What to see in Moscow’s Red Square
The Red Square in Moscow is the most spectacular square we have seen. It has been the heart of Moscow for several centuries and has experienced some of the most important events in the history of Russia. For example, the coronation of several tsars. There are a lot of interesting things on the Red Square in Moscow. So I have prepared this post to show you the 5 essential to visit places in the Red Square.
1. St. Basil’s Cathedral, the main icon of the Red Square
The Orthodox Cathedral of St. Basil is the icon of Moscow and probably of all Russia. Its fancy bulb-shaped colored domes have all the prominence in Red Square since 1561.
Its construction was ordered by Tsar Ivan the Terrible to celebrate the important conquest of Kazan. The legend says that, once the project was finished, the Tsar left the architect of the cathedral blind so that he could not do anything better in his professional life. Although it is unlikely that it is true since he finally participated in the construction of the Kazan Kremlin. St. Basil’s Cathedral is a must see in the Red Square in Moscow.
2. Moscow Kremlin, the most impressive building complex of the Moscow Red Square
Many people confuse St. Basil’s Cathedral with the Moscow Kremlin. Both are in the Red Square in Moscow, but they are totally different buildings. In this fortified enclosure power has been concentrated for centuries. It houses four palaces and four cathedrals, among other buildings. Until the reign of Peter the Great, the Kremlin was the residence of the tsars. But he wanted to build a city for himself and that’s how St. Petersburg was founded.
And although now the Russian president no longer lives there, he does go to work in the Kremlin, specifically in the Senate Building. Saving the distances, throughout history the Kremlin has meant for Russia what the White House for the United States. But the Kremlin is a real open-air museum!
3. Lenin’s Mausoleum
Lenin’s mausoleum is one of the most controversial places to see in Red Square. There you can find the embalmed body of Vladimir Lenin, the main leader of the Russian Revolution and first leader of the USSR. When he died in 1924 thousands of people spent days queueing to say a last goodbye in an improvised mausoleum. Seeing the success, Stalin decided to keep Lenin’s embalmed body as a museum piece against his will, since he wanted to be buried with his mother in St. Petersburg.
The visit to the mausoleum is free, but only opens on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10am to 1pm. The mausoleum closes on holidays and for a couple of months each year, when preservations are done to maintain Lenin’s body.
4. Kremlin Necropolis
While queueing to enter Lenin’s mausoleum you will pass through the Kremlin necropolis. Next to the Kremlin wall are a series of graves of important people for the history of Russia such as Stalin or Gagarin. Although in recent decades it has served to bury famous politicians and scientists, its creation was totally different. The necropolis was created to massively bury pro-Bolshevik victims during the October 2017 Revolution. Without a doubt, one of the most interesting things to see in the Red Square in Moscow.
5. Kazan Cathedral, one of the most beautiful buildings to see in the Red Square in Moscow
At one end of the Red Square in Moscow, next to the GUM galleries you will find this flirtatious pink cathedral. The original was built in the 17th century and housed an icon of Our Lady of Kazan, although the current one dates from 1990. And in 1936, Stalin ordered to destroy all the churches of the Red Square in Moscow. He was interested in a space for imposing Soviet ceremonies and the churches spoiled his plans.
Kazan Cathedral did not have the same fate as that of San Basilio, which survived thanks to the courage of an architect who refused to destroy it. So today we can enjoy a beautiful reconstruction.