Area: 1,081 km2 (417.4 sq mi)
Population: ~10.5 Million
Founded: Before 1147
Became Capital of Russia: 1327 until 1712 and again since 1918
Official Website: (in Russian and English) 
Airports: Sheremetyevo 1 and 2, Domodedovo and Vnukovo 

General site disclaimer: Rules change. So do telephone numbers, opening hours, travel information and website addresses to name a few. I cannot accept any responsibility for any consequences arising from the use of information provided on its pages, nor for any material on third party websites and cannot guarantee that any third party websites listed will be a suitable source of travel information. 

Arrival in Moscow

The arrival at Domodedovo Airport was my first impression of Moscow. After reading various horror stories of people going through that airport, I was positively surprised how easy and smooth everything went. The only thing that slightly annoyed me, since I was already tired after a long set of flights, was the attempt of people (mostly women, and I'm not being sexist here, I'm a woman too) to jump the queue to get to the passport control a minute faster. 

The lady at the immigration was polite and since my papers were in order, the whole process took like 1-2 minutes in total. 
The only thing missing was a little pointer right after passing immigration, that one is supposed to go up the escalator and not straight towards the other corridor but I guessed right and immediately was at the baggage claim area. The airport was at that time under renovation, so I guess a sign would be visible under normal circumstances.

Baggage was delivered promptly and upon exiting the baggage claim area somebody is checking that the luggage you take out corresponds to the one you checked in – therefore you need to show them your ticket where the baggage sticker is attached to.

There were lots of people exiting through the green corridor (nothing to declare) and one might get the luggage scanned before leaving if customs employees suspect that you bring in goods for resale or something. I was not asked to the scanner but instead was waved through without even having to slow down. 
The arrival area is quite elongated, so while walking through it, it was relatively easy to find or to be found by the one(s) that pick you up. Therefore, finding my husband who arrived there earlier was quite easy.

I was approached by a few taxi drivers offering their service but fortunately not in the aggressive manner I read about before. They were neither crowding me nor pushing me around, but simply holding up a taxi sign and asking “Taxi?” which I replied to with a simple “no thank you” and that was it.

A very nice older gentleman helped me and my husband to get our luggage trolley into the elevator. I was thinking “Wow, Moscovian men are so polite and helpful!” but when he also was pushing out the trolley from the elevator I was getting a little nervous – you know, after reading all those stories about thieves and such. Turns out, it was the driver my husband hired to meet us in the airport and to bring us to the hotel!! How could I not notice that??? 


Hotel Budapest, 2/18, Petrovskie Linii, Moscow, 127051


The Hotel's central location on ulitsa Petrovskiye Linii is perfect for exploring the inner core of Moscow on foot. A relaxed 10 minute walk along Ulitsa Petrovka brings you to the Kremlin and the Red Square. A number of Metro stations are also just short walks away (Red line: Lubyanka Station, Green line: Teatralnaya Station, Purple line: Kuznetskiy most, Green line: Trubnaya Station).

The Hotel is dated but clean. We once switched room because we did not get what we paid for - a junior suite with a double bed. We got a spacious, dated room with two single beds pushed together and a seating area with a couch, a coffee table, a chair, a writing desk which was also doubling as a tee/coffee station and a TV stand. Upon inquiry, we were told, that they did not have the room we have ordered available for the same day but from the next day forward. I found it annoying that they did not even mention that upon check-in. A very nice surprise was on the other hand, that we could hear the bells ringing in the Kremlin Bell tower. 
We switched rooms to a two room junior suite the next morning which was pointed out to be an upgrade to the previous room. Personally, I found it to be the same size room just with a wall pulled up in the middle. There was a seating area with a table and two chairs and a writing desk plus a TV stand and Tee/Coffee station. The second room was obviously the bedroom, also with a TV. The bed was way more comfortable but the bells of the Kremlin could not be heard from that room. Which was alright in our case, but I have to admit, it adds a nice touch. The view was way inferior to the previous room, looking behind the hotel on a bunch of wires and pipes. 
The second time we were in the hotel, we had a room in the same section of the building, that the first room was located. The room was again a one room junior suite and was just fine and we enjoyed again the sound of the bells. 
The bathrooms in all three rooms were fine. They were spacious enough to move around freely. There was some sort of passive ventilation which was adequate.

