Moscow, the capital of Russia, is the economic and political center of the world’s largest country.
It can be said that it is a fair representation of the country’s vastness in terms of area and power; its streets are broad and the buildings are often enormous. It was never in lack of space, nor material.
The biggest impacts on the city’s development were the extensive redesign in the victorious Soviet era, stipulated by strict and utilitarian Soviet urban planning, and previously the historical constructions of the Russian monarchs and the powerful Eastern Orthodox Church.
Although the Soviet Union has collapsed and the government is not communist anymore, it’s impossible to erase such a significant and victorious part of a country’s history, so unlike in some other ex-soviet countries all the emblems of communism are well preserved, which is not surprising if we take into measure that over half of the Russian population regrets the collapse of the USSR.
To the untrained eye it might feel like a time travel to see the communist symbols and the old, rusty vehicles of public transportation – which are all still perfectly functioning.
The citizens of Moscow share the same values as their European neighbors, they are accomplished, forward thinking individuals.
You can often hear it in the western media that the Russians oppress gay people, which is probably true in more remote and conservative parts of the country, but not in Moscow, people here are typically open-minded and welcoming.
As being the major financial center of the country, a huge amount of wealth is concentrated here, you can find all the products and services as in any other consumerist/capitalist metropolis ranging from Mcdonald’s to Jimmy Choo.
The party scene is hot, the food is plenty and amazing, and the culture is vibrant.
To get around the city use the retro Moscow Metro (the underground), but it is also worth to have a walk around the city if you have some spare time.
I started discovering Moscow by visiting the impressive Red Square, which I only saw before in the news when there were reports about Russian military parades, so I did not picture it as a selfie-taking tourist hub. There are 4 attractions here at once, the gigantic Kremlin, the astonishing St Basil’s Cathedral, the luxurious Gum shopping mall, and Lenin’s Tomb where the preserved body of Lenin rests.
Later, visit the enormous St Christ the Saviour’s Cathedral, which is in walking distance from the Red Square on the other side of the Kremlin. It is also worth having a look at the Kremlin from a different angle, from the Sofiskaya Embankment along the Moscow River, and from the Bolshoy Moskvoretskiy Bridge as well, from where several highlights of Moscow are visible with skyscrapers of the financial district in the background.
The second day, buy tickets and check the Kremlin from inside.
Later, take a glimpse at the building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a member of the Seven Sisters of Moscow, an enormous Stalinist skyscraper. If you’re lucky like I was, you will see several government officials and their army of secretaries rushing back and forth into this overwhelmingly robust structure.
After you saw this stunning construction, the Russian version of the Miniluv of 1984, have a walk back towards the center on the pedestrians only Arbat street and discover the popular Arbat District, the culturally most vibrant part of Moscow, full of great bars and restaurants.
It is also nice to take a walk around Kitay-Gorod, and head towards the Yauza River where you can walk along the embankment until you reach the Moscow River.
I highly recommend to take a stroll in the laid-back Zamoskvorechye district as well, where you can find several great cafes and restaurants.
If you want to see a spectacular and grandiose royal park and palace which was used as a summer palace by the Tsar and his family back in the days, take a stroll in the beautiful and quiet Tsaritsnayo Park.