Moscow13 things to do and see in Moscow and 3 not to do
According to various intellectuals, there is a single common thread uniting Tsarist, Communist and current Russia, dominated by the figure of Vladimir Putin. This fil rouge would never be dormant imperial vocation. And in fact, despite the political upheavals that have marked the history of the country, the Russia remains aimmense bicontinental nation, with one foot in Europe and the other in Asia. This feeling of grandeur is not just political. It is perceived in civil and religious architecture, infrastructure, transport and also in the tourism sector. The capital Moscow it is a perfect compendium of what we are saying. Just set foot in Red Square to realize the grandeur of one city alive all year round and at any time of day or night. Below we will try to tell the main attractions. Happy reading.
At the beginning we referred to the majesty of Moscow and the impossibility (unless you have a lot of time and money available) to visit all its points of interest. The Kremlin is the proven proof of this difficulty. In fact, there are so many things to see inside this fortified citadel that a week would probably not be enough to explore them all. Three cathedrals (Cathedral of the Dormition, of the Archangel Michael, of the Annunciation); two churches (Church of the Deposition of the Robe; Church of the Twelve Apostles); a gigantic one Armeria used as a museum; Palace of the Senate (residence of the Russian President); Patriarch's Palace; Poteshny Palace (Stalin's residence); the Bell tower of Ivan the Great and much, much more. In short, we are in heart of political power and at one time also religious of Russia. A place that is architecturally unparalleled. The reference is mainly to religious buildings with theirs very successful mix of Byzantine art and Italian Renaissance art. From the few hints made so far, it is clear that the best way to visit the Kremlin (UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990) is with the help of a guided tour. It is possible to book directly on the official website (www.kreml.ru, the English version is available) which should also be referred to for the opening hours and all the relevant historical-cultural insights.
2 Red Square
What has already been said for the Kremlin applies to Red Square. It is in these enormous spaces, in fact, that the whole Russian history. A bloody and glorious story at the same time. So just walk around the square, visit the Lenin's Mausoleum and the graves of the other Soviet leaders buried along the Kremlin wall (Stalin, Brezhnev etc.) is an absolutely unmissable experience. Also worth seeing Tower of the Savior, under whose huge clock Muscovites usually gather to celebrate the New Year, and the GUM, the beautiful shopping center located on the north-eastern side of the square. The structure, dating back to the late nineteenth century, for many years housed the State Department Stores and only since 2005 has been privatized, transforming itself into a temple of shopping and entertainment. Finally, separate mention for the wonderful St. Basil's Cathedral, which we will talk about in more detail in the next point.
3 St. Basil's Cathedral
At the southern end of the Red Square stands the Cathedral of San Basilio. To commission its construction in 1552 was the tsar Ivan IV to celebrate the victorious end ofsiege of Kazan. It is also said that Ivan The Terrible (this is the nickname of the sovereign) at the end of the construction of the church he blinded the architects who had worked on its construction to prevent them from equaling its size and ornaments elsewhere. Legends aside, it is a fact that this cathedral escaped wars, fires and revolutions over the centuries is a very powerful symbol, perhaps themost famous image of Russia in the world. And here we come to the spectacularity of its architectural forms. Well nine domes, each representing a different chapel, of which the main one (64 meters high) is that of the Church of the Intercession of the Holy Mother of God. In fact, this is also the official name of the Cathedral, and if it is better known instead under the title of Saint Basil the Blessed it is due to the subsequent construction of a chapel dedicated to the saint. An austere figure, bordering on madness, capable of catechizing even Ivan the Terrible who seems to have been very afraid of him. The other churches inside the Cathedral are: the Church of Saints Cyprian and Justina Church of the Holy Trinity and Church of the Lord's Entry into Jerusalem. Hence, a majestic and richly decorated building both inside and out. Above all, a building as spectacular as it is cumbersome, which the Soviet regime at one point even thought of getting rid of without, fortunately, ever following up. From 1990 the Cathedral of San Basilio is UNESCO World Heritage Site and its tour is an integral part of the circuit of the State Historical Museum. For more information (in English): Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed.
