How can I describe Moscow? Some of the first things that first come to my mind are having sun invading my room since 4 am and an eternal traffic noise in the background. Metro stations that look like palaces. Taking my passport everywhere with me because the police can ask you for it anytime. Lights of flower shops (Russians love giving flowers) and supermarkets open 24/7. Trying to drink warm beer (and failing).
The architecture of this city is one of a kind: everything is stunning and the colors are wonderful. The Red Square (Red means pretty, it has nothing to do with Comunism like most people think) is magnificent. Of course, it has been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990, due to their inextricable links to Russian history since the 13th century.
Among its main attractions there is the Orthodox Church of St. Basil. The legend tells that when the architects finished it, Tsar Ivan the Terrible asked them if they could build another one just as beautiful. The said yes and they blinded them to prevent that from happening. Women must be careful with what they choose to wear to go inside, and cover their hair.
The clock tower is called Spasskaya and it has the central hour of Russia, given that the country is so big it has 9 different time zones. The star on top is made of ruby.
The famous department store GUM is in the square as well. Even if you can’t buy anything, it is really nice to see it, specially at night.
Go inside the Kremlin, a fortified complex that overlooks the Moskva River. It includes five palaces, four cathedrals, and the enclosing Kremlin Wall with Kremlin towers. Also within this complex is the Grand Kremlin Palace. It serves as the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation.
Here are some tips for travelers:
- Buy a book that translates your language to Russian. Trust me, you will need it cause nobody speaks other language. If not, remember “privyat”, which is hello, and “spasiva”, that means thank you.
- If you are into art, visit the MOMA and the Zurab Tsereteli Gallery.
- Don’t rent a car: the metro is beautiful and the names of the stations are in both cyrilic and latin alphabet, so you can’t get lost. An underground tour is a fun program. Some of the best stations are Komsomolskaya, Ploshchad Revolyutsii and Mayakovskaya.
- Many locals use unlicensed taxis that you just stop anywhere in the street, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you travel alone and don’t speak Russian.
- Choose your dates carefully: from November to March it’s super cold and you may not enjoy it.
- Say “nasdrovia” (cheers) before drinking a shot of vodka, and drink it all at once: they say it brings bad luck otherwise.