With a vibrant history, classic architecture, rich food, spectacular metro stations, beautiful ballet and a lively arts scene, you’re in for a splurge in Moscow
“Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma” – a quote by Winston Churchill is the best way one could have summed up this fascinating nation. Rightly said, Russia and its capital Moscow is full of mystery. Nestled among some of the world’s great buildings, architecture and roadways, Moscow is traditional yet cosmopolitan. On one side, we have the Kremlin and Lenin’s Mausoleum, which narrates the political history of the country, and on the other, we have religious sites like Cathedral of Christ the Savior and St. Basil’s Cathedral. Russian ballet and opera is also world famous and deserve a place in your list of must dos. While there’s a lot to see and do here, there are few things that you just have to do on a trip to the city.
Built in 1561, St. Basil’s Cathedral is a complex structure. The eight fairytale domes sit atop eight different chapels which are each set to a cardinal point. The chapels are connected together by open galleries which circle the largest tent-roofed chapel in the centre. It is one of the most iconic buildings in the world.
The Kremlin is another architecture that finds a place in most tourists list of must sees. Part museum and part government office, the area inside the Kremlin’s six metre thick walls is huge. However, there are few areas that are out of reach of tourists. Visitors are allowed to visit the ‘Cathedral Square’ in the Kremlin’s centre, the President’s official residences are out of bounds. Located north of Kremlin and to the southern end of St Basil’s Cathedral, Red Square is referred to by many Russians as being ‘the heart of Russia’. There are few squares in the world that can match the ‘wow’ factor of this square. Walking across its cobbled stones you are surrounded by an array of ancient and modern architecture, which testify to the country’s long and diverse history.
Once you’re done visiting the concrete structures, now it’s time to go in the nature’s lap. The city is is home to several green spaces and hosts multiple outdoor activities for adrenaline junkies. Be it the Kolomenskoye Park and Estate, or the popular picnic spot Tsaritsyno Park, or the city’s stylish green centre Gorky Park, nature lovers are never short of entertainment here. Follow this with a visit to Moscow’s most glamorous bathhouse, Sandunovsky Bani or take a guided tour to the Cold War Museum – Bunker 42 on Taganka, a former top secret Soviet nuclear bunker.
Shopping in Moscow goes beyond just exploring the niche and fashionable boutiques. The city is also home to lively markets, eclectic stores and vibrant shopping precincts where you’ll find everything you can think of. Head to Stoleshnikov Pereulok—a beautiful cobbled lane speckled with designer boutiques. Here you will be spoilt for choice with its wide range of accessories and apparels.
When it comes to international labels and design hubs, the GUM and TSUM shopping malls are the best in class. Tretyakovsky Proezd is ideal for buying in-vogue outfits that don’t burn a hole in your pocket. Vernissage at Izmailovo has the city’s best and largest selection of souvenirs and Russian crafts. The market is a great place to buy wooden crafts, such as Russian dolls, painted wooden crockery, festive decorations etc.
The Moscow metro is the easiest, quickest and cheapest way of getting around in the city. Carrying over seven million passengers a day, it is the second busiest subway system in the world. Over 305 kilometres of track make up the system which consists of 185 stations spread over 12 lines. Many of the stations are marble-faced, frescoed, gilded works of art; the reason why 44 of the stations are listed as cultural heritage sights.
Words by: Neil McGowan