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A Walk around the Kremlin

The main attractions of the historic area of the city and the best views of the Kremlin.

  • 6 KM
  • 2 H.

A walk around the Moscow Kremlin walls is very popular not only with tourists, but also with local citizens. All major attractions of the historic area of the city and the best views of the Kremlin can be observed within a few hours of walking at a leisurely pace.

At the entrance to Red Square, one can clearly see a memorial sign mounted in the pavement, «Kilometer Zero of Russian Federation roads.»

This memorial sign was installed in 1996 based on a design by sculptor A.I. Rukavishnikov, seemingly to confirm that Mayakovsky was right in saying that «Earth begins, as we know, from the Kremlin!» And although this monument is relatively new, it already has its own tradition: you stand in the center of the circle and throw a coin over your left shoulder and make a wish. This sort of tourist «sacrifice» is popular all over the globe — people throw coins in fountains, on monument pedestals, or simply into the sea.

Today, many tourists crowd here trying to hit it with a coin and make their cherished dreams come true; in the past, common Moscow citizens used to gather here to listen to the tsar's decrees. For this was the Lobnoye mesto («Forehead Place») — a site on Red Square once used for public declarations. It was also used to display holy relics so that anyone could worship them. Thus the popular belief that the Lobnoye Mesto was used for executions is mistaken.

The State Historical Museum has around 22,000 exhibits in an area of 4,000 sq.m. To see the entire museum, one has to take more than 4,000 steps, which amounts to approximately 3 kilometers. If you observe each exhibit for one minute, you will spend 360 hours there.

In 2006, the Historical Museum completed its work on its permanent collection. 39 rooms on two floors present the history of Russia from the earliest times to the early 20th century. The museum has undergone a large-scale renovation. It presents restored historical interiors, but at the same time meets all modern requirements. For example, it is equipped with an elevator for disabled persons and offers wheelchairs.

The rooms offer informational materials which help the museum guests better understand the historical events presented here in the exhibits. In addition to this, the exhibits also have many screens and monitors for information support. They show items which are not presented or details which cannot be seen by visitors.

The chapel of the Iverskaya Icon of the Mother of God was built c. 1669 in order to protect the copy of the legendary icon brought to Moscow and those coming to offer prayers. In fact, originally it was a wooden canopy bat the Neglinenskiye Gate to the Kitai-gorod district. The gate itself was rebuilt and renamed Resurrection Gate, and the chapel has also changed its appearance many times. In 1929 it was demolished, and so was the gate in 1931. They were restored in 1994–1995.⁠


Red Square



Tourists usually start their visit to Red Square from the side of Okhotny Ryad (the Hunters» Row). But let's not rush: before you enter, take a look around. Facing the square, on the right side you see an equestrian monument to marshal G.K. Zhukov installed in 1995 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War (sculptor V.M. Klykov) and a very beautiful building with pinnacles at the corners. This is the State Historical Museum, and the branch on the left was once the Lenin Museum. Here one also clearly sees the memorial sign of Kilometer Zero of Russian Federation Roads mounted into the pavement.

The Resurrection Gate is the entrance to Red Square. Its is also called the Iverskaya Gate, based on the Iverskaya Icon of the Mother of God chapel located inside the gate. The chapel is a functioning Orthodox church open to the public. The gate is the recently reconstructed version of the one built in the late 16th century and destroyed in 1931. One may well ask: a gate is usually built to have a passage through a wall, so why is there one here? This is true, and there once was a wall, but it is lost almost completely. Here we are speaking of the wall of Kitai-Gorod — a district which frames the Kremlin from Arsenalnaya to Beklemishevskaya (Moskvoretskaya) towers. Red Square is actually a part of Kitai-Gorod.

Let's walk around it clockwise. On the left, you will see a blue building — this is the former Mint, and next to it is the Kazan Cathedral. Its style is very traditional for Russian architecture, and its fate is the same as that of a great many Russian churches: built in 1612 on the occasion of Moscow's liberation from the Poles, it was destroyed in the Soviet era and restored on the same site in 1993.

