The word monumental best describes the Russian capital, seen through the eyes of a tourist. From the wide boulevards, to the fascinating metro stations, the huge buildings, opulent churches or oversized shopping centres.
Let’s start with the Red Square, the centre of Moscow and also Russia. If you come to Moscow for the first time, this is the place to start your journey, as this is where every main road of the Russian capital begins. The Square separates Kremlin, the former imperial residence, now the headquarter of the Russian presidency, from the commercial area, Kitay-gorod. Kremlin’s walled complex accommodates five palaces, three cathedrals and towers of the old fortress, all covering the impressive area of 27,5 hectares. The entrance within the walls of the Kremlin in free but the access to the palaces is paid and the queue can be very very long during the peak hours. Same, you may have to wait in line to enter Ivan the Great Tower, the place that offers a great view over the fortress, the city and the region surrounding the city. Nevertheless, it’s worth your patience. In Kremlin you have the chance to see the greatest collection of fortune – the famous Faberge eggs, diamantes, jewellery, gold and platinum bars and the 180 karats diamond offered to Catherine the Great by Count Orlov.
Saint Basil’s cathedral is a symbol of Moscow, a fairy-tale building with a unique architecture that has no similarity in Russia or anywhere else in the world. The cathedral was built by Ivan The Terrible in 1552, when the Kazan territory has been recovered from the Mongol forces. Since 1990 it is part of UNESCO World Heritage.
GUM shopping centre, placed on the opposite side of Kremlin, doesn’t look at all like a mall on the outside, but more like a museum building. The fabulous edifice is a combination between the medieval Russian architecture and the XIX century style, with a fascinating roof made of steel and glace. Here you can find all famous fashion brands, and among them, stylish coffee places where you can rest after you visit the Red Square.
As for food, there are many international restaurants where you can find everything you like, even delicious seafood. But try also the traditional Russian dishes, like Beef Stroganov, caviar or Kiev Chicken.
Other places that you can’t miss are Bolshoi Theatre – buy tickets ahead otherwise you may not find anything available, Gorky Park – a real open air museum, covering 109 hectares, Novodevichy Monastery – perfectly preserved since 1524, part of UNESCO World Heritage, Sparrow Hills – with the imposing building of Moscow State University, the place that offers a sensational view over the city.
It’s worth taking the metro not only for the large distances in Moscow, but mostly as the metro stations are spectacular, with impressive chandeliers and unique architecture, real works of art. Careful though, you must pay close attention if you are not familiar with the Russian language – at the subway, as in many other places besides museums – there is no English translation.
It’s hard for me to stop writing about Moscow. It’s hard to cover so much history, greatness and sensations, in a few lines. It’s just one of those unique places that you must see.