For internet access we bought 24h access blocks at the reception for 700 Rubles (at that time approx. 15.55 EUR or 23 USD). 

Value for money?
The biggest benefit of the Hotel is its location in the center of Moscow. I think the next time we would still consider staying in this Hotel, but probably in a regular room, since there was no special added value in renting the junior suite if you spend most of the day roaming around the city. The only difference seems to be that the junior suite has a sofa in it and the regular rooms do not and that some of the junior suits have a wall between sleeping and seating area even though the total square footage seems to be the same. Part of the interest should probably be the old world charm that probably could be a bit better maintained for the price that is being charged. Especially if you compare it to the newly built Peter I Hotel, that belongs to the same owners and is connected to Budapest Hotel and its facilities are also shared. 
The Breakfast buffet was fine, with daily changes in the selection of warm items being offered, the rest was the same every day – preserved fruits, cereals, sweet bakery, breads, cold cuts, salmon, herring, tea, coffee, juices. Nothing extraordinary but perfectly fine to get you through the bigger part of your sight-seeing part of the day. 

Would I recommend staying there? Yes I would.

Places we visited

Red Square (Кра́сная пло́щадь, Krásnaya plóshchad’)

Our first exploration led us - of course - to the Red Square. That was kind of obligatory, when staying just 5 minutes away. 

Bolshoi Theater

Our route from the hotel to the Red Square led us by the Bolshoi Theater. It is currently under renovation and ballet and opera performances are presented at the temporary new stage right next to the original one. Tickets can be purchased online directly from the Theater.

Having seen the Red Square in a few movies, and on lots of pictures on the internet, it felt kind of familiar, once we were there but that rendered it not less impressive. Especially the beautiful St. Basil Basilica and these incredibly high red walls of the Kremlin make quite an impression. 
It is a big impressive square being surrounded by the massive buildings of the Kremlin, the St. Basil Basilica, the GUM Department Store, Lenin's Mausoleum, Red Square Restaurant and State Historical Museum and the comparatively small Kazan Cathedral.

St. Basil's Basilica
 The Cathedral of Intercession of Theotokos on the Moat (Собор Покрова пресвятой Богородицы), popularly known as the Cathedral of Basil the Blessed, is a Russian Orthodox cathedral erected on the Red Square in Moscow in 1555–1561. Built on the order of Ivan IV of Russia to commemorate the capture of Kazan and Astrakhan, it marks the geometric center of the city and the hub of its growth since the 14th century. It was the tallest building of Moscow until the completion of the Ivan the Great Bell Tower in 1600.
The cathedral has operated as a division of the State Historical Museum since 1928. It was completely secularized in 1929 and, as of 2009, remains a federal property of the Russian Federation. The cathedral has been part of the Moscow Kremlin and Red Square UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990.

Lenin's Mausoleum or Lenin's Tomb
(Мавзоле́й Ле́нина; Mavzoléy Lénina)
Lenin's embalmed body is being displayed here most of the time since he died in 1924.
We did not go in (although we accidentally queued up to do so for a few minutes) because honestly, we both did not feel like staring at the body of a person that has passed away almost a century ago, but there were a lot of people (mostly tourists) who obviously thought otherwise.

The pretty little pink Kazan Cathedral (Казанский Собор в Москве) at the north end of Red Square is a modern replica. The original church was built in 1636 to house the miraculous Icon of Kazanskaya, one of Moscow's most precious treasures. It stood for 300 years until Stalin ordered it to be demolished - an act of vandalism that took place just as the cathedral was about to celebrate its 300th anniversary. A street cafe and a public toilet were among the buildings that were erected on the site over the next 55 years. 
In the late 1980s, a decision was made to restore the Cathedral. An historically-minded architect had had secret plans made of the Cathedral as it was being demolished, making it possible to exactly replicate the original building. Work began in 1990 and the church was completed an reconsecrated on November 4th, 1993 - the the Icon's feast day.

