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Moscow: A City of Contradictions
Dating back more than eight centuries, Moscow is the vibrant and chaotic capitol of the largest country on earth. To arrive here for the first time is to be swept away on a wave of artistry and history, but peer behind the majesty a little to unveil a world of stark contrasts. Boutiques for billionaires neighbour Soviet-era shacks; trendy teens skate past solemn pensioners playing chess in parks; Lamborghinis labour in traffic jams with Ladas. No matter the time of year, it is a city that never fails to thrill with its energy and extremes.
The Beating Heart of Russia
No trip to Moscow is complete without a trip to its cultural and historical epicentres; the Kremlin and Red Square. Having witnessed so much of the country’s turbulent and fascinating past, these iconic symbols are a must see at the start of any visit. With a history spanning almost nine centuries, The Kremlin combines breath-taking architecture with one of the largest museum collections in the world. Featuring cathedrals, chapels, palaces, a concert hall, armoury and the presidential offices, the ancient fortress remains as enigmatic and enthralling as ever. At the foot of its ramparts sits Red Square, the beating heart of the city and home to a humbling host of reminders of Moscow’s intriguing past. Wonder at one of the world’s most recognisable pieces of architecture, St. Basil’s Basilica, before paying your respects to the much-loved leader of the Bolshevik Revolution at Lenin’s Mausoleum.
Steeped in the Past
Once one of the world’s most expensive cities, recent economic changes mean that hotels in Moscow are far more affordable and travellers with a passion for the past are flocking to the ancient metropolis. With over a hundred museums featuring everything from world-famous artefacts to fascinating curiosities, history buffs are often overwhelmed by the sheer choice of exciting exhibitions. The world-renowned Tretyakov Gallery houses a fascinating collection of 21st Century Russian art, while the Pushkin State Museum is a must for sculpture fans. Step inside a Soviet-era space capsule at the Museum of Cosmonautics; see the story of life on earth unfold at the world’s first Museum of Evolution or stroll the secret cold-war tunnels of Bunker-42—hidden walkways deep under the city, once reserved for Stalin himself. Some of the country’s most notable citizens are interred at Novodevichy Cemetery, including Gogol, Chekhov, Bulgakov, and Tolstoy.
Palatial Parks and Stellar Shopping
When you grow tired of history, take some time to explore some the city’s other wonders. Famed as one of the world’s greenest capitals, Moscow has over 100 parks, each a little different from the next. From the dancing babushkas of Izmailovsky Park, to the breath-taking beauty of the Tsarist Royal Estate at Kolomenskoe Park, the variety of greenspaces is unparalleled. Patriarch’s Pond is much-loved by Muscovites, and is often sought out by outsiders in search of an ‘authentic’ Russian experience, while the perennially-popular Gorky Park has evolved into one of the cultural epicentres of the city. For some jaw-dropping window shopping, head to GUM or TsUM, two of the most prestigious malls on the planet. Popular thoroughfare Tverskaya, the city’s central street since the Middle Ages, is alive with vibrant cafes, restaurants and shopping options. Hotels here are reasonably-priced, but can suffer from noise because of the 24-hour timetable.
As the Moon Hangs over Moscow
At night, the city hardly stops to draw breath as its abundance of bars, nightclubs and restaurants burst into life. Head to the Bolshoi Theatre to see gravity-defying ballet at its best, or soak up a Shostakovich symphony at the Conservatory. Talk philosophy with the locals on the terrace of a riverside café, or take a stroll around the Old Arbat region, a tourist stretch once home to some of the country’s most renowned writers and composers. Let loose with a night of vodka-induced dancing or sip classic cocktails in a stylish sky bar. No matter how your evening unfolds, make your way to a hotel rooftop in the small hours to watch the sunrise over the domed skyline—one of the most awe-inspiring vistas in world travel. For many, simply strolling the sprawling mass that is Moscow and feeling the snow crunch underfoot is a memorable moment in itself.
The city is divided into several districts which spread out like petals from its central point. Featuring monasteries and bathhouses, traditional Petrovka district includes several eateries, boutiques and upmarket hotels. To the south of here sits the Ukrainian Quarter, an area of architectural treasures, crooked streets and run-down buildings. Hotels here are in short supply, but true-to-tradition streets are well worth a wander. The colourful Arbat district is littered with souvenir shops and cafes, and its alleys are lined with reminders of the city’s rich literary history. Finding a hotel here isn’t always easy, but prices are amongst the cheapest in the city if you search hard enough. Beyond the Garden Ring Road there is an abundance of accommodation to suit all budgets and traveller types. While situated a little distance from central Moscow, regular metro links into the heart of the hive mean this is only a minor hindrance.
Price rangefrom $6to $8,644
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