Moscow is the capital and the largest city of Russia; it has a rich and diverse heritage. Visitors to Moscow have the opportunity to see some impressive cathedrals, palaces and many beautiful buildings. The architecture in the city is varied much of Russiaís architecture has been largely religious, for centuries churches were the only stone buildings most other buildings were built of wood.
One of Moscowís most famous attractions is Red Square, the oldest and most historic square in the city dating from the 15th century. The Kremlin borders this large public square; Red Square has been used for official and public ceremonies including parades and executions by Russian governments since its beginnings.
On Red Square not far from St. Basils Cathedral you will see a circular platform, the Lobnoe Mesto it was built in the 16th century and where the Tsar would address the people. The platform allegedly was the place where Ivan the Terrible pleaded for the peopleís forgiveness in the year 1547. Today Red Square is used for various cultural events including concerts.
Some of you may wish to visit Leninís Mausoleum which is situated in Red Square following Leninís death in 1924 it was decided that his body should be preserved for future generations, his body was embalmed and placed in a wooden tomb. In 1930 this was exchanged for one made of stone, the Mausoleum attracts many tourists.
St. Basils Cathedral bordering Red Square is a must see, it was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible, designed by the architect Postnik Yakovlev and completed in 1561. According to legend Ivan had the architect blinded to prevent him from designing anything as wonderful again.
The cathedral has nine individual chapels at the top of each one is a ribbed coloured onion dome. The ninth chapel was added to the cathedral in 1558 to house the remains of Basil the Blessed. The Kremlin founded in the 12th century has controlled the Russian way of life for many decades this historical fortified complex overlooks Red Square, it is the main workplace and the official home of the Russian President. There are some parts which are accessible to visitors and you should take the opportunity to visit them they include the State Armoury, Patriarchs Palace and the churches.
The imposing Patriarchís Palace houses the museum of 17th century Life and Art you will see robes and vestments among the thousand or so exhibits as well as the marvellous Chamber of the Cross with its painted ceiling. The State Armoury is impressive it contains many priceless exhibits including the Diamond Throne; there are clothes, fabrics, carriages and state ceremonial trappings and objects, an excellent collection in this museum. The State Diamond Fund is in a separate museum in the State Armoury building where again you will see some dazzling exhibits on show.
If you want a break from sightseeing the Alexander Gardens and nearby Manezhnaya Ploshchad are pleasant areas to spend some time with plenty of food and drink choices. The Old Arbat Street has cafes/restaurants, shops and souvenir stalls and is worth wandering down you might catch some street entertainment also. You might like to visit the GUM Department Store, this elegant shopping arcade was designed in the late 19th century, note the glass roof and wrought iron railings. You will find western style cafes, boutiques and designer shops. The shops in the city open around 10am in the morning (rarely before) and in general close about 7pm also close for an hour at lunch time.
You will find many department stores and food shops use the Kassa method of payment, you select the items you wish to purchase, confirm the price then you go to the Kassa to pay taking the paid receipt back to the display counter to collect your goods. There are many boutiques and shops around the city centre and a short distance away will bring you to the Sadko Arcade which has a restaurant, supermarket and speciality shops. You will find the more high-class shopping arcade shops will accept credit cards.
The nightlife in Moscow is thriving with bars and clubs that cater for all tastes, some you may wish to avoid, there are many theatres plus numerous venues where you can see opera and ballet, the most famous of these is the Bolshoi.
The main international airport serving Moscow is Sheremetyevo 2 which is approximately 17 miles north-west of the centre. Unless you are on an organized holiday package tour where transfers are included to the city, you should opt for a taxi it is much easier. Many of the main hotels have a bureau de change where you can convert your money to rubles.You should avoid carrying a lot of cash around with you or walking alone at night.
There are many more interesting places to visit and sights to see in and around Moscow you certainly cannot cover everything on a short stay or on a first visit but you can experience the architectural heritage, the culture and the impressive qualities of this city.