Monumental Moscow!

Monumental Moscow!

Everything in Moscow exceeds expectations!

In Moscow, everything is large, beautiful, bright.  It’s unquestionably monumental!

Everything in Russia is superlative. Oversized. It’s the biggest country in the world, spreads over two continents and has 11 time zones. It borders 14 countries, is home to about 80 ethnicities and suffers from a spectacular difference in temperature from summer to winter. Its geography is very rich, with mountains, rare vegetation such as tundra and taiga, rushing rivers, beaches, and even the world’s deepest lake, Baikal.

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Visiting Moscow often means seeing the Kremlin and the “Red Square,” symbols of a nation that was once one of the most influential in the world and that populated all history books. It is a journey of much learning, whether in the cultural, social, rural, architectural, gastronomic, sporting, or political realm.

Architectural. The beauty of Moscow’s architecture spans centuries, starting with the magnificent Red Square, standing since the 14th century, to the seven Stalinist buildings from the early twentieth century, to modern sports stadiums. They are completely different styles, but very rich in details, noble materials, and innovative shapes.

Surrounding all those monuments and a few meters underground, the biggest and the oldest web of railways, transports millions of passengers daily to anywhere in the city through its astonishing subway stations: they are like palaces, with artworks and sophisticated decor. When they were built, at the height of socialism, Stalin wanted to offer people the opulence that was once only offered to the tsars and nobles, and thus built the “metro – palaces” with what was best at the time, with marbles of the Urals, Baccarat crystal chandeliers, sculptures and paintings by famous artists, among others. Seven skyscrapers, built during the Stalinist era, vertically cut the city’s landscape with their Gothic beauty. Moscow is considered the most lightened brightest city in the world and this makes it even more beautiful by night.

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Returning to the main complex of the city, Red Square is composed of the Kremlin official fortress of the rulers, the St. Basil’s Cathedral, famous for curves and colorful onion domes, the GUM upscale shopping center, Lenin’s Mausoleum, where is his embalmed body was laid to rest 70 years ago and where it remains, in perfect condition, and finally the Historical Museum. The square was the scene of many events, including the traditional parade of Russian troops, commanded by Stalin and then by Brezhnev. At some point Stalin ordered that part of the square to be demolished, to allow the huge battle tanks to cross it during the birthday celebrations of the Russian Revolution.

The Kremlin alone is already a major attraction: its complex comprises more than 10 churches, museums and several Russian government buildings. It was home to the tsars and today houses President Vladimir Putin’s office. Besides Stalin, other famous figures are buried at the site, like cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and several former presidents. Then we have the Cathedral of St. Basil. Did you know that after it was completed Tsar Ivan the Terrible blinded its architects so that they would never repeat a work with such beauty? Honestly, that cathedral is very hard to describe, not even a great photograph can help, it looks like it is sprung from a fairy tale with its brightly colored onion domes.

Near the Square, there is the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, a gigantic building made after an order of Alexander I in 1812, in honor of the Russian army that stopped Napoleon’s troops. Destroyed during the communist regime, it was completely rebuilt and has been undergoing a fantastic restoration project. It has five towers of golden domes, with some of its towers reaching the height of a 30-story building! If you would like to tribute a salute to the Russian soldiers, an eternal flame called Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in between the GUM mall and the Kremlin wall.

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Other points of interest to visitors are the Novodevichy Convent, the lively Arbat Street and taking a boat ride on the river across the city.

Gastronomy. Moscow is now the proper city to experience typical and tasty recipes from the former Soviet Union countries, such as Chicken Kiev, prepared with various condiments (especially garlic) or ravioli in the style of Siberia and of course the famous Stroganoff. In general, we are talking about the Muscovite soup, meat (beef or pork), fish and desserts and sweets.  For fans of Caviar there is plenty of it in everything you can find, even on sandwiches and hot dogs from street vendors. To drink, there’s always a bottle of vodka that you can buy with as much money you have in your pocket, also wine is good (if you want to try, ask those produced in Georgia. Something that draws attention is the amount of alcohol consumed by Russians. Men and women drink vodka in daylight and it is not uncommon to see people with their bottles in the bag, sipping while riding the subway.

Out of all handicrafts, the famous matryoshkas come first. They are those Russian dolls that you can fit inside the other, and they may carry several themes, including the Russian presidents. Russians also favor Crafts Crystals, fur bears and many articles related to war, which is this legacy of the Soviet era.

History. The museums are also very interesting, as you can see works by Russian and international renown artists. I can name the History Museum and the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts which is one of the most important in the country. There is still the museum Dostoevsky house where the famous writer was born and which today houses a wide exposure of personal objects, also the one and only Yuri Gagarin museum witnessing the story of the first man in space with pictures and details all the way to the rocket itself.

The All-Russian Exhibition Center is a multidisciplinary park, off VDNKh subway station right next door to Yuri Gagarin Museum. It is a must visit simply because it features a resume history of each of the ex-USSR countries like Georgia, Belarus, etc., written by a modern Russian artist with a controversial view and narration.  The park demonstrates a sample of the Russian aerodynamic industry, such as various Antonov models and discovery rockets along the way of a one mile walk.

At sunset, don’t miss heading to the Ostankino television and radio tower, which is famous for its panoramic views of Moscow and for the nearby Botanical Garden of Academy of Sciences, which you can see from 500+ meters high. If you are courageous enough or you are in a hurry to go down, just skydive the way down. It’s such a unique feeling!

Fun. Nightlife used to be limited to the Moscow Bolshoi Theatre program. It is true that it continues to be a great option, but there is also a big choice of bars and clubs, where the music rolls nonstop until almost dawn, or until noon sometimes in some specific places.

All this is monumental! All this is Big! All this is Moscow!

K.G

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