Next to it is a street branching off the square to the left. This is Nikolskaya street — one of three famous streets of Kitai-Gorod. It has several entrances to GUM (state department store). There is a historical explanation of why the main store is located here rather than elsewhere. This place has held a market since the 15th century.

Another symbol of Moscow is the Monument to Minin and Pozharsky (by sculptor I. Martos). Next, there is one of the most important sights in the country — Saint Basil's Cathedral.

This is followed by the Vasilievsky Slope. Passing here, the tourist finds himself standing at the crossroads, just like legendary heroes of Russian fairy tales: straight ahead, there is the Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge which leads to Balchug historical area and then to Zamoskvorechie district; to the right, there is the Kremlin Embankment, which leads to the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour; to the left and a bit behind, there is Kitai-Gorod.

But usually, the tour does not finish here, because all tourists want to see the Kremlin towers, which form part of Red Square, with the most famous of them being Spasskaya (Savior) tower. Nowadays, with Red Square being a pedestrian area, its gate is closed, but it once served as the entrance to the Kremlin for kings and ambassadors of other countries. Next, along the path, one finds Lenin.

GUM's location has been destined to be a marketplace since the 17th century, when not only its current name and facilities, but even the first buildings giving rise to the official trade history of the place, did not exist.

The market called Verkhniye Torgovyie Ryady (Upper Merchants» Rows) was transformed into an organized and roofed enterprise only in 1815, and only at the end of that century (in 1893) did obtained a shape relatively similar to the present-day GUM thanks to the skill of architect Alexander Pomerantsev and engineer Vladimir Shukhov. The building was renovated and restored, and eventually became a symbol of the city and survived the monarchy and Soviet power, and it still delights buyers, having lost its state-supported status but retained its nationwide universal nature in practice.

GUM manages, despite the spirit of the times and prices for real estate in the capital downtown (not just anywhere, but Red Square), to remain a shopping mall for the middle class. But it is not without its luxuries. The three floors of the main department store are divided by price and type of goods. Naturally, due to their significance, its first floor is occupied with single-brand luxury stores of prestigious European companies But going higher, one can buy shoes at average prices and fill one's shoppign basket in mass-market stores. A pharmacy, small and large music and designer goods stores, and food services can be found on the 3rd floor.

The enormous number of tourists in GUM does not surprise anyone. GUM was destined to demonstrate, if not the achievements of the national economy, then at least the national style, character, and spirit. Meeting each other in the center of the hall, at the fountain of the same age as Verkhniye Torgovyie Ryady, has become a permanent tradition.


GUM Ice Rink



An open ice skating rink on Red Square has an area of 3,000 sq.m. Its holds 500 people per session.

There are heated dressing rooms and skate rental and sharpening. There is also a bar where one can warm up and have a bite to eat, in addition to the multiple stores and bars inside GUM.

The rink is open every day from November to March.


St. Basil's Cathedral



St. Basil's Cathedral is not only the major cathedral on Red Square, but also a symbol of Russia. It was built in 1555-1561 under a decree of Ivan the Terrible on the occasion of the conquest of the Kazan khanate. The Kazan assault started on October 1, 1552, on the day of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin, so the «official» name of the cathedral is the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat.

It is a symmetrical ensemble of eight churches that surround the central church with a hip roof. Each of the eight churches was named after a saint whose day coincided with a particular significant event in Ivan the Terrible's Kazan campaign. The central church was consecrated in celebration of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin and named after this act. The churches are topped by ornate onion-shaped domes. In total, there are nine iconostases in the cathedral, which contain nearly 400 icons from the 16th to 19th centuries. The walls are decorated with frescoes. One can also admire portrait and landscape painting and various church ornamentations. One of the most valuable exhibits is the chalice of the 17th century which once belonged to Tsar Alexey Mikhaylovich Romanov.

