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Things to do in  Moscow

Welcome to Moscow

The capital of Russia, superstate and global superpower, does not disappoint. In Moscow, imitable architecture—think onion domes, candy-cane stripes, and imperial grandeur—competes for attention with Communist monuments and political powerhouses. Due to the complexity of its history, Moscow’s captivating historic center is best discovered on a guided sightseeing tour. Cover the vast Red Square (Krasnaya Ploschad), the trippy St. Basil’s Cathedral, the handsome mansions of Nikolskaya Street, and the Bolshoi Theatre. In-the-know travelers opt for early morning tours of the Moscow Kremlin—home to Faberge eggs, royal crowns, and opulent jewels—in order to avoid crowds; while first-time visitors typically select a Moscow metro tour, which reveals the opulent decor and statues peppered across the network’s 180 stations. The art and artifacts inside the Tretyakov Gallery, the Gulag History Museum, and the Kolomenskoye Museum and Reserve will wow culture connoisseurs; thrill seekers can shoot Soviet army weapons during a visit to the Central Shooting Club; and foodies can sample staples of Russian cuisine, including borsch (beetroot soup) and schnitzel (breaded meat) on a culinary tour. Popular day trips from Moscow include Suzdal and Vladimir, rural, medieval towns and UNESCO World Heritage sites; and Sergiev Posad, all part of Russia’s Golden Ring travel route. Plus, with St. Petersburg only a four-hour train or one-hour plane journey away, Moscow serves as a convenient gateway to the rest of the former USSR.

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Top 10 attractions in Moscow

Red Square (Krasnaya Ploshchad)
#1

Red Square (Krasnaya Ploshchad)

Red Square is the central square in Moscow, sitting just northeast of the famous Kremlin. Once a marketplace, over the years it has been the sight of public ceremonies and proclamations, the occasional coronation and during Soviet times, military parades. Together with the Kremlin, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990, one of the first sites in the Soviet Union to receive such designation. Today Red Square also serves as a major concert venue, with Paul McCartney, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Shakira, among stars who have performed in recent years. The main entrance to Red Square is through the Resurrection Gate, which was rebuilt in 1995 to copy the gate that was originally finished in 1680. At the center of the gateway stands a small chapel housing an icon known as the Iverian Virgin. It’s not uncommon to see crowds of people gathered around the chapel throughout the day....
Moscow Kremlin
#2

Moscow Kremlin

One of the most iconic sights in all of Russia, Moscow’s Kremlin is a massive fortress sitting along the banks of the Moskva River. First the seat of the Russian Grand Dukes, then the residence of the Romanov tsars and later home to Soviet leaders like Lenin and Stalin, the Kremlin today serves as the official residence of the president of the Russian Federation. Despite that, much of the complex is open to the public on a daily basis, including the bell tower, several cathedrals, the Patriarch’s Palace and the famous Armoury. Once the tallest building in Russia, the Ivan the Great Bell Tower offers great views around the city and the Assumption Cathedral, the Archangel’s Cathedral and the Annunciation Cathedral surrounding the Kremlin’s Cathedral Square offer visitors a glimpse into Russian religious life. The Armoury, though, is what will take your breath away, with its impressive collection of jewels, armor, weapons and ancient Russian relics....
St. Basil’s Cathedral (Pokrovsky Sobor)
#3

St. Basil’s Cathedral (Pokrovsky Sobor)

Completed in 1561 after it was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible, St. Basil’s Cathedral is one of the most recognizable and iconic landmarks in Moscow, and perhaps in all of Russia. Officially named Intercession Church, St. Basil and its nine, colorful onion domes reside on the southern end of Red Square, marking the geometric center of Moscow....
Cathedral of Christ the Savior (Khram Khrista Spasitelya)
#4

Cathedral of Christ the Savior (Khram Khrista Spasitelya)

The Christ the Savior Cathedral was originally commissioned by Tsar Alexander I after Russia’s defeat of Napoleon, but work did not begin on it until 1839. Designed by a famed St Petersburg architect, it was modeled on the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. The cathedral was eventually consecrated in 1883, but its tenure was short-lived as the Soviets destroyed it in 1931 to make way for what would have been a Grand Palace of Soviets. However, the palace was never built and instead a swimming pool stood in its place for several decades. In the mid-1990s, Moscow’s mayor joined with the Russian Orthodox Church to rebuild the cathedral and construction began in 1994. With donations from more than a million Moscow residents, the new church followed the original design, but with modern day improvements. At 103 meters tall, it is the tallest Orthodox church in the world and can accommodate nearly 10,000 church-goers....
GUM Department Store
#5

