One of the most famous city-squares in the world, the Red Square, situated in the heart of Moscow, reflects its deep historical and iconic importance in Russia’s identity.
I went to the Red Square, known as Krásnaya plóshchad in Russian (Красная площадь क्रास्नया प्लोश्चद) on my second day in Moscow. The Square separates the Kremlin from a historic merchant quarter known as Kitai-gorod. Major streets radiate from here in all directions, thus making it the center of not only Moscow, but all of Russia. Krasnaya Ploshchad is open to the public practically all day. With the fall of communism, the significance of Red Square might have fallen, but it is still one of the most powerful landmarks in the country.
The name of Red Square derives neither from the colour of the bricks around it nor from the link between the colour red and communism. Rather, the name came about because the Russian word красная (krasnaya) can mean either “red” or “beautiful”. The place was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 1990.
Lenin’s Tomb, situated in Red Square in Moscow, is the mausoleum that serves as the current resting place of Vladimir Lenin. His embalmed body has been on public display there since the year he died in 1924 (with rare exceptions in wartime).
One has to deposit their luggage at the State Historical Museum in order to visit Lenin’s Mausoleum. You are not allowed to talk, run or indulge in any non-serious behavior. Guards posted every few meters will make sure you keep walking. Photography is not permitted inside. Lenin’s body can be seen enclosed in a glass case and brightly illuminated. He looks exactly like his statues and pictures. You may stand here for a couple of seconds, but you’ll be nudged to move on by guards who look like ghosts – since they are completely covered in dark army uniforms except for their faces which look bright and pale in the dim light.
Behind the Mausoleum is the Kremlin Wall. This huge wall is a tribute to the Bolsheviks who fought for their country during the 1910s. There are others buried there besides these men, including a number of different writers and former leaders of the country. You can also see the large busts documenting who is buried where. A tourist graveyard!
St. Basil’s Cathedral
Probably the most famous pictures of Russia feature this old church with its spiraling colorful onion domes. For a long time, this building was like a symbol of Russia – just like one thinks of Paris when one sees the Eiffel Tower. The church was first built by Ivan the terrible in 1555 CE and several additions were made later. You are allowed to go inside the building, and it has interesting design inside about which I’ll blog later.
Walking on the Red Square
After you’ve seen Lenin’s tomb, St. Basil’s Cathedral and the State History Museum, you could either enter the large GUM (Shopping Mall) and get lost inside, or simply stroll on the red square. There are a number of little sights to see. Near the colorful building is the Lobnoye Mesto, a circular platform where public ceremonies used to take place. Next to the GUM is the Kazan Cathedral, standing in its unique architectural fashion.
The square, only 330m x 70m, is nothing but a open piece of land paved with stones. The square was used by Russian Tsars for coronation, and later, governments used it for important occasions. It was the place where the Soviet might was paraded for decades. Now the square is used for recreational purposes too, such as music concerts. Walking around the square, it is wonderful to imagine the grandeur of these proceedings.
I thought the place was very charming, and I went to the red square 3.5 times over my stay in Moscow. Every time, the beauty of the red square only increased.
Being in the center of the city (as you can tell by zooming the map), its rare to miss the Red Square – Kremlin complex. Several metro stations (there are atleast 4 around it) will take you very close to there. Police conduct random checks at the entrance gate, so if you are foreign-looking, be ready to show your passport (yes, original passport!) and the migration card.
Oh as a tip, do not drink beer on the red square, you can drink outside. 🙂