Many legends are associated with the cathedral. Originally, there was a white-stone church with the remains of the Holy Fool Basil the Blessed, a revered Moscow saint. Supposedly, he collected money to build the future cathedral, brought the money to Red Square, and threw over his right shoulder. These coins stayed on the ground untouched until the holy fool gave them to Ivan the Terrible before his death for him to build the cathedral.

The chronicle names one Barma and Postnik Yakovlev as the architects. However, it is theorized that in fact, there was only one architect, Ivan Yakovlevich Barma, nicknamed «Postnik» («Faster») because he always strictly kept religious fasts. A famous legend says that upon completion of the cathedral, Ivan the Terrible ordered the masters to be blinded so they could not repeat the masterpiece. But most likely this it is a myth, because Postnik's name was further mentioned in chronicles in connection with the creation of other wonderful monuments of architecture.

This is the largest bridge over the Moscow River. It is located in downtown Moscow, near the Resurrection Gate, and connects the Vasilievsky Slope and Varvarka street.

The bridge is reinforced, 554 meters long and divided into pedestrian and vehicle lanes. It was commissioned in 1938.

In 1987, German amateur pilot Matias Rust landed his single-engine aircraft on this very bridge.

The Kremlin embankment and the facing Sophia embankment provide the most impressive view of the Kremlin. Here, tourists can make beautiful photos at any time and in any kind of weather; nothing can spoil this view.

A standard walk is from Tretyakovskaya metro station to the Tretyakov Gallery and then, through Bolotnaya Square to the Sophia Embankment, and further to the Kremlin walls across the Bolshoy Kamenny (Greater Stone) Bridge.

Bolshoy Kamenny Bridge connects Bolotny Island with the surroundings of Borovitskaya Tower of the Kremlin and was opened in 1938. This was previously the location of the Vsekhsvyatsky Bridge (under which various criminals used to arrange their meetings), and then Kamenny Bridge, the high cost of which became proverbial.

The bridge roadway is separated from the sidewalk by railings with spike sheaf ornaments. Both sides of the bridge provide a wonderful view of the Kremlin, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, and other sights of downtown Moscow.

On occasions with festive fireworks, the bridge becomes a viewing point from which citizens can admire the show.

Many can feel the gloomy aura of this legendary house, which is related to the place it was built on. There once was a swamp where state prisoners were executed, and also a path for convicts to transfer to their place of detention. In the 16th century, the present location of the house was considered a godforsaken place.

The huge 12-story house on Serafimovich Street (with an area of about 3 ha) took its name from Yury Trifonov, a writer who had lived here. Officially, the building was called the Government House. It was built in 1931 especially for elite party members of the time, based on a design by the architect Boris Iofan. Among the residents of the house were famous scientists, writers, and cultural figures, civil war heroes and heroes of labor.

Examples include Valerian Kuybyshev (one of the first), Zhukov and Tukhachevsky, and even Stalin's daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva who lived in apt. 37. Udarnik cinema, the biggest Moscow movie hall at the time, was then opened here, along with a gym, general store, and a social club (afterwards, the Variety Theater).

Originally, this was a hotel-type building: residents moved into furnished apartments equipped with everything, including kitchenware and bed linens. The ground floor included a dining room (the reason why kitchens in apartments were so strangely small) and a laundry. The ceilings were covered with artistic painting, and the floors with oak parquet. All objects had inventory numbers, so when moving into the apartments, residents had to sign for receipt of furniture and kitchenware.

The house on the embankment became not only the symbol of luxury and power. Of the 2,000 residents of the house 700 were purged during the period of the Great Terror in the 1930s. Through the efforts of residents, a museum of victims of the Stalinist purges was founded in the house.


Patriarch's Bridge



Patriarch's Bridge is a foot bridge opened in 2004. It is located opposite the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour crossing the Moscow River and connecting Prechistenskaya and Bersenevskaya embankments, after which its substructure goes through Bolotny island and crosses the Drainage Channel ending on Yakimanskaya embankment.

The bridge was built based on the design of architect M. Posokhin, artist Zurab Zereteli, and engineers A. Kolchin and O. Chereminsky. It is notable for the unusual truss structure of the load-bearing span.