State Historical Museum 
(Государственный Исторический музей)
The State Historical Museum of Russia is a museum of Russian history wedged between Red Square and Manege Square in Moscow. Its exhibitions range from relics of the prehistoric tribes inhabiting present-day Russia, through priceless artworks acquired by members of the Romanov dynasty. The total number of objects in the museum's collection numbers in the millions.

(ГУМ, pronounced as goom, in full Главный Универсальный Магазин, Glavnyi Universalnyi Magazin)
Is located directly opposite the Mausoleum. According to Wikipedia, 'in the Soviet Union, the top floor was home to Section 100, a secret clothing store only open to the highest echelons of the party. Nowadays the rows of exclusive boutiques are accessible to anyone who can afford it. The building itself is beautiful inside and out. At the end of the 19th Century, it was the largest shopping center in Europe. Before the 1917 Revolution it contained a staggering 1,200 stores.
In 1928, GUM was closed by Stalin, who decided to use the building as the headquarters for officials working on the first Five Year Plan. GUM was reopened in 1953, and became one of the most popular sites for the legendary Soviet queues, which could at times extend all the way across Red Square. After privatization in the early 90s, it rapidly became the address of choice for top-end Western retailers. Journalists and travel writers often comment on the sharp contrast between prices in GUM and poverty in Russia - as if the majority of New Yorkers get their clothes from Saks, or the average Londoner could afford to do their grocery shopping in Harrods. Even if you don't intend to buy anything, a tour of Red Square should always include a quick stroll down the aisles of GUM.' 

Revolyutsii and Teatralnaya Squares Area

Revolution Square (Пло́щадь Револю́ции, Ploshchad Revolyutsii) and Theatre Square (Театральная Площадь, Teatralnaya Ploschad) are two relatively small squares that are separated by the Theater Drive. Theater Square is north of Theater Drive, bordered on the east by Petrovka Street, in the north by the Bolshoi Theater. Revolution Square is south of the Theater Drive. 

Kitai-Gorod (Китай-город)

is a business district in the center of Moscow.
Apart from Red Square, the quarter is bordered by the chain of Central Squares of Moscow, notably Theatre Square (in front of Bolshoi Theatre), Lubyanka Square, Slavyanskaya Square.
Although directly translated the district would be called China-town, scholars agreed that the word Kitai originally had nothing to do with China but more likely with baskets and therefore translates rather into "Basketville". Others are said to have found a connection to an old word for wooden stakes.
Kitai-gorod, developing as a trading area, was known as the most prestigious business area of Moscow.
Its three main streets — Varvarka, Ilyinka, and Nikolskaya — are lined with banks, shops, and storehouses. It is a very nice area to stroll around and enjoy some very interesting historical buildings, shop for Masaratis or enjoy a coffee in one of the many coffee houses.

The Loft Cafe is located on the top floor of the Nautilus Shopping Center. It's advertised everywhere but we were disappointed when we reached it. They limit the number of tables that they are willing to seat people on the balcony on, although they have other tables standing there. The staff had an arrogant attitude based on what I'm not exactly sure. The cafe is tiny and once being seated, the view was also nothing to write home about. I really have no idea what the fuss about this place is all about. Although, I really liked the architecture of the shopping center. 

Instead of having coffee in the Loft Cafe, we ended up at the coffee house on the other side of the street that we enjoyed a lot. Service was professional, friendly and quick. I really enjoyed the fresh mixed fruit juice and my hubby had some soup, Olivier salad and a coffee which he enjoyed as well. 

The Epiphany Monastery (Богоявленский монастырь) is the oldest male monastery in Moscow. According to a legend, it was founded by Daniel, the first prince of Moscow, around 1296.

