The street musicians add energetic background music to the performance of the jokes, the lines of the cartoonists and the sellers who heel old uniforms, Soviet nostalgia and copies of Russian painting. On the side streets starting from Moscow’s longest pedestrian street, it smells of potato-filled pies and steaming hot beetroot soup, and the big department stores sell Gucci, Prada and other western brands. Much has changed in Russia, but here you can still experience not just one but several completely different worlds.
Population: 142 million
According to top-medical-schools, Russia shares border with 15 countries: Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Mongolia, Norway, Poland and Ukraine.
Moscow can boast more dollar billionaires than any other city in the world? With a total of 74 billionaires (in US dollars), Moscow has three times as many billionaires as New York City.
The many passengers in the Moscow metro always have something beautiful to look at. With its 172 stations and 280 kilometers of metro network, the metro is not only one of the largest in the world – it is also one of the most beautiful. All stations are decorated in different ways with magnificent sculptures, beautiful mosaics and socialist art. Take, for example, the blue metro line to Röda torget. The entire Plosjad Revolutsii metro station is a thematization of the October Revolution. Under the 40 arches are bronze castings of the heroes of the revolution: a kneeling pioneer with a rifle over his shoulder, a mother with her child and a large, strong athlete.
Up on the street level on Nikolskaya Ulitsa, the onion domes of the impressive Vasily Cathedral light up like oversized colorful candies behind the Red Square. Ivan the Terrible had Russia’s most famous church built in memory of his conquest of Kazan in the middle of the 16th century. On Red Square is also Lenin’s mausoleum – the founders of the Soviet Union are still here almost 80 years after their death on the trust they paired in a crystal display case, and the embalmed body helps to make Russia’s fascinating history even more present. On the Red Square is also the 115-year-old department store GUM with its large, beautiful glass roof, and a stone’s throw away is the heart of the city and the political power center Kremlin. Until Peter the Great moved the capital to St. Petersburg in the early 18th century, it was the home of the Tsars.
Among Moscow’s other exciting sights are the Trinity Gate, the Alexander Garden, the Congress Palace, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier where an eternal flame burns in memory of the victory over Nazism and the Assumption Cathedral with the gilded onion domes. The cathedral is the center of the Russian Orthodox Church. And it was here that the tsars allowed themselves to be crowned in the past.
A holiday in Moscow, however, can offer more than churches and cultural-historical sights. Do not forget to take a look at the KGB Museum, which provides an exciting insight into the inventive and tough methods of the secret intelligence service. Experience the life of the people in Arbatskaya with the lively and one kilometer long Arbat pedestrian street. Take a boat trip on the Moscow River and visit the Novodevichy Cemetery and the monastery of the same name, which are on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Of course, Russia is much more than Moscow. For example, continue the journey in Russia to St. Petersburg, where the large, stately palaces stand as impressive architectural testimonies of Russia’s past. The Winter Palace is inspired by Versailles and was the tsar’s residence until the revolution of 1917. Today it is the setting for one of the world’s foremost art collections at the Hermitage Museum, containing everything from Renaissance artists such as Leonardo da Vinci to large, modern works by Matisse, van Gogh and Picasso.
Also experience St. Petersburg’s Marble Palace, the house of the Russian national author Pushkin, the Dostoevsky Museum where the great novelist lived during the last years of his life, the Church of the Blood with its characteristic, colorful onion domes and the Kazan Cathedral which, like another of St. Petersburg’s cathedrals, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, is inspired by St. Peter’s Church in Rome. St. Petersburg should also be experienced for its pulse around the main street Nevsky Prospekt and for the metro, which in St. Petersburg is no less impressive than the one in Moscow. It is also interesting to get acquainted with Aurora, the large armored cruiser from which they fired the shot that marked the starting shot for the storming of the Winter Palace in 1917. Today, the old armored cruiser is an exciting museum.