Generally, the construction has a traditional 19th-century bridge architecture. The bridge floor has light fixtures which create unique lightning.

It became a popular place among couples and newlyweds immediately after its opening. This bridge initiated a new Moscow tradition, as people hang love locks on the railing: big padlocks or small elegant locks, with or without names.

The Cathedral of the Moscow diocese, and the Russian Orthodox Church. The decision to build it «in commemoration of our gratitude to Divine Providence for saving Russia from threatening to it death» was adopted by Emperor Alexander I in 1812. The temple was laid in1839 on the site of Alexis nunnery. In 1883, it was regarded as the highest building in Moscow and the biggest church in Russia.

In 1931 the cathedral was blown up by order of Stalin. It was rebuilt only by the 2000 year. Shrines of the Temple: the revered icon of Smolensk Mother of God, the icon “the Saviour Almighty”, the Icon of St. Nicholas, written at Bari, the relics of Apostle Andrei Pervozvannyi the relics of Apostle Jacob.

The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts was opened in 1912, and remains one of the most popular Russian museums. Its annual attendance amounts to 1 million people. The permanent collection presented in the museum complex demonstrates artworks of various countries and epochs, from the earliest times to the present days, and temporary exhibitions are always successful as well.

The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts was founded on August 17 (29), 1898. On this day, the foundation of the new, publicly sponsored Alexander III Museum of Fine Arts was laid near the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour on Volkhonka Street.

14 years later, in May 1912, the museum was opened to the strains of a solemn cantata written specially for this occasion. The museum's construction was finally completed in the late 1920s and 1930s, when a picture gallery was built due to reallocation of museum funds. It gathered together works of foreign artists previously exhibited in the Rumyantsev Museum and the collections of S.M. Tretyakov, Yusupov, the Shuvalov family, G.A. Brokar, and D.I. Shchukin, among other collectors.

Items supplied by the State Hermitage Museum were of fundamental importance in creating this gallery. Among them were paintings by Boticelli, Rembrandt, van Dyck, Rubens, Poussin, Muriglio and Canaletto. In 1932, the Museum of Fine Arts was renamed the Museum of Visual Arts, and in 1937 the name of Pushkin was added.

The gallery's appearance took on its final form in 1948 upon the arrival of artworks from the former Moscow Museum of New Western Art. These included works by Manet, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Pissaro, Sisley, Cézanne, van Gogh, Gauguin, Matisse, Marquet, Rouault, Picasso, etc. bought at various times by the Russian collectors S.I. Shchukin and I.A. Morozov. Within the gallery, a considerable collection of original Western European sculpture and applied art was developed.


Alexandra Garden



The garden consists of three parts: The Upper Garden starts from Revolution Square and ends with the Troitsky bridge; the Middle Garden spreads from the bridge to the Kremlin Borovitskaya Tower; the Lower Garden is located further on, ending with the Kremlin embankment.

The garden is full of monuments of architecture, the most important of which is the Kremlin wall. It starts from the Uglovaya Arsenalnaya (Corner Arsenal) tower located near the garden cast iron gate (architect E. Paskal); further, there is the Srednaya Arsenalnaya (Middle Arsenal) tower with the «Ruins» grotto underneath; next, there are the Troitskaya and Kutafya towers connected by the Troitsky bridge, and Komendantskaya (Commandant), Oruzheynaya (Armory), and Borovitskaya towers.

In 1914, a sculpture in celebration of 300th anniversary of the Romanov family's reign was installed in the garden; in 1918, the names of the reigning dynasty members were replaced with names of revolutionaries.

In 1967, the Monument to the Unknown Soldier with an eternal flame and a monument to hero-cities was opened here.

The Neglinnaya River



In the early 19th century, the Neglinnaya River (Neglinka) was hidden in a pipe, but now it has been brought to the surface in the area between Manezh Square and the Alexander Garden. This Neglinka is a symbolic one, because the river bed was changed, and the water is piped in. The real Neglinnaya River is a muddy stream still flowing in a drainage canal.

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