Things To Do In Moscow
Russia is the largest country in the word. It is so huge that the entire country covers over six million square miles, borders 14 other countries, and crosses eight time zones of the Asian continent. The Red Square is in Moscow, Russia’s capital city. On its left are the onion-shaped and colorful domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral. On the right is the Kremlin, which was originally built as a fortress. The Kremlin served as the government headquarters under Communist rule.
When To Go:
Moscow has long, bitter winters and short summers. Snow can cover more than half the country for six months a year, making it difficult to take advantage of the many natural resources available here. These resources include large regions of farmland and reserves of timber, oil, coal, minerals, and natural gas.
The best time to visit the gold-domed city is during the months of April and May, when the temperature goes up to the high 50s and 60s, the sun starts to sparkle for noteworthy segments of the day, and lodging rates have yet to skyrocket into unaffordable ranges. Obviously, the brilliant period is summer, when the city is warm and bustling. Anyway, if you need to (marginally) save yourself from the never-ending extravagant rates, try a visit during the shoulder seasons in the spring and early fall. Ideally in spring, since fall brings more precipitation and less daylight. Winters are ruthlessly frosty, yet this is the point at which you'll get a genuine insight into the Moscow holiday experience.
These are the top things to do when in the city Moscow:
Red Square (Krasnaya Ploshchad)
Surrounded by the Kremlin, Lenin Mausoleum, GUM store and the Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed, the Red Square (Krasnaya Ploshchad) is really the heart of this city. If you are aware of the history of this country and this place, you will find the location brings an overwhelming mix of emotions. This is especially true if you are fortunate enough to attend a national event along with other spectators -- watching thousands of soldiers who march in and step up -- it feels like being transported in another time. It's indescribable how one may feel about the place and its timeless grandeur.
One of the ideal things to do in Moscow is to explore this famous landmark and its surrounding structures. First, you enter through an impressive double-arched entrance, then you cross a large square. You can take pictures if there are no scheduled rehearsal activities for the day. The left side is entirely occupied by the Gum department store, which is also nice to visit. In front of the shopping mall, the walls of the Kremlin occupy the whole right side. Just across from it is the imposing Basilica of St. Basil with its colorful domes.
At the center of the square, near the walls of the Kremlin, is the Lenin Mausoleum. Inside you will see the mummified body of the late Vladimir Lenin encased in a see-through and bulletproof sarcophagus. It is here where you will also understand his significant role as the revolutionary leader of Russia. A little trivia: The title of “Red Square” has nothing to do with the color of the buildings or with Communism, but simply means "beautiful place" in Russian translation. And indeed it is, especially at night when the whole place is illuminated.
Moscow Kremlin (Moskovsky Kreml)
It is worth admiring the structure and the excellent preservation of the Moscow Kremlin (Moskovsky Kreml). There are interesting exhibits (especially for those who love Russian history) shown here -- the Armory, Hall of Diamonds and cathedrals. There is a beautiful garden with an abundance of colorful flowers, fountains, and huge trees. Watch the changing of the guards, check the time on the giant clocks, and see the symbolic red star everywhere. It is one of the lovely symbols of Russia and Moscow that is wonderful to see both day and night. The lush vegetation provides a natural background to the landscape of Red Square and along the river. It is nice to walk around the perimeter that encloses the Kremlin, along with seeing the high strong walls of reddish-brown color. The walls and gardens that surround them are impeccably kept up, as is the walking path along the Moskva area.
Be in awe as you witness vast green spaces that are well manicured -- among which the perimeter of the walls and towers of red brick stand majestically, surrounded by the buildings of power that have mainly white and yellow color. See the cathedrals adorned with multicolored domes (onion-shaped); they are mostly painted externally with the soft colors of typically Russian blue and white that give them a charming look. A long walk, especially if the weather is favorable, is certainly recommended for those who wish to spend a couple of hours enjoying pleasant spaces, palaces, and churches. You can learn interesting stories from a historical perspective as well as appreciate the architectural marvels of Moscow city.
St. Basil’s Cathedral (Pokrovsky Sobor)
St. Basil’s Cathedral (Pokrovsky Sobor) is recognized as one of the most famous cathedrals in the world. It not only looks nice for the exterior colors, but especially for the frescoes, floral motifs, and various Russian icons that can be found inside. If you find yourself in Red Square near the Kremlin, you will definitely notice the magnificent Cathedral of St. Basil; it offers a special price for families ($11.00 for two adults and two children). The famous cathedral is situated within the four sides of the huge Red Square, and remains one of the few religious buildings that survived and was kept intact during the Communist regime.
It is an amazing piece of architecture and like many other Orthodox churches in Russia, it does not have a large central nave, but a union of small rooms for worship -- all painted and tastefully decorated. Inside you will discover a maze of chapels, towers, and a lot of sacred art that is truly enjoyable and colorful. At night it looks like a fairytale castle, especially when it is illuminated and the mosaic of colors makes it look more fabulous from the outside. The cathedral derived its name from a chapel dedicated to St. Basil whose remains are located inside the church.
