longest in the world and the longest outside China.
If you enjoy Soviet Russian history there is a museum in Moscow that is not to be missed. It is tightly connected with the name of Joseph Stalin, a Soviet leader from 1929 till 1953 and the times of Cold war between the US and Soviet Unioun.
Bunker was built between 1950-1956 by direct order of Stalin and was a top secret military object used until 1986 as a command center for strategic nuclear missile bombers of the Soviet Air Force.
Bunker is located 65 meters underground (corresponding to 18 floors) in the centre of Moscow, near Taganskaya metro station (Taganka district), just in 13 km from the Kremlin, and the location of the bunker was not accidental: it was assumed that in case of nuclear attack, Joseph Stalin would be able to quickly get from the Kremlin to the shelter and the facility would become a reliable place for the top officials of the Soviet Union to work and would be completely protected from all the damaging factors of a nuclear explosion.
The district where the bunker is hidden looks like a very typical Moscow place, with churches, old buildings and a metro station, since you can’t imagine that under the sidewalk is one of the best kept secrets of the Cold War. In order not to arouse suspicion, even the door of the shelter was built to look like an ordinary house.
The shelter was designed on an area of 7,000 square meters for a capacity of almost 3,000 people, equipped with food, fuel, air regeneration and purification systems and drinking water. All this was sufficient to ensure the survival of the personnel necessary to maintain the operation of the center for a long period of time.
By the way, this place was the center of operations during the 1962 “Missile Crisis” in Cuba.
With the end of the Cold War, because this bunker would not withstand the current nuclear strike due to the development of weapons technology, Bunker 42 and its equipment were simply abandoned, and the building was bought in 2006 by a company that restored this place and turned it into a museum, which is popular among visitors who wanted to touch the Soviet times history of Russia and to get more information about Cold war.
To get to the bunker, we can use the elevator or if you wish to go down the stairs to 18 floors. Underneath we will find 4 tunnels 9 meters diameter each. We can see firsthand how about 600 people could stay and live here, Stalin’s rooms and communication rooms, as it was in the past, because everything has been preserved despite the time.
We would like to warn you that if you have claustrophobia, the visit to this museum may be very frustrating for you, better to choose other options to explore Soviet era which are located outside.
Sergiev Posad, located 71 km from Moscow, is one of the towns that form the Golden Ring route, the popular route through the ancient lands of Russia. In these cities you can see the great variety of architectural monuments of the VII-XVII centuries.
Sergiev Posad, known since 1340, is a picturesque place, of truly Russian origin. It is famous for the imposing monastery-fortress-the Monastery of the Holy Trinity of St. Sergius. It is a center of great religious and cultural value and one of the centers of the Orthodox Church.
Its architectural ensemble consists of the tower and the walls of the ancient fortresses, the Trinity Cathedral, the Dukhovskaya Church, the Uspensky Cathedral, the hospitals with the Church of Zosima and Savvaty, the dining room, the residence of the tsars. Both Moscow Religious Academy and the Seminary are located at the territory of the monastery.
In 1340 the monk Sergius of Radonezh founded a wooden temple in the thickets of the forests of Russia and gradually this temple became the largest monastery in the country. Icon painters Andrey Rublev and Daniel Chorny decorated with frescoes the main monastery churh, the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity.
St. Sergius of Radonezh is one of the most venerated patrons of the Russian people, and his imperishable relics are stored in the cathedral. This holy place attracts many pilgrims and Orthodox believers.
Outside the monastery there is a small fair, where you can buy souvenirs, items from various workshops: matrioshka (wooden doll in Russian peasant dress, which contains other dolls of smaller size), lacquers and wooden toys, which are known as Trinity toys. According to legend the first wooden toy was made by St. Sergius. The saint carved the figures of birds and horses from the linden tree and gave them among the children, thus blessing them. Today Sergiyev Posad’s Toy Museum, which was moved from Moscow is also one of the town’s attractions.
The suburbs of Sergiev Posad are also very attractive and when you return from the city you can enjoy the Russian nature: quiet rivers, small villages and birch trees.
The famous New Jerusalem Resurrection Monastery is located in the city of Istra, about 40 kilometers northwest of Moscow.
Nikon, the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia (it is a title of the senior hierarch of the Russian Church) built it in 1656 as his personal residence in which he lived for eight years.
His goal was to recreate in Russia a complex of sacred places of the Promised Land . Nikon put a lot of effort into implementing his lifelong idea to create a complete replica of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and give Russians “the opportunity to contemplate the place of the passions and resurrections of Jesus without making very expensive and far from safe trips to the Middle East.”
Construction work continued after Nikon’s death as well. Patriarch Joachim consecrated the Cathedral of the Resurrection in 1685, and in 1686 the monastery received an endless concession letter confirming its property rights over farmland, forests and hunting grounds.
The names of neighboring villages were replaced by new, Evangelical ones, while a hill near the monastery was named Mount Tabor because of the similarity of its configuration with the Palestinian mount of the same name. Behind the gates of the monastery was the garden of Gethsemane (today it has been converted into a simple park with a museum of wooden architecture).
The architectural complex is located on the bank of the Istra River, although as it passes through here the river is called Jordan. It is interesting that normally this river is not covered with ice in winter thanks to many springs that are under its waters. Thus the believers take their baths of Epiphany.
The whole of the monastery is rounded be walls and several towers bear Biblical names, such as the tower of Gethsemane or the tower of Zion. The temple of the Resurrection is crowned with a very spectacular dome. The underground church of St. Constantine and St. Helena is connected to the temple of the Resurrection, and by its entity imitates the empty Tomb that is inside the rock in the temple of the original Holy Sepulchre. The entrance to the enclosure of the monastery is made through the Holy Door with the church above it.
The first major restoration in the Cathedral of the Resurrection took place from 1749 to 1759 after a major fire. Its interior was decorated with stucco molding designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli, the architect who created several world-famous buildings in St. Petersburg.
The monastery of New Jerusalem was one of the most visited pilgrimage sites in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. For example, aabout 35,000 pilgrims arrived here in 1913. The funds raised by the monastery helped to build inns and hotels for pilgrims of all estates.
A local «Sovet» of workers’ deputies issued a resolution to close the monastery in 1919 and nationalize its property. A museum of local tradition located in the same complex has a commemorative plaque in its archives that reads: “The Great Russian Revolution gave the Monastery and Cathedral of New Jerusalem to the people. It has ceased to fulfill the purposes of religious worship and has become a cultural monument of importance for all Russia.” The most precious and valuable objects in the sacristy of the monastery were transferred to the Armory Chamber of the Moscow Kremlin in the 1920s.
The New Jerusalem monastery complex became a scene of fierce combat actions in December 1941 during the Battle of Moscow, in the course of which Soviet troops thwarted the Wehrmacht assault on the city of Moscow. Many buildings in the complex were completely destroyed or severely damaged and the devastation data later became a part of the evidence at the Nuremberg Trials.
Restoration work on the complex began in the 1950s. At the initiative of Patriarch Alexis II a charitable foundation for the revival of the New Jerusalem monastery was established in October 2008. The restoration works were completed in 2016.