Today on IaniWorld I propose you to know a new city. We were already in Russia previously visiting Kazan, now it’s time to tour the capital: Moscow.
This great city of 12,506,468 inhabitants and more than 16 million in its metropolitan area is a city of global importance, with great cultural and historical wealth. Also known as a great financial, political, educational center.
Visit most of the attractions of Moscow can demand several days. As always, and in each city that we propose here, the choices of destinations will be at your discretion, depending on the time you have available.
Moscow is a big city and to get to some attractions we must use some type of transport or even make some transfer.
Red Square and Kremlin
We will begin our tour through the downtown area, in the famous Red Square.
If our accommodation is close to this place, you can move freely on foot. It is also possible to visit on foot some very interesting sites that are close to the square.
We find the Red Square in the center of the city, north of the Moskva River. Here we have the Kremlin, where the president works and where the Armoury is located, a place that houses the most important museum in Russia. This place does not have guided tours.
Leaving the armory we find the Alexander Gardens and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, dedicated to the Soviet soldiers who died in the Second World War.
Here we can see the Honor Guards of the Presidential Regiment guarding the eternal flame that burns in the grave. They make the change of guard every hour.
The entrance to the Kremlin costs 700 rubles (9.20 euros) and is open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. It is advisable to purchase tickets online, which will save us time when entering the place.
In front of the Kremlin is the Saint Basil’s Cathedral, the most distinctive of Moscow. Also known as the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat, it was erected in 1551 and 1561 following a Byzantine architectural style.
The cathedral belongs to the Orthodox Church and has become famous for its bulbous domes. In 1990, the St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin were declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.
The entrance to the cathedral costs 500 rubles (6.60 euros) and can be purchased in the same place. It is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the winter and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the summer.
On one side of the Kremlin and St. Basil’s Cathedral is Lenin’s Mausoleum. In this place are the mummified remains of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, also known as Lenin.
This important man in Soviet history led the October Revolution of 1917 and was the first Soviet president. He died in 1924 at 53 years of age. His will was to be buried in St. Petersburg with his mother, but Stalin encouraged the idea of embalming his remains.
His body is currently inside a bullet-proof glass chest and is cared for by a group of anatomists and scientists who give it special treatment to prevent its deterioration.
The entrance to the mausoleum is free, but it is necessary to stand in line to enter and this can take from a few minutes to an hour, depending on the number of visitors.
The Lenin Mausoleum is open from 10 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. If one of those days falls festive or there is an event, official act, or maintenance works in the Lenin’s body, the mausoleum will not open.
About 400 meters (0.24 mi) north of the St. Basil’s Cathedral is the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan. The first cathedral was built in wood back in 1625, but a fire completely devastated it in 1632.
Between 1632 and 1636 the cathedral was rebuilt, which overcame for several centuries until in 1936 it was destroyed by the orders of Iosif Stanlin.
Then, between 1990 and 1993, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan was rebuilt again and is the one that lasts to this day. The entrance is free of charge.
In the middle of the two cathedrals, the GUM Galleries take place. This great shopping center also known as State Departament Store was built between 1890 and 1893 and has many stores, mostly dedicated to luxury items. The place is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
If we continue 200 meters (o.12 mi) north from the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan, we will arrive at the Teatralnaya Square. At its sides we find the famous Bolshoi Theater and the TsUM department store, located in a neo-Gothic building of 6 levels.
A few meters west of the Teatralnaya Square, Tverskaya Street begins its journey. This famous road in Moscow is full of luxury shops and restaurants.
Here we find the Eliseevsky store. This must-see place on your visit to Moscow will surprise you with its luxurious interior. Here you can buy vodka, caviar and various typical products.
A few meters further down this street is Pushkinskaya Square and the Shangri-La Casino.
From this site we can access Boulevard Tverskoy, characterized by its large central green space. This road goes to the southwest forming a kind of ring that surrounds the most central area of Moscow.
From Pushkinskaya Square to the east, the continuation of this ring takes the names of Strastnoy and Petrovskiy. If we continue along this street we will find several beautiful and well-kept parks, as well as clothing stores, cafes and restaurants.
Moskva River and Gorky Park
We will continue to get to know places in Moscow. Now I propose to go to the southwest of Red Square ..
Next to the Moskva River and 900 meters (0.55 mi) from the Red Square, we can find the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.
This cathedral temple was built between 1839 and 1883, dynamited in 1931 by order of Stanlin, and rebuilt again in the late 90s. It is the highest Orthodox church in the world. The height to its top point is 105 meters (344 ft).
