Welcome to the third Rome – welcome to Moscow! Since it inherited Byzantine Empire in cultural aspects, throughout history this city became to represent capital of luxury and the range of opposites, split between religion and atheism, proud of its history and art, and central city in numerous classical literature books, especially of romanticism and realism period. Being the jewel in 19 th century art of literature, poetry, music, and salon lifestyle, Moscow wears its history like a crown, glowing with beauty and wisdom, with special retro charm even in its modern days, smiling upon its visitors like a true tsarina of all the European capitals.
Cost of Living:
When to Visit
April – May Best time to visit; temperatures climb back to normal and room rates will rise as the spring progresses.
June – August High prices on accommodation. Usadba Jazz Festival and Moscow International Film Festival take place in June.
September – October Good opportunity to visit Moscow right after the summer crowds and before the harsh winter. There is the chance of scoring some good deals.
State Armoury was built as a museum in 19 th century, under request of Tsar Nicholas I. It contains the largest collection of royal treasury, collected since the 14th century, first in the cellars of Kremlin, and later in stone treasury built between churches. Visitors can enjoy magnificent artifacts that witness glorious ruling history of Russia, including crowns, ceremonial horse harness and saddles, royal carriages, coronation and Russian secular dresses, armors, weapons, silverware, Faberge Eggs, ambassadorial gifts etc. You can also visit the separate museum within that exhibits jewels only, including some of the world’s largest, such as Orlov Diamond. For more information about chambers, tickets, tours and other visit www.kreml.ru
Open: Friday-Wednesday 10:00AM-06:00PM (Sessions start at 10:00AM, 12:00PM, 02:30PM and 04:30PM)
State Historical Museum is located at the northern end of Red Square, and it is a perfect place to learn everything about Russian history. This museum is located in beautiful 19 th century building, and houses artifacts that, systematically and chronologically, from one room to another, show the history of Russia from Stone Age to modern times. The most glorious exhibitions include Middle Ages and Imperial periods, which display magnificent pieces such as large wooden globe made by Dutch cartographers for Peter the Great in 1697, or the Treasures of Prague Castle, etc. For more information about exhibits and tickets visit www.en.shm.ru
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday 10:00AM-05:00PM; Friday, Saturday 10:00AM-09:00PM
Price: Adults ₽350/Students ₽100; Audio guide ₽300
Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts has such a large collection, that majority of it is housed in next door museum buildings: Gallery of European and American Art of the 19 th-20th Century. It was never planned to be such a large museum collection, since it opened in 1912. as an educational institution, but its collection multiplied greatly due to nationalization during Communist period, as well as transferring great number of masterpieces and artifacts from Hermitage and Moscow’s Museum of Modern Western Art, making Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts one of the largest collections of impressionists, post-impressionists and modernist art in the world. For more information about exhibitions, ticket packages and other visit www.arts-museum.ru
Open: Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday: 11:00AM-08:00PM (Ticket office: 11:00AM-07:00PM; last tickets sold at 07:00PM)
Thursday, Friday: 11:00AM-09:00PM (Ticket office: 11:00AM-08:00PM; last tickets sold at 08:00PM)
Price: Adults ₽500/Children (age under 16) free
This is one of the oldest theater and ballet companies in the world, established in late 18 th century. After being relocated, destroyed and reconstructed many times since its beginnings, finally the Bolshoi Theater that we know today opened in 1856. It is one of the most famous and most prestigious opera and ballet scenes in the world, and certainly worth visiting at least once in a lifetime. Tickets for the plays can be bought online, or reserved by phone, in English. There are also one hour long theater tours available in Russian and English, for group of 20 people. For more information visit www.bolshoi.ru/en/
Open: Monday, Wednesday, Friday 11:10AM (in Russian) and 11:15AM (in English)
Price: ₽1300 (Tickets can be purchased on the day of the tour at the ticket office located in the Historic building of the Theater (door #12))
This site is a treat for every art lover, and it also has an interesting history. This museum that started as a private collection of Russian paintings owned by Pavel Tretyakov, who exhibited in his living room in the mid 19 th century, grew into the largest collection of Russian art in the world. It contains more than 160 000 works of art, from anonymous masters to most famous names of Russian art, such as Kandinsky, Malevich and Chagall. It is divided into Tretyakov and New Tretyakov, where former houses masterpieces of Russian art of the 11th until early 20th century, temporary exhibitions, educational and cultural programs; and latter contains artwork starting from early 20th century, and the current trends of the 21st century – avant-garde, socialistic realism, non-conformism. For more information about exhibitions, tickets and special guided tours visit www.tretyakovgallery.ru/en/
Open: Tuesday, Wednesday, Sunday 10:00AM-06:00PM; Thursday, Friday, Saturday 10:00AM-09:00PM (Last tickets are sold an hour before closing time)
Red Square is the witness of long and bloody history of the city, wars and regime changes, and it is currently in its pre-soviet appearance. You can approach to several other sightseeing spots from here, such as St. Basil’s Cathedral, Lenin Mausoleum, GUM shopping mall, or just stand in the middle of it and contemplate about Ivan the Terrible executing his prisoners, or Napoleon addressing his troops maybe from the same very spot you’re currently standing at; or simply take some magnificent scenery photos from one of the most famous squares in the world.
