Located in central Moscow, the Kremlin and the Red Square pack enough sites of tourist interest that it easily takes a full day to explore.
Waking up early in the morning, I pack my knapsack with my guidebook, a map of Moscow, a traveller’s dictionary, bottle of water and a camera, all ready to explore the top attractions of Moscow, and by extension, Russia. After my riding the crowded Moscow metro for the first time, I get off at Ploshchad Revolyutsii (Revolution square) subway station and head straight for the Red Square.
1. RED SQUARE
It’s early morning in Moscow and municipal workers are sweeping the streets, sending off clouds of dust that mix with strands of lingering morning fog. A line of policemen guard the immaculately designed Resurrection gate entrance to Red square, reminding me of all the stories of policemen bothering tourists that I had read on travel forums. Thankfully I am not stopped and walk past the Kazan cathedral to be greeted by the grand expanse of the Red Square.
Monolithic red walls of the Kremlin flank the western side of the Red Square, GUM shopping mall, the erstwhile showcase of the communist ideal and now a bastion of capitalist department stores, to its eastern side and the colourful fairytale-like cathedral is on the southern end. I walk around the Red Square, taking pictures from all sides and only after being thoroughly satisfied (like an hour later) I exit to Lenin’s tomb.
A quick snack on one of the fast food joints around Alexanderovsky garden gets me ready for the next few hours which would be spent checking out Kremlin and the numerous sights that lie within it’s fortified complex. A Kremlin is the fortified power center of a town, and several Russian towns have a Kremlin. The Kremlin at Moscow has a 2.25km long red wall, east of which is the Red Square.
There are numerous administrative buildings such as the former Senate building, the former Supreme Soviet Building and the Savior Gate Tower, Armory and Great Kremlin Palace where Mr. Putin currently resides. The nice thing about the Kremlin is that you can buy one ticket and roam around pretty much all by yourself. The directions are a bit confusing though and I end up entering from the exit gate after blabbing about not being able to find the entrance.
The Kremlin is also filled with Orthodox religious and historic buildings such as Annunciation Cathedral, Assumption Cathedral and the gigantic Tsar bell and canon. Prayers are regularly held in the cathedrals although the places have a museum’ish feel to them. It is my first time seeing a Russian orthodox church and I am quite surprised by the large number of statues and religious imagery packed on the walls.
After being exhausted by a full day of walking and exploration, I finish the day at the Russian world war II memorial watching young patrols shoo off visitors who are trying to be naughty.
I visited the Red Square and parts of the Kremlin at least on three other occasions; it is hard to skip the place because all these sites are right at the centre of Moscow. I really suggest visiting during different times of the day in different lighting (Red square entry is free and you can walk all around the Kremlin walls). Checkout the Red Square at night for some really memorable pictures.
Hope you enjoyed this brief tour of core Moscow.