The Epiphany monastery has always been under the patronage of grand princes and tsars. By the order of Ivan the Terrible, the monastery became a collection facility for metayage, quitrent, and fodder. In 1584, the tsar donated a substantial amount of money for the remembrance of the disgraced. In 1632, the Epiphany monastery was granted an exclusive right for tax free floating of a certain amount of building materials and firewood. The monastery had its own stables, forge and rented out its own facilities.

After the October Revolution, the Epiphany monastery was closed down. In 1929, they stopped holding services in the Bogoyavlensky cathedral. The monastic facilities were first transformed into a campus for students of the Mining Academy and workers, engaged in the subway construction, and later - into metalworks. In 1950s, they built an office building on the site of the monastery. Cathedral, belltower, monk cells and abbot's chamber were the only buildings to survive. In May, 1991, the Epiphany monastery was restored and officially returned to the Russian Orthodox Church.

Cathedral of the Monastery of the Sign
(Собор иконы Божией Матери «Знамение» Знаменского монастыря)

This part of Varvarka Street is strongly linked with the Romanovs, Russia's rulers for three hundred years. Before Mikhail I was elected Tsar by the Boyars' Assembly in 1613, the family were important Moscow aristocrats, and this area of Varvarka was their home. After the family moved into the Kremlin, the area was presented to the Znamensky Monastery. The first building you come to is the monastery's red-and-white bell tower, added in the 1700s, which was separated from the rest of the monastery by the Rossiya Hotel’s elevated ramp. The monastery’s living quarters, which stand by the monastery's main entrance, built in the 1670s, are now used as a shop for selling Orthodox icons, books and related souvenirs. The center of the complex is the Palace of the Romanov Boyars, built in the 1500s by Mikhail's grandfather, Nikita Romanov Zakharyin-Yuryev, the first Romanov tsar was born in this house. It now houses a museum showing the lifestyle of Moscow's medieval nobility.

The monastery's name, means the Monastery of the Sign and refers to a famous icon, The Sign of the Sacred Virgin, painted in Novgorod in the early 1500s, this icon had become a sort of spiritual heirloom for the Romanov family. The monastery was also the home of the first printed bible in Moscow. The Cathedral of the Sign, a large brown-brick church topped with four green domes around a central circular one, was built in 1684, although it bears a strong resemblance to the earlier cathedrals in the Kremlin. This church and the Romanov estate house are all that remains of the monastery that once stood here on the former Romanov estate.

Manege Square (Манежная площадь, Manezhnaya ploshchad) is a large pedestrian space at the very centre of Moscow. It is bordered by the Hotel Moskva (to the east), the State Historical Museum and the Alexander Garden (to the south), the Moscow Manege (to the west), and the 18th-century headquarters of the Moscow State University (to the north).

It displays beautiful fountains, sculptures and low domes that illuminate the three-level underground shopping center. The central rotating dome symbolizes the Earth. Centuries ago it used to be the site of rag and food markets and in the Soviet times, the area would often be filled with crowds of tanks waiting to enter the Red Square for a military parade. This busy square is surrounded by important buildings, like the Historical Museum fronted by the equestrian monument of Marshal Zhukov, the hero of World War II, the
Manege building, today the Central Exhibition Hall, where the most outstanding temporary exhibitions are held, and the Archaeological Museum.

Alexander Garden (Александровский сад, Alexandrovsky Sad) was one of the first public parks in Moscow. It occupies all the length of the western Kremlin wall in front of the Moscow Manege. After the Neglinnaya River was encapsulated in an underground pipe, they decided to turn the former riverbed into a public park. It was laid out in 1819-1823 to a design by Osip Bove and named after the reigning emperor.  In the park we visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with an eternal flame, took a look at the Kutafya Tower of the Moscow Kremlin, a grotto underneath the Middle Arsenal Tower, the obelisk that was erected in the Upper Garden in celebration of the Romanov dynasty in 1914 and four years later was reconstructed by the Bolsheviks into a monument to the socialist and communist thinkers.