For safety reasons and due to possible terrorist attacks, avoid big crowds and standing in one place for too long; also it is highly recommendable to blend in, do not speak loud in foreign language and try not to walk around with a map or a guide book in order to avoid attracting hustlers or thieves.
Great Kremlin Palace is the largest building in Kremlin complex, and it was built as a new imperial palace upon old foundations, for Tsar Nicholas I by a famous architect Konstantin Tor, in 19 th century. Nowadays it is an official residence of Russian president, and it is closed for visits, although you can see parts of its interior in footages of official ceremonies and international meetings. Of course, you can enjoy its beautiful exterior and taking wonderful photos of Kremlin scenery.
Kolomenskoye Estate is located on Moscow River, on the way to Kolomna, and therefore got its name. It was founded as a summer palace, and a favorite one, of Ivan the Terrible, and continued to be rebuilt, renovated and extended by other rulers. Some of the palaces in the complex were destroyed throughout history, but some other sites remained intact, or were repaired recently. Nowadays it is a very popular vacation spot for families, in winter and summer, and there are several sites to visit there, such as UNESCO World Heritage site Church of the Ascension, the Front Gate complex, Palace Pavilion of 1825. and St. George the Victorious Bell Tower and Church, as well as organized museum tours. For more information visit www.mgomz.com/kolomenskoe
Summer Period (April 1-September 30): Tuesday-Friday, Sunday 10:00AM-06:00PM; Saturday 11:00AM-07:00PM
Winter period (October 1-March 31): Tuesday-Sunday 10:00AM-06:00PM
Price: Free for the park; minimal price that varies for certain sites (check on the website)
This is the most recognizable landmark of Russia and the most famous scene that represents Moscow. It dominates the Red Square with its nine chapels, built in 16 th century to honor the victory over Tatars, with each chapel representing one of the key battles for defeating Tatars and capturing their stronghold Kazan. The chapels are the most representative examples of Russian architecture, with characteristically colored onion-shaped towers, and many legends surrounding their construction. Each of the chapels is dedicated to a specific saint, and it is told that Ivan the Terrible blinded the architects so they could never build anything as grandiose and magnificent as this. The story isn’t true, though, since those same architects built the 10th chapel. The name St. Basil (Saint Vasily) for the church actually comes from this very chapel, which contains the crypt and remains of St. Basil, famous and feared as a seer and miracle maker; but it is also known as the Intercession Cathedral.
Open: Daily 11:00AM-05:00PM November-April, 10:00AM-06:00PM May-October
Closed: First Wednesday of the month (sanitary day)
Price: Adults ₽400/Students ₽150
Cathedral of the Assumption, also known as Dormition Cathedral Moscow or Kremlin’s Cathedral is one of the most magnificent spiritual places of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. The oldest church at this spot existed since 14 th century, and the church we see today was finished in 1479. It is famous for being the cathedral church for royal weddings and coronations, inaugurations and burials of patriarchs and metropolitans of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as many other important ceremonies. It was a museum during Soviet period, and resumed its religious purposes in the ‘90ties. Its magnificence transfers from its remarkable architecture, white and gold exterior, to breathtaking fresco paintings on inside walls, as well as unique silver iconostasis.
Open: Friday-Wednesday 10:00AM-05:00PM
It is a common site to see a lot of police officers around the city center, and it is highly recommendable to avoid their attention; in case they do approach you, it is best to carry a photocopy of your passport, visa and registration papers to show them, instead of handing them the originals go.
Ivan the Great Bell Tower carries the name of the first Russian emperor, who commissioned the building of the church in this place in 14 th century, later transformed into a bell tower by the Italian master Marco Bono in 1505. It served as a belfry for all the cathedrals in the Kremlin complex. It was the highest building in Moscow until 20th century, and before that time it was even forbidden to build anything taller than it. If the weather allows it , visitors can buy one of the limited numbers of tickets to climb the tower and experience unique viewpoint on Moscow city center and skyscraper scenery, or see the multimedia presentation of Kremlin’s long and turbulent history, including projections of buildings and churches that no longer exist.
