Moscow’s Magnificent Monuments: A Must-See Guide
If you’re visiting Moscow, there’s no way you can miss out the city’s magnificent monuments. Russia’s capital is full of cultural and historical landmarks, from grand ancient churches to iconic Stalinist architecture. In this guide, we’ll look at some of the must-see monuments in Moscow so you can get the best out of your visit.
1. Overview of Moscow’s Magnificent Monuments
Moscow, Russia’s glorious capital, is home to a vast number of unique monuments which, for many centuries, have attracted visitors from near and far. From majestic Soviet-era buildings to ancient churches, from unique sculptures to intricate mosaics, there are plenty of awe-inspiring monuments in Moscow that are worth seeing. Here is a guide to some of the city’s most impressive monuments – a must-see for anyone visiting Moscow.
- Kerensky Ramp. This majestic granite monument built between 1951 and 1953 is dedicated to the Bolshevik revolution. Standing 77 meters tall, it can be clearly seen from many parts of the city.
- The Museum of the Revolution. Located in the Kremlin, this impressive museum was created to commemorate the Bolshevik Revolution and was opened in 1967.
- The Lenin Mausoleum. Another impressive monument to the Bolshevik Revolution, this mausoleum was created to honor the life and legacy of Vladimir Lenin. It is open to the public and is one of the most popular tourist sites in Moscow.
- The Kremlin. This vast complex of churches and cathedrals is one of the most iconic sites in all of Moscow. Built between the 15th and 20th centuries, it is a sprawling complex of churches, cathedrals, and palaces, all filled with incredible works of art.
- The Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Built in the late 19th century, this enormous cathedral is one of the most iconic religious sites in all of Russia. It is a stunning example of Eastern Orthodox architecture.
- St. Basil’s Cathedral. Located on Red Square, this iconic building is one of the most famous landmarks in all of Russia. Built in the 16th century, it is an impressive combination of brightly colored domes and spires.
- The State Historical Museum. Located on Red Square, this impressive building was built in the late 19th century to house the vast collections of the Russian Empire. It is now home to an impressive collection of artifacts, art, and artifacts from Russia’s long and storied history.
- The Bolshoi Theater. Located in the heart of Moscow, the Bolshoi is one of the most renowned theaters in the world. Built in the 19th century, it is renowned for its breathtaking performances.
- The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. Founded in 1912, this is one of the most comprehensive museums of fine art in all of Russia. It is home to works by famous Russian and European masters, as well as numerous sculptures and artifacts from antiquity.
Moscow’s magnificent monuments are an integral part of its rich cultural heritage. They are a lasting reminder of the city’s history and its role on world’s stage. Whether you’re a history buff or just looking for a great photo opportunity, these sites are sure to impress.
2. Exploring Moscow’s Ancient Historic Sites
Head to Red Square, the historical and political center of the city, to soak up centuries-old culture. Home to some of the world’s most renowned monuments, from the Kremlin and St. Basil’s Cathedral to the State Historical Museum, it provides visitors an unforgettable look into Russia’s ancient past.
Kremlin and Red Square
The Kremlin, literally meaning ”fortress” or “citadel” in Russian, is a fortified complex standing on Borovitsky Hill. With its red-brick towers and Ivan the Great Bell Tower, it’s a standout example of Russian architectural beauty and symbolizes Moscow’s importance and grandeur. Red Square is also home to St. Basil’s Cathedral, a renowned Orthodox church with its vivid, colourful domes.
Cathedrals and Places of Worship
Moscow’s cathedrals demonstrate its history and religion, from the ornate Moscow Organkovo Monastery to the Cathedral of Christ the Savior – rebuilt in 2000, 300 years after the original was demolished. Explore other religious landmarks, such as the Butyrskaya Church, the Church of the Deposition of the Robe and Danilov Monastery, and don’t miss out on the colorful design of Nikolsky Gate.
Bunker 42 Cold War Museum
Venture below the bustling city and visit Bunker 42 Cold War Museum, a disused nuclear bunker which now contains interpretive displays of Cold War defense systems. Seek out the hidden treasures of Moscow’s underground, including an operational underground train.
If you’re looking for a tranquil afternoon stop off, the Moscow Zoo and Moscow Seaside Aquarium are ideal. With hundreds of species from around the world, the Zoo has something to amuse visitors from the giant pandas and koalas to the beautiful snow leopards.
Venturing outside of the city centre to the breathtaking Kolomenskoye Estate is a must. It’s walking distance from the city centre but transports visitors back centuries, with its wooden palace, churches and chapels. Within the estate lies the 18th-century Church of the Ascension.
3. Sightseeing in Moscow’s Iconic Architecture
1. St. Basil’s Cathedral
When envisioning the city of Moscow, few iconic landmarks are as easily recognizable as St. Basil’s Cathedral. With its vibrantly colored domes and towers, this iconic structure stands proudly on the Red Square, dating back to the mid-1500s. St. Basil’s cathedral consists of numerous small chapels built around a larger central one, dedicated to Jesus’ Crucifixion and comes with a fascinating history told by tour guides. I highly recommend you make a reservation with one to get the most out of your visit.