We were lucky to enjoy all the sites on a sunny day that really brought out the beautiful colors of the flower beds next to the bright blue sky and the red color of the bricks of the Kremlin walls.

From Moscow City to Arbat Street

We took the metro to Moscow City which was interesting, since the station where we wanted to get out was not mentioned or at least called different than on our map inside the metro. Counting stops does indeed help. We got out at Mezhdunarodnaya Station (according to our map) which is right where the new high-rises are being built. Some of them already in full use. The high rise office towers that are already standing tall are the usual reflective glass towers that look good on pictures. One looks like a number of cubes have been piled up, a nice twist I think.
Along the road a temporary city of container houses has been "piled up" for the workers that build the high-rises. I found even that in itself an interesting view.

Walking along the Moskva River towards downtown we got some very nice views of the Skyline - both in front and behind us. The White House (former Parliament) is visible on the left side of Novoarbatsky Most (Bridge) and Hotel Ukraine, which is one of Stalin's 'Seven Sisters', is on the right side of the bridge. While on the go, suddenly the sky darkened dramatically and we took refuge under the Novoarbatsky Most (Bridge). No minute too soon for a propper down-pour. 

The "Seven Sisters" is the English name given to a group of Moscow skyscrapers designed in the Stalinist style. Muscovites call them Vysotki or Stalinskie Vysotki (Сталинские высотки), "(Stalin's) tall buildings". They were built from 1947 to 1953, in an elaborate combination of Russian Baroque and Gothic styles, and the technology used in building American skyscrapers. The seven are: Hotel Ukraina, Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Apartments, the Kudrinskaya Square Building, the Hotel Leningradskaya, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the main building of the Moscow State University, and the Red Gates Administrative Building.

A few minutes later the rain was gone and we were again on our way to Arbat Street. We crossed over Smolenskaya Nab. via Borodinsky Most and walked down Smolenskaya ul. heading towards another one of the Seven Sisters, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

Arbat Street was not particular busy, I assume because of the recent rain fall, but there were a few stalls of people selling prints and paintings and also the occasional street performer was trying to earn some money. 

We decided to give our feet a bit of a rest and visited Costa Cafe (obviously not Russian, but it brings back nice memories for my husband and myself). They served the same nice coffee and cake like we expected. The only unusual sight for us was, that the for us common arrangement of smokers in the basement, non-smokers in the area with the nice view, was reversed. We stuck with the smokers, since we even less wanted to sit right next to the toilets :).

From GUM to the State Tretyakov Gallery to the Red Square at Night

Another route brought us via a very disappointing TSUM (an uninspiring posh shopping mall) to the GUM (expensive, prime location on the Red Square, beautiful to walk through and inviting to shop for gifts etc.). We originally wanted to return to Arbat Street for a closer look but it was pouring down again. We decided instead to move our schedule around and visit the Tretyakov Gallery earlier than originally planned.

The Tretyakov Gallery is an incredible collection of art consisting of 1,287 paintings, 518 drawings, 9 sculptures by Russian artists, 75 paintings and 8 drawings by foreign masters, mainly French and German artists of the late 19th century. The collection (which includes the collection by his late brother Sergei M. Tratyakov) was gifted to the City of Moscow in 1892 by Pavel Tretyakov. There is a very detailed description of the Tretyakov Family History on the website of the State Tretyakov Gallery.   My favorite paintings this time were Shishkin's "Morning in a Pine Wood", Shishkin's "Pine Wood. Ship’s Timber in Vyatka Province" and Vereshchagin's "The Apotheosis of War"

The incredible size of the collection makes it difficult to see everything in just a couple of hours so we will be gladly returning to the gallery to revisit paintings we especially liked and to see those that have been missed alltogether on the first visit. The gallery also has part of it's collection viewable online which might help to organize one's visit if to see just a few selected pieces in a more concise time frame. 
From the gallery we walked back along Ul. Bolshaya Ordynka towards downtown. Passing the prestigious Baltschug Kempinski Hotel we crossed the Moskva River via the Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Most, enjoying a beautiful nightly view of the Kremlin, the Red Square, the GUM as well as the St. Basil's Cathedral. It was a beautiful view but holding out against the cold wind that was blowing on the bridge while trying to get a usable picture, cost me a sore throat and a running nose, but it was not worth it. 