4 Bolshoi Theater
How to spend an authentically Muscovite evening? Definitely the Teatro Bolshoi, One of the most renowned temples of world classical ballet, is among the best options. It must be said, however, that buying tickets for a show is not always easy, unless you book online from the official website of the structure (see below). In any case, the theater deserves to be seen from the outside as well. The theater and the surrounding square, Teatralya ploschad, in which the Vitaly Fountain, the oldest in Moscow. The entrance to the Boshoi, on the other hand, is very recognizable due to the colonnade in neoclassical style surmounted by bronze quadriga of Apollo. In short, we are in the presence of one of the absolutely unmissable places in Moscow, easily reachable both by public transport (the metro stop has the same name as the square) and by walking Tverskaya ulitsa, the main Moscow artery leading from the Kremlin to Tverskoy, the most elegant district of the city. To find out about the Bolshoi program, buy a ticket online and learn more about the history of the theater, visit the place: www. bolshoi.ru (English version available).
5 Moscow Planetarium
At the beginning, we said that majesty is the true "figure" of Moscow and that this sense of grandeur pervades every social, cultural and tourist aspect of the city. The Planetarium it is further proof of this. We are a few kilometers from the Kremlin, in Presnya district, a residential area where historic buildings and trendy clubs alternate. Refurbished in 2011, the Planetarium is by far the main educational attraction of the Russian capital. An astronomical museum suitable for adults and children where technological gadgets of all kinds are available. To say: in the Great Hall of the Stars the Universarium M9, one of the most advanced night sky projection devices in the world, is available. In Small Roomon the other hand, it is possible to watch the Saturn Ride comfortably seated. Again: the Urania Museum, the Sky park, Lunarium and of course a restaurant and shopping area. In short, at the Moscow Planetarium you can learn while having fun and it is certainly an option to consider if you are traveling with children. Moreover in the area there is also the zoo, also this fresh from recent renovations that have made the environment more welcoming both for visitors and, above all, for the species housed. For more information on the Moscow Planetarium see the place: www.planetarium-moscow.ru (English version available).
6 Novodevichy convent and cemetery
UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004, the convent of the "New Virgins" (this is the meaning of "Novodevichy") is another unmissable stop of a visit to Moscow. The name apparently refers to the ancient practice of the Tatars of selling Russian women to Muslim harems, while its construction followed the Smolensk's military victory against the Lithuanians. To want its construction in 1524 was the Grand Prince Basil III even if it was Sofia Alekseevna Romanova, half-sister of Peter the Great, Regent of Russia during the Tsar's minority, to profoundly transform the places. Access to the convent is from Church of the Transfiguration, an example of Baroque-Muscovite from the end of the 600th century, while the main building of the convent is the Smolensk Cathedral, recognizable from a great distance due to its golden domes. The other element that dominates the sky line of the area is the bell tower built close to the eastern walls of the convent. 72 meters high, it signals the presence of the structure to visitors from a great distance. Convent, we said, architecturally shaped by Sofia Alekseevna Romanova who, ironically, was exiled inside by her brother Pietro. Not the only woman, actually. The same fate befell the first wife of the Tsar, Edvokiya Lupukhina who, at a certain point, was so alienated from her husband's favor that she was expelled to an even more remote area of Russia. The former tsarina had to wait for her nephew to ascend to the throne Peter II to be able to return to the city, right in the rooms of the convent where he had already lived. Convent complex of which the monumental cemetery. Inside are buried several prestigious personalities of Russian history. Among others, Nikita Khrushchev, architect of the denunciation of Stalin's crimes; Raissa Gorbachev, wife of the last President of the Soviet Union; is Boris Yeltsin, who instead was the first president of the country after the dissolution of the USSR.
7 Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts
The most important museum of foreign art in Moscow with a collection that ranges from Greco-Roman antiquity to European artists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, passing through numerous Egyptian, Italian and French finds. Don't miss the Priam's treasure, found in a bunker in Berlin in 1945 and at the center of a diplomatic dispute with Germany. In fact, when the latter requested its restitution, Russia objected that the stay in Moscow of the treasury was going to compensate for the war damages caused by the Nazi invasion. But, as mentioned, there is much more to see. To say, a room in the museum is dedicated to Michelangelo, as well as great prominence is given to XNUMXth century Dutch painting, especially Rembrandt's art. It is not over because the Pushkin Museum is also part of the European and American Art Gallery and Museum of Private Collections. In the first there is the best of European Impressionism and Post-Impressionism (Manet, Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh, Cezanne etc.); in the second, however, the best of Russian art of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
For opening hours see table.
|Main building||Tue, Wed, Sat and Sun: 11: 00-20: 00
Thu, Fri: 11: 00-21: 00
|European and American Art Gallery||Tue, Wed, Sat and Sun: 11: 00-20: 00
Thu, Fri: 11: 00-21: 00
|Museum of Private Collections||Wed, Sat, Sun: 12: 00-20: 00
Thu, Fri: 12: 00-21: 00
Mon, Tue closed
More information on the official website: www.arts-museum.ru (English version available).