2. The Kremlin and the Red Square
The Kremlin and Red Square are two of the iconic symbols of the city, and they are located right in the center of Moscow. The Red Square was the main center of the city since the early days and has been at the core of Russia’s activities ever since. You’ll also find the huge and overwhelming Kremlin Wall, although sadly, you won’t be able to visit its interiors. You can, however, check out the surrounding authorities including the Maly Theatre, Lenin’s Mausoleum, and the State Historical Museum.
3. The Seven Sisters
Moscow’s skyline is decorated by seven magnificent skyscrapers which are the result of Stalin’s unique vision of the Soviet Union. The skyscrapers were built in Moscow’s suburbs during the late 40s and are now collectively known as the “Seven Sisters” and include the Hotel Ukraine, Kotelnicheskaya, and the Foreign Ministry buildings. Pay them a visit and admire their brutalist architecture.
4. Cathedral of Christ the Savior
This impressively massive cathedral is one of Moscow’s most iconic landmarks. It first opened its doors in 1883 and was heavily damaged by Stalin in 1931 to make space for his Palace of Soviets, which was never finished. The whole cathedral was reconstructed and re-opened in 2000, and its grandiosity will be sure to take your breath away.
5. Cathedral of the Annunciation
The Cathedral of the Annunciation is one of the most oldest and best-preserved churches in Moscow. This basilica-style church was originally built in 1484-1489 under the orders of Tsar Ivan III and features an impressive array of multicolored domes. It’s a must-see sight for those who are interested in traditional architecture and will certainly leave you spellbound.
4. Tips for Seeing Moscow’s Monuments
Explore the Beauty of the Kremlin
Nothing screams Moscow like the Kremlin. The massive fortress, coupled with Red Square, is bound to be the center of your Moscow experience. Step foot in history as you explore the grounds, take strolls among the walls, steep yourself in the city’s beautiful architecture, snap photos at Red Square and marvel at St. Basil’s Cathedral. Your experience is what you make it, so make sure you don’t miss out on visiting the Kremlin!
Gawk at the Grandeur of St. Basil’s Cathedral
Be mesmerized by the beauty and grandeur of St. Basil’s Cathedral. If you’ve ever seen a picture of Moscow, chances are it’s a photo of this iconic landmark. This jewel of the city is not to be missed! Make sure you browse the inside of the cathedral, explore the outside, and if you’re feeling particularly daring, climb the 300-foot bell tower and take in the beautiful scenes of the city from up high.
Climb the Ivan the Great Bell Tower
One of the most iconic sites in Moscow is the Ivan the Great Bell Tower. Its grand structure has been the backdrop to Russian history and culture for centuries. It also offers incredible views of Moscow that really capture the magnificent nature of the city. Climb the staircase for an unforgettable experience or to use it as an ideal spot for a photoshoot!
Take a Stroll in VDNKh Parks
The former “Exhibition of People’s Achievements” is a beautiful park complex boasting incredible monuments dedicated to the achievements of the Soviet Union. Go for a stroll through the grounds and discover its many monuments. The stunning art displays will serve as a perfect backdrop to your experience of this Soviet-era park.
Appreciate the Architecture of Moscow State University
The immense and majestic Moscow State University, located atop Sparrow Hills, is an awe-inspiring landmark of the city. Its clean-cut lines and Soviet-inspired architecture are truly captivating, making for a great sightseeing experience. Climb up to the observation deck located at the top of the building for a truly magical journey over Moscow’s skyline.
Discover the History at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior
The Cathedral of Christ the Savior is another must-visit in Moscow’s monuments collection. Not only is this the world’s tallest Orthodox church, but it also holds special meaning for Russians. Take a tour within the church to learn about its history, marvel at its beauty, and appreciate the size and scope of the building.
5. Best Time to Visit Moscow’s Monuments
A visit to Moscow would be incomplete without a trawl through the monumental sights that are symbols of Russia’s grand heritage. To ensure you don’t miss any of these must-see attractions, use this guide for the best time to visit them:
- St.Basil’s Cathedral: Best time to visit the majestic St.Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square is from June to August, when the sun is shining and the temperatures are milder. There will also be more crowds so it’s better to go early in the morning or late in the evening.
- Kremlin: The go-to spot in the city, the Kremlin can easily be visited all-year-round, but the most magical time to see it is from November to April when snow blankets the city.
- Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin on the Moat: Also known as the ‘Church of St.Basil’, the best time to marvel at the unique architecture of this 16th-century structure is during the warm months from June to September, when the light reflects off the golden domes and the vibrant tulips come into bloom.