Inside Kremlin, Changing of the Guards, Treasury

Of course we also wanted to see the Kremlin from inside its tall walls.

We saw a long line of people queuing up in the direction of the Kremlin/Red Square. My hubby was queuing up and myself I just went for a quick picturing of the eternal flame literary around the corner in the Alexander Garden. When I returned to the queue, hubby was already behind the fence, but he already asked the guard, whether I can still squeeze in, even though the line was already closed for the day. The guard did not object and so I joined him. After a few minutes we realized, that we were in the wrong place and actually were queuing up to enter Lenin's Tomb. Since neither of us felt like we want to stare at a dead person's preserved body, we got out of the queue again and went to Troitskiy Bridge (Trinity Bridge) which was the right place to get into the Kremlin. We first had to queue for both the tickets and then for the security check (like at the airport) where one passes some metal detectors and also somebody looked into the handbags. It all went pretty fast and I did not find it particular bothersome. 

Just now, I also remembered a little story I overheard an English speaking guy telling the rest of his group that he seemed to bring for a visit to the Kremlin. 
He described in detail how he stepped over the low fence where visitors to the Lenin Tomb were queuing up. He then was asked by one of the uniformed guards to get out of the queue again. Busted. One would think he would feel slightly embarrassed or make a joke about the situation. After all he did climb over the fence, even if it was a very low one. He wasn't. He was adding how that guard "almost pulled the gun on him". Since there was not the slightest reaction by the rest of his group, I guess they did not buy the story either. 

We also wanted to see the the “Ceremonial of the Equestrian and Pedestrian Procession of the President Regiment”. 

Unfortunately, the english information on the website of the Moscow Kremlin stated that on the last saturday of each month the ceremonial runs at 14:00h. So we rushed in to get to the Cathedral Square in time only to realize a short while later, that the website missed to mention in the English version that the Ceremonial will be held on Red Square (!) on the last Saturday of each month. (I just checked the website again but since there don't seem to be any Equestrian Processions in Winter, this might have been fixed) Well we watched them rehearse inside the Kremlin which was good enough for us. Then we continued to the Armoury Chamber. 

The Armoury Chamber which houses collections of precious items that have been preserved in the tsars' treasury and the Patriarch's vestry. Elaborately crafted and preciously decorated bibles, armory, tableware, carriages are just a few to be mentioned of the thousands of items on disply in the museum. We also saw a number of the famous Fabergé Eggs in close up. 

Then we went to visit the Cathedral Square. Cathedral Square is surrounded by the Assumption Cathedral, Archangel’s and Annunciation Cathedrals, the Church of Laying Our Lady’s Holy Robe and the Patriarch’s Palace. The Cathedrals and Churches are of enormous size and I felt like a little ant standing in front of them. Originally I found it a real pity that the beautiful painted walls, that are covered with iconic motives are quite paled out already and did not seem to get renovated at all. While collecting additional information for writing this trip summary it turned out that scientists found out that there are a number of old iconic motives layered on top of each other and that they are in the process of figuring out which ones to preserve. Traditionally, in the Orthodox Church completely paled out icons are burnt or wall paintings painted over. The physical piece of wood or other has no value in religious terms, but of course for historians and alike it is exactly the opposite.

Later that day we had dinner we had at Yolki-Palki Restaurant on the corner of Neglinnaya ul. and Kuznetsky most. The food was cheap but fresh and tasty. I especially enjoyed their cabbage piroshki and the lamb shashlyk with sides of tomato, cucumber and lettuce. We also tried the in house made beer which was quite nice, but which probably wouldn't become my favorite one either. 