8 Cathedral of Christ the Savior
Moscow's tourist identity is largely indebted to its political and religious history. The Cathedral of Christ the Savior is the emblem of this superimposition. The order to build the church was given, in fact, on December 25, 1812, exactly on the day when Napoleon's last soldiers abandoned the town, defeated. It was Alexander I. to want the construction of a Cathedral in honor of Christ the Savior as an imperishable symbol of the victory against the French troops. However, it was found that the site chosen for the location of the temple was not suitable and it was therefore necessary to find another solution to start the work. Works that began only in 1839 and ended over 40 years later, to be precise in 1881. The years between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were of intense religious activity. A pastoral action that, however, suffered an important setback after the October Revolution of 1917. It was above all Stalin to arrange the progressive marginalization of the Russian Orthodox Church, even going so far as to order the demolition of the cathedral. In its place, the Palace of the Soviet surmounted by a gigantic statue of Lenin. The project was not followed up but the Soviet regime did not give up on the replacement of the cathedral. And indeed, in its place, Khrushchev ordered the construction of the largest indoor swimming pool in the world. After the end of the USSR it was decided to rebuild the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. A very expensive operation, with the inevitable aftermath of controversy (considering the conditions in which most of the population lived), but which nevertheless saw the light in a race against time that ended in 1997, exactly 850 years after the founding of Moscow. A few hints, however essential to understand how important the recovery of religious identity in the construction of the new Russia.
For more information on the history of the Cathedral consult the place: www.xxc.ru (English version available).
9 Hill of the Sparrows
The belvedere of Vorobyovy Gory it is one of the classic stops on a Moscow tour. In truth, a lot depends on the time available and the weather conditions. If the visit of the city does not have limited times and if it is a beautiful day, making a stop on this hill is absolutely recommended. Declared Nature Reserve after the dissolution of the USSR, the site is best known with the topos of "Hill of the Sparrows". During the Soviet regime, however, it was called "Lenin's Hill" in honor of the architect of the October Revolution. Here Stalin built an observation platform which later became one of the main points of interest in the city. Not only for tourists, but also for Muscovites who often choose this place for classic wedding photos. The reason, we said it, is the splendid view of Moscow. The sky line ranges fromLomonosov State University (see photo), built close to the hill, up to Novodevichy convent and Cathedral of Christ the Savior previously recalled. To do!
10 Gorky Park
In a huge city like Moscow, there could certainly be a place to take refuge from the metropolitan chaos. This place is the Gorky Park or rather, according to the official name, a legacy of the long socialist season: "Central Park of Culture and Leisure". In short, in the Gorky Park in Moscow you really do everything: you relax, first of all, but whoever wants to can practice cycling, skating, beach volleyball, table tennis and dance. This of course in the summer. In winter, however, the prevailing sports become ice skating and cross country skiing. But that's not all because in addition to outdoor activities, the park hosts art exhibitions, cultural, musical, gastronomic and theatrical festivals. It is therefore evident that we are talking about a symbolic place of Moscow life, a meeting point for tourists and residents in every season of the year. To be seen!
11 Tretyakov Gallery
Those who are really interested in learning more about the Moscow genius loci cannot fail to pay a visit to the Tretyakov Gallery. In fact, this museum space houses thehe largest collection of Russian art from the Middle Ages to the works of Chagall and Kandinsky. The gallery is the result of a donation from the entrepreneur and philanthropist Pavel Tretyakov who, in 1892, donated his private collection to the city of Moscow, as well as the house and other properties. After the October Revolution, the gallery was nationalized and the collection expanded with other works expropriated from private individuals. In addition to the medieval sacred icons, great prominence is given to the so-called Russian realism. An artistic trend that begins before the Bolshevik revolution. Already in the last quarter of the nineteenth century various artists, especially painters, gave a social cut to the works represented by founding, from a certain point onwards, the movement of the Peredvizhniki. Among the aims of this avant-garde was the spread of art beyond the borders of St. Petersburg and Moscow, the two main cities of the nation. The mission was to raise, through art and aesthetics, the quality of life in the endless Russian countryside. The main protagonist of this current was Vasily Perov to which, not surprisingly, an entire room of the Tretyakov Gallery is dedicated.