The cathedral can be visited free of charge, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. It is recommended that male visitors wear long pants and women have covered hair.
On one side of the cathedral is the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. A space of European art second in importance after the Hermitage of St. Petersburg.
We crossed the Moscova River. To the south of the river we have the Tretyakov Gallery and crossing the Krymskiy Avenue towards the west, we will find another great green space, the Gorky Park. This immense place has gardens, games for children, forests, lakes and even an artificial beach.
The Gorky Park (sometimes written Gorki) is one of the sites in Moscow that allows you to hire catamaran trips through the Moscova River, which will give you new views of the city and a totally different experience.
A trip costs 800 rubles (10.55 euros) and lasts around 3 hours.
Novodevichy Monastery and Sparrow Hills
To the southwest of the downtown area of Moscow, and near the recently visited Gorky Park, we have more interesting places to see.
From Red Square, the Prechistenka Avenue goes to the southwest, which later takes the name of Bolshaya Pirogovskaya.
After making almost 4 kilometers (2.50 mi) from the square, we arrived at the Novodevichy Monastery. This religious complex is one of the most famous in Russia and was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 2004.
Novodevichy dates from 1524 and belongs to the Russian Orthodox Church. It is one of the few monasteries that remained intact since its construction.
The place is surrounded by high walls and, inside it, we find several temples, among which the Solomensky Cathedral stands out.
Outside the walls there is a park with a small lake. It is the famous Swan Lake, which inspired the composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
Nearby we also have the most famous cemetery in Moscow, where the remains of famous personalities like the former Russian President Boris Yelstein, the composer Dimitri Shostakovich, the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich or the film director Sergei Eisenstein rest.
The entrance to the Novodevichy Monastery costs 300 rubles (4 euros), while the entrance to the cemetery is free. The monastery is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Leaving the monastery, we followed a few steps towards the southwest. We cross under the highway of the Third Ring of Moscow and we arrive at the park and sports ground where the Luzhniki Stadium is located.
The enormous facilities of the Luzhniki Stadium make it the largest in Russia and one of the largest in Europe. It has a capacity for 81,000 spectators and hosted the opening and final of the last FIFA World Cup 2018.
Crossing the Moscova River to the south, we can reach the Sparrow Hill, one of the highest places in the city. If you are lucky and the day does not have many clouds or smog, you can get very good views of Moscow’s skyscrapers and its urban landscape.
On this hill, formerly called Lenin, there is a huge wooded and wild park that borders the south coast of the Moskva River.
A few meters further south are the buildings of the Lomonosov Moscow State University. This university works since 1755 and is the largest in Russia.
Because the Novodevichy Convent and the Sparrow Hills are some distance from the center, the ideal is to reach them by public transport.
Metro line 1 (red line) takes us from Red Square to this area. If we get off at the Frunzenskaya station we will be very close to the Novodevichy Monastery. If we continue to the Sportivnaya station we will arrive directly at the Luzhniki Stadium. The next stop, Vorobyovy Gory, is located on the Sparrow Hills.
Arbat and Fili Districts
We changed course and now we start a tour through the western sector of Moscow.
A few meters from the Red Square, Arbat Street starts in the middle of the homonymous district. This road is famous for its surrounding historic buildings and shopping stores.
The Arbat street is completely pedestrianized and in the 18th century it was considered the most prestigious place in Moscow to live.
Here there is usually confusion: the street we are talking about is pedestrian named Arbat or Old Arbat. While a few meters to the north, runs a parallel way a wide street of several lanes called New Arbat (Novyy Arbat).
If we continue a little further to the west, we will cross the Moskva River and enter the Districts of Dorogomilovo and Fili-Davydkovo.
The main road is Kutuzovskiy Avenue. At its sides we find many residential buildings, shopping centers and car sales sites.
In this place is the Ukraina Hotel, one of the seven skyscrapers built by Stanlin. The building was completed in 1957 and today it is known as the Radisson-Royal Hotel.
This hotel is located on the banks of the Moskva River, where operates the second jetty for excursion catamarans (the other pier was the one we saw in the Gorky Park).
A little further on, and crossing the Third Ring of Moscow, is the Victory Park. In it is located the Plokonnaya Hill, one of the highest places in the city.
This park was of great strategic importance in the past and today has an open-air museum dedicated to the victory of the Russians over Napoleon. We can also see the tall obelisk and the Museum of the Great Patriotic War (the name given to the Second World War in Russia). A little further on we can find the Oceania Shopping Center Aquarium. A large mall that has an interesting aquarium.
