The national heritage and a UNESCO Listed site — Red Square — is very well known far beyond Russian borders. The country’s main square, it is one of the most recognized Russian symbols, along with the Kremlin (which eastern wall boarders it) and St. Basil Cathedral (which actually stands at it). It is also one of Moscow’s most vibrant open spaces whatever the weather or time of day – Muscovites and visitors enjoy it long after dark alike (in fact, it becomes even more popular at nightfall).
There is a lot to see and do here and the following information will help you plan your visit to Red Square in the most efficient way.
St. Basil Cathedral
This most recognized symbol of Russia fascinates with its unusual forms and architecture. It seems everyone who has seen it at least once in a life time, wants to come here just to see it in their own eyes and get pictured with the cathedral behind. Though it is the most popular Russian church, it is the most unusual church in Russia. Inside of it is like a maze with numerous passages; its old narrow staircase, massive walls and decorated interiors will make you feel as though you made a journey through time to the 16th century.
At Red Square, stretching for 240 meters is the country’s most important and luxury shopping mall – the GUM (State Department Store). Along with other structures at the square it forms its unique architectural ensemble and is an important part of it. The GUM is famous for many things - first of all for its upmarket and easily recognized brands, beautiful architecture, luxury interiors and also for a very special atmosphere inside which differs such stores all over the world (including London’s Harrods) from all the others. After 10 p.m., when the GUM is closed it still attracts city visitors and locals with its incredible illumination providing a magnificent look to the whole square.
Opening hours: from 10 am to 10 pm, daily.
Opposite the GUM is the medieval fortress and Residence of the President – the Kremlin. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it now plays two main roles – it is the country’s main museum with Royal Cathedrals, Kremlin Armoury Museum and Russian Diamond Fund, and also an official active Residence of the President (the national flag – tricolor - on top of it is best visible from Red Square). If you are going to visit Moscow for the first time or have been here but never got inside the Kremlin, we invite you to do the Kremlin Tour with us – we know it inside out, love it and will be happy to show it to you.
Lenin’s Tomb and the Kremlin graveyard
Next to the Kremlin wall and opposite the main entrance to the GUM (its central arch) stands Lenin’s Mausoleum.Shaped in the form of a pyramid (just like the burial places of Egyptian pharaohs) and faced with granite, marble and labradorite the tomb has displayed the body of the Father of the Revolution in a glass sarcophagus since 1924. Lenin’s Mausoleum is open daily (except Monday and Friday) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. From mid-spring to early autumn there can be a long line of tourists at the entrance, so better to come earlier.
The Tomb is a part of Russia’s most important cemetery that runs along the Kremlin wall. Here one can see gravestones of almost all soviet leaders (including Stalin) as well as burial places inside the Kremlin wall that include the ashes of Yuri Gagarin.
The State History Museum
The State History Museum is the largest museum of national history of Russia. It reflects its long history and culture and covers the period from ancient times to the present day. Its vast collection which was formed during almost half a century includes about 5 million items dating back to different epochs. The museum attracted record 1 mln visitors in 2013 and occupies an important place among other leading history museums all over the world.
About the author
Diana Zalenskaya, a travel professional and destination expert for Moscow, Russia.