Whether you've been to Moscow before or are traveling for the very first time, there's always room for discoveries in this mighty city. Vast and overwhelming, multi-sided and so extremely diverse, it surprises visitors with its rich heritage, beauty and hospitality. Here is our list of top places not to miss on your unforgettable tour to Moscow
The Kremlin is located in the very heart of the capital and is definitely one of the oldest and most picturesque parts of Moscow. It is an ancient fortified building complex standing on the banks of the Moskva River. In fact, the city took its name from the river almost a 1000 years ago. The whole complex encompasses four majestic cathedrals, five palaces, the Kremlin Wall and the Kremlin towers. Some of the palaces are now amazing museums, such as the well-known Armory Chamber which is famous for weapons, jewelry and household objects of the tzars as well as the collection of fifty marvelous Faberge eggs. The Kremlin is an important cultural and architectural history sight, considered to be a true embodiment of magnificence and poverty of the country. What is more, it is still the current residence and executive office of the head of Russia, and is often used as a metonym to refer to the government of the Russian Federation. The complex of Moscow Kremlin was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990 and is a highlight of every tour of Russia's capital.
The Red Square
The Red Square is the oldest square in Moscow and is its main and central one. The name Red (Krasnaya) derives from another meaning of this Russian word beautiful. Located between the citadel of Kremlin and "Kitai-gorod" - a historic quarter of merchants, it is the starting point of the capital's major streets. For over 500 years the square has been the stage for political, social and historical changes and development of Russia. And its main buildings recall the solemn events that took place here. In the XVI century the Red Square was a site of execution, where Ivan the Terrible put prisoners to death, and where he later began the construction of the famous St. Basil's Cathedral as a repent of his cruel deeds. It was the location where Napoleon stayed with his army in 1912. From 1924 the Red Square complex was supplemented with Lenin's Mausoleum as a monument to the era of Communism. The Red Square (together with the Moscow Kremlin) was included to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1990. And today it is a grandstand for national celebrations and parades as well as a major tourist attraction. Visiting the Red Square is one of the most exciting experiences during tours to Moscow.
St. Basil's Cathedral
This gorgeous cathedral in the name of Saint Vasily the Blessed is considered the most emblematic architectural masterpiece symbolizing Russia. Located on the Red Square in Moscow, the colorful red-bricked beauty is its main precious decoration. Tsar Ivan the Terrible began its construction in 1552. Built in the XVI century the cathedral originally had eight chapels, the ninth was added in honor of Basil the Blessed. On the inside the church is a system of narrow corridors, joining perfectly asymmetrical towers, together forming a labyrinth within the cathedral space. The legend says that after the construction of the church was completed Tsar Ivan the Terrible was immensely excited and impressed by the cathedral's beauty. Surprisingly, he sentenced the architects to have their eyes put out. Such cruelty was applied so that the blind masters could never again build such a magnificent church. The St. Basil's Cathedral has no close analogues in the world and is definitely among the absolute must-visits in Moscow.
The State Tretyakov Gallery
By far the Tretyakov Gallery is the most important art gallery in Russia and it's fair to say that it is among the world's most renowned and prestigious ones. Its history goes back to 1856 when Pavel Tretyakov, a local wealthy merchant and art collector, created an exhibition of modern works by Russia's contemporary fine artists. The collection was first shown in the big hall of the Tretyakov's family house. Merely ten years later the "Moscow City Gallery of Tretyakov" was opened to visitors as a gift to the city of Moscow, its expositions encompassing more than 2,000 art works! Today the State Tretyakov Gallery is often referred to as "the treasury of national fine arts" for the reason that over 150,000 masterpieces are on display, representing every possible genre and the country's rich traditions. Exquisite sculptures, centuries-old icons, gorgeous paintings, some created by anonymous masters, others by world-known and admired names. Thus for those who highly appreciate art the Tretyakov Gallery is a great chance to see modern colorful canvases as well as the legacy of all generations of artists.
The Moscow Metro
The Moscow Metro is a huge underground world that not only provides its citizens with fast and comfortable travel about the city, but is also among the capital's most famous attractions. Many of the stations have become considerable landmarks and are protected by the Russian Federation as valuable cultural objects. Every one of the 177 stations has its own unique appearance. Paintings, monuments, bronze statues and mosaics of marble and stained glass were used in their decoration. The "Sokolnicheskaya" was the first metro railway line in the Soviet Union built as part of the capital's modernization program and opened for citizens in 1935. The beautiful almost luxury space of the first stations is often called "the underground palaces of Moscow" as they were carefully designed by the country's best architects and can be truly considered a museum. The concept and style of the stations mostly reflect Soviet values and ideology. For instance "Revolution Square", "Komsomolskaya" or the "Novoslobodskaya" are named standards of Soviet architecture of pre- and after-war periods, and were created as monuments in honor of the Soviet success in industrializing the country and as symbols of the pride and victory of the Russian nation.
The building of the Bolshoi Theater was founded in 1825 and has overcome many changes. The biggest theater in the capital traditionally stages opera and ballet, which have always been very significant arts for Russia, pleasing viewers each season with 3-4 new shows. Yet it must be noted that the Bolshoi theatrical and ballet collectives were established much earlier - in the late 1770's. Throughout the years of their existence they have gifted the world community many magnificent shows. Bolshoi's Ballet company is among the oldest and largest ones in the world with more than 200 dancers performing here today. What is more the Bolshoi Theater's orchestra is now an individual virtuoso ensemble that gives concerts of classical and modern symphonic music playing masterpieces created by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Verdi, and others both in the theater and on tours. The name "Bolshoi" has the meaning of "great" or "big", reflecting its importance for the Russian culture. Bolshoi steadily keeps the status of a world-class ballet and opera theater and is definitely worth visiting when in Moscow.
Situated in the outskirts of Moscow the Kuskovo Estate is a great example of typical Russian summer estate architecture. The complex was built in the XVIII century and was first owned by a Russian count Boris Sheremetev, who was a maven in arts. He turned the palace, park zone with ponds and pavilion buildings into a real masterpiece combining classicism and baroque styles. Although the palace was located a whole days travel from Moscow and had no guest rooms, the estate was an extremely popular place among Moscow's nobility. Balls were given here twice a week making Kuskovo a major entertainment site for the city's cream of society. In 1919 after the Revolution the edifice and its surrounding territories were turned into a museum of natural history and today it is a place where ceremonies, summer festivals and concerts are held. Apart from its beautiful buildings and park Kuskovo also encompasses the famous State Museum of Ceramics, which exhibits collections of fine porcelain and glass created by Empress Maria Fedorovna.
Although Moscow might seem like a huge bustling megalopolis it has it's own unique charm and inimitable beauty. Its vast expanses and awe-inspiring atmosphere are a memorable experience for all who travel to Russia's capital. We will be happy to plan your memorable Moscow vacation, feel free to contact our specialists.