To get to the area from the Red Square we can use the Blue line 3 of the Moscow metro. The Kievskaya station is close to the Ukraina Hotel. The next station is Park Pobedy, located near the Victory Park, while if we go a little further we reach the Slavyansky Bulvar, very close to the Oceania shopping center.
Moscow International Business Center
We were touring the District of Dorogomilovo and the area where Ukraina Hotel is located, to the west of Moscow. It is precisely here, but on the north bank of the Moskva River, where we will get to know the atmosphere of modern Moscow.
The Moscow International Business Center, also known as Moskva-Citi, is a district that began designing in 1992, in order to provide a modern business, entertainment and residential area.
The skyscrapers that compose it are visible from a good part of Moscow and have become the new postcard of the city.
It is estimated that around 300,000 people are living, working or visiting this complex at any given time.
Many of the buildings are already completed and a few are under construction.
Buying an apartment in one of the towers is truly expensive, but the services and beautiful views of the city can not be matched.
Located in the middle of the skyscrapers we find the Afimall, a huge shopping center with a large number of shops and restaurants.
Within the Moscow International Business Center are the Federation Towers or Bashnya Federatsii, two modern skyscrapers that bear the name of East Tower and West Tower. The East Tower, 374 meters (1227 ft) high, was the tallest building in Russia and Europe until October 2017 when it was overtaken by the Lakhta Center of St. Petersburg.
Next to the business center there is a heliport and a small dock for boats that runs along the Moskva River.
The complex is linked to the south area of the river by means of the Bagration Bridge. This bridge is pedestrian and is covered with wide crystals that allow a panoramic view of the complex as we cross from one side of the river to the other.
Once we get to the south coast, we have a park from where we get good views of the huge skyscrapers and where we can make fabulous photographs at any time of the day.
To get to the Moscow Business Center take metro line 4 (light blue), which takes you from the city center to Vystavochnaya Station, located in this complex.
If you like to walk and you have enough time, you can even connect the downtown area of Moscow with the skyscrapers of the business center on foot. The three kilometers (1.86 mi) can be done perfectly by the avenue that borders the Moskva River, the Krasnopresnenskaya naberezhnaya, where you will find very good landscapes, buildings and many places to eat.
North of Moscow
The north also exists, and that’s why I’ll show you some places you can see.
The Moscow Zoo takes place in a huge plot of 21.5 hectares 2 kilometers (1.24 mi) from the Red Square. In this zoo we found more than 6,500 animals belonging to around 1,000 species. We can reach it from the center by bus lines 243 and M6.
Much further north we have the Museum of Cosmonautics. This place is dedicated to space exploration by the Soviets and is a must-see place in Moscow.
The entrance costs 250 rubles (3.30 euros) and works from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.), except on Mondays it is closed.
To one side of the museum we have the huge Obelisk Monument to the Conquerors of Space. This construction was inaugurated on October 4, 1964, on the seventh anniversary of the launch of Sputnik, the first satellite launched by man. The height of the obelisk is 107 meters (351 ft).
The Cosmonautics Museum is 8 kilometers (5 mi) north of Red Square. To reach it from the center we must go to Aleksandrovsky Sad Station and take line 1 (red). We descend at the Chistye Prudy Station and there we walk a few steps to the Turgenevskaya Station, where we must take the line 6 (orange) that leaves us at the VDNKh Station, very close to the museum.
Another attraction in the north of Moscow is the Izmailovo Market. Built as a medieval Russian city, this complex offers the opportunity to admire and buy typical Russian objects, from matrioshkas to Soviet medals. All kinds of crafts and objects that you can imagine you will find here.
One of the biggest advantages of coming to this place is that you get cheaper prices than in the center of Moscow.
The Izmailovo Market also has museums in honor of vodka, chocolate or bread. In the summer months it opens from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. I recommend you go on a weekend, where the place is filled with more sellers.
This market is located about 9 kilometers (5.60 mi) northwest of the Red Square. Line 3 (blue) of the metro brings you directly from the downtown. You have to get off at Partizanskaya Station.
If you want to visit the Cosmonautics Museum and then go to the Izmailovo Market, you can take the bus line 311 or the tram line 11 in the same museum. Both will take you to the market 😉
Here ends this first part of our trip through the beautiful capital of Russia. Still interesting places await us in the south of the city and the metro system with its wonderful stations. You will also have the basic guide of accommodation, leisure, entertainment and transportation that will help you plan your trip. All that in the second part of the trip through Moscow.