Moscow is one of the largest capital cities in Europe and is full of history, fine dining and drinking and places to see. It has come along way since the hefty days of the fall of the Soviet Union back in 1991 and is now one of the most vibrant cities to check out. With the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup being hosted in Russia and most of the games to take place in Moscow (including the final), then we would love to share with you, the top five sights to check out whilst attending a game.
Red Square (Кра́сная пло́щадь / Krásnaya plóshchad) – (with Lenin Mausoleum and St Basil’s Cathedral) – This lies in the very centre of Moscow and is the number one place for visitors to come. If you noticed, the square cobbles are not even red, they are black. The name of the Red Square comes from another meaning of the Russian word ‘Krasniy’ and this means beautiful. So really Red Square should be named ‘Beautiful Square’.
To one side of the square is the long wall which separates the square to the Kremlin but also is the Lenin Mausoleum. Here people walk past the body of Vladimir Lenin and then think, is it really him? The Russian’s claim it is him and that he is frozen but a lot of people think he is actually buried elsewhere and this is a replica. The other side of the square has the GUM shopping centre but only should here if you have a millionaire’s bank account.
St Basil’s Cathedral is the highlight to see of course and has stood here since 1555. The name of the religious site when it was first built was The Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed but who the heck is going to call it that? The cathedral is now officially known as the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat but again, who the hell is going to call it that, so everyone still calls it St Basil’s Cathedral. The building is now a museum and is worth checking out.
The Kremlin (Моско́вский Кремль / Moskovskiy Kreml), is known as the hot bed of Russian politics but it is also a museum complex and an interesting one at that. The museums includes the Diamond Fund, the Armoury Collection of royal clothing and chariots (and there is a lot of clothing to see here), the Bell Tower, the Patriarch Palace and several churches with their beautiful domes. The Grand Kremlin Palace is the official living quarters of the Russian President (in this case, Mr Vlad Putin so please don’t go up to the door, knocking on it and expected to be invited in for a cup of tea or a splash of vodka!) and this historic palace has rooms dating back to the 16th century.
Christ the Saviour Cathedral (Храм Христа Спасителя / Khram Khrista Spasitelya) – this is the tallest Orthodox church in the world (but not the largest, that title goes to some Orthodox temple in Belgrade, Serbia). This was blown up in 1931 by the order of Stalin and in its place was going to be a huge Palace of the Soviets with a 100m high statue of Lenin. As we know that didn’t happened because of engineering problems and then the Second World War came along. Eventually the cathedral was rebuilt in the mid-1990’s. The cathedral now has a museum underneath explaining its history and the area.
Victory Park – this massive park on the outskirts of the centre has stood here since the mid-1990s and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the end of the Great Patriotic War (which the locals called the Second World War and they were involved from 1941 to 1945). The park is full of triumphal art and military history, is located around Poklonnaya Gora, a hill where Napoleon was forced back by the Russians in 1812. The park has five terraces, one of every year of the conflict (the Great Patriotic War that is), and there are 1,418 fountains dotted around the park, one for every day of the conflict. There is a triangular obelisk with a statue of Nike, the Goddess of Victory nearby to which underneath is a Museum of the Great Patriotic War which has a lot of information on all the losses Russia encountered which lead to an eventual victory. The park becomes host to the annual Victory Day celebrations on 9th May (which is a public holiday in Russia), there are thousands of remaining veterans and survivors come here as well as other generations. The government tells people to celebrate rather than use the day as a remembrance day.
Arbat Street (Арба́т) – there is an old and a new Arbat street but very close to each other. These streets are full of souvenirs shops, cafes, restaurants etc. The old Arbat street has an ‘old Moscow feel’ whilst the new Arbat street is full of Moscow’s rich people who check out the expensive restaurants and clubs. It’s not all high priced restaurant, there are some mid-range budget cafes to check out.
There you have it guys, these are the five places we totally recommend if you are coming out to the see the World Cup in Moscow or at any other point. There are many other amazing things to see this fantastic city but these we would put first. However, there are a few tips we like to point out to make one’s visit more enjoyable.
- Moscow has a low crime rate but avoid dark alleys (like in any other major city in the world).
- Keep an eye out for pickpockets especially on the Metro system.
- Make sure you carry your passports and papers with you at all times in case you are stopped by the police. However this will be unlikely unless visitors look like they are from the Central Asia region, to which the police are always on the look for and to question.
- Always use pedestrian crossings and subways to cross the road. The people driving the cars here are not that great at driving and being aware and always have the mentality that the road is their’s and sod everyone else.
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