The Armoury (Oruzheynaya Palata)
The Armory is a museum in which there are antique armors and various objects that comprise the treasure of the Tsars. You can admire precious religious icons and precious pottery. The museum also highlights the interesting history and evolution of the national costumes and the official vestments of the ruling Tsars during the previous eras. As you explore, you can see an exceptional collection that includes golden thrones, crown jewel collections, gold nuggets, jewelry, silverware, and the magnificent Fabergé eggs. A separate room is dedicated to the imperial carriages of various historical periods (from the early 1600’s up to 1900’s). Use the audio guide (available in different languages) when making a tour of the Armory to have a better understanding of every subject presented in this museum of Moscow’s national treasures.
The Armory is definitely worth a visit because its collections are very representative and heterogeneous. They successfully give a glimpse of how the life of the Tsars used to be. The museum also takes you on a historic journey back in time, particularly during the troubled 1917 revolution. It is highly recommended to hire a guide during a visit to better comprehend the scope of the museum and of the precious pieces kept and maintained by the Romanov family.
Tretyakov Gallery in Lavrushinsky Lane
At the Tretyakov Gallery in Lavrushinsky Lane, you will see many original works of Russian painters. You have to spend at least 2-3 hours to investigate all the pictures in the gallery. Absolutely not to be missed when in Moscow, this collection holds a wealth of icons, starting from the famous one by Andrei Rublev called “The Trinity” -- one of the great masterpieces of all time.
You can also admire the famous image of the Virgin of Vladimir; which is the most revered Orthodox icon -- Vladimir is considered the patron saint of Russia.
Additionally, there are several paintings of beautiful Russian landscapes. The museum also holds works from other world masters of art such as Picasso, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Matisse -- but is of course best known as the museum that contains the largest collection of Russian fine arts. This gallery is not far from the Red Square (about 15 minutes' walk away). You can even take photos inside (strictly no flash).
Tsarytsino Open-Air History and Architectural Museum
The Tsarytsino Open-Air History and Architectural Museum may be a little unknown, but is definitely worth a visit especially in summer. The building has a rich history and is wonderful to explore, along with the adjacent park and the large colored fountain. It is advisable to go here in the evening to enjoy a pleasant stroll along its paved walkways.
In the summer there are free open-air concerts and national events held within the park’s premises. It is a large and beautiful park with magnificent monuments, picnic groves, and a children’s playground. The classical museum houses an impressive collection of jewelry, old armor, ceramics, and a good slice of history.
Kolomenskoye Historical and Architectural Museum and Reserve
The Kolomenskoye Historical and Architectural Museum and Reserve is a well-maintained park and an architectural world heritage site of UNESCO. In good weather, you can admire the blue sky with white clouds that compliment the blue domes and white walls of the church Our Lady of Kazan -- what a magnificent spectacle! As for the Cathedral of the Ascension, it is just spectacular.
A wooden palace of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich, rebuilt a few years ago, can be found inside this architectural reserve and is in itself worth the trip. The religious structures are all within walking distance and taking photographs is allowed. It is an oasis of peace amid the hustle and bustle of Moscow City. To reach this attraction, take the Electrocar (15 minutes by subway from the Kremlin, plus another 15 minutes of walking to the main attractions of the park).
Orlov Paleontology Museum
The Orlov Paleontology Museum holds a large number of paleontological exhibits, some of which can be touched. Interestingly, tourists come here not only for the content but also the history and architecture of the museum building itself. In addition, it has a great location (with secure parking), and after a visit, you can go for a walk on a beautiful country estate right across from this museum.
There is a lot of information about dinosaurs, biology, and ancient history. It also holds many exhibits of ancient fossils, mollusks, skeletal dinosaur impressions, giant mammoths, various raptors and replicas of dinosaurs that dominate the huge hall of the museum.
Sparrow Hills (Vorobyovy Gory)
Anyone on their first trip to Moscow should go to Sparrow Hills to admire the capital city’s amazing panorama. At almost arm's length, you can see the main building of the Muscovites education -- the MSU (Lomonosov University) -- and other different points of the city.
Aside from providing an excellent overview of Moscow from the highest point of the city, it is also possible to take a walk in the park that will lead you to the Moskva River embankment. This place is famous as a meeting place for bikers. For couples, it is the best place for long romantic walks in the evening.
The Gorky Park is the famous attraction running along the Moskva River. Inside the park, you can admire the nice fountains and ponds where you can find various types of ducks and swans. The park is open 24 hours a day during the summer, when there are also organized concerts or other events. In the winter season, ice skating fans have a grand time as the park transforms into a huge skating rink (the largest in the world). This large amusement park situated in the heart of Moscow City is easily accessible via subway train ride or by the trolley bus from the city center.
Moscow City presents the ancient and modern sides of Russia in all of its corners. It covers all aspects of a powerful nation with a diverse political and historical past. As an eager spectator, you are faced with a variety of attractions and many options of things to do in a city that presents a lot of contrasts. Be dazzled by the colors of the Red Square and the domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral, reflect on the bravery of a great ruler at Lenin’s Mausoleum, and immerse yourself in thought at the imposing walls of the Kremlin. Then to lighten things up, shop to your heart’s content at the GUM department store or Boulevard Ring -- or just watch the day end while having a cup of tea and admiring the serene Moskva River.
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