Kolomenskoye is situated south of Moscow city center and occupies 390 hectares.
According to the legend, the village of Kolomenskoye was founded by refugees from Mongols, although archaeological traces have been found here of pre-Slavic civilizations dating back over 2,500 years. Kolomenskoye village was first mentioned in the willing of Ivan Kalita (1339).
During the 15th-17th centuries the village became a Grand Prince’s and then the Tsar’s estate. Kolomenskoye was a favorite residence of Russian Tsar Aleksey Mikhailovich, and that was a flourishing time for the estate. He rebuilt the existing building into a summer palace with 250 rooms and fairytale roof.
Peter the Great spent part of his youth here. Later, his daughter, Elizabeth, was born Kolomenskoye. After transferring the capital to Saint Petersburg the palace was abandoned and then was disassembled under Catherine the Great. On her orders the wooden palace was demolished in 1768, and replaced with a much more modest stone-and-brick structure.
Kolomenskoye museum was founded in 1923 under the initiative of architect Petr Baranovsky, who became its first director. Between 1930 and 1959, old wooden buildings and various artifacts were brought here from all across Russia. Kolomenskoye remained a normal village until 1985, when it became a museum and park complex, after which all the residents were resettled.
The chief attraction of the park is undoubtedly the stone Church of the Ascension of the Lord. It was constructed in 1529-1532 of white stone by order of Tsar Vasily III to celebrate the birth of his son and heir, Ivan the Terrible. The height of the tent of the cathedral reaches 62 meters, and the walls are 3 meter think. Its asymmetrical structure is formed from an octagonal base topped by a soaring tented roof. Being the first stone church of tent-like variety, the Church is an uncanonical one, far from the Byzantine tradition.
The Church of the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan, with its bright blue domes and plenty of gold, was built by Aleksey Mikhailovich in 1650s. It served as a family temple for royalties, devoted to the Our Lady of Kazan icon, the most respected icon in Russia.
Further into the park is the Church of the Beheading of St John the Forerunner, with five tent-like structures. It was probably constructed around 1547 by the architect of Saint Basil`s Cathedral on the Red Square.
The Moscow Government has completed a full-scale reconstruction in 2010. The rebuilt palace stands approximately 1 kilometer to the south of its original location, in order to preserve the historic foundations.
In summer, Kolomenskoye is one of the most popular places for Muscovites to come and soak up the sun, but there is enough open space for those seeking tranquility. In winter, when there are fewer visitors, the park is impressive in its serenity.
Note that entrance to the park is free, but you have to pay for some of the sights.
The history of Gorky Park started with the Agricultural and Handicraft Industries Exhibition, which was first held at the park’s current location in 1923 (it was later moved to the modern V.V.C. (VDNKh). The idea of an open park where you can relax and have fun was revolutionary in the 20s. Eventually, in 1928, by a resolution of the Presidium of the Moscow Council, the Exhibition was transformed into the Central Park of Culture and Leisure — the Country’s first park of its kind. The park, situated just across the Moscow River near the Park Kultury Metro station, was created by Konstantin Melnikov, a world-famous Soviet avant-garde architect. Its territory, covering an area of 120 ha., included the gardens of the old Golitsyn Hospital and the Neskuchny Palace. There were exhibitions, tennis courts, swimming pool, attractions and a special section for children.
On the official opening of the park, 12 August 1928, Muscovites found out that they have to pay an entrance fee, which most of them did not want to. As a result, more than 100 thousand people broke into the park, breaking barriers and trampling grass and flowers.
The Park was named after Maxim Gorky in 1932 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of his social and literary work.
Gorky Park has always reflected the spirit of time and social values. At the end of 20th century, concentration on sport retreated in the face of the commercial attractions. The time of amusements, cafes, and advertising began. Then, the 21st century brought a time of change and the need to transform the Park’s concept.
So, in 2011, Gorky Park underwent a major reconstruction. A new park director dismantled approximately 100 attractions and illegal objects. A new asphalt roadbed was laid and lawns and flowerbeds were planted in place of the demolished objects. Monuments were renovated and ponds were cleaned. A 15,000 square meter ice rink, with separate zones for children, hockey, dancing, and general skating, was opened. Wi-Fi coverage, new zones of modern design, and well thought-out events and programs have transformed Gorky Park.
