What to do in Moscow
One of the best known cities in the world but Moscow doesn’t always seem that accessible. Hidden away in the depths of Russia this huge city always seemed to me to be an hour or two too many on a plane if that is all you were going to see. The seat of power of the largest country in the world where iconic buildings abound and are told in movies that secret agents wait around every corner. When I engineered my holidays to arise during the winter Olympics in Sochi I made sure Moscow was on my path and I was wrong. It is definitely worth the extra hour or two if you can manage it and there are no secret agents around any corners in fact people are actually friendly! There are some charades required as English for the most part is limited but it just adds to the fun! So after my few days where I was very impressed I have put together my list of what to do in Moscow in order of what I think should be seen first to last.
Time to Do: To do everything listed below will take approximately 3 days.
1) What to do in Moscow – Red Square
This huge open area used to be where tsars and dictators showed the populace their power and is synonymous with communism even though it was there for hundreds of years before any Bolshevik set foot in it. It is also where you can see communism’s main man Lenin. Lenin’s Mausoleum and the iconic St. Basils Cathedral, the one with the colourdy onions are right on the square! If you want to know more I have a separate post on visiting the Red Square and the Kremlin in Moscow. Nearest metro: Pl. Revolyutsky-Dark Blue Line
2) What to do in Moscow – The Kremlin
It started as a humble wooden garrison on a hill and turned into one of the biggest and best known fortresses in the world. This is both a very impressive tourist attraction and also the seat of power for Russia with the office of the president inside its walls. It is home to several 500 hundred year old cathedrals, the world renowned Faberge Eggs and also the world’s biggest sapphire (not to mention a 160 carat diamond!). If you want to know more I have a separate post on visiting the Red Square and the Kremlin in Moscow. Nearest metro: Aleksandrovksy Sad- Dark Blue, Red or Grey lines.
3) What to do in Moscow – Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery
This convent and cemetery beside each other have a great Russian history. The cemetery is full of famous Russians who were disappeared because of their views and include Chekhov, Prokofiev, Krushchev and most recently former president Boris Yeltsin with a gaudy tombstone. The cemetery was built in 1524 and then former ruler Sofia was banished there by her half-brother Peter the Great along with his first wife! Nice of him! The convent is small but has beautiful churches inside its surrounding walls. Nearest Metro: Sportivnaya – Red line on south of the centre.
4) What to do in Moscow – State Tretyakov Gallery
This is the best collection of Russian Art in the world and was started in the 19th century by Pavel Tretyakov. If you go and you see how many great paintings he managed to get by himself you can’t help but be impressed. The collection today has 130,000 items! Like most museums it is not possible to see everything in a day and as I don’t know much about art I looked at the more famous painters and some of the paintings and icons are amazing. Even being from poor old Ireland I recognised some of the paintings and here they were in Moscow! Artists such as Repin, Vereshchagin, Surikov, Serov etc etc. They may not be household names to people not in the know in the west but they still are very impressive. The older paintings of landscapes etc are hard to get excited about but the late 19th century stuff of poverty and social issues are excellent. The State Tretyakov Gallery is not to be confused with the New Tretyakov Gallery (modern art) which is situated close by. Even to spend 3hrs to half a day here is well worth it. Admission is 400 Ru and 200Ru for photography. http://www.tretyakovgallery.ru/en/
5) What to do in Moscow – Moscow Metro
If you are visiting Moscow you will undoubtedly be riding the metro unless you are crazy enough to contend with the randomness and traffic of the streets. Moscow’s Metro stations are one of the fanciest in the world. They have tributes to war, peace, women, Ukraine, agriculture, the list goes on and each metro is unique. There are no modern contemporary stations built of glass or modern art but they still are a sight to behold. It is well worth giving yourself more time when going somewhere so you can get off when you see a fancy stop. For more info and the best stations see my other post on the beautiful Moscow Metro.
