INFO on Russia
Why Travel to Moscow?
Moscow, the capital city of Russia, is a beautiful and unconventional city in the center of 'European Russia'. Modern Moscow is fast becoming a popular destination for both business and travel; partly due to its people and the pride they have in their city. Russians are an incredibly warm and hospitable people who enjoy life to the full. If you are lucky enough to be invited to a Muscovite's home then you are likely to be treated to a memorable evening of shchi (vegetable soup), bliny, salted fish, vodka, pickled cucumbers and possible even more vodka, just don't expect an early night.
Moscow is one of the oldest and one of the most beautiful Russian cities.
The emperors, or tsars, made the city their base of rule until 1712, when the capital was moved to Saint Petersburg. Moscow was restored as Russia's capital in 1918, and it served as the capital of the Union of
Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) from 1922 until 1991. Since then Moscow is the capital of the Russian Federation.
Moscow has a long and full of drama history. Many times the city has been completely destroyed and rebuilt again. Its most ancient wooden buildings disappeared in fires. Each time the city resurrected from the ash to become more and more beautiful. Each time the most talented and famous architects were invited from around the world to restore Moscow.
That is why Moscow has absorbed many different styles that strike the visitors with their variety. Stalin epoch monumental buildings neighbor with small two-store XIX century town houses; splendid cathedrals peer from modern skyscrapers. Even in the heart of Moscow, in the Kremlin, old churches compete with the immense Congress Palace for space.
Despite its size (about 900 square kilometers) and the scale of many of Moscow buildings and avenues, the general layout is easily grasped - a series of concentric circles and radial lines, emanating from the Kremlin - and the center is compact enough to explore on foot.
Money: The official currency is the Ruble (RUB) divided into 100 kopeks. Most major credit cards are accepted in the larger hotels and at places that deal with foreign tourists.
Russia Passport & Visa Requirements
For Americans,UK,Canadians,Australians,South Africans,New Zealanders,...: require a passport valid for the length of their stay and a visa for entry to Russia.
The heart of Moscow and of the Russian State itself, the Kremlin (literally meaning ‘fortified town’) is a walled fortress dating back to the city’s founding in 1147 (although the oldest extant walls and churches date from the 15th and 16th centuries). From 1276 to 1712, it was the seat of government for the grand princes and tsars, from 1918 to the present, the Communist government. The red-brick walls and towers enclose a number of churches and palaces and, once past the soviet-era Palace of Congresses, the visitor will find a pleasing ensemble around the main square.
The Uspensky Sobor
The Uspensky Sobor is the largest of the churches. It was the burial place for Orthodox patriarchs and was used for the coronations of tsars. The zakomary (arched gables) are a visual extension of the vaulting within the cathedral. The pretty Blagoveshchensky Sobor (Annunciation Cathedral), with its nine glittering copper-gilt domes, was the private chapel of the tsars. Ivan the Terrible added the Grosnenskiy Porch, because he was refused entry after contravening church doctrine by marrying for a fourth time. Archangelsky Sobor (Cathedral of the Archangel Michael), although built in 1505, houses the remains of the grand princes and tsars who reigned from 1325 to 1696. The Armoury Museum and Diamond Fund are worth visiting for the state and church treasures, including Fabergé eggs (in the former) and the 180-carat diamond given to Catherine the Great (in the latter). Also within the Kremlin are the Tsar Cannon and Tsar Bell, both the largest of their kind (40 and 200 tonnes, respectively) and neither one used for its intended purpose. English-speaking guides will often approach tourists outside the main gates – there is no set price so bargaining is necessary.
Krasnaya Ploshchad and Pokrovsky Sobor (Red Square and St Basil’s Cathedral)
The site of large May Day parades during the Soviet era and a market before that, Krasnaya ploshchad (Red Square – although krasnaya means ‘beautiful’ in Old Russian) is a dramatic 700m-long (2300ft) space. It also drew crowds to visit Lenin’s Mausoleum – a cubic, Russian avant-garde structure with a crystal casket containing the preserved body of the Soviet Union’s founder. The square is dominated by the walls and towers of the Kremlin on one side and the façade of the GUM department store on the other. Yet these provide a frame for Russia’s most famous image – the multicoloured onion domes of Pokrovsky Sobor (Cathedral of the Intercession, better known as St Basil’s Cathedral). Each dome has distinctive patterning and colours and the effect of the ensemble is stunning. It was built in the 1550s, to commemorate Ivan the Terrible’s victory over the Mongols at Kazan.
Muzey Izobrazitelnykh Iskusstv im A S Pushkina (Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts)
Second only in reputation within Russia to the Hermitage in St Petersburg, the Muzey Izobrazitelnykh Iskusstv im A S Pushkina contains a rich collection of artworks, ranging from an Egyptian exhibit to Impressionist (notably Claude Monet) and Post-Impressionist paintings. Audio tours are available for a fee. Visitors should hold onto their admission tickets – they are also valid for the adjacent Museum of Private Collections, which displays 19th- and 20th-century Russian and foreign art.
Tretyakov Galereya (Tretyakov Gallery)
The most important collection of traditional Russian painting in the world resides here. The extensive collection of icons is well worth seeing, as it covers the development of this art form from early Byzantine times to the more developed Russian schools of the 17th century. The most famous of these icons is the 12th-century Vladimir Virgin and there are also works by Theophanes the Greek, Dionysius and Andrey Rublyov – some of Russia’s greatest icon painters. The gallery’s collection of paintings, sculptures and graphics covers Russian art from the 18th to early 20th centuries.
Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts
This is to Moscow what the Hermitage is to St. Petersburg -- the major collection of Western art and antiquities. In 1995, it confessed to owning hundreds of works seized from Germany by the Red Army after World War II. These revelations fueled worldide debate regarding their restitution. In 1997, the Russian parliament passed a bill that made the art property of the Russian state.
Moscow, like the rest of the country, has a range of extreme climatic conditions from intensely cold
winters to swelteringly hot summers. From November to April the temperature rarely rises above 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) and snow is common. However in July and August it can reach the mid 30 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit).
Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO) serves the Moscow area with both domestic and international flights.
Moscow has a railway network that links to most parts of Russia, awswell as most former Soviet states, China and countries in Eastern and Western Europe. Moscow itself has nine main train stations, all with metro stations on the spot. Moscow is also well linked by road.
Moscow's subway system is one of the most efficient and beautiful in the world. Stations in the center have enormous ceilings with opulent mosaics, chandeliers and statues. For most of the day trains run flawlessly every minute and a half or less.
In the center, no place is more than a 10-minute walk from a metro station, and stations are well distributed throughout the suburbs. Even if you plan on getting around by car while you're in Moscow, it's worth taking a ride on the metro just to gawk at the underground palaces.
In some parts of Moscow the bus, trolleybus and tram are the only form of public transport. You can usually buy tickets from the driver and stamp them in a machine on the bus.
Though most of Moscow looks like it was designed for the movement of Politburo motorcades, the city does have good places to walk. In the center things are close together and many theaters, hotels and restaurants are minutes from each other.
Alexandrovsky Gardens, the Boulevard Ring and Red Square are some of the center's prettiest places to walk. If you want to explore the city away from six lanes of traffic, there are a few architectural treasures to be found in the narrower streets of Kitai-Gorod and south of the Old Arbat. Outside of the center the city is more spread out and walking is usually impractical.
Still, outer Moscow is home to Sparrow Hills, Kolomenskaya and the Botanical Gardens, and many of Moscow's best places to stroll.
INFO on Russia