- Moscow Metro: The Moscow Metro is perhaps one of Russia’s best-known sights. To truly experience the glory of its underground stations, visit it during peak season when its neo-classical and baroque designs shine brightly.
- State Historical Museum: This behemoth monument hosts an impressive collection of Russian artifacts, and is best visited from March to October when the temperatures are mild. Make sure to keep an eye out for its intricate interiors, like the fresco-adorned cupolas.
So take your pick and plan your visit to Moscow’s monuments accordingly!
6. Where to Stay in Moscow to Explore its Monuments
- Former KGB Headquarters – Located in Moscow’s Lubyanka Square, this ancient brick building served as a secret police headquarters in the Soviet era. This historic monument is no longer in service, but it does continue to be a popular sight. Tourists can explore the building and even catch a glimpse of an original Soviet-era tank.
- The Kremlin – The home of Russian presidents since the 15th century, the Kremlin is located just southwest of the capital. Not only can it offer splendid views of the stunning Moscow skyline, but the immense walls of this ancient structure also display some of the most elegant pieces of Russian and Soviet art. Tourists can explore it all while on a guided tour.
- Victory Park – Victory Park is a memorial dedicated to the veterans of the Second World War. It houses a number of monuments, sculptures, and memorials, which include the Eternal Flame, the Motherland Monument, and the Humanity Monument. Tourists visiting Victory Park can also take a break and enjoy the adjacent pavilions, restaurants, and cafes.
- Cathedral of Christ the Saviour – The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour is the largest Orthodox Christian cathedral in the world. Located just outside the Kremlin wall, its golden domes and spires make it one of the most recognizable landmarks in Moscow. Visitors can admire the beauty of the grand church, attend Mass, or take part in one of its special religious ceremonies.
- St. Basil’s Cathedral – This iconic church is located on the Red Square and serves as one of the most iconic symbols of Russia. Its colorful exteriors and ornate interiors make it one of the most beautiful monuments in the city. Here visitors can explore its interior and admire its colourful frescoes and religious artifacts.
- Moscow State University – Moscow State University is the oldest and most renowned university in the Russian Federation. Its neoclassical building stands on top of a steep hill overlooking the city and provides a spectacular aerial view. Tourists can climb the stairs to the top and explore the various scientific museums, libraries, and lecture halls inside.
There are numerous historical and architectural sights in Moscow just waiting to be explored. But to get the most out of your experience, you’ll need to find the perfect place to stay in the city. Fortunately, there are plenty of great hotels in Moscow to choose from, ranging from luxury boutiques to budget-friendly hostels. Most of these hotels are situated in or near the city’s most popular monuments, making it easier to explore them and get an up-close look at Moscow’s amazing history and culture. So keep these magnificent monuments in mind when planning your trip to Moscow, and be sure to book your stay at one of the many amazing accommodations the city has to offer.
7. Finishing Your Monumental Trip to Moscow
Exploring Moscow’s monuments offers a unique journey into the world of Russian history and culture. As your trip winds to a close, consider these five must-see landmarks to ensure your Moscow experience is unforgettable.
1. St. Basil’s Cathedral
This 16th century basilica is arguably the most iconic of all Moscow monuments. St. Basil’s is noted for its unique constellation of colorful onion domes and its opulent interior, offering a breathtaking backdrop for photographs. The majestic red walls will stay with you long after your trip is finished.
2. Red Square
This icon of Moscow surrounds St. Basil’s and serves as the heart of Russian history. This famous plaza was once used for public executions and coronations, and it still stands proud and defiant in the center of the city. While there, you won’t want to miss the chance to take a selfie in front of the legendary Gum building.
3. Triumphal Arch
This stunning, neoclassical monument was built in 1834 to celebrate the 1812 victory of the Russian Army over Napoleon. It stands in a prominent location near Red Square and is a must-see for anyone who appreciates architectural beauty.
4. Novodevichy Convent
This storied 16th-century complex of churches and monasteries is one of the most historically significant monuments in all of Russia. Located along the Moscow River, visitors will be mesmerized by the many sacred sites inside the convent walls.
5. Moscow Kremlin
Perhaps the most revered of all Moscow landmarks, the Moscow Kremlin is the site of the domed, pre-tsarist churches of the Orthodox faith, as well as the burial places of some of Russia’s most important historic figures. Despite its resilience, the Kremlin is sadly inaccessible to the public but you can still admire these architectural wonders from afar.
Your time in Moscow is sure to be unforgettable. Take the time to explore the city’s majestic monuments and soak in the rich cultural heritage that has helped form this great metropolis. Seeing the city monuments of Moscow is an experience you’ll never forget. From the walls of the Kremlin to the iconic St. Basil’s Cathedral, you can explore and appreciate the history and culture of this vibrant city. After visiting these monuments, you may have a greater understanding of Russia’s past and a new appreciation for its many locales. Make sure to add Moscow’s magnificent monuments to your next travel bucket list!