Moscow is the heart of Russia, its hustling and bustling metropolis, a city of economy and politics, of past and future. Around every ancient monument lies a city through and through, with a world-famous subway system, ancient architecture, a thriving business center, and all the amenities you would expect from such a modern city.
The best place to begin exploring Moscow is its historic center, where the fantastic Red Square and the mighty Kremlin are located. Both these brilliant sights are renowned worldwide and were rightfully included into the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1990 as the most precious and original architectural works of art.
Red Square is the hub of Moscow. In medieval times it was called the Trade Square and was used to separate the Kremlin from the rest of the city in order to protect it from the fires of wooden Moscow. In Soviet times it was a symbol of the Red State where all important government declarations, peace and war parades were held. Today it still sees a number of celebrations such as the Victory Day Parade on May 9th.
The greatest attraction of the world-famous Red Square is the Kremlin, a massive red brick fortress, that has been home to rulers for as long as Russia has existed. Every corner of its buildings, palaces, and churches has a fascinating story or legend tucked away. One such legend says that somewhere beneath the fortress lies a secret labyrinth that leads to the library of Ivan the Terrible.
A truly fantastic place inside the Kremlin is the Armoury Chamber that is the home for the collection of jewels once belonged to the Russian Imperial family. It features some of the world's largest diamonds, Faberge eggs, and imperial dresses. Walking through this elaborate exhibit will make you feel a little more regal.
Right next to the Kremlin the Russia's most recognized symbol – the inexplicable St. Basil's Cathedral - is situated. Ivan the Terrible ordered the construction of the cathedral after he conquered Kazan, the last remaining hold of Mongol invaders. Another wonder on the Red Square is the GUM Department Store, a sprawling shopping wonder inside a beautiful palace.
The area inside the Kremlin is filled with beautiful churches. One of the oldest and most important is the Church of Assumption where the Russian Orthodox Metropolitans and Patriarchs are inaugurated and buried. The cathedral's interior is decorated with frescos by the famous artist Dionysius, including the 1660 Virgin Mary painting.
You will also notice the Tsar Bell, a 20-ft tall church bell, and the 16-ft long Tsar Cannon. The bell and the cannon were made during Russia’s war with the Polish-Lithuanian invaders in the 1600s. One of the bell’s massive sides is chipped, supposedly due to Peter the Great, who struck it in frustration that it did not ring out to celebrate his victory over the Swedes at Poltava.
The Moscow Subway System is the most expensive transit system in the world. It sits deep underground and has a second function as a refuge in case of nuclear attack. This use is often forgotten, though, and nowadays it is simply revered as a living art gallery.
Besides all these outstanding attractions Moscow is always ready to show you the best it has: the Tretyakov gallery that is the greatest depository of Russian fine art in the world, the Bolshoi Theater that boasts of the world-renowned opera and ballet performances, and of course the great ensemble of the Novodevichy Convent that was also deemed UNESCO World Heritage Site. Be sure, that Moscow is full of surprises and no matter how many times you have been there - you will always find something that will inspire and amaze you.
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