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Red Square

Red Square

Red Square was established in the 15th Century, under the rule of Ivan III, and was originally called Trinity Square after the Trinity Cathedral, which used to stand on the site where St. Basil's stands now. Sometime later the name 'Krasnaya Ploschad' became popular. The word 'krasnaya' is ambiguous. Originally meaning beautiful in old Russian, it only came to mean red in more modern times. Commonly-held assumptions then that the 'Red' in Red Square referred to Communism, blood spilt - or even the colour of the monuments - are in fact misplaced!

Located on the site of the city's old market place, over the years Red Square has acted as Moscow's equivalent to ancient Rome's Forum - a vast meeting place for the people. It has been a place for celebrating religious festivals, for public gatherings, for listening to Government announcements or Tsars' addresses, and even watching executions (various political dissidents were publicly butchered here by Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great). The square has also been the scene of more than one display of Russian military might - the most notable of which was in 1941 when lines of Russian tanks rolled through on their way to a front-line confrontation with the Germans. It provided a much needed boost to Russians' morale in their greatest hour of danger. More recently the square hosted the Russian Live 8 concert, supporting the fight against world poverty.

Apart from soaking in the history and atmosphere, there are a number of things for the tourist to do in and around the square. Not many will want to pass up the opportunity to visit Lenin's Mausoleum. It's not often you get a chance to see such an influential historical figure in the flesh - even if cynics claim that the embalmed body is in fact a wax-work replacement.

Another must-see is St. Basil's Cathedral, the ultimate architectural symbol of Russia. Its montage of domes, cupolas, arches, towers, and spires is sure to inspire you every bit as much in real life as in the photos.

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