Take a trip to Moscow
Any trip to Russia must include its imperial capital. Moscow is a city that combines spectacular monuments with a rich cultural life. These assets will not leave you indifferent. The city of the Tsars opens its doors to you starting with its historical center, dominated by legendary monuments and tourist sites. You will find in particular Lenin’s mausoleum, the Kremlin, the Red Square or the magical Basil the Blessed Cathedral. The exceptional and unusual aura of this city with its impressive palaces and numerous historical sites strikes us from the very first moment. A one-week stay will be too short to allow you to discover the modern side of the metropolis. To cross the city in all directions, to visit art galleries and exhibition centers such as the Pushkin Museum or the Tretyakov Gallery, to walk in one of its countless parks such as the fabulous Izmailovsky Gardens, there is nothing better than to take the Moskovsky metropoliten. This underground metro is probably the most beautiful in the world.
Tour guides in Moscow
Five ideas for guided tours in Moscow
St. Basil’s Cathedral
Symbol of an entire country, the construction of St. Basil’s Cathedral was ordered by Tsar Ivan IV, better known as Ivan the Terrible. Its construction began in 1555 to celebrate the capture of the fortress of Kazan. This Orthodox cathedral, with its sparkling colors, sits like a precious jewel south of Red Square. This building is a perfect example of medieval Russian architecture. Its resplendent facades with beautiful domes should not make you forget the interior of the building which is composed of 10 chapels on two levels. They are characterized by numerous small corridors and recesses that give a labyrinthine impression. A Moscow local guide will tell you a thousand legends about this basilica, including the one about how the great monarch Ivan the Terrible had the architects who built the basilica gouge their eyes out to make sure they never reproduced such a masterpiece anywhere else in the world.
The Kitai-Gorod Quarter
Once surrounded by walls, Kitai-Gorod is located in the center of the city, a stone’s throw from Red Square. Built in the 11th century, it was the site of the first merchants who later turned it into a commercial center. Entirely renovated in the 19th century, it quickly became a business district with a large number of Art Nouveau buildings. This area is surely the one that has suffered the least from the austere constructions of the Soviet era. This district lends itself to quiet visits far from the effervescence of the noisy streets of the capital. Let’s start our visit of the district by Varvarka street lined with a succession of churches and the very recent Zariadié park. This park offers sumptuous representations of the four ecosystems of the region: the plain, the forest, the steppe and the tundra. From the main axis, Ilinka Street is the best place to get a view of the Kremlin spires. Nikolskaya Street is entirely pedestrianized. It is a very commercial street with large luxury stores and beautiful buildings with neo-Russian influences on both sides of the street. The famous Bolshoi Theater is also located in the Kitai-Gorod district.
For an open-air outing in the heart of the Russian capital, head to Gorky Park. Located on the banks of the Moskva River, it was opened in 1928. The main entrance, decorated with white colonnades, is accessible via the Park Kultury metro station. Moscow residents have their own special meeting place. If you are not afraid of long walks, you can enjoy the 220 hectares of the park with its many gardens of different styles, recreation areas, sports areas, museums and restaurants. In winter, the lake and frozen ponds are home to an ice rink, while in summer, families come to picnic on the park’s large green lawns. Huge playgrounds welcome children like kings.
The Izmailovo Kremlin
Not to be confused with the Red Square Kremlin, the Izmailovo Kremlin is an atypical place in Moscow. This unusual place is a reconstruction of the Kremlin made from drawings representing the residences of the tsars of the 16th century. It consists of a mixture of art galleries, bars, restaurants and stores. As for museums, you can choose between the toy museum, the museum of traditional costumes, the bell museum, the museum of tales and legends and the museum of the history of vodka. The Izmailovo Kremlin attracts tourists primarily for its huge flea market, a real Ali Baba’s cave where you will find a profusion of objects and antiques from the most kitsch to the most unexpected. Its two multicolored wooden buildings give it the appearance of a castle worthy of an old Disneyland.
The Moscow Subway
One of the greatest treasures of the city is underground. 7 million people use the Moscow Subway every day. This figure makes it the second busiest subway in the world, together with Seoul, after Tokyo. Almost all stations were built between 1935 and 1950. As Stalin nicknamed them, they are truly the “people’s palaces”. Each station has its own architecture, decorations and coverings that give it something admirable. Take the metro and you will feel like you are entering a luxury building. The most beautiful stations like Prospekt Mira, Komsomolskaya, Mayakovskaya or Arbatskaya are real wonders. On the platforms and in the corridors you can admire impressive chandeliers, statues, marble floors, mosaics and murals made of the finest materials, worthy of the most beautiful art collections. It is not surprising to learn that among 240 stations 44 are listed as cultural heritage of Russia. Moscow subway has another peculiarity: as an atomic shelter, it is very deeply buried underground. It is not uncommon to find immensely long escalators like the one in Park Pobedy station, which is 126 meters long.