On a different occasion I tried their home-made Klukovka which is vodka infused with sweetened cranberry juice. It was served as an aperitif and was very tasty and not biting my throat like plain vodka would have done. 

Novodevichego Monastery & Cemetery

The Novodevichego monastery was closed to the public!  Wherever you go, opening hours are changing constantly. One really needs to phone every single place where entering is planned to make sure it indeed is open. In this case I relied on my Lonely Planet as well as a website. At this point the Monastery is closed every first Monday a month and every Tuesday. Well, what to do. 

Alternatively, we were walking all the way around the Monastery to the adjacent Cemetery where  many famous people have found their final resting place. Among others, we also found the grave of Sergei M. Tretyakov, which brought our visit to the Tretyakov Gallery to a full circle. 

When we were about to leave the cemetery it started to rain quite heavily for a little while, so we were waiting it out under some big old trees.  Then we went to the park and the pond of the Monastery to look for the bronze sculpture "Make way for ducklings"  by Nancy Schön. 

Then we rode the metro from Sportivnaya to Park Kultury station. From there we walked across  Krymsky most from which we could nicely see already Gorki Park. As lucky as we were this time with the weather (I'm not complaining, it could have been much worse...), clouds seemed to be following us, because as we were in the middle of the bridge, rain started again. 

Since it was around early dinner time already we took refuge in an Usbeki tea house called Chai Hana Utsch ku duk, that is right next to the entrance to Gorki Park. We tried a soup called Tschutschwara-Schurpa and had a bread called mechmonnon and one tscheburek (the usbek version of a pirok)to accompany it. Main dish was Ploff toy osche (rice with meat, raisins and carrots). The green tea (we really enjoyed btw.) was called Sencha se pai. For dessert we had something called tschak-tschak. 

This delicious meal got us ready for our next tour in Moscow. To see the famous pretty Metro stations that are so unique in Moscow.

Subway Tour

I am glad that we took a look at those famous subway stations. Outside it was raining again so we enjoyed this opportunity to see something new without getting soaked to the skin.

The subway is way deeper underground than I have ever seen before, since it was built to serve as a bomb shelter if needed. To be honest, I was usually happier to be off the escalator than to be on it since they probably are as steep as escalators can be.

Some of the stations are really impressive and we could have spent some more time exploring, had we had some more time available!

Monorail - Ostankina Tower - Monument to the Conquerers of Space - Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

We took the metro to Timiryazevskaya Station. From there it is a very short distance to walk to the  Monorail plattform.
The Monorail was driving really slow which is great for taking photos and there were just a few other people besides us using this train.
It is possible to connect to the metro on either end of the line and in between there are 4 stations, three of which are for the Ostankina Tower, the Conquerers of Space Memorial and the All Russia Exhibition Center. In total the monorail line is 4.7 kilometres long.

The Ostankina Tower (Russian: Останкинская телебашня, Ostankinskaya telebashnya) is a free-standing television and radio tower. Standing 540 metres (1772 ft) tall, designed by Nikolai Nikitin. The tower was the first free-standing structure to exceed 500 m (1640 ft) in height. The tower was constructed to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the October Revolution. It is named after the Ostankino district of Moscow in which it is located. Construction began in 1963 and was completed in 1967. It surpassed the Empire State Building to become the tallest free-standing structure in the world. It held this record for nine years until the CN Tower was completed in Toronto, Canada in 1976, which surpassed its height by 13 metres (43 ft). The Ostankino Tower remained the second-tallest freestanding structure in the world for another 31 years until the Burj Dubai surpassed both it and the CN Tower in height in 2007.

My personal impression? Well, it's a TV tower. To me they more or less all look alike. No offence intended.  :)

The Monument to the Conquerors of Space (Russian: Монумент «Покорителям космоса») was erected in Moscow in 1964 to celebrate achievements of the Soviet people in space exploration. The Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics is located inside the base of the monument.

