As the capital of the Russian Federation and formerly the Soviet Union, Moscow is an iconic city in Europe. It is steeped in tradition and history and one trip to this infamous city will be one not soon forgotten. From architectural icons to rich cultural heritage, Moscow should not intimidate travelers but invite them to experience the Russia of old coupled with modern, vibrant city. Bear in mind that winters here can be bitter and cold so if you want to avoid harsh weather conditions, spring and summer might be the best times to travel. Any time of year though travelers can enjoy the extremely reliable metro system that services the entire city making it especially easy to get around and explore. The metro stations themselves are an attraction in and of themselves because of their beautiful architectures and décor. Beware though that most signs are in Russian so you will want your travel guide with you to help you navigate where you are and where you need to be. Whether you are flying in to Moscow or traveling from another European city, travel to the city is easy due to the fact that it is a major travel hub for trains and planes. While you are exploring all that Moscow has to offer, consider including these must-sees during your travels.
This is by far the number one attraction for visitors to Moscow and one of the world’s most famous addresses. Here you will find the Kremlin and St. Basil’s Cathedral, the colorful almost story book looking architectural icon that is probably Moscow’s most recognizable landmark. The massive cathedral was built in the mid-1500’s and is an absolute must-see. Also, don’t miss the Lenin mausoleum, thought to be the resting place of the famous leader, Vladimir Lenin, though many conspiracy theories have suspected that he is not really buried there.
Across the square you will the Kremlin, the seat of the Russian government. Originally a wooden fort built in the 14th century, it evolved over the centuries into the massive complex it is now. There is the huge Great Kremlin Palace, Terem Palace, and the Senate Building. There are several monuments, museums, and hints of Russia’s communist past with several towers still marked with the red stars. The Kremlin wall is also a must-see. In the early 20th century, Red Square was mostly a cemetery for soldiers and remains so to this day with a tradition to bury soldiers who officials next to the Kremlin wall.
Moscow’s Spiritual Side
For centuries, the separation of church and state in Russia was unheard of so religious buildings were symbols of power as well as religion. This has lead to a wealth of architecturally beautiful churches and cathedrals throughout the city. The Cathedral of Christ Our Saviour, Kazan Cathedral, and Cathedral of Annunciation that was once the private church of the Tzar family, just to name a few.
There are also several beautiful monasteries in and around Moscow. In medieval Russia, Moscow rose to power much because it was a religious center attracting many people from around Europe to live and worship there.
The Novodevichy Convent and its adjoining cemetery are also a must-see. Originally built in the 1500’s, it also served as a fortress. The cemetery has some very famous Russians buried there including Boris Yeltsin. The guide maps though are only in Russian so purchasing as many guide maps at the airport that are in English will probably serve you well during your travels.
Aside from the museums at the Kremlin the Pushkin museum is probably the city’s 2nd most visited museum. It houses a massive collection of priceless works of art. The Andrei Rublev Museum of Ancient Russian Art also has an interesting collection of very old artifacts and works of art.
Walking the Streets
Moscow is home to the most billionaires per capita leading to certain extravagances most of which include shopping. If you have the means, you will find no shortage of superb shopping opportunities. If not, a stroll down some of Moscow’s most famous streets is an afternoon well spent. Tverskaya Ulitsa has been Moscow’s main thoroughfare since the middle ages. It’s lined with inns, restaurants, and historical buildings including the prestigious National Hotel. Ulitsa Varvarka is the oldest street in Moscow and is just off Red Square as well as Nikolskaya Ulitsa and the trendy Kuznetsky Most.
Traveling with Kids
Kids will no doubt enjoy the fairy tale look of Moscow’s many palaces and churches allowing them to dream of kings and queens of the past. However there is much more to see and do with young traveler in tow. Older children might even enjoy a show at Moscow’s famous ballet or opera.