Moscow 2000

Nederlandse versie

On December the 21st 2000 I traveled to Moscow to be with my friend Daria during Christmas days. Packed with two bags filled with warm clothes I got on the plane on my way to Moscow. I was really happy I brought the warm clothes, because we had an average temperature of -12° degrees Celsius (10° Fahrenheit). Together with a strong wind it sometimes felt even colder. But I survived the Russian cold and want to let you enjoy the beauty of Moscow with this report. Maybe it invites you to bring a visit to this city full of culture and beautiful buildings. Because where ever you walk n the city, you will be amazed of all the impressive buildings. Sometimes you want to photograph everything, but I limited myself to photographing only the most interesting buildings.

I won't tell you from day to day what Daria and me have been doing. But I want you to see the most beautiful locations in the center of Moscow and will tell you a little story with every location.

Because we had only 6 days to discover Moscow, we limited ourselves to the center of Moscow. In fact the center has so much to offer, that we had a lot to do. The first two days we used to discover Moscow by night. This is really nice, because most of the buildings are illuminated when it's dark. Unfortunately my pocket camera wasn't able to photograph this in a nice way. The pictures you will find on this site are therefore taken during daylight.

The maps

Before starting the report I am proud to present the maps again made by Cartographics in Heemskerk. The citymap of downtown Moscow can be enlarged in a seperate window so you can switch between the report and the map to see the location of the different sites in Moscow. My excuses for the maps written in Dutch. But I'll hope you'll understand it anyway.

Click to enlarge

Moscow underground

We often used the metro when we traveled around the city. The subway of Moscow is an attraction by itself. Especially the metro stations in the center of Moscow are really beautiful. They are decorated with lots of marble floors, beautiful stucco and sculptures. I can only advise you to travel around Moscow's underground and see all those beautiful stations. It will cost you almost nothing and it has perfect connections. The trains will arrive every two minutes. So you don't have to wait long. The different lines cross each other on different levels. Sometimes you have to go deep into the ground to reach the platforms. To get on the platforms the stations are equipped with very long escalators. Maybe you have to know that you have to stay on the right side of the escalator, when you are not in a hurry. The left side is used by people who are in a hurry.

To understand all the metro lines of Moscow, it might be easy to understand something of the Cyrillic script that Russians use. Because all metro stations are written down using this script. In that case it might be useful to understand on which station you are at the moment. I have a copy of a map with all the lines and stations of Moscow's subway.

A lot of stations are worth to be seen. But a few of them you must have seen, like the stations: Komsolmoskaja, Novoslobodskaja, Ploshad Revolucii, Barrikadnaja, Kievskaja. Also the buildings providing the access to the subway are worth to be seen. They are also a museum. But I can tell you and tell you about it. But in fact you should go there and see it yourself.

Red Square (Krasnaja Plosjtsjad)

One of the most outstanding spots in Moscow is of course the Red Square. I think everyone has seen a picture of it on television. You will find the Red Square next to the Kremlin. During the history of Moscow the square had several names. One of the names was the 'Fire square'. In the old days of Moscow the square was used as market place. But the market stalls made of wood were often burned down. So that's why they called it in the old days 'Fire square'. But in the 17th century the square got its present name 'Krasnaja Plosjtsjad'. This means the 'Red Square' or 'Beautiful Square'.

The most important building on the Red Square is without any doubt the St. Basil cathedral (Sobor Vasilija Blazjennogo). This cathedral was built by order of Ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible) in honour of the capture of the Mongolian bastion Kazan in the year 1552. The building of the cathedral was finished in 1561. Posnik Jakovlev was the architect of the cathedral. Daria told me the story that Ivan IV asked Jakovlev after he finished building the cathedral, if he was able to build a building with the same beauty like this again. Jakovlev answered this question with a yes. To prevent that Jakovlev would build a same building with the same beauty, Ivan IV decided to pull out the eyes of Jakovlev. In this way Ivan IV knew that this was the only building that Jakovlev would build. The cathedral got his name because the body of the traveling and silly vicar, Vasili Blazjenny, is buried in this cathedral.

In front of the St. Basil cathedral you will find a sculpture and a structure that you must see. The first is right in front of the cathedral. It's a sculpture designed between 1810 and 1818, in honour of the two national Saints, Minin and Pozjarski. The story goes that both men have played an important role during the fight against the Polish in the year 1612. The Polish invaded Moscow in the year 1610. The inscription on the sculpture says:

"To the citizen Minin and monarch Pozjarski - The thankful Russia, in the year 1818."

