As the capital of the Russian Federation and formerly of the Soviet Union, Moscow is an iconic city in Europe. It is steeped in tradition and history and a trip to this infamous city will not be soon forgotten. From architectural icons to a rich cultural heritage, Moscow should not intimidate travelers but rather invite them to experience the Russia of yesteryear alongside a vibrant modern city. Keep in mind that winters here can be harsh and cold, so if you want to avoid inclement weather, spring and summer may be the best times to travel. However, at any time of the year, 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 themselves due to their beautiful architecture and decoration. Keep in mind, though, that most signs are in Russian, so you’ll want to have your travel guide with you to help you navigate where you are and where you need to be. Whether you are flying into Moscow or traveling from another European city, traveling to the city is easy due to the fact that it is a major travel hub for trains and planes. As you explore all that Moscow has to offer, consider including these must-sees during your travels.
This is by far the number one attraction for Moscow visitors and one of the most famous addresses in the world. Here you’ll find the Kremlin and St. Basil’s Cathedral, the colorful storybook architectural icon that is probably Moscow’s most recognizable landmark. The huge cathedral was built in the mid-16th century and is a must-see. Also, don’t miss the Lenin Mausoleum, believed to be the resting place of the famous leader Vladimir Lenin, although many conspiracy theories have suspected that he is not actually buried there.
On the other side of the square you will see 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 today. There is the huge Grand Kremlin Palace, the Terem Palace and the Senate Building. There are several monuments, museums and clues to Russia’s communist past with several towers still marked with red stars. The Kremlin wall is also a must see. At the beginning of the 20th century, Red Square was primarily a cemetery for soldiers and remains so to this day, with the tradition of burying soldiers and officials next to the Kremlin wall.
The spiritual side of Moscow
For centuries, the separation of church and state in Russia was unheard of, so religious buildings were symbols of power and religion. This has led to a large number of architecturally beautiful churches and cathedrals throughout the city. The Cathedral of Christ Our Savior, the Kazan Cathedral and the Annunciation Cathedral, 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 in large part because it was a religious center that drew many people from all over Europe to live and worship there.
The Novodevichy Convent and its adjoining cemetery are also a must-see. Originally built in the 1500s, it also served as a fortress. The cemetery has some very famous Russians buried there, including Boris Yeltsin. However, the guide maps are only in Russian, so buying as many guide maps at the airport that are in English will probably come in handy during your travels.
Apart from the Kremlin museums, the Pushkin museum is probably the second most visited museum in the city. It houses a huge 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 through the streets
Moscow is home to the most billionaires per capita, which leads to certain extravagances, most of which involve shopping. If you have the means, you won’t be short of great shopping opportunities. If not, a stroll through some of Moscow’s most famous streets is an afternoon well spent. Tverskaya Ulitsa has been the main thoroughfare of Moscow since the Middle Ages. It is full of inns, restaurants, and historic buildings, including the prestigious Hotel Nacional. Ulitsa Varvarka is the oldest street in Moscow and is right next to Red Square, as well as Nikolskaya Ulitsa and the trendy Kuznetsky Most.
traveling with children
Children will undoubtedly enjoy the fairy tale aspect 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 a young traveler in tow. Older children can even enjoy a show at the famous Moscow ballet or opera.