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Travel to Moscow, Russia: More than the Red Square
Different World with a Unique Culture
A visit to Moscow, Russia is so much more than Bolshoi, caviar, snow and a violent history under Russian dictatorship. You will encounter a different world with a unique culture. The city is very different than expected. There are still many men in uniform wearing trench coats, but also an attempt to move away from its former bleak image of a communist country. I was actually pleasantly surprised with how fashionable the Russian women all dress and all the designer labels that are available in Moscow. But also expect the unexpected such as old women begging on the street corners, a sight that I still have not forgotten.
Moscow city has many things to offer the visitor
The country is trying hard to make a stay in their country as pleasant as possible, but the language barrier is still a huge disadvantage. I stayed at the impressive Rossiya hotel just off the Red Square and Kremlin. It is such a huge hotel that I got lost several times - in fact it is one of the largest hotels in the world, offers good value for money and is one of the more affordable hotels near the pricey tourist attractions.
The Red Square is packed with tourists and the heart and soul of Russia. The famous St Basil’s Cathedral is indeed a spectacular sight in Moscow. Completed in 1560, it is now a popular museum. On the northern side of the Square is the Kazan Cathedral which was built in the 17th century to celebrate the revulsion of Polish invaders and in honour of the Virgin of Kazan icon. It was demolished in 1936 but rebuilt and finished in 1993.
A visit to the Kremlin overlooking the Moscow River is both exciting and frightening. Security is tight and men in uniform seem threatening. Kremlin means fortress, and is now the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation and current seat of the Russian government. The fortified complex has four palaces, four cathedrals and the enclosing Kremlin wall with Kremlin watch towers, all built in red brick. The Trotiskaya/Trinity Tower is the highest of the Kremlin Wall Towers (80 metres high) and the place where visitors enter. The Cathedral of the Dormition, a Russian Orthodox Church, is at the northern side of Cathedral Square.
The city offers many galleries, museum, churches and cathedrals. Roads are wide and many have six lanes. Subways are used to cross streets as the traffic can become a nightmare. There are many street vendors selling from wooden dolls to lacquer boxes and Christmas ornaments. Russian women generally are very beautiful, elegant and very fashionable. They like wearing the latest fashions. I was surprised by the many modern shopping malls and designer shops selling from Gucci to Christian Dior. But it is not unusual to see elderly people begging in the streets.
I went to Moscow in the winter when it was very cold. The city covered in snow was somewhat mysterious and exciting at the same time.
As mentioned above, I found the language a huge barrier as very few Russians can speak English. Although the country is making an attempt, it is in my view not a tourist friendly country yet. Security at the airport is very tight so make sure you do not take any icons out of Russia as it is illegal.
I like this video about the Moscow metro stations
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