history guide moscow

A History Lover’s Guide To Moscow, Russia

Any history buff will appreciate the strange and colourful beauty of Moscow and its past. From the Red Square famous for its revolts and The Museum of Cosmonautics that perfectly chronicles the Russian role in the Space Race. Moscow’s history can be traced back to the 1100s and in the 900 years since it’s not been shy of revolutions and geopolitical controversy. Here is your history lovers guide to one of the world’s most fascinating cities – Moscow

Must-See Historical Sites In Moscow

Red Square

The first item on anyone’s list when visiting Moscow is always The Red Square. Standing in the centre, you can see the Kremlin, GUM, the State History Museum, Lenin’s Mausoleum and everyone’s favourite, St. Basil’s Cathedral. In the middle of the Red Square is actually where Moscow’s first Kremlin was way back in 1156.

This wooden fortress area bore a shantytown in today’s red square and in the 1400’s Prince Ivan III had it cleared redone as the Red Square. In the centuries since it has become a hotbed for historical moments like going to war, revolutions and military parades.

history guide moscow

St. Basil’s Cathedral

Everyone knows the candy onion domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral. What’s more interesting than it’s sugar plum beauty is the legends surrounding it. Built in the 16th century by Ivan the Terrible, St. Basil’s is home to a plethora of legends. Namely that he had the architects blinded after completion as never to create another like it again.

Even more interesting, St. Basil is standing proof of Russia’s infatuation with mystics, I’m looking at you, Rasputin. ‘Saint Basil’ was a real-life peasant in Moscow (The Moscow Wonderworker) and known to wander without shoes and be a fortune teller.

history guide moscow

Kremlin

Built between the 14th and 17th centuries, the Kremlin is a symbol of Russia and one of the world’s most iconic buildings. In addition to being at the core of all conflict, victory and geopolitical warfare, it’s also the largest active fortress in Europe. Despite Moscow being bombarded in World War II, the Kremlin remained largely intact with little damage. This is because it was cleverly disguised as housing and painted with fake windows, doors, etc.

Chambers of The Romanov Boyars

This little known historical site is tucked just outside the Red Square and in our opinion, one of Moscow’s most interesting sites. Home to the Romanovs in the 15th-17th century before their relocation to St. Petersburg, the Boyars is the birthplace of the first Romanov dynasty member – Mikhail. What’s more interesting, though, is its survival through the Soviet Union.

Just imagine, a palace where the ‘evil and greedy Romanovs’ lived for centuries before being overthrown by the ‘glorious Socialist revolution.’ Fortunately for us today, the Soviet Union opted to keep the Boyars to remind citizens of the contrast between peasants and royalty.

Lenin’s Mausoleum

Exactly what it sounds like, Lenin’s Mausoleum in the Red Square is where you can view the embalmed leader of the Bolshevik party. As strange and macabre as it may sound, it’s worth a visit. If for nothing else than to observe the strange and controversial dedication to the spearhead of Communist Russia.

history guide moscow

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

Built in 1839, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was destroyed by Stalin in 1930s as religion was forbidden in the Soviet Union. In fact, during Khrushchev’s era, he had a massive swimming pool built into the now empty foundation. Years later, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the church was completely rebuilt to reflect the original church. It is now the tallest Orthodox church in the world and a shining testament to Russia’s ever-evolving society.

history guide moscow

Must-Visit History Museums In Moscow

State History Museum

Another Red Square centrepiece and a must for any history lover is the State History Museum. This museum covers the entirety of Russian history beginning in the Stone Age. The most impressive collection is that of the Romanov family. The State History Museum is home to countless relics and antiquities of the Romanov dynasty, including the famous Faberge eggs.

Museum of Cosmonautics

Any Space Race history buff will be in heaven here. Dedicated entirely to Russia’s space exploration, it is full of relics of their achievements. Around 85,000 items to be exact. More famously, space dogs Belka and Strelka are also on display, and there are several wonderful tributes to the world’s first man in space, Yuri Gagarin.

history guide moscow

The Kremlin Armoury

The roots of The Armoury can be traced back to 1511 when it was used to store weapons and imperial arms. As time went on it became a place to store rare jewels, embroidery and all things gaudy and royal. To this day, it houses every treasure of imperial Russia you can imagine from Faberge eggs and crowns to battle shields and carriages.

history guide moscow

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Melanie Hamilton
Melanie Hamilton

Melanie is an avid traveller with a passion for history and global foods. She is currently based in Tbilisi, Georgia where most of her time is occupied with qvevri wine and Soviet history. Having do-si-do'd her way across Europe and Latin America, she's enjoyed some of the world's most exciting places firsthand and can't wait to tell you about them.

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