Moscow: Points of Interest
Adjoining the Kremlin in the east is the huge Red Square, originally a marketplace and a meeting spot for popular assemblies; it is still used as a parade ground and for demonstrations. On the west side of Red Square and along the Kremlin wall are the Lenin Mausoleum and the tombs of other Soviet political figures; on the north side is the completely rebuilt Kazan Cathedral (constructed in the 17th cent., razed by Stalin, and rebuilt in 1993); and at the southern end stands the imposing cathedral of Basil the Beatified (constructed 16th cent.). One of the most exuberant examples of Russian architecture, the cathedral has numerous cupolas, each a different color, grouped around a central dome. In front of the cathedral stands a monument to the liberators Menin and Pozharski.
To the E of Red Square extends the old district of Kitaigorod [Tatar city], once the merchants' quarter, later the banking section, and now an administrative hub with various government offices and ministries. Tverskaya Street (formerly Gorky Street), a main thoroughfare, extends N from the Kremlin and is lined with modern buildings, including the headquarters of the council of ministers; it is connected with the St. Petersburg highway, which passes the huge Dynamo stadium and the central airport. Near the beginning of Tverskaya Street is Theater Square, containing the Bolshoi and Maly theaters. Encircling the Kremlin and Kitaigorod are the Bely Gorod [white city], traditionally the most elegant part of Moscow and now a commercial and cultural area; the Zemlyanoy Gorod [earth city], named for the earthen and wooden ramparts that once surrounded it; and the inner suburbs. In the Bely Gorod is Christ the Savior Cathedral; demolished in 1931 to be replaced by a never-built Palace of Soviets, it was rebuilt in the 1990s. A notable feature of Moscow are the concentric rings of wide boulevards and railroad lines on the sites where old walls and ramparts once stood.
Except for its historical core, Moscow was transformed into a sprawling, often drab, but well-planned modern city under Soviet rule. Post-Soviet Moscow has seen renewed construction, including the Triumph-Palace (866 ft/264 m, 2003), which echoes Stalin's Gothic-influenced Seven Sisters skyscrapers and is the tallest building in Europe. The tallest freestanding structure in Moscow is the Ostankino Tower (1967), a broadcast tower and tourist attraction that rises 1,771 ft (540 m). Among Moscow's many cultural and scientific institutions are Moscow State Univ. (founded 1755), the Russian Academy of Sciences (founded 1725 in St. Petersburg and moved to Moscow in 1934), a conservatory (1866), the Tretyakov art gallery (opened in the 1880s), the Museum of Oriental Cultures, the State Historical Museum, the Agricultural Exhibition, the Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), the Plekhanov Economic Academy, the Moscow State Law Academy, the Moscow Energy Institute, and the Peoples' Friendship Univ. of Russia (for foreign students). Theaters include the Moscow Art Theater, the Bolshoi (opera and ballet), and the Maly Theater (drama). Moscow is the see of a patriarch, head of the Russian Orthodox Church. The many large parks and recreation areas include Gorky Central Park, the forested Izmailovo and Sokolniki parks, Ostankino Park, with its botanical gardens, and Zaryadye Park, opened in 2017 beside the Moscow River near the Kremlin. The ornate subway system opened in 1935.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: CIS and Baltic Political Geography