The city is said to date back eight-and-a half-centuries, with the first references to it in chronicles from 1147. It was built by Suzdal’s Prince Yuri Dolgorukiy on the sweeping curve of the Moskva River. From its humble beginnings as a hunting village, it grew steadily into a fortress city, to become later the central point of the whole Russian state.
Russia’s most intense human aspirations, be they artistic, religious or political, have found their most passionate expression in Moscow. The reflection of these aspirations can be seen in the beautiful architecture created over several centuries, particularly in Moscow’s symbols — the Kremlin, Red Square and St Basil’s Cathedral.
Moscow — the capital of the Russian Federation and one of the country’s most popular destinations for foreign visitors.
Moscow is one of the largest cities in the world. It has grown rapidly in recent decades, and, as a result, comprises high-rise suburbs surrounding a relatively compact historic centre with plenty of fascinating ancient architecture. Apart from being a major political player on the world stage, Moscow is also an extremely popular city for business and tourism.
Population: 12 million.
Area: approximately 1035 sq km.
Climate: average temperature in winter — between -10 and -15C; spring – 0-10C; summer – 18-24C; autumn 10C.
Administrative division: 10 administrative districts, which are in turn segmented into 128 city regions.
Where to stay: there are more than 200 hotels in Moscow. The hotels can be defined according to Western standard ratings (newly built) and local standard ratings (old/renovated hotels). The type of a hotel does not affect the price very much.
Where to eat: most of Moscow’s best restaurants and bars are located in central Moscow. Arbat Street has the highest concentration and variety of restaurants. Russkoye bistro is a popular new chain offering fast food Russian-style.
Shopping: there are numerous Western-style supermarkets and department stores. The most interesting shopping districts are located within the Garden Ring. The main department stores are around Red Square, the biggest and most famous of which is the State Department Store — GUM. For the best souvenirs and antique shops, head for the pedestrianised Arbat Street.
Main sightseeing: Red Square, Kremlin, St Basil’s Cathedral, Lenin Mausoleum, State Armoury, Tretyakov Gallery, Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Bolshoy Theatre, Kuskovo, and Kolomenskoye.
Entertainment: Moscow offers many forms of entertainment, from museums, theatres, ballets and operas, to musicals and concerts, from world-famous exhibitions to a wide variety of night life.
Getting around: There are nine railway stations and five airports. Inside the city, the most reliable way of travelling is by Metro, which has stations close to all the major sights. Moscow is also served by buses, trams and trolley buses. Taxis can be found in any part of the city.
Weather: Moscow is not Siberia or the far North and, apart from the occasional cold snap when temperatures can descend below -20 ºC, the winter is quite bearable if you come equipped. In winter, which lasts from mid-November to mid-March, the temperature averages about -8 ºC, and there is plenty of sunshine. From the beginning of June onwards the temperatures start to rise up into the low thirties – which, in a land-locked city this size, can feel pretty hot, however summer is still the best time to visit Moscow.
Must visit places
Red Square remains, as it has been for centuries, the heart and soul of Russia. Few places in the world bear the weight of history to the extent that Moscow’s central square does. From the 16th Century St. Basil’s Cathedral – one of the most famous pieces of architecture in the world – to the constructivist pyramid of Lenin’s Mausoleum, Red Square is rich in symbols of Russia’s turbulent and intriguing past.
The Kremlin Armoury Museum – Moscow’s oldest and most prestigious museum, which boasts a staggering collection of Tsarist artefacts, Russian and foreign jewellery, armour, and a collection of over fifty Faberge eggs
The State Tretyakov Gallery is the national treasury of Russian fine art and contains more than 150,000 works of painting, sculpture and graphics created by generations of Russian artists.
Moscow Underground is one of the masterpieces of the Soviet era created in the Socialist Realism style. The Moscow Metro with its stations decorated with marble, mosaics, stained glass panels and bronze sculptures looks like a vast art museum. It was one of the proudest achievements of the Soviet era and it’s still beating many other European underground systems.
Arbat Street is one of the most famous streets in Moscow. The Arbat is also one of the symbols of old Moscow, which was celebrated in poems, novels, songs and movies. Nowadays the Arbat is the name of the pedestrian street, but actually the Arbat is the whole district of Moscow that marked its 500th birthday in 1993.