The main part of the monument is a giant obelisk topped by a rocket and resembling in shape the exhaust plume of the rocket. It is 107 meters (350 feet) tall and, on Korolyov's suggestion, covered with titanium cladding. A statue of Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, the precursor of astronautics, is located in front of the obelisk. 

Since it was our last day in Moscow for this visit, we still wanted to see the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in downtown before it closes for the day. So we got back on the metro and drove directly there.

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

When the last of Napoleon's soldiers left Moscow, Tsar Alexander I signed a manifest, 25 December 1812, declaring his intention to build a Cathedral in honor of Christ the Saviour "to signify Our gratitude to Divine Providence for saving Russia from the doom that overshadowed Her" and as a memorial to the sacrifices of the Russian people.

It took some time for actual work on the projected cathedral to get started. The first finished architectural project, by Aleksandr Lavrentyevich Vitberg, was endorsed by Alexander I in 1817. Construction work was begun on the Sparrow Hills, the highest point in Moscow, but the site proved insecure. Alexander I was succeeded by his brother Nicholas I. The new Tsar disliked the Neoclassicism and Freemasonry of the project selected by his brother. He commissioned his favorite architect Thon to create a new design, taking as his model Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. Konstantin Thon's Neo-Byzantine design was approved in 1832, and a new site, closer to the Moscow Kremlin, was chosen by the Tsar in 1837. A convent and church on the site had to be relocated, so that the cornerstone was not laid until 1839.

The Cathedral had taken many years to build and did not emerge from its scaffolding until 1860. Some of the best Russian painters (Ivan Kramskoi, Vasily Surikov, Vasily Vereshchagin) continued to embellish the interior for another twenty years. The Cathedral was consecrated on the very day Alexander III was crowned, 26 May 1883. A year earlier, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture debuted there. The inner sanctum of the church (naos) was ringed by a two-floor gallery, its walls inlaid with rare sorts of marble, granite, and other precious stones. The ground floor of the gallery was a memorial dedicated to the Russian victory over Napoleon. The walls displayed more than 1,000 square meters of Carrara bianca marble plaques listing major commanders, regiments, and battles of the Patriotic War of 1812 (with the lists of awards and casualties appended). The second floor of the gallery was occupied by church choirs.

After the Revolution and, more specifically, the death of Lenin, the prominent site of the cathedral was chosen by the Soviets as the site for a monument to socialism known as the Palace of Soviets. This monument was to rise in modernistic tiers to support a gigantic statue of Lenin perched on top of a dome with his arm raised in blessing.

On 5 December 1931, by order of Stalin's minister Kaganovich, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was dynamited and reduced to rubble. It took more than a year to clear the debris from the site. The original marblehigh reliefs were preserved and are now on display at the Donskoy Monastery. For a long time, they were the only reminder of the largest Orthodox church ever built.

The construction of the Palace of Soviets was interrupted owing to a lack of funds, problems with flooding from the nearby Moskva River, and the outbreak of war. The flooded foundation hole remained on the site until, under Nikita Khrushchev, it was transformed into the world's largest open air swimming pool, it was called the Moskva Pool.

With the end of the Soviet rule, the Russian Orthodox Church received permission to rebuild the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in February 1990. A temporary cornerstone was laid by the end of the year. The restorer Aleksey Denisov was called upon to design a replica of extraordinary accuracy. A construction fund was initiated in 1992 and funds began to pour in from ordinary citizens in the autumn of 1994. In this year the pool was demolished and the cathedral reconstruction commenced. About one million Muscovites donated money for the project. There are still arguments about the reconstruction. First the project was supervised by architect Aleksey Denisov. Soon he was fired from the project because of disagreements with the Mayor’s office. When construction was well under way, Denisov was replaced by Zurab Tsereteli, who introduced several controversial innovations. For instance, the original marble high reliefs along the walls gave way to the modern bronze ones, which have few, if any, parallels in Russian church architecture. The lower church was consecrated to the Saviour's Transfiguration in 1996, and the completed Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was consecrated on the Transfiguration day, 19 August 2000.

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