Exploring Moscow

by possandruby

Moscow is a city built on a history of powerful tsars and leaders marred with mystery and hardship. Despite this the city has grown to be home to more than 12 million muscovites (locals).  Many of us are familiar with the icons, UNESCO listed Red Square the Kremlin, the Bolshoi Ballet and St Basils Cathedral but there are also some lesser known highlights that make it a fascinating destination to visit.  Getting around is easy with an extensive metro system and quite a walkable tract between key attractions.

What brought me here was the fact that it was the end point of the Trans-Siberian Railway or the beginning if you are travelling west to east. The train services from Moscow are extensive and can take you not only into the interior of Russia but also to St Petersburg and beyond into Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.

The best place to start is to take a Free Walking Tour of the city there are plenty of free walking tours available in Moscow. These tours are generally based on a tip to the guide at the end where you are encouraged to pay what you feel the tour was worth.  The half day walking tour we joined takes you through Red Square and the surrounding area. The guide shared the history of the city and pointed out the iconic buildings and sites of the area. These tours are a great opportunity to ask questions about other locations to visit from a locals perspective too.


Red Square

Once a merchant market place the square is a vast expanse of historic cobbled stones and is used as an event space and meeting place for visitors and locals alike.  The famous colourful onion shaped turrets of St Basil’s Cathedral are the highlight of a visit to Red Square. You can go inside the cathedral for a small fee. The square is bordered by the Kremlin, the imposing GUM Shopping Mall, the Lenin Mausoleum and the State History Museum.


One of the most spectacular shopping malls in the world the building began as covered market streets in the late 1800’s. The completely enclosed 3 level building now boasts some of the worlds most renowned brand retail stores. Over 2000 employees provide excellent service to thousands of customers daily.  The GUM is known for a signature ice cream only available here. Served in a short cone the ice cream comes in many flavours is said that the recipe is a very well-kept secret and the ice cram is still made by hand as it was when it was created. Open daily from 10am -10pm by night the building is beautifully lit with thousands of sparkling lights.

The Kremlin Museums

Moscow’s Kremlin and the Red Square are UNESCO Heritage Listed for architectural, historical and cultural significance. There are a series of churches and galleries in the grounds of the Kremlin Museum complex to visit. Climb over 140 stairs of the Ivan the Great bell tower for a fantastic view over the city and the Moscow River. Various tickets are available granting access to certain buildings and additional experiences.  The museum is open every day 10am – 5pm except Thursday.  The presidential and parliamentary buildings that are still in use are off limits to the public.

Russian Ballet

Moscow is celebrated for ballet and has long been generating exceptional performers the likes of Anna Pavlova, Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov. Catch a performance at the Kremlin Palace Theatre or the Bolshoi Theatre, but be sure to book in advance to secure a seat.

Moscow Metro Stations

The metro stations of Moscow are famous and you can even take an organised tour of some of the most spectacular ones. Locals don’t seem to notice the impressive bronze sculptures or spectacular ceilings of the underground stations.

Gorky Park

Most of us know of Gorky Park from the Scorpions song Winds of Change and the song runs through your head as you enter the imposing main entrance gates. The park is open 24/7 and is free to visit. Home to the various galleries and museums, sporting fields, play grounds, sculptures, fountains and look outs you can escape the bustle of the city in the expansive green space.

Ismailovsky Market  

Take a ride on the metro to visit this strange place, its façade has a theme park feel and odd museums and shops inside. In the car park there is a large market with rows of stalls selling items such as Matryoshka dolls, scarves, faberge eggs and hand painted Christmas decorations. Goods are well priced and many stall holders are keen to bargain with visitors for the best price of the day


For a visit to Moscow a central location makes it easy to access the key locations. Arbat House  is close the metro station of Arbatskya and walking distance from Red Square and the Kremlin Museums. Standard rooms are spacious, comfortable and clean. The onsite café served an excellent buffet breakfast which was included in the room price.


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