St. Petersberg is Russia's 2nd largest city, located on the eastern tip of the Baltic Sea, north..
Moscow is the legendary capital of Russia, a huge metropolis that lies in the west of the country. It is the centre of political and financial power in Russia and has a population of about 13 million people or about 10% of the population of the country. It covers an area of over 1000 square kilometres along a section of the Moskova River.
Moscow looms large in the imagination of most people, and the reality does not disappoint, it is certainly one of the worlds great cities. Rich in history and with some of the worlds most famous institutions it is an amazing place to visit. To Russians it holds an almost spiritual significance, founded sometime around the 12th century it has been the centre of the nation since the 15th century. By the 17th century Moscow had emerged as one of the largest cities in the world and remains so today.
Moscow has been a place that westerners have only recently started travelling to as a tourist destination in any great numbers. The fall of communist rule has opened up the country and the city to the world and a new wave of modernisation and positivity is taking place. The ancient capital is experiencing a boom of creativity in it's new freedom. These days the warehouses of the past are the new galleries and clubs, wine bars and cafes have sprung up everywhere among the numerous historical sites scattered around the city. The city hums with life 24 hours a day and there are opportunities to enjoy art, nightlife and culture at every turn.
For those interested in history, Moscow delivers in spades. In the centre of the city is The Kremlin, a massive red brick complex that should not be missed, it includes 4 palaces, cathedrals and towers and is the residence of the Russian President. Adjacent to the walls of the Kremlin is Red Square which is usually a first stop for visitors to Moscow, the magnificent space is surrounded by some of the other main sites as well. Lenin's Mausoleum where the leaders body can still be viewed, St. Basil's Cathedral with it's distinctive colourful onion shaped turrets, and the State History Museum. Elsewhere there are literally scores of noteworthy historical buildings including many which are World Heritage listed.
Aside from the buildings, it is surprising to many visitors to discover how many open spaces and parks there are, there is nearly five times the area of parkland per person than Paris for instance. There is also about 100 square kilometres of forest. One of the best known of the parks is the Central Park of Culture and Rest (sometimes known as Gorky Park), which covers 170 acres along the Moskva River and includes tennis courts and children's activity areas. Izmaylovsky Park, in the east of Moscow is six times the size of Central Park in New York. Another major attraction in the city is the Moscow Zoo which attracts over 1.2 million visitors per year, and has 6000 animals representing over 1000 species.
Museums and galleries are plentiful around the city and filled with priceless treasures ranging from ancient artefacts to modern paintings. The State historical Museum has a huge collection dedicated to the history of Russia it begins with displays about the prehistoric tribes and tells the story of Russia right through to modern times. The Polytechnical Museum documents the fascinating history of Russian invention and technical achievements and is well worth a visit.
Moscow's history of performance art is also well known and long established. There are almost 100 theatres including the legendary Bolshoi, home to the Bolshoi Ballet. Other performing arts are also well represented and Moscow has frequent opera's, rock concerts and plays.
Getting around Moscow is fairly easy, the centre is a great place to explore on foot. The distances involved however will necessitate the use of the transport and the metro is extensive and cheap. Surprisingly, the Metro also is a very upmarket affair compared to many other cities, with some lovely architecture and art on display.
Moscow really is a surprising place with a great deal to offer. History, art, culture and architecture, Moscow has all this and much more besides. The new surge of growth and optimism is only increasing it's appeal.