Even though it’s not as ‘uncharted’ as I normally prefer, Moscow offers a number of truly stunning sites and monuments which will more than placate the adventurous traveller. For example, the Red Square area is one of the most important parts of Moscow to visit, and it includes the most interesting and most ‘Moscowesque’ attractions. Whenever you see a postcard of Red Square, you think ‘Moscow’ without hesitation. Though the ground area of the square itself is purely grey, most of the surrounding buildings are red. Interestingly, the name ‘red square’ is not derived from either the color of the surrounding buildings or the association between redness and communism, but from a Russian word which can mean either ‘red’ or ‘beautiful’.
Ever seen that awesome looking multicolored cathedral with the dome pillars? That is St. Basil Cathedral and is definitely one of the most famous sites from Moscow. You must just get your picture taken in front of it. That cathedral is one of the most recognisable features of Moscow, and you will never forget your visit there. To this day, it is still my favorite part of our trip. The design of St. Basil Cathedral is quintessentially Russian: the dome pillars spiral upward to create a sharp point, and the Cathedral boasts a fascinating blend of green, yellow, red and other colors.
On the other side of Red Square stands the Kremlin, State Historical Museum (definitely go here to have everything explained, and get more context for the awe-inspiring sites you are visiting), the GUM Department, and Lenin’s final resting place. Admittedly, I always find tomb visits a bit eerie, so Lenin’s mausoleum was definitely not my favorite thing to see. As most of my friends were eager, we went for a visit despite my initial reluctance. Thankfully I did, as it made me appreciate the historical significance of it all.
The Kremlin houses some truly remarkable artifacts and the building itself is very impressive. By far, the most interesting feature of the building is the tower — a gigantic clock sits at the bottom of the tower, and a gold star sits at the very top.
If you have never heard of the GUM Department, you will definitely want to learn more about it when you get there. It was pretty much the coolest shopping experience I have ever had, and usually I do not like to shop at all. It looks like a palace or a government mansion from the outside, but on the inside, it is a giant department store, and it is incredibly beautiful. They also have a cute café restaurant with a patio called the Bosco, so depending on the season you visit, you can eat outside and people watch.
My advice would definitely be to book at least four days in Moscow to allow yourself time to see as many things as possible. And you must bring some black clothing. If you don’t have much, buy some before your trip. Wearing light or too bright colours in Moscow makes you feel a bit out of place, standing out like a sore thumb. Also, it could be really cold there, so be sure to plan accordingly if you visit in either fall or winter.
Once you get to Moscow, you will see what I am talking about. Check out the most popular tourist sites: there is a reason everyone wants to go to Red Square, and you should definitely give it a chance. Then, once you have seen all there is to see of the destinations around that area, you can start finding your local pubs and wonderful little cafes, shops, and hotels all around the city. It is truly an interesting, magical place.
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