The Sparrow Hills, Muzeon Park of Arts, and some territory of MGU (Moscow State University) were included in the Gorky Park. The Museum of History of Gorky Park, lecture halls, an observation platform on the Main Gates has been opened for visitors. Also, ecological projects have been launched.
The park is popular among locals for its dance classes, yoga instruction, lectures, festivals, and other cultural and modern events.
Prior to 2011, the park had an entrance fee. Now, Gorky Park is opened to public 24/7 for free.
Red Square, the central square in Moscow, is located downtown at the Kremlin’s north-eastern wall. In older times the square was known as Torg (Trade) Square, then as a Trinity Square, due to the Trinity Cathedral, the predecessor of St. Basil’s. In the middle of the 17th century it took its present name. The word “red” meant “beautiful” in old Russia and has nothing with the color or Soviets era. It was also known as ‘Fire Square’, reflecting the number of times medieval Moscow burned.
Red Square was a slum area first, a town of wooden huts beneath the Kremlin walls, that housed peddlers, criminals and drunks, whose social status left them outside the official boundaries. It was cleared by the orders of Ivan III at the end of the 1400’s, but remained for a long time the site of public executions and as a place where rabble crowded.
Red Square flourished in the 20th century, when military parades demonstrated to the world the might of the USSR. Since Perestroika, however, there has been a movement away from official pomp, and Red Square has been used for concerts, performances, and other celebratory events.
The main entrance to Red Square is through the Resurrection Gate, which was rebuilt in 1995 to copy the gate that was originally finished in 1680. At the center of the gateway stands a small chapel housing an icon known as the Iverian Virgin. Just inside the Resurrection Gate you will find the entrance to the State History Museum. The square is dominated by the walls and towers of the Kremlin on one side and the facade of the GUM department store with its world famous boutiques on the other side. A major highlight of the square is the Intercession Cathedral better known as the St. Basil’s Cathedral. The cathedral was built in 16th century by order of Ivan the Terrible to celebrate the conquest of the Kazan Khanate by the Moscow State. The ensemble of Red Square includes the monument to Minin and Pozharsky who lead the struggle against Polish occupation in the beginning of 17th century. Reminiscent to the Soviet epoch is the Lenin’s Mausoleum with the embalmed body of the leader of the proletarian revolution. Lobnoye Mesto (or “Place of the Skulls”) used to be Ivan the Terrible’s stage for religious ceremonies, speeches, and important events.
Red Square and the surrounding area should be on every visitor’s tour agenda.
VDNKh (The Exhibition of National Economic Achievements) still stays one of the most typical soviet constructions that impresses with its large sizes and grandiosity of a plan.
VDNKh is a unique architectural exhibition complex in north-eastern part of Moscow. It is the second biggest exhibition complex in Moscow and one of 50 the biggest in the world. The square of the whole territory is 237,5 hectares and the square of the exhibition pavilions is 134 000 square meters. It has no analogues in the world.
The complex includes more than 500 permanent structures. 49 of them are the objects of cultural heritage. From the very first year of its existence it became a laboratory where the best Soviet architects, sculptors and artists experimented with the new Soviet style. Among worldwide famous memorials of VDNKh should be named a monument “Worker and Kolhoz Woman” created by sculptor Vera Mukhina and architect Boris Iofan, fountains “Friendship of peoples” and “Stone flower”, pavilions of the Ukrainian SSR, the Uzbek SSR, Mechanization and Electrification of Agriculture in the USSR.
In 1934 the USSR`s government came up with idea to organize a commemorative demonstrative exhibition to mark the 20th anniversary of the Soviet government, which would reflect the positive side of agriculture collectivization. It was important to demonstrate the success of collective farms by showing the best results of collective farmers’ work on a specific area in the Ostankino park. Works at the All-union Agricultural Exhibition began in the second half of 1939. Many political, technical and economic difficulties were overcome. 2000 artists, sculptors and architects worked at the first opening of the exhibition. The wasteland on the north-east suburb of Moscow turned into a unique exhibition city, where on 136 hectares were located 250 buildings including 32 industrial pavilions, 20 palaces of the Soviet Republics, a park, a greenhouse of subtropical crops and even a sugar factory . The grand opening of the exhibition took place on 1 August 1939. The exhibition became a very popular place for recreation of the Muscovites and tourists.
