If you're planning a trip to Moscow, chances are you're planning on seeing the famous Red Square — here's what you can't miss.
With its rich history, magical atmosphere, and its variety of beautiful architecture, it is easy to see why so many people are traveling to Russia and quickly falling in to love with this incredible square. This square is a truly fascinating place, but what exactly can you see while you're there?! Keep reading to learn about all the must see's of this beautiful historic place.
Fun Fact: Did you know that International Language Programs started in Russia? That's right ILP has been sending volunteers to Russia for over 20 years (come be one of the cool volunteers living in Moscow by filling out an application).
So to all you present and future ILP Russia volunteers or anyone traveling to Moscow, here's a list of 10 places you NEED to see when visiting Red Square.
- The Iberian Gate
- St. Basil's Cathedral
- Statue of Minin and Pozharsky
- Kazan Cathedral
- Kremlin Wall
- Lenin Mausoleum
- Lobnoe Mesto
- City Hall
- State Hall Museum
The Iberian Gate
Also known as the Resurrection Gate, the Iberian Gate is the main entrance to the square. Built in 1535, this red-brick gate connects the north-western end of Red square with Manege Square. The painting of the Iberian Virgin is the main attraction. The Iberian Virgin is well-known for its miraculous abilities and according to local legend, the icon caused a war to end when blood began flowing from its face. Admire the gate as you begin your journey into this historic square.
St. Basil's Cathedral
When most people think of Russia, they picture St. Basil's Cathedral. As Moscow's most famous building, it is definitely the top place to go when in Red Square and Moscow. Ivan the terrible ordered the construction of this cathedral in order to mark the capture of Kazan from Mongol forces. The cathedral was originally all white with gold domes. However in the late 1800s, the cathedral was remodeled and painted with the more complex and intricate design that we can all admire today. Today, besides admiring the amazing architecture, go inside and be completely blown away at the art and design throughout the entire building.
Statue of Minin and Pozharsky
Right in front of St. Basils Cathedral, you'll notice a sculpture. Don't just walk past and glance , take a few minutes and admire. This statue commemorates Prince Dmitry Pozharsky and the butcher Kuzma Minin who were leaders of the militia who repelled Polish invaders in 1612. Along the bottom, one base relief shows the people of Novogorod bringing their sons to be armed, and another shows the Polish fleeing from the Kremlin, being pursued by Russian troops. As Russia's first monumental sculpture it was originally located in the center of the square, but was moved because it interfered with Stalin's plans for massed military parades. Totally worth more than a glance, am I right?!
Another charming must-see church is the Kazan Cathedral. This cathedral was originally built in the 17th century to commemorate the repulsion of Polish and Lithuanian invaders, and in honor of the Virgin of Kazan. The Virgin of Kazan is one of Moscow's most revered icons, and is rumored to have supernatural abilities. The icon has been connected many times with protecting Russia from her enemies. This church was brought back to life as the first post-communist reconstruction project.
When Russia was under communist rule, Red Square came to serve as a cemetery. Originally, in 1917, two tombs were built under the Kremlin wall to hold the remains of 240 casualties from the October Revolution. However, it soon became a tradition to bury Soviet heroes by the Kremlin Wall and eventually in the wall itself. Pretty cool history, right?! Definitely don't miss this while exploring.
If you've heard rumors that they have a museum with Lenin's corpse available for all to see, I'm here to tell you that THE RUMORS ARE TRUE. Although, a little morbid, this is an experience you cannot miss when visiting Russia, Moscow and this historic square. Almost immediately after Vladimir Lenin's death in 1924, the Russian people decided that a simple burial would not be enough. So, in response to the thousands of telegrams received urging the regime to preserve Lenin’s memory for future generations, the government began the task of constructing a proper resting place for the former radical.. and voila, they preserved Lenin's body and built this mausoleum to house his body.
Be prepared to only spend a couple minutes in the mausoleum before getting pushed along by the guards. Even though you only get to see Lenin's body for a few minutes, seeing this famous leader's embalmed body, is still a must!
Glavny Universalny Magazin (or just GUM) is a famous shopping center. Formerly, only high ranking officials were allowed to shop here, but today it is open for all to come and enjoy. The shopping center is well known for its exclusive stores that carry well known western brand names. Feel like a Russian ruler while exploring this gorgeous mall.
Throughout history this circular stone platform was used for proclamations and was also traditionally the place where heirs to the throne were presented to the people for the first time on their 14th birthday. Also known as the Place of Skulls, it has a pretty bloody history. Public executions were common and Ivan the Terrible gruesomely tortured many hostiles here.
The former City Hall for Moscow in the 19th century, was constructed by architect M. Kazakov during the late 1770's and early 1780's. Formally known as the home to some of Moscow's Governors and Generals and also as the V. I. Lenin Museum, the building currently is home to some of the collected works of the State Historical Museum. Don't miss your chance to see the collected works and the unique wide range of world influences mixed into the buildings architectural design.
State History Museum
Located right in-between the square and Manege Square, this museum has a diverse collection that ranges from the prehistoric era through the Romanov era. The museum was first opened in 1894 to mark the coronation of Alexander III, and today is home to over 4 million items. Russia is known for its many great museums and the State Historical Museum definitely lives up to this reputation. Make sure you check it out when visiting.
Don't miss out on these 10 must-see places when visiting this historic square in Moscow. Click here for more tips about living in and visiting Russia.
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