Open: April-October 10:00AM-05:00PM
Like many other religious buildings and churches, Novodevichy Convent changed its purpose throughout history. It was built in 16 th century and for a long time known as a noble nunnery, since great number of aristocrats took their vows here before retreating from common life. It was renovated in grandiose baroque style in late 17th century to resemble The Assumption Cathedral in Kremlin, but suffered difficult fate after Napoleon’s troops occupied it in 1812. Later it had been used as a female prison, and then museum during communist period. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, as well as a resting place of some of the most famous names from Russian history and art, such as Chekov, Mayakovsky, Gogol, Eisenstein, Khrushchev, Yeltsin etc.
Open: Daily 09:00AM-05:00PM
Price: Full ticket price: ₽300; Photography: ₽100; Video recording: ₽200
Kremlin Wall Graves is a mass graves necropolis located behind Lenin’s Mausoleum at Red Square. It is a burial place for more than 100 soviet heroes whose ashes are embedded in walls and marked with plaques, on the place of the former mass graves of Bolshevik revolutionary fighters buried here after Revolution in 1917. Special place is reserved for honoring 12 Soviet statesmen, except for Khrushchev, who have individual tombs.
This is a very unique entertainment park dating back from 1939, and certainly on of the most popular among locals and tourists, equally. Its full name is Vystavka Dostizheniy Narodnogo Khozyaystva, also known as the All-Russia Exhibition Centre, and it is actually a huge complex for recreation and education. It is a venue for all kinds of exhibitions and manifestations, and it includes an open air theatre, a giant Ferris wheel, an amusement park, the Cosmonauts Museum and the Moskvarium (an aquarium), etc. For more information about themes, exhibitions and other visit www.vdnh.ru/en/
Open: Daily 09:00AM-11:00PM
Price: Free for walking around; prices vary for different attractions
Always exchange your money in banks or exchange offices and strictly avoid street dealers for safety reasons; also, you can use ATMs, but it is highly recommendable to use those located in banks, since if you use those attached to bars, shops, markets or restaurants they might not be able to help you in case your card gets swallowed by the machine.
Gorky Park is one of the most beautiful and most popular places in Moscow, and it stands completely for its full name: Maxim Gorky's Central Park of Culture and Leisure. It was built by an avant-garde architect Konstantin Melnikov during communist era as a part of its philosophy: 8h of work, 8h of sleep and 8h of culture and active leisure time. This magnificent park has everything: tracks for running, cycling, rollerblading, courts for beach volleyball, table tennis, urban and extreme sports etc. and during winter time all the ponds are flooded, and the park becomes a winter fairy tale venue with huge ice-skating rink.
Open: 24h daily
Tsaritsino Park is a huge complex that was commissioned by Tsarina Katherine the Great to be her suburban palace, but unfortunately its construction was never completed. It includes the New Grand Palace, Greenhouses, and Historical Landscaped Park with ponds and new park zones with Light dynamic fountain. Throughout time it became a very popular picnic place among the ruins, often visited by locals, and after ‘80ties its renovation and finishing slowly continued. Nowadays the complex is being in better state than ever. For more information visit www.tsaritsyno-museum.ru/en/
Palace Complex: Tuesday-Friday 10:00AM-06:00PM; Saturday 10:00AM-08:00PM; Sunday 10:00AM-07:00PM; Closed: Mondays
Greenhouses: Wednesday-Friday 10:00AM-06:00PM; Saturday 10:00AM-08:00PM; Sunday 10:00AM-07:00PM; Closed: Mondays and Tuesedays
Park: Daily 06:00AM-Midnight
Price: Admission to the park is free; Museums ₽80-₽650
GUM stands for Russian ‘State Department Store’ (first) and ‘Main Department Store’ (today). It is a large shopping mall in Moscow located at the Red Square, a beautiful 19 th century building with three floors and hundreds of shops, restaurants and fancy stores, especially popular and recommended for its coffee shops with marvelous ice cream and cakes. Anything you need to know about stores, discounts, special offers and holiday events at GUM you can find on its official website www.gumrussia.com
Open: Daily 10:00AM-10:00PM
Always carry some cash with you, since some of the shops or restaurants don’t accept credit cards for payment, and make sure to warn your credit providers about your traveling plans, to avoid your cards being automatically blocked for security reasons.