GUM Department Store

GUM is an abbreviation meaning “Main Universal Store”, from the Russian “Глáвный универсáльный магазѝн”. It is the name of a private shopping mall located in central Moscow, just opposite Red Square. The building is a trapezoidal shape, with a steel framework and a glass roof. This made it quite unique at the time of construction, in the 1890s. From 1890 to the 1920s, the Red Square GUM was known as the Upper Trading Rows and served as a State Department Store. It was built to replace the previous trading rows, which were destroyed during the 1812 Fire of Moscow. However, GUM hasn’t always served as a shopping destination. In 1928, Joseph Stalin converted it into office spaces, and it only reopened as a department store in 1953. It then became one of the only stores in the former Soviet Union not to suffer from consumer goods shortage, often resulting in long shopper queues spilling into Red Square....
Bolshoi Theatre
#6

Bolshoi Theatre

One of the best known theaters in the world, the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, traces its history back to 1776. This was when Empress Catherine the Great granted Prince Pyotr Urusov the privilege of maintaining theater performances of all kinds for a period of 10 years. The current Bolshoi building opened on the coronation day of Tsar Alexander II in 1856, and featured a six-tier auditorium decorated in crimson and gold that could seat up to 2,300 people. The Bolshoi recently re-opened in October 2011 after being closed for a six-year renovation project. The reconstruction and refurbishment of the theater’s main stage employed over 3,000 specialists at the theater each day, as well as an additional 1,000 in restoration workshops outside of the theater. The project not only restored the historical appearance of the theater, inside and out, but it also restored its legendary acoustics while adding state-of-the-art machinery and stage equipment....
Moscow Metro (Moskovskiy Metropoliten)
#7

Moscow Metro (Moskovskiy Metropoliten)

In Moscow, grand boulevards and massive buildings that seem to stretch for miles are the norm, but some of the city’s most impressive sites are actually found below the streets, in the underground metro system used that transports millions of residents each day. Moscow’s metro system is one of the busiest in the world and, at 190 miles (305kms) long with 185 stations, it’s also one of the largest. The stations aren’t just transit hubs – they’re a sort of free public art exhibit, and one that tells the history of the city in their design and decoration. The stations were designed so lavishly in the hopes that their beauty would inspire workers on their way to dreary jobs under Soviet rule. These ornate stations eventually became known as “the palaces of the people” for their extravagant architecture. Later, new stations were designed in a slightly more understated way, their appearance reflecting a more austere time in the city’s history....
Tverskaya Street (Ulitsa Tverskaya)
#8

Tverskaya Street (Ulitsa Tverskaya)

Tverskaya Street (Ulitsa Tverskaya) is Moscow’s version of Main Street, running uphill from near the north end of Red Square out toward St Petersburg. The street existed as early as the 12th century and connected Moscow with the cities of Tver and Novgorod....
Lenin's Mausoleum
#9

Lenin's Mausoleum

Lenin’s Mausoleum is the current resting place of Vladimir Lenin, the former leader of the Soviet Union. Lenin’s embalmed body has been on display since he passed away in 1924 and his tomb has been visited by millions. Located near Red Square in the center of Moscow, the tomb is a small granite building that features elements derived from ancient mausoleums such as the Step Pyramid in Egypt and the Tomb of Cyrus the Great in Iran. Although a bit morbid, a visit to Lenin’s Mausoleum is considered a must for visitors to Moscow....
Alexander Garden (Alexandrovsky Sad)
#10

Alexander Garden (Alexandrovsky Sad)

Just west of the Kremlin, the Alexander Garden was laid out between 1819 and 1823 in an effort by Tsar Alexander I to rebuild Moscow after the end of the Napoleonic Wars. One of the first urban public parks in Moscow, it was built on the site of the riverbed of the Neglinnaya River, which was channeled underground. The garden actually includes three separate gardens, which stretch all along the western wall of the Kremlin, but the Upper Garden is of most interest to visitors. It includes the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which contains the remains of a soldier killed in World War II. A faux ruined grotto was built underneath the Middle Arsenal Tower in 1841, and a large granite obelisk was erected in 1914 to celebrate the tercentenary of the Romanov dynasty. While it was originally engraved with the names of the Romanov tsars, the Bolsheviks re-carved it with names of socialist and communist philosophers and political leaders....

Trip ideas

Top Historical Sights in Moscow

Top Historical Sights in Moscow

How to Spend 3 Days in Moscow

How to Spend 3 Days in Moscow

Sergiev Posad Day Trips from Moscow

Sergiev Posad Day Trips from Moscow

Frequently Asked Questions