You will also find in front of the cathedral a platform from stone that is called the Skullplatform (Lobnoje mesto). This platform was used by the tsars and priests to proclaim their decrees and were the sentences of death passed on people and carried out.

On the north-eastside of the Red Square you will find the GUM. This is a large shopping mall in an international manner. The mall was built between the years 1889 and 1893. Tsar Nicolas II ordered the building of houses for trade purposes. He planned to rent these houses to merchants. In 1953 the houses were renovated and the mall got is present name GUM. This name is short for 'Gosoedarstvenny Universalnij Magazin', what means  universal mall of State. It's an impressive building with all sorts of shops. The enormous complex consists of 3 passages in length and 3 passages in breadth. Mutual they are connected with bridges and galleries. The roof of the mall is constructed with iron arches and plates of glass.

In the middle of the Red Square opposite to the GUM you will find the most modern construction on the Square. It's the mausoleum of Vladimir Iljitsj Lenin. Although Lenin didn't want this, Stalin decided to build a mausoleum for Lenin. The mausoleum is designed by Aleksej V. Sjtsjoesev and is built from dark red colored granite and black colored Labrador stone. In the mausoleum you will find the mortal and embalmed remains of Lenin in a sarcophagus made of glass. Not many people know that, after his death in the year 1953, the remains of Stalin were also interred in the mausoleum. But Chroesjtsjov decided in connection with the destalinisation to inter the remains of Stalin in the wall of the Kremlin near the blue fir-trees behind the mausoleum. In that wall many important figures from the communist period are interred.

It was a disappointment to me that the mausoleum was closed on the day that I wanted to visit it. Unfortunately I haven't seen the embalmed body of the important Russian leader Lenin. But when I walked the Red Square a few moments later, I understood why the mausoleum was closed. Because we walked into Lenin himself. Just for 50 rubles he was willing to get in one picture with me. Was I a lucky dude.... unfortunately the hands of Daria were a bit cold and shaky. But one must admit that the dude is a real look-a-like of Lenin.

On the North side of the Red Square you will see the Historical Museum of Russia (Istoritsjeski moezej). This building is made of dark red colored bricks with its striking white roofs. It was designed by Vladimir Sherwood in 1883. In this museum you can see the history of Russia. The museum owns over 4.5 million pieces, including the primitive man Sinanthropus and the oldest code of Russia, the Roeskaja Pravda. You can also see actors in original and old costumes in front of the museum.

On the front side of the Historical museum, on Manezjnaja Plosjtsjad, you will see the sculpture of a hero from the Russian history, marshal Georgij Zjoekov. He played an important role for Russia during the second world war. The sculpture is designed by Vjatsjeslav Klykov and was revealed in the year 1995.
You can also find next to the Historical museum the spot on the ground. All distances in Russia are measured from this spot. So the distance between St. Petersburg and Moscow is measured from this point. When you stand on this spot and you throw a coin over your shoulder, you can make a wish that might become reality. By the way the coin will immediately be picked up by a person who need the money to live.

Next to the museum on the east side, you can see the little Kazan cathedral. This cathedral was designed and built in the year 1636 in honour of the victory on the Polish troops in the year 1612. More than 200 years this cathedral owned the icon of Mother God's of Kazan. This icon was a symbol for the Russian firm attitude. But the cathedral was blown up in the year 1936, to make room for the big parades on the Red Square. In the year 1995 the cathedral was rebuild in original condition.

The Kremlin

Next to the Red Square you will find the Kremlin. The Kremlin is the residence of the Russian president and his government. Kremlin means 'Fortress in a city' and is surrounded by a high wall. In this wall you can see a lot of towers. Two of those towers provide the access to the Kremlin. These towers are called the Trinity tower (Troitskaja basjnja) on the west side en de Borovitskajatower in the southwest. But remember that not everything within the Kremlin is free accessible for visitors.

One of the most beautiful and most important Kremlin tower is the Saviour tower (Spasskaja basjnja). It's built on the east side of the Kremlin near the St. Basil cathedral. The tower was designed in the year 1491 by Pietro Antonio Solari. In the year 1625 the equipped the tower with a carillon and a clock. But the present clock is built in the tower in the year 1852.
An other impressive tower you can find on the other side of the Kremlin the Trinity tower (Troitskaja basjnja). This tower was built in 1495 and is with its 76 meters the highest tower of all Kremlin towers. Under this tower you can find deep cellar which was used in the old days as depot of munition. This tower was also used by Napoleon when he marched into Moscow in the year 1812. But after a month he had to leave the Kremlin again.

