As of today it has been 12 days since I arrived in Moscow, the town I will be calling home for the next few months. So far I have met many people from different countries all over Europe (and a few Singaporeans and Chinese) and my university courses have already started. More importantly, however, I have already seen a few (tourist) places of Moscow and I have walked almost 100km so far :O
The Red Square of Moskau – Кра́сная пло́щадь or Krasnaya ploshchad in Russian – is probably the most famous attraction/place of Moscow, so this was also one of the first places I went to.
The Red Square separates the Kremlin from the merchant quarter Kitai-gorod. It used to be Moscow’s main marketplace, but also a place for public ceremonies and proclamations, also coronation of Tsars happened there. The square officially got its name in the 17th century. Its name has actually nothing to do with the the surrounding red bricks (they used to be whitewashed at some points in time) or that communism is connected to the red colour. The name derives from the Russian word ‘krasnyi’, which used to mean ‘beautiful’ but changed meanings over time to ‘red’ in current Russian (For more information: click here).
The Resurrection Gate (also called Iberian Gate) – Воскресенские ворота – is the only existing gate of Kitai-gorod in Moscow, connecting the Red Square with the Manege Square. Its name derives from the Icon of Christ’s Resurrection that was placed above it. In front of the gate there is the kilometre zero plaque of the Russian highway system – a location from which distances are traditionally measured. People also use it for making a wish and throwing a coin over their shoulders. I did that too but I was too fixated on throwing the coin and actually forgot to make a wish :O
On the eastern side of the Red square is the location of Russia’s most famous shopping mall – the State Department Store, short GUM (abbreviation of Глáвный универсáльный магазѝн / Glávnyj Universáĺnyj Magazín). The current building was completed in 1893, closed in 1928 by Stalin and then used as the headquarters for officials working on the first Five Year Plan. Shortly after Stalin’s death in 1953 it was reopened and again used as a warehouse. Privatised in the early 90s, it’s become the address for top-end Western retailers. Very fancy I must say!
Another very famous landmark of Moscow that is also located on the Red Square is the St. Basil’s Cathedral. Officially it is called ‘The Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin by the Moat’, but yeah… Ivan the Terrible ordered the church in 1552 to mark the capture of Kazan from Mongol forces, and it was completed in 1560. The Cathedral survived Stalin’s plan of demolishing it to have more room for plans for massed parades on Red Square, and now it is home to a Museum.
In front of the cathedral there is the statue of Minin and Pozharsky, the leaders of the militia that repelled the Polish invasion of 1612. It was erected in 1818, becoming Moscow’s first monumental sculpture.
The theatre square – Театральная площадь / Teatralnaya ploshchad – is a square in the Tverskoy District not far from the Red Square. Its name derives from the theatres located on it (no kidding!): the famous Bolshoi Theatre, Maly Theatre, and Russian Youth Theatre. Apparently, there is also the last standing Karl Marx statue of Moscow on this square, ercted in 1961. On the statue is an inscription reading: “Proletariat of all countries, solidarity!”. Even though it had been proposed to remove the monument from such a prominent point in the centre, nothing has changed so far. So we were still able to see it there :D
So far I can say that Moscow – especially the city centre – is very beautiful and also very different from the cities I’ve lived in so far. There’s always a lot to explore. I am sure that I will make a few additional trips to the Red Square and I really want to watch a ballet at the Bolshoi Theatre (even though that I wasn’t that impressed by the building itself!).
So if you are interested in seeing more of Moscow and Russia – follow my journey here or on Facebook :) Stay tuned!!