Moscow is a city of vitality and bustling creative energy. All facets of contemporary culture in the Russian capital reflect this innovation – from deserted warehouses that have been converted to intriguing underground clubs to former factories that now house edgy art galleries. The experimentation and imagination is also present at world-class venues, like the city’s theaters and Pushkin Fine Arts Museum. History buffs have always felt at home in Moscow, with its churches, monuments and remnants of the Soviet State, but the dynamic city is quickly becoming a favorite for anyone looking for vibrant contemporary culture.
For many travelers, the iconic St. Basil’s Cathedral epitomizes everything that Russia once was and is today. Simultaneously mysterious and beautiful, the cathedral’s confusion of patterns, colors and shapes is a perfect example of Russia’s unique architectural style. The landmark church was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible to commemorate a victory, and the masterpiece has become the definitive symbol of Russia. Exploring the cathedral is like uncovering a mystery. Each of the nine chapels reveals a new multicolored pattern, dazzling dome or impressive tower. There is truly no other place like it in the world; legend has it that Ivan blinded the architects after construction so they could never create a more beautiful cathedral.
St. Basil’s sits on the southern end of the Red Square, the very heart of the city. The brick plaza has played host to thousands of years of history. For the most stunning view, access the square from the Resurrection Gate, an updated replica of the triumphal arch that stood at the spot since 1680. Once inside the square, look to the left to see the Kazan Cathedral, a small replica of another historic church. On the right is the State History Museum, a grandiose brick museum with galleries dedicated to different periods in Russian history. On the east side of the square lies the State Department Store, known to locals as GUM. The sprawling store is one of the best places to find fancy souvenirs and browse upscale boutiques.
The west side of the square is dominated by the Kremlin, a potent symbol of the Soviet Union. The eclectic mix of architecture reflects cultural shifts in Russia’s history, creating a structure that is at once foreboding and fascinating. The magnificent complex houses not just the Russian president, but also a number of cathedrals and museums that are well worth a visit. The famous Armory Chamber showcases dazzling ancient Russian regalia, gold and silverware and ceremonial dress from many of the country’s rulers. The Annunciation Cathedral, home church of the city’s tsars and princes, is marked by stunningly detailed icons that exemplify Russian medieval art. Other notable sites within the Kremlin include the Archangel’s Cathedral, the final resting place of many tsars, and the Patriarch’s Palace, which houses a vast collection of ecclesiastical artifacts from the 16th century.
The Red Square is a great example of Russia’s proudest cultural, religious and political achievements, but the country’s darker side can be explored at the Gulag History Museum. The unique museum is both a memorial and history lesson dedicated to the millions of people who suffered in the Soviet Union’s labor camps.
It may be cold in Moscow, but the nightlife is hot. Whether you prefer downing shots of vodka in a local pub or a more decadent evening of champagne and elite company, the city has an option for you. From ballet to beer and cocktails to cafes, Moscow’s diverse nightlife is sure to please any traveler.
Moscow Geographical Location
Moscow is located in western Russia on the banks of the Moskva River.
Moscow is the most populated city in Russia with approximately 11,515,000 inhabitants.
Russian is the official language of Russia with many other languages spoken in minorities. English is common as a second language in tourist areas.
Moscow Predominant Religion
- 20% Russian Orthodox
- 63% Other or None
- 15% Muslim
- 2% Other Christian
Russian Orthodoxy is Russia’s traditional religion and is believed to have the most followers however the majority does not attend church regularly.
The Russian Ruble is the official currency of Russia.
Moscow experiences cool summers and long, cold winters. Precipitation is common throughout the year in the form of snow during the winter and rain during the warmer months.
Moscow Main Attractions
- Red Squar
- St. Basil’s Cathederal
Other Attraction in Moscow
- Bolshoi Theater
- Tretyakov Gallery
- Novodevichy Convent
- Gorky Park