Red Square

The heart of Moscow
Most tours around Moscow include the visit to the Red Square. Some of them start there, some others - end there, but almost no guide would miss it. Our Moscow Free Walking Tours are not an exception here. And that is only fair because the Red Square is the most important one in Moscow after all.


1493

The Red Square was founded
20 000 000

People visit the Red Square every year
1990

The Red Square became a part
of UNESCO World Heritage
At the first look at it, the square appears to be a jumble of different periods: there is the Soviet Mausoleum under the 15th-century red battlement, the art nouveau building of the Gum department store is across the square from it, and the most prominent building on the square — St. Basil's Cathedral — is a monument to deeds of Ivan the Terrible. To clear the confusion let's see how all of these seemingly incompatible objects had come into being in the same place.

The square itself is not as old as its stately neighbour – the Kremlin. The chronicles say the square came to existence as a precaution against frequent Moscow fires. Historically, the trading quarters in Moscow were situated right under the Kremlin walls. And as these districts were mostly wooden and they were not protected by the town walls, every invader deemed it necessary to burn them to the ground. Ivan the Third ordered to move the districts from the wall to prevent the hostile fire getting to the city walls. And the new open space promptly became a market square.

As time went by, the square began to fill up with some buildings. The first church there was the Holy Trinity Church which gave the square its first historical name. But as it was made of wood it couldn't last long. In the 16th century Ivan the Terrible orders to build a new grand cathedral to celebrate the victory over the Kazan Khanate. So the St. Bazil's cathedral was born.

The Execution Place is situated near the St. Basil's. It looks like a slight platform surrounded by the brick fence. When tourists hear about the Execution place, they immediately imagine the dark ages with hundreds or even thousands of people executed. Actually, this is very far from the truth. In reality, this place was used mostly for the vocalizing the tsar's will or the new laws for the mob gathered on the market square. Also, near the St. Basil's the Minin and Pozharsky Monument is located. They were the heads of the resistance movement that freed Russia from the Poles and Swedes during the Time of Trouble.


There are two beautiful buildings on the square which look as if they were made as an ensemble with the Kremlin towers and the St. Basil. Although, these buildings – The State Historical Museum and the GUM department store are almost four centuries younger than the Kremlin. They were built in the first years of the 20th century and this style is called "pseudo-Russian".

But the monuments from pre-Romanov Russia and the stylizations thereof are not exclusively responsible for the special Red Square atmosphere. They make just one element of it. The other very important element is monuments of Soviet Era. Firstly, there is the Mausoleum that looks like some sort of a tomb from pagan times. The mummy of Lenin is still inside and it's opened for visitors. But Lenin is not the only Soviet ruler who is buried under the Kremlin walls. There is something like a small cemetery along the red wall.
There are many traditional events which make the Red Square what it is. Every winter a spacious ice-rink is being set up in the middle of the square. It brings the festive's air, not unlike it was hundreds of years ago. On the Ninth of May, the grand military parades are being staged on the square. It brings the memories of the great Victory of Soviet years. Also, there are a lot of rock- concerts and other events being arranged on the Red Square from time to time.

The Red Square is like the mirror which reflects our city. We can see the glimpses of different epochs on its surface, but it still looks like something whole and beautiful.


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