6) What to do in Moscow – Park Pobedy / Victory Park
This park doesn’t appear high on many lists but you should definitely pay it a visit. Like many memorials in Moscow it commemorates war and this one is victory in WWII or the Great Patriotic War as they call it in Russia. The large park is great to walk around but the main highlight and close to the metro station is the central avenue which has a fountain for everyday of the war and 10cm for each day on a 142mtr (520ft) high obelisk. Behind the obelisk is the Great Patriotic Museum which goes through artefacts and history of the war including plenty of surviving examples of guns, artillery, coats etc etc. There are some English translations for the main parts but not everything is covered. Admission 250Ru. Just outside Park Pobedy metro is the Triumphal Arch which is a huge arch in the middle of the road to commemorate Napoleon’s defeat in 1812. It was this same hill where Napoleon waited in vain to receive the keys to the Kremlin. Nearest Metro: Park Pobedy – Dark Blue line.
7) What to do in Moscow – Christ the Saviour Cathedral
One of the most spectacular churches in Moscow with great golden onions on top. It is the tallest Orthodox church in the world at 103mtrs and is an unusual church on the inside. As well as being free to enter it also has no seating so that each icon and statue of the church can be prayed at. Because of this there is no focal point which gives great access to all nooks and crannies of the church and the huge central dome. The original 19th century church was destroyed and so the current one is new and was only built in the nineties with the help of donations from over a million Muscovites. Christ the saviour is only a 10min walk from the Kremlin and the adjoining footbridge across the Moskva River provides great views. Nearest Metro: Kropotkinskaya on the red line.
8) What to do in Moscow – Peter the Great Statue and Statue Park (Fallen Monument Park)
The controversial 1997 statue that has been labelled as ugly by several establishments but I liked it myself and it’s an easy stroll across the Moskva River from the Christ the Saviour Cathedral it’s so not out of your way. I think I liked the silhouette against the skyline as opposed to the finer detail. The statue is huge. 98mtrs to be precise which puts it inside the top ten biggest in the world. Peter the Great wasn’t so great for Moscow though as he moved the capital to a swamp which is now St. Petersburg and put Moscow into years of decline so it is a little ironic that the city of St. Petersburg rejected the statue when they could have had it!
The statue park is over the Moskva River to the east in Park Rayon Yakimanka and contains weird statues as well as old USSR statues of the heroes. Nearest Metro: Kropotkinskaya on the red line or Polyanka on the grey line. Both attractions are in-between the two.
9) What to do in Moscow – Bolshoi Theatre
The most famous theatre in Moscow and one of foremost theatres in the world and even adorns the 100 Rubles banknote. The company also has the largest ballet in the world. Originally built in 1824 and after a very expensive upgrade in 2011 the Bolshoi is very grand indeed (Bolshoi means grand or big in Russian). The theatre is worth a look from the outside but you cannot get in unless you buy a ticket which without the help of touts outside you must do it well in advance online. It is only a 5 min walk north of the Kremlin so very central. http://www.bolshoi.ru/en/ . Nearest Metro: Teatralnaya on the dark green line
10) What to do in Moscow – Moscow’s Viewpoint
One of the highest points in Moscow is on the south west of the city close to Moscow State University. This point is located in front of one of Stalin’s huge ‘7 sisters’ buildings and is immediately above where the 1980 Olympic Stadium is. The view point has free viewing telescopes and it is possible to see both the new and old sides of the city. This is not an unbelievable view or anything but it is good and if you get off at Vorobyevy Gory metro station then there is a pleasant 10min walk up the hill through a park which runs alongside the Moskva River. The viewpoint is on (street) Ul. Kosygina and the Nearest Metro is Vorobyevy Gory on the Red line.
Map of Moscow
Red Square, Russia, Moscow
|St. Basil's Cathedral|
St. Basil's Cathedral, Russia, Moscow, Krasnaya ploshad
Russia, Moscow, Kremlin
|Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery|
Russia, Moscow, Novodevichy Convent
|State Tretyakov Gallery|
Russia, Moscow, Lavrushinskiy pereulok, Tretyakov Gallery
|Park Pobedy - Victory Park|
Russia, Moscow, Park Pobedy
Russia, Moscow, Park Pobedy
|Christ the Saviour Cathedral|
|Peter the Great Statue|
Bolshoi Theatre, Russia, Moscow, Theatre Square
Russia, Moscow, ulitsa Leninskiye Gory, Lomonosov Moscow State University
Gallery of What to do in Moscow