The exhibition was closed due to the war, all stuff was evacuated. It was only reopened in 1954 after reconstruction, with the addition of the magnificent triumphal arch at the main entrance and further exhibition pavilions that extended the area of the park to 207 hectares. Several fountains appeared, a five-kilometer highway with trolleybuses was built.
The All-Union Industrial Exhibition and the Construction Exhibition were joined with the Agricultural one, and the complex was renamed to All-Union Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy of the USSR (VDNKh USSR).
In 1963 the Exhibition became all year-round; the construction of a number of new and modern pavilions was started. Every year VDNKh`s exhibitions became more interesting and impressive, thousands of exhibits filled new pavilions.
In 1988 VDNH lost state financing. The exhibition had to survive on its own trying to find new sources of financial support. The administration of the Exhibition made the decision to demise the pavilions and other rentable places. Having received the pavilions, the tenants often got rid of the exhibits in order not to waste any useful area and turned the places into the points of consumer goods sale and even storages.
In 1992 the complex received its today’s name, All-Russia Exhibition Center, and opened up to private enterprise. By 1994 all expositions of VVC were closed except for the pavilion of livestock industries. But they also didn’t last long and by the first half of the 2000-s were removed. The only place that remained untouched at that time was the Amusement Park where people came to relax. The rest of the exhibition was turned into the flea clothes market and fast food.
In the early 2000s the management of the complex wanted to make some changes, but the refuse of retail activity was still necessary. It was decided to develop an exhibition area. In anniversary year 2009 in addition to the three exhibition pavilions multimedia pavilion MosExpo was opened, concerned at public healthcare, innovations energy and resource-saving. At that time international cooperation with the countries of former Soviet Republics started to develop.
As of November 2013 about 30% of the land and facilities of VVC were already privately owned by those who wanted to build apartments or giant shopping centers. At that time there was a real danger of complete loss of the unique historical and cultural complex.
In November 2013 Vladimir Putin signed a decree, that allowed Moscow Government to become 100% owner of the VVC. The Exhibition of Economic Achievements became again the main museum, exhibition and recreational complex. On 14 May 2014 the Exhibition regained its glorious name – VDNH. All illegal extensions, advertising constructions, tents, fences installed unauthorized on the territory were took down (about 300 buildings). There will be no more sales in the pavilions, only exhibitions, museums, lecture. Construction works started at VDNKh in 2014 became the largest project of public space improvement in Moscow. The complex is gradually returning its historical appearance.
The Moscow Kremlin is many things; it’s an ancient tower, the city´s former military fortification, a palace, an armory, a museum, a religious center with the main cathedrals, and the workplace of the Russian President.
One of Moscow’s most iconic sights, the Kremlin is a massive fortress, stretching along the left bank of the Moscow River. The complex, located on Kremlin Hill, also known as Borovitsky Hill, has an irregular triangular shape, covering a total area of almost 30 hectares It is surrounded by a massive wall with towers. The south wall faces the Moscow River, the eastern looks at Red Square, and the north-western separates the Kremlin from the Alexander Garden.
The first human settlements on the Borovitsky Hill date back to the 2nd millennium BC. At that time the area of the Kremlin was completely covered with dense forests, hence the origin of its name (pine wood–bor).
The first wooden fortifications were built on the Cathedral Square in the VIII-III centuries BC. The Slavs occupied the south-western part of the Borovitsky hill in the 11th century. Moscow started as the border fortress in the 12 century. The founder of Moscow – Vladimir-Suzdal Prince Yuri Dolgoruky – built a wooden fort where the Neglina and Moscow rivers converge, that united two centers, located on the Borovitsky hill, into one.
Despite being destroyed by the nomads in 1208, Moscow was soon powerful enough to achieve primacy among the Russian principalities and to force the moving of the Russian Orthodox Church from Vladimir in 1326.
One of the first high-ranking people to settle in the Moscow Kremlin was Ivan Kalita, who made the city of Moscow the largest and strongest in the Rus. In 1331 he made the Moscow Kremlin the main part of the city, and his own personal residence.
The Cathedral of the Archangel Michael, where Ivan Kalita was later buried, along with all Russian tsars till the 18th century(when Peter the Great moved the capital to Saint Petersburg), was built in 1333.