Because I had only 6 days to see Moscow I haven't been inside the Kremlin. But next time when I go to Moscow I will certainly visit the Kremlin. I want to visit the famous Maria-Ascension cathedral (Oespenski sobor). In this cathedral the tsars were crowned between 1547 and 1894. Next to the square of cathedrals you will find a lot of other churches and cathedrals like 'tserkov Rizpolozjenija', 'Blagovesjtsjenki sobor', the cathedral of archangel Michaël (Archangelski sobor). Another building I don't want to miss is the Bell-tower of Ivan the Big (kolokolnja Ivana Velikogo). I will tell more about this when I have visited all these buildings next time.


A very nice district in Moscow is the district called Arbatskaja. Arbatskaja is build on the west side of the Kremlin. In the old days the artisans and the masters of the horses of the tsars lived here. After that period mostly people from nobility, intellectuals and artists lived in this district of Moscow.

In the center of the old Arbat you can find the Ulitsa Arbat. It's a street free of traffic. You can find numerous of little antique shops, boutiques and little Russian cafes called Traktir. Also the famous Russian poet, Alexander Poesjkin, lived in this district. His old house can be found in the street Oelitsa Arbat number 55. Nowadays it's a museum.

You can also find the striking and beautiful Ministry of Foreign Affairs in this district. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of it, but it's one of the 7 skyscrapers in Moscow.

Another building that needs some attention is the Christ Saviour cathedral (Chram Christa Spasitelja). This cathedral was destroyed by Stalin in 1931, but is rebuilt now in original status. The base structure is finished already, but on the interior is still being worked. The original cathedral was designed and build between 1839 en 1883, in honour of the victory on Napoleon.


The district Tverskaja, north of the Kremlin and the Red Square, has an important main street called Tverskaja Ulitsa. This was THE street to St. Petersburg in teh old days and was frequently used by the tsars as a procession street. Nowadays it's one of the most important shopping streets in Moscow. In the streets around the Tverskaja Ulitsa numerous of famous artists, writers and actors have lived.

Next to the west wall of the Kremlin you can walk around the Alexander park (Aleksandrovskij sad). The park is named after tsar Alexander I, who ordered the rebuilding of the city and the Kremlin after the wars with Napoleon. In the park an obelisk is placed in the year 1913 in honour of 300 years Romanov dynasty. After the revolution the tsaristic eagle was removed from the obelisk and the inscription of the obelisk was replaced by the names of Karl Marx en Friedrich Engels.

Near the obelisk you can find the grave of the unknown soldier. The flame on the grave in lightened with the fire of the flame on the marching field near St. Petersburg. The flame burns for all Russians who died during the second world war. Next to the grave you can find 10 dark red colored stones. These stones contain sand from different cities in Russia, who suffered severely during the war. It's a habit in Moscow that couples who are going to marry, put some flowers on the grave. Nice to see was the fact that this monument is taken care of very well. Also during the night a person is sweeping of the snow from the monument and it is guarded 24-hours a day by soldiers. Even when it was as cold like as it was during my visit.

Close by, on the Manezjnaja Plosjtsjad, you can find a big and special clock. The clock has a horizontal position and the hands of the clock turn around on a half sphere. Until today I can't read the time using this clock, but it's nice to see. Around this clock a lot of little benches are placed. During nice weather this square is often used by Muscovites to meet each other. On the picture in the background of the clock you see the building of the Russian House of Parliament, the so called Duma.

In the district Tverskaja you can also find the Bolsjoj theater. It's the theater of the famous Russian ballet groups. Originally it was built in the year 1780, but in the year 1805 it burned down completely. The next theater that was build also burned down in 1853. But the building that you can see now is based on the design of the second building. I haven't been able to see the building inside, but the outside is also really beautiful. On top of the entrance you can see Apollo with his 4 horses. This sculpture is designed Pjotr Klodt and images Apollo guiding the sun across the sky.

On the Tverskaja Plosjtsjad you can find a sculpture of the founder of Moscow, Joerij Dolgoroekij. This sculpture was designed in the year 1954.

Ok I have told everything I have seen in Moscow. I know that 6 days are not enough to see Moscow. But I am sure I will make a second journey to Moscow. In that case I will tell you again about the trip. Of course I have not only been the tourist in Moscow. We had also lots of fun. I learned for example about some Russian habits with alcohol LOL.

Some other pics from Moscow

Below I have some more pictures for you that I took in Moscow. Not very interestic from a touristic point of view, but maybe you like to see them anyway.