Synonymous with Moscow, Red Square evokes a sense of history and heritage. Here, the past meets the present under the shadow of some of the city's most famous landmarks like the Kremlin and the brightly colored Saint Basil's Cathedral. Awash in history, the Red Square wasn't always as architecturally impressive as it is now, starting as a humble market square. Over the centuries, the square evolved with new additions being added at various intervals. During the Soviet Era, the square was the site of numerous military parades during World War and the Cold War. Bustling with activity throughout the day, the square is at its visual best once the sun sets and the beautiful buildings are lit with colorful lights.
This world-famous fortress was the political and religious focal point for much of Russia's history and remains at the heart of the nation's government as the official residence of the president. The walls of the Kremlin were originally constructed out of white stone and were later rebuilt in the 15th Century with the now distinctive red brick. An amalgamation of architectural styles, around every corner of the Kremlin, await domes and generously ornamented turrets. The fort comprises historic religious sites like the Cathedral of the Assumption (Uspenskii Sobor), Archangel's Cathedral (Arkhangelskii Sobor), and Patriarch's Palace (Patriarshii Dvorets). Also onsite are other palaces, museums, towers and monuments, each a defining piece of Russia's rich architectural heritage and cultural legacy. Entry to all attractions is gained via the Kutafia Tower (Kutaf'ia Bashnia).
A mesmerizing collection of vivid hues and domes, St. Basil's Cathedral looms at the southern end of the Red Square, one of Russia's most widely-recognized architectural monuments. Originally built between 1555 and 1561 to commemorate the victory of Ivan IV in Kazan, the cathedral was a vision in white stone with gilded domes. The colors and patterns were not added until the 17th Century. Little is known about the architects of this majestic edifice and for a time legend had it that Ivan IV had the duo blinded to prevent them from replicating the design. Originally composed of nine chapels, a tenth was added a few years later where the tomb of Saint Basil lies. Although officially named the Cathedral of the Intercession, this historic jewel's more popular moniker derives from this. Today, St. Basil's Cathedral is a museum attracting droves of visitors each year, inspiring awe in all those who lay their eyes upon it.
Standing unfazed and unfettered through centuries and centuries, this entrancing monastic complex is touted to be one of the best of its kind in the whole of Russia. Accentuated by the gracefully-flowing waters of the Moskva river, the convent is enclosed within the sturdy defensive walls of Moscow Kremlin. Once closely-associated with the mighty Tsar lineage, this iconic ensemble has been duly inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its history and unbridled legacy. Dating to as far back as the 16th-century, this majestic ensemble is home to many breathtaking monuments including the magnificent Smolensky Cathedral, with, which its gleaming gilded and silver domes, harbors paintings and frescoes which are considered to be one of the best in the whole of Moscow. Boasting a spatial, well laid-out expanse, the convent also greatly symbolizes the nuances of ancient Russian town-planning. Although having been besieged by the Bolsheviks during the Soviet regime, the complex stands today as a striking reminder of its foregone glory. A prized possession of southwestern Moscow, the convent also harbors a cemetery which enshrines the tombs of prestigious luminaries like writers Nikolai Gogol, Anton Chekhov, Mikhail Bulgakov, the poet Maiakovski, singer Chaliapin and composer Scriabin, along with the bizarre black-and-white headstone devoted to former Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev.
One of the most integral markers of the iconic Red Square, Lenin’s Mausoleum holds the remains of Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union. A work of distinctive architectural finesse by Aleksey Shchusev, the mausoleum is modeled on the terraced temples of the ancient Assyrians and Babylonians. Bounded on both sides by the Kremlin Wall Necropolis, the mausoleum features a step pyramid within which rests the remains of Lenin. Bearing a rather solemn facade, the mausoleum has undergone numerous structural transformations ever since the collapse of the Soviet regime. Outside, the main sanctum is patrolled by an arsenal of guards, while inside, visitors file around round the embalmed body of the man whose legacy still resonates with the masses of not only Russia but the entire world. One of Moscow's most revered historical landmarks, the mausoleum reserves a special place in the hearts of the people.
Undoubtedly one of the most elegant architectural sights in Moscow, the Danilovskii Monastery was founded by the Orthodox Prince Daniil Alexandrovich way back in 1282. It is now the official residence of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. The monastery survived the revolution only until 1930, after which the grounds became a borstal. Holy services are once again conducted in all three churches of the monastery and the whole complex has been fully renovated.
The Iberian Gate and Chapel, sometimes referred to as the Resurrection Gate, is a beautifully rebuilt entrance gateway to the Red Square and featuring classic Russian architecture. Originally constructed in 1535, it connected the stately buildings of the Moscow City Hall and State Historical Museum and has housed press chambers, a pharmacy store and the office of the Russian philosopher Nikolay Novikov in the two storey halls above it. The chapel located in front of the gates is particularly famous in Moscow for housing a copy of the miraculous icon of Virgin Mary which is believed to have magical healing powers. The small shrine is a historically important monument visited by beggars and royalty alike for worship and has been featured in writings by eminent authors like Leo Tolstoy, Marina Tsvetayeva and H.G Wells.
The Kazan Cathedral, located at the northernmost corner of the Red Square is a beautiful small church featuring Neoclassical Russian architecture. The current building is a recent construction from the 1990s but a wooden church is believed to have existed on the grounds since the early 17th century. The church has a very interesting history behind it as it was originally commissioned by Prince Dmitry Pozharsky to celebrate Moscow's victory of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1612. The small shrine was dedicated to the Lady Virgin of Kazan but was destroyed by a fire and later replaced by a sturdy brick building along with a tented bell tower. Three centuries later the church was again razed to the grounds on the orders of the Communist leader Joseph Stalin and a government office was built on its location. Today the red and green colored building is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Red square due to its beautiful architecture and ornate interiors with statues, icons and wall paintings. Women visiting the church are advised to carry head scarves as it follows conservative Orthodox traditions.
Located outside the Kremlin, adjacent to the northern corner of the walls, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a burial ground and a wall memorial commemorating the army personnel who died during World War II. Mass graves of soldiers killed during the seize of Moscow in The structure consists of a large stone platform with a rectangular monument and bronze sculptures in the shape of a banner, a helmet and a bay tree branch located in the center. A large five pointed star is built into the platform in front of the sculptures and has an ever burning fire enlightening an inscription written in Russian. Red blocks containing soils from the different war torn cities of Russia in the 1940s and a red granite obelisk listing their names are also found here. A change of guard ceremony takes place at the memorial every hour and is very popular among tourists for their choreographed marching.
Located close to the Red Square in Moscow, the Manezhnaya Square (Манежная площадь) is a major city landmark. It is one of the popular tourist attractions of Moscow with its grand underground shopping center, beautifully maintained flowerbeds, an artificial river, fairy tale sculptures, fountains and a stunning glass capped world clock topped with the statue of Saint George and the dragon, patron of the city. It is surrounded by many historical buildings and connects the Red Square to the Tverskaya Street. This square is particularly delightful during the summer and spring seasons when the lawns are blooming with a variety of colorful flowers, water gushing out of the fountains and the world clock spectacularly lit up at night showing the different time zones of the northern hemisphere.