During this period, Moscow and the Kremlin experienced the numerous civil wars of the Russian princes, a huge fire, and the invasion of Mongols. The wooden structures of the old Kremlin were burnt repeatedly. That was the reason why Prince Dmitry Donskoy decided to rebuild the complex of white stone in 1368. Moscow began to be called “white-stone”.
Under Ivan the Great (1462 – 1505), the Kremlin became the center of a united Russian state. Moscow spread outside the walls of the citadel, and the Kremlin became a world apart, the base of the State and religion. An ambitious reconstruction, which created the actual view of Kremlin, began. For this work, Italian artisans were invited. The Kremlin was then the first brick building in Moscow. The Kremlin became not only a home to the rulers, but also a center of cultural and religious life, containing the residence of the Metropolitan, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Assumption Cathedral, which has been the main church of the Moscow Kremlin since then and where Russian tsars were crowned, was built in 1475. This period also saw the construction of the Cathedral of the Annunciation and the Cathedral of the Archangel Michael, and the uniquely Russian Terem Palace, the royal residence. The addition of the Ivan the Great Bell Tower, once the tallest building in Russia, completed Sobornaya Square, the central square of the Moscow Kremlin.
Even when Peter the Great moved the capital to St Petersburg, the Kremlin continued to develop. Peter himself built the Kremlin Armory, which is famous for the Tsar’s royal regalia such as jewelry crowns, orbs and scepters, ceremonial clothes, royal carriages, vestments of church heads, collection of arms, gifts from various countries, and the notable collection of Faberge Easter eggs. The museum contains more than 10 thousand exhibits dating from the 12th to the 20th century. The Armory was the first museum in Moscow to open to the public.
The 18th and 19th centuries brought Neoclassical masterpieces such as the Senate Building and the Great Kremlin Palace, the residence of the Russian tsars.
The Soviet government moved from Petrograd (present Saint Petersburg) to Moscow on 12 March 1918. Vladimir Lenin selected the Kremlin Senate as his residence. Joseph Stalin also had his rooms in the Kremlin, and was eager to remove all the remnants of the tsarist regime. Until his death in 1953, the complex was closed to tourists and ordinary Muscovites.
During the Second World War, the Kremlin took on a mask: all the old buildings were stylized as ordinary houses, roofs were painted green, gilded domes covered with dark paint, crosses removed, and stars on the towers were sheathed. On the Kremlin walls were painted residential-like windows and doors. In case of Nazi invasion, the main buildings and structures were going to be mined.
On the site of the demolished Chudov Monastery and Ascension convent, a military school was erected.
In 1937 five highest towers – Spassky, Borovitskaya, St. Nicholas, Trinity and the Water Tower – got their ruby stars on top. But, Kremlin stars were not always ruby. The first stars, established in October 1935, were from high-alloy stainless steel and red copper. However, with time the gems faded, and the stars were too big and did not fit into the architectural ensemble. In May 1937, in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the October Revolution, it was decided to install new stars – ruby. This time one more tower got its glowing star – the fifth tower – Vodovzvodnaya.
In 1955, the Moscow Kremlin re-opened its doors to regular visitors, and launched the Museum of Applied Art and Life of Russia XVII century, located in the Patriarch’s Palace.
The visit to the Kremlin begins with the 2 remarkable towers: Kutafya (the only existing tower outside of the walls) and Trinity Tower (the tallest Kremlin tower – over 80 meters). Between them lays a historical bridge over the river Neglinnaya which can’t be seen nowadays as it was directed into the underground tube at the beginning of XIX century.
The ensemble of the Kremlin includes: 4 palaces, 4 cathedrals, 5 squares, 20 towers, the Tsar Cannon, the Tsar Bell, Church of the Deposition of the Virgin’s Robe, Palace of Facets, Ivan the Great Bell Ensemble, Tsarina’s Golden Chamber, Upper Savior’s Cathedral and Terem Churches, Arsenal, the Senate, the Armoury and the Military school of the Central Executive Committee.
The Tsar Bell is actually the biggest bell in the world (but it can`t ring), created in the years of 1733-1735. It is a 200 ton bell made of bronze, 6.14 meters high and 6.6 meters in diameter. A Tsar Cannon is the largest big gun on the planet with their caliber of 35 inches (6 meters long, 40 tonnes). It has been used at least once for actual shooting.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a war memorial, dedicated to the Soviet soldiers killed during World War II. It is located at the Kremlin Wall in the Alexander Garden in Moscow.
