With a thousand-year history and a population of more than ten million, it’s no surprise to learn that the Russian capital holds plenty of attractions for the elite traveler.
From cultural visits to Red Square and The Kremlin to adrenaline-fuelled rides in a Russian MiG fighter jet, Moscow is a city of adventure, wonder and mystique.
The most iconic monument in Russia, The Kremlin is a fascinating place to visit, and Elite Traveler recommends you set aside a full day to appreciate all its attractions.
Comprised of towering walls, magnificent cathedrals and golden-domed palaces, the site – atop Borovitsky Hill – has been continuously inhabited since the 2nd century BC. Currently the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation, The Kremlin has also been home to the Tsars and was the headquarters of Soviet Russia under Lenin and Stalin. Particular highlights include the Armory and the Assumption Cathedral. The Armory houses a collection of treasures from Russia’s past, including a collection of 50 Fabergé eggs. The 15th century Assumption Cathedral, designed by Alberti Fioravanti, is one of four magnificent cathedrals inside the Kremlin. In addition, the palaces and Cathedral Square – site of coronations and great processions – are fabulous places to feel the spirit of this remarkable capital.
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ST BASIL’S CATHEDRAL
Perhaps the most striking and instantly recognizable of all of Russia’s monuments, the Cathedral of Intercession of the Virgin on the Moat, or as it is better known, St Basil’s Cathedral, is a true architectural marvel.
Commissioned by Ivan the Terrible to mark the capture of Kazan from Mongol forces, the cathedral has stood at the edge of Moscow’s Red Square since 1561. Urban folklore suggests that Ivan was so pleased with the architects’ work that he arranged for them to be brutally blinded, so that they would never create anything to rival the Cathedral. St. Basil’s has undergone several changes throughout its history, the most famous addition being the brightly painted onion-shaped domes. Visitors can go inside but St. Basil’s is best viewed from outside in Red Square, especially in the evening, when its amazing colors are brightly illuminated against the night sky.
4 Krasnaya Ploshchad
Generally considered the central heart of Moscow, Red Square has been the focal point for many of Russia’s defining moments, from its humble beginnings as a marketplace to the coronation site of the Tsars.
Contrary to legend, the name does not derive from Communism or the color of the brickwork; rather from the Russian word ‘krasnya’ which can mean either ‘beautiful’ or more recently ‘red’. Red Square contains some of the finest monuments in Moscow including St. Basil’s Cathedral, the restored Kazan Cathedral, Lenin’s Mausoleum, the State Historical Museum and GUM department store. The square was first created during the 16th century, and despite a fairly bloody history, now plays host to many concerts and national events, especially on New Year’s Eve, when there’s a spectacular fireworks display. Although a tourist magnet, the square is synonymous with Russia’s history and therefore the perfect place to get a feel for the country’s past – and her present. Red Square is easily reached from all of the major hotels in the city and should be your first stop during your visit.
RADISSON RIVER CRUISES
There are few finer ways to see the Russian capital than from the Moscow River.
The Radisson Hotel has a fleet of five ultra-modern icebreaker boats for a perfect cruise along the waterway. The sleek, state-of-the-art vessels can accommodate up to 200 passengers, and have a salon restaurant with panoramic windows and two promenade decks for warmer weather. The snow-white yachts will sail past some of the most famous monuments in Moscow, including The Kremlin and the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. The boats can be hired out, and with an excellent restaurant and bar on board, make the perfect place to host a party or have a romantic cruise around the Russian capital.
+7 495 228 5555
Radisson Royal Hotel, 2/1 Building 1, Kutuzovsky Prospekt, Moscow 121248
As you’d expect from a country that has consistently produced world-class ice skaters, Russia is packed full of skating rinks.
Options range from professionally run rinks to skating on frozen ponds. For those who prefer to skate in a more risk-free environment, head to the Red Square ice rink, where you can show off your skills with the Kremlin walls as a backdrop. The rink is open between November 28, 2011 and March 13, 2012 from 10am to midnight seven days a week, and skates are available for hire. Daredevils, on the other hand, can take to the ice with the locals at Patriarch’s Ponds, the scene of the novel The Master and Margarita. Just make sure that the ice is strong enough, so it’s always best to follow the locals’ example.
+7 495 788 4343
Red Square, Krasnaya Ploshchad, 109012 and Patriarch Ponds, 123001
MIG FLYING OVER MOSCOW
Fancy a change from the palaces, cathedrals and museums of Moscow? Adrenaline junkies will be impressed by the amazing offer from Incredible Adventures – the chance to fly in a Russian MiG fighter over Moscow.
With a twin-engine jet capable of speeds in excess of Mach 2.3, elite travelers can finally experience their favorite Top Gun moments. The sound barrier-breaking flight will include plenty of jaw-dropping maneuvers and aerobatics. There’s even the option to head to the edge of space and enjoy a stunning vista over the curvature of the Earth. This unbelievable experience takes place at Nizhny Novgorod, just a short car ride from Moscow. Incredible Adventures will take care of your transport and accommodation, and will organize a flight itinerary – and even hotel accommodation – that is specifically tailored for you. And best of all you’ll get a DVD and photographs recording your truly memorable day.
Greg Claxton, Director of Sales
+1 941 346 2603
STATE HISTORICAL MUSEUM
With around 4.5 million artifacts on display, dating from the Stone Age to modern-day Russia, the State Historical Museum is a must for any visitor to the Russian capital.
Situated between the Red Square and the Manege Square, the museum is one of the most popular in Russia. Opened in 1894 to mark the coronation of Emperor Alexander III, the museum was created to showcase Russia’s history. The outer design of the building is one that divides critics; but whatever your opinion, the neo-Russian creation of Vladimir Sherwood is certainly a striking one. elite travelers will benefit from a guided visit to the museum, since most of the written explanations are in Russian, but don’t let this deter you, as the museum is a fascinating exponent of the history of Russia.