Tretyakov Gallery which complies with the following orari di apertura:
|Tue, Wed, Sun||10:00
|Thu, Fri, Sat||10:00
For more information on prices, the history of the gallery and the countless artists hosted consult the Official site: www.tretyakovgallery.ru (English version available).
12 Moscow Metro Tour
There are so many things to do and see in a city like Moscow that those listed so far are sufficient only for a first approach to the places. First approach that cannot be separated from subway which, in addition to being by far the best means of transport among those available, it is itself a point of interest. The stations are many and they all stand on quite high levels of efficiency and decor. Some stops, however, also deserve from an artistic point of view. Marble, granite, stained glass windows, wall paintings, bright chandeliers, sculptures with the protagonists of the long socialist season constitute the architectural code of stations such as Mayakovskaya (where Stalin had his refuge during the Second World War); Belorusskaya; Novoslobodskaya; Kievskaya e Komsomolskaya. As for magnetic tickets, they are on sale at the ticket offices in the stations. Obviously, for the metro tour it is preferable to buy a multi-journey ticket. Finally, nothing prevents you from moving independently even if, as a type of experience, perhaps it is better to rely on an organized tour with a guide. To do!
13 The surroundings of Moscow
On a holiday in Moscow (provided, of course, longer than a weekend) it is good to dedicate a day to the classic as well trip out of town. The choices available are truly innumerable. Among the many we point out the two most popular. The first, the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius (UNESCO World Heritage Site), is located about 80 km from Moscow; the second is the town of Suzdal and it is more than 200 kilometers from the Russian capital. In both cases, we are talking about magnificent places. The Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius (see photo) is the center of Russian Orthodox spirituality. A place surrounded by a mystical aura to which it is good to adapt with appropriate behavior and clothing. Suzdal, on the other hand, is the heart of the so-called Gold ring, an itinerary of great tourist interest that touches a series of small and medium-sized cities north of Moscow. Suzdal's attractiveness is due to its own medieval architecture. Here too some buildings are under UNESCO protection, not to mention the Kremlin even older than the Muscovite one. Considering the distance from Moscow and the amount of things to see it is better to stay overnight on site at least one night.
1 Beware of pickpockets
Valid for Moscow the same precautions as any other world metropolis: do not run with a lot of cash; do not leave the bag unattended in crowded places; avoid carrying the wallet in the back pocket of the trousers; do not go too far into the suburbs, especially at night, etc. For the rest, however, Moscow is not only a safe city but, for some years now, it has multiplied its efforts to meet the needs of tourists. For this purpose the Tourist Police which you can contact in English for help in the most disparate situations: from road signs to the history of the city. So, don't worry. Moscow is a safe city waiting to be discovered!
2 Avoid smiling at strangers
Muscovites, but it can be extended to Russians in general, are very people sociable in private (Russian hospitality is proverbial) but reserved in public. It is therefore a good idea to avoid excessive sociability with strangers. Exhibiting informal behavior in the supermarket, in a restaurant and in any other public situation Muscovites do not particularly like. But woe to confuse this attitude with feelings of prejudice and closure. Only, to get to know someone you must first know them.
3 Watch out for the euro-ruble exchange at the airport
For Europeans the exchange rate euro ruble is favorable. However, this does not mean postponing commissions. For example, exchanging euros at a Russian airport is more inconvenient than at a bank. Of course, in this case you have to put the queue at the counter in advance but, with a little intelligence, it is an operation that you can avoid having to repeat frequently. Just get organized with a sufficient amount of rubles to face small expenses (drinks, souvenirs, various whims) while for everything else (restaurants, clubs, more demanding expenses) rely on your credit card (Visa and Mastercard circuits). To dispel any further uncertainty, it is good practice ask at the hotel reception where you are staying at which bank should you contact for the change.