VDNKh (Vystavka Dostizheniy Narodnogo Khozyaystva: The Exhibition of National Economic Achievements) is a unique architectural exhibition complex in north-eastern part of Moscow. It is the second largest exhibition complex in Moscow and one of 50 largest in the world. It covers 237.5 hectares and the area of the exhibition pavilions is 134 000 square meters. There is nothing comparable to it in world in terms of size and grandiosity
The complex includes more than 500 permanent structures. 49 of them are objects of cultural heritage. From the very first year of its existence it became an architectural laboratory where the best Soviet architects, sculptors and artists experimented with the new Soviet style. Among the famous memorials of VDNKh are the “Worker and Kolhoz Woman” created by sculptor Vera Mukhina and architect Boris Iofan, fountains “Friendship of peoples” and “Stone flower”, pavilions of the Ukrainian SSR, the Uzbek SSR, and Mechanization and Electrification of Agriculture in the USSR.
In 1934 the USSR`s government decided to organize a commemorative exhibition, called the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition (VSKhV) to mark the 20th anniversary of the Soviet government, which would reflect the positive side of agriculture collectivization. It was important to demonstrate the success of collective farms by showing the best results of collective farmers’ work in a specific area in the Ostankino Park. Work on the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition began in the second half of 1939. Many political, technical, and economic difficulties were overcome while the 2000 artists, sculptors and architects worked to enable the first opening of the exhibition. The wasteland on the north-east suburb of Moscow turned into a unique 136 hectare exhibition city composed of 250 buildings including 32 industrial pavilions, 20 palaces of the Soviet Republic, a park, a greenhouse of subtropical crops, and even a sugar factory. The grand opening of the exhibition took place on 1 August 1939. VDNKh became a very popular place for recreation for Muscovites and tourist
The exhibition was evacuated and closed due to the war and many of the buildings were used for military purposes. It was reopened in 1954 after reconstruction, with the addition of the magnificent triumphal arch at the main entrance and several new exhibition pavilions that extended the area of the park to 207 hectares. Many fountains and a five-kilometer highway with trolleybuses were added.
The All-Union Industrial Exhibition and the Construction Exhibition were joined with the Agricultural one, and the complex was renamed to All-Union Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy of the USSR (VDNKh USSR).
In 1963 the Exhibition became all year-round; the construction of a number of new and modern pavilions was started. Every year, VDNKh`s exhibitions became more interesting and impressive, as thousands of exhibits filled new pavilions.
In 1988 VDNKh lost state financing. The exhibition had to survive on its own while trying to find new sources of financial support. The administration of the Exhibition made the decision to repurpose the pavilions and other rentable places. The tenants often got rid of the exhibits in order to utilize the space more efficiently, turning the places into the points of consumer goods sale and even storage.
In 1992 the complex received a new name, All-Russia Exhibition Center (VVC), and opened up to private enterprise. By 1994 all expositions of VVC were closed except for the pavilion of livestock industries. But they also didn’t last long and by the first half of the 2000-s was removed. The only place that remained untouched at that time was the Amusement Park where people came to relax. The rest of the exhibition was turned into the flea markets and fast food kiosks.
In the early 2000s the management of the complex again made changes and deemed that a reduction of retail activity was necessary. It was decided to develop an exhibition area. In the anniversary year 2009, in addition to the three exhibition pavilions, multimedia pavilion MosExpo was opened, focusing on public healthcare, energy innovations and resource conservation. At that time, international cooperation with the countries of former Soviet Republics started to develop.
As of November 2013 about 30% of the land and facilities of VVC were already privately owned by those who wanted to build apartments or giant shopping centers and there was a real danger of complete loss of this unique historical and cultural complex.
However, in November 2013, Vladimir Putin signed a decree allowing the Moscow Government to become 100% owner of the VVC. The Exhibition of Economic Achievements became again the main museum, exhibition and recreational complex. On 14 May 2014 the Exhibition regained its glorious name – VDNKh. All illegal extensions, advertising, constructions, tents, fences installed illegally on the territory were torn down (about 300 buildings). There would be no more sales in the pavilions, only exhibitions, museums, and lectures. Construction work started at VDNKh in 2014 and became the largest project of public space improvement in Moscow. The complex is gradually regaing its historical appearance.