When you tell most people you’re going to visit Russia the general response is..why?
Personally, I honestly don’t know why you wouldn’t want to go!
Yes the language barrier can be challenging, the drivers shocking and finding tasty food almost an impossible mission at times, traveling Russia overall is a wonderful experience (made better by the fact that vodka is often literally cheaper than water).
Without getting into the political issues which still remain today, Russia is a country steeped in fascinating history that is exciting to witness first hand.
Stalin’s statue at the Graveyard
So what does a traveler get up to in its capital of Moscow?
Besides experiencing the city’s incredible metro system, let’s start with the essential must see.
Located here is St. Basil’s Cathedral, essentially an icon for the country, this colourful church is just as cool to see in real life as it is in pictures.
Surprisingly, the inside doesn’t quite match the exterior in terms of wow factor but I still enjoyed having a wander around.
Inside the cathedral
You get a fantastic view of the square from one of the windows too!
Red Square as seen from inside St. Basil’s
The square is also where Vladimir Lenin’s mausoleum is located and you can line up to take a glimpse of the communist revolutionary and one of Russia’s most influential and important figures in the flesh.
This is also where Stalin is buried, in an (unsurprisingly) plain and lacklustre way as compared to Lenin.
On the opposite side of the square to the resting place of two former leaders of Russia is a beautiful shopping centre called RYM.
More for the serious shoppers, this mall is on the luxury side but I enjoyed having a look around RYM all the same as it is decorated nicely.
These small shoppers were too cute not to photograph while I was there!
Beyond the entrance to the square there is also a more affordably priced mall which is popular to visit for retail therapy.
There was many people just hanging out here enjoying the sun which made for a nice atmosphere while we sat for a bit near these fountains after lunch!
Graveyard of Fallen Monuments
Our walking tour guide took us to this exhibit and it was a really good opportunity to see some of the last remaining statues of Stalin, in addition to a variety of Soviet sculptures.
Some were at bit more random than others but I found the whole thing interesting if a bit quirky!
Sparrow Hills (Vorobyovy Gory)
Moscow’s highest point, a visit here offers some wonderful views out over the city.
Right across the road there’s a building (I’m not sure which one!) which can only belong to the 7 Stalin Sisters.
There’s also a fun sign (we had no idea what it said though!) which tourists love posing with.
Known of course as the site where the Russian government is run and where you’ll find Putin living, Kremlin simply means a fortress.
Within these fortified walls are not only official buildings but also churches and palaces which remain. A visit to the Kremlin involves seeing a variety of these.
Doing a guided tour here is a must – the carriages of the Romanov family and the clothes, jewellery and possessions of the former Tsars are beautiful and truly fascinating to see up close.
Sadly, I don’t have many pictures from inside the Kremlin though since photography wasn’t allowed in some buildings.
There’s understandably quite a few to choose from in Moscow.
I really enjoyed the Modern Russian History Museum, which focuses on the 20th century.
Having a guide to take you through is recommended so that you can get more detailed information on the fall of the monarchy, Russia’s role in both world wars and subsequent rise of communism.
When I discovered there was a Gulag Museum I was keen to visit since this was a particularly dark area of Russian history involving forced labour camps under Stalin’s rule, many being sent there for petty crimes or comments.
There isn’t concrete data, but it is estimated more than one MILLION people died in a gulag camp.
The museum’s information is most only in Russian so it’s pretty hard to understand and the building gives off some creepy vibes, especially when you go down to the lower levels.
I wouldn’t say this is an essential site to visit, maybe only if you have a lot of interest in this area of Russian history, and walking through here will take you only about an hour.
Aquamarine, The Dancing Fountains Circus
An optional on our tour was to go to the circus show Aquamarine.
Like many things in Russia I can only use the word random to describe the experience.
Having a chat with one of the characters
There was acrobats, dancing, ice skating, people dressed up as animals.. probably more a family event and one for the kids.
Moscow probably has so much more to offer than what I managed to get to in a few days (for example, there’s a retro car museum which sounded interesting and sadly my severe allergies here kept me away from Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure) but there’s no doubt a visit to the city will keep you busy as you take in the historical wealth Russia’s capital has to offer.