This comprehensive travel guide will lead you through Moscow far beyond its postcard attractions

Must see

Red Square and the Kremlin

For information on visiting the Kremlin grounds and museums, see our Historical museums section.

Red Square and the Kremlin together constitute a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For many Russians, they are sacred symbols of their country rather than just cultural values or pastime venues, thus, unseemly behaviour there may provoke anger and aggression.

The Kremlin is also an official Russian president’s residence where strict security measures apply.

Access to Red Square may be limited for public due to special events like military parades or mass demonstrations.

In Russian, the square is named krasnaya which means red in Modern Russian, though it does not reflect the colour of the Kremlin walls. In Old Russian, it meant beautiful or nice-looking, but never mind, call it red.

For postcard glimpses of Red Square, first go Manezhnaya Square near metro stations Okhotny Ryad (line 1, red,) Teatralnaya (line 2, green) or Ploshchad Revolyutsii (line 3, navy blue.) To enter Red Square, pass the Historical Museum - the red masonry building behind the equestrian statue of Marshal Zhukov - either from the left or from the right.

The church with eleven colourful domes on the other side of the square is commonly known as St. Basil’s Cathedral. Officially, it is the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat. (Until 1813, a moat protected the Kremlin along the side of Red Square.) The cathedral was built in the middle of the 16th century to commemorate Ivan the Terrible’s victory over the Tatars. See our Historical museums page for more information.

Red SquareSt. Basil’s Cathedral is one of the most eye-catching buildings in Moscow.

The monument to Citizen Minin and Prince Pozharsky in front of the cathedral commemorates the two commanders of the people in arms who liberated Moscow from invaders in 1612.

The stone platform near the cathedral is Lobnoye Mesto (Forehead Place). Old fables say the platform was used as a scaffold for public executions, but historians have not found any evidence of this theory. Most likely, it was a place for announcing the tsars’ ordinances and for religious ceremonies.

The Spasskaya (Saviour) Tower to the right of the St. Basil’s Cathedral is the second tallest of the Kremlin’s 20 towers. The chimes of the tower clock alternatively play an excerpt from the national anthem and a melody from A Life for the Tsar opera.

The granite building near the Kremlin wall is the Mausoleum, or Vladimir Lenin's Tomb. Those who want to see the world proletariat leader’s mummy may do it free of charge on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Saturday from 10.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m.

The building opposite the Kremlin is GUM – the Main Department Store. Even if you are not on a shpping mood, try their signature ice cream sold from kiosks on the ground floor and take an opportunity to visit their luxury restroom. See our Department stores section for more details.

The street along the left side of GUM is Nikolskaya pedestrian mall with many boutiques and cafes.

Mind that taking pictures with the street actors mimicking characters from Russian history on Red Square and nearby may turn out to be a very expensive experience.

For an impressive riverside view of the Kremlin, exit to Manezhnaya Square, turn left and walk through Alexandrovsly Garden to Bolshoi Kamenny Most (Great Stone Bridge.) To see the Kremlin from another angle, go to Zaryadye Park behind St. Basil’s cathedral. (See our Parks & Gardens section.)


Bolshoi Theatre

The theatre in Teatralnaya Square was built between 1821 and 1824. The neoclassical façade with the quadriga on the fronton is a good backdrop for selfies.

To see the impressive interior of the theatre, join a guided tour in Russian (at 11.10 a.m.) or English (at 11.15 a.m.) on Monday, Wednesday or Friday. The tour lasts one hour and cost RUR 500 in Russian or RUR 1300 in English. Buy tickets on the day of the tour at the theatre booking office (entrance 12.)

For information on the theatre’s company and performances, see our Theatres page.

btBolshoi Theatre is a good backdrop for selfies.

1 Teatralnaya Square

Metro Okhotny Ryad (line 1, red,) Teatralnaya (line 2, green) or Ploshchad Revolyutsii (line 3, navy blue.)


Novodevichy Convent

Novodevichy, or the New Maidens' Monastery, is one of very few religious venues in Moscow that has remained intact since 1600s, though the Bolsheviks turned it into the Museum of the Emancipation of Women for several decades.

Since 2004, the convent it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, “the most outstanding example of the Moscow Baroque," according to the UN experts.

Smolensky Cathedral built in the 16th century is the oldest building in the convent. Frescos in the cathedral deserve special attention.

Most other churches in the monastery date from the 1680s.

The Necropolis of the Novodevichy Convent and the cemetery outside the south wall of the convent are among the most high-profile graveyards in Russia. Prominent Russian writers of the 19th century like Anton Chekhov and Nikolai Gogol were buried there, as well many politicians and people of art of the Soviet era and post-Soviet Russia, including Nikita Khrushchev, Boris Yeltsin, Sergei Prokofiev, Dmitri Shostakovich, and Mstislav Rostropovich, to name a few.

After visiting the convent, relax in a scenic park nearby and see the amusing Make Way for Ducklings statuary, a gift from the US children to their Russian coevals.

Opening times: daily from 9.00 a.m. to 05.00 p.m.

Novodevichy ConventNovodevichy Convent is the most outstanding example of the Moscow Baroque, according to the UN experts.

1 Novodevichy Proezd

Metro Sportivnaya, line 1 (red)



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