Moscow is conveniently sited in the centre of Russia’s European part where the rivers Moskva and Yauza cross the Central Russian Plateau.
A settlement of artisans and traders arose at the site of the present-day Kremlin and Zaryadie long before the first mention of Moscow in chronicles (the year 1147). Standing at the crossing of the main trading routes (the Moskva river and the Yauza), it had its centre on Borovitsky Hill. In the 15th century Moscow became capital of the Russian state. With the transfer of Russia’s capital to St.Petersburg in 1712, it became the country’s second capital. In 1918, it became the capital of the Russian Federation, and from 1922 to 1991, it was the capital of the USSR.
Present-day Moscow is a capital of the Russian Federation. Moscow is one of the biggest cities in the world. It occupies the area of 1035 square kilometres. Moscow has more than 5.000 streets. The population is about 9 million people, plus more than three million tourists and guests coming annually. Climate is moderate. The average temperature in July and August is +20(25)°C; in December and January -10°C. The humidity is moderate. The Moscow’s winters are, as a rule, cold and snowy.
Administratively, Moscow is segmented into 10 administration districts. The names of the districts comply with their location: Central, West, North-West, etc. The districts are, then, segmented into city regions, there are 128 of them in Moscow.
The Moscow City Duma is the main legislative body. The executive power is exercised by the Moscow Mayor, the prefects and the sub-prefects. The municipal authorities are elected by the citizens of Moscow (vote by secret ballot).
Moscow is a unique city, its architecture combines the features of Oriental and Western cultures. The Vysantium traditions were overlapped by the creations of architects from Italy, England and other West-European countries.
The Moscow museums preserve invaluable treasures, including unique collections of Russian and foreign art and material culture. Currently, in Moscow there are more than 80 museums. The most famous attractions include:
The Moscow Kremlin, the beautiful and ancient ensemble stands high on the hill towering over the left bank of the Moskva river. The Kremlin has always been perceived as a symbol of power and might of the Russian state, the national idea expressed in stone. It is the oldest part of the city, its political, historic and cultural centre, and the seat of the country’s highest bodies of power. The Kremlin contains unique specimens of Russian metal casting art - the Tsar Bell (cast in 1733-1735 by the father and son Motorins) and the Tsar Cannon (1586). Besides, it is the site of several museums.
The Armory ("Oruzheynaya Palata"), within the fortress walls of the Moscow Kremlin. One of the oldest Russian museums. It was founded about 500 years ago. In 15th century the Armory was used to store the Tsar treasures. On display here are unique specimens of applied art and precious utensils, including the collection of jewelry of the 12th-20th centuries; the collection of West-European silver utensils of the 13th-19th centuries (ambassadors’ gifts); the collection of elite arms (12th to 19th centuries); the collection of golden and silver embroidery (14th to 19th centuries); the collection of fabrics and clothing of the 14th to the beginning of 20th centuries; accoutrements and Tsars’ carriages.
Diamond Fund (near the Armoury), a collection of jewelry and precious stones of great cultural and material value and a selection of gold and platinum nuggets. Established in 1922, it contains the symbols of imperial power (the orb, scepter and crown), unique precious stones (like the diamonds Orlov, 189.62 carats, and Shah, 88.7 carats), the imperial family’s jewelry, and the world’s biggest gold nugget, the Grand Triangle, weighing 36kg.
The Red Square (Russian: "Krasnaya Ploshchad"), the main square in Moscow and Russia, the Red Square together with the Kremlin make a harmonious architectural ensemble. The old Russian "red" meant "handsome", "the best", "the main". The Red Square witnessed many important events in the history of the Russian state.
The northern side of the Red Square is bordered by the building of the State History Museum, which was erected in the 1870-1880s. On the eastern side there is a large department store built in 1893.
The Red Square is famous with brilliant Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed, popularly known as St.Basil’s Cathedral (at the southern end of the square). The church has a uniquely scenic and festive appearance, with 8 columnar churches soaring up from a common pediment, with a ninth, central tent-like church towering above the rest. Tsar Ivan the Terrible ordered the construction of this Cathedral in the memory of the seizure of Kazan, the capital of Tatar Khanate, which disturbed Rus by endless raids. The Cathedral was built by Russian architects Barma and Postnik.
Not far from the Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed, in the Red Square, there is Lobnoye mesto. There is an opinion that Lobnoye Mesto was used for executions, but, in reality, it was used to proclaim tsar’s edicts and to hold various religious ceremonies.
Next to the Cathedral stands the monument to Minin and Pozharsky, Russian national heroes, defenders who led the people’s volunteers in 1612. The author of the well-known monument is the famous Russian sculptor I.Martos.
In the central part of the square, near the Kremlin wall, in 1930 the Lenin Mausoleum was built to the project of well known Soviet architect A.Shchusev.
The State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, the largest museum of Russian national art. Named in honour of art patron and art collector Tretyakov, who donated to Moscow the family collection of paintings in 1892. On display here there are the specimens of early Russian art of the 9th to 17th centuries, including the icons from Kiev, Novgorod, Central Russia painted by Andrey Rublev, Simon Ushakov, Dionysius; world famous pictures; drawings and sculptures; interesting exposition of the Russian avant-garde of the 1920s; the Soviet art of the 1930s.
The Museum of Applied and Folk Art in Moscow, here are displayed the best samples of the true Russian art, ceramics from Gzhel, specimens from Khokhloma, Palekh, Fedoskino, samovars, fine collections of furniture, china, glass, clothing, textile, etc.
The State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, the museum comprises the collections displayed in the Halls of Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Antique, Early-Christian Arts. On display here there are paintings and sculptures by famous Italian, Holland, Flamand, German and French artists.
The Moscow Metro is not the oldest one in the world, its stations welcomed the first passengers in 1935. However, the architectural style and wide scope of the stations’ design deserve the name of the "Undeground Palace". Nearly all stations are reveted with various natural stones having unique structure and beauty. Currently, there are over 150 stations of the Moscow Metro. The Metro stations were designed and embellished by prominent Russian architects, artists and sculptors. Their great talent and decorative skills created not only one more transportation facility, but a peculiar underground network of great artistic value.
Kolomenskoye, the residence of Russian tsars (today, it is within Moscow’s limits), lying in a scenic place on the high bank of the Moskva river. The museum of Kolomenskoye explains about the history of this place since the ancient times. On display are the collection of early Russian painting; fine samples of decorative and applied art; tower-clock mechanisms, ceramics, decorative metal works, wood-carving. The museum of Russian wooden architecture displays the structures brought here from different places in Russia. Among them the house of Peter the Great brought from Arkhangelsk is especially popular. The funds of the museum exhibit the unique masterpieces of the Russian art (icons, drawings, early printed books, etc.). Each guest visiting Kolomenskoye can feel and enjoy the Russian traditions and peculiar national colour. Not only the interesting excursions attract people here, but also many festive occasions to celebrate folk, religious and state holidays. The festivals of art are held in Kolomenskoye and special programs reestablish the ancient traditions.