In part one of our 5 Minute Guide to Moscow we found out about airport transfers, hotels and public transport, shopping and sight-seeing. In part two we’re going to look at parks and squares, and the Kremlin.
Parks and squares
Moscow has many beautiful green areas in the centre and surrounding areas.
In the centre of the city, there are squares where you can sit and enjoy the sun, read a book, wait for a friend, have lunch etc. There’s sometimes a fountain in which kids might play on a hot summer’s day (yes, Moscow has hot summer days!). These squares are like small green paradises in Russia’s capital, the biggest city in the country.
Not all squares have gardens in them. Some of them simply have benches for sitting, without the benefit of nature. And in some of them you can find exhibitions, small markets (like New Year Markets in winter, or Easter markets in April). These are also beautiful places to spend some time in. People watching is great here!
Manezhnaya Square (Манежная площадь) is right next to Red Square and is used for exhibitions, seasonal markets with a variety of stalls selling souvenirs, Russian food, winter hats and scarves and other Russian produce.
It’s fun to visit this square all year round because you never know what you might see there. One autumn we came across hundreds (maybe thousands) of pumpkins!
If you go from Manezhnaya Square up Tverskaya Street, you’ll come across Pushkin Square (Пушкинская площадь) on the right. The outstanding feature of the square is a statue of Pushkin which dates back to 1880. According to some sources, Pushkin Square is one of the busiest squares in the world.
Moving on now to parks in Moscow. Parks are huge here, and you’ll have to travel a little out of the centre to find them (but not far, still accessible by the metro).
One of the most famous parks, not least for the novel ‘Gorky Park’ by Martin Cruz Smith, is Gorky Park (Центральный парк культуры и отдыха (ЦПКиО) имени Горького). It celebrated it’s 90th anniversary in 2018.
In 2011 Gorky Park underwent construction to become an eco-friendly recreational zone, with wi-fi connectability, contemporary designs, cafes and much more. In winter there’s ice-skating, in summer there’s everything on wheels. It’s a very popular place for families to gather at the weekends, as there’s unlimited entertainment for all ages.
Much more serene than Gorky Park is the wonderful Tsaritsyno Park (Царицыно), south of Moscow. The estate dates back to the late 16th century.
In 1775 it was bought by Catherine the Great, who fell in love with the beauty of the area. A winter palace was built there for her, but she died before it was finished. Virtually abandoned until 2005, plans were then made to rework the deteriorating estate.
It’s now a history and architecture museum, and you can also find parkland, a forest, ponds and pavilions (which were also restored during the 2005-2007 work).
Taking a walk in Tsaritsyno Park is a real delight, and it’s one of my favourite places in Moscow. Take a couple of hours there to really enjoy and appreciate this wonderland.
Kolomenskoye (Коломенское) is the last park we’re going to look at in the guide, but there are many, many more to discover. This park is in the south-east of Moscow, covers 390 hectares, and overlooks the Moscow River.
What’s interesting about this park is the buildings you will see there. There are churches, a wooden palace, a bell-tower, gates and much more.
You will also find one of Moscow’s oldest oak trees in the oak grove here. Also on the topic of nature, there’s an apple orchard, where people go every autumn to pick the apples to make conserves, pies and other goodies. We’ve been there for this activity and it’s really fun. If you can’t climb the trees (and let’s face it, at our age it’s not really a good idea!) then you can easily find all the apples you want lying on the ground.
While I’ve yet to visit the inside of the Kremlin, I’ve heard from others how beautiful it is (and have made a promise to myself to go there this summer).
If you’re in the centre of Moscow you can’t miss the Kremlin (Московский Кремль). It’s huge and visible from almost everywhere in the centre. It’s red brick walls are famous the world over.
Unknown to a lot of foreigners, Kremlin simply means citadel, or fortress inside a city. There are a lot of towns and cities in Russia with a Kremlin. But, of course, the most famous is the one in Moscow.
Inside the Moscow Kremlin are 5 palaces and 4 cathedrals, and the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation (formerly the Tsar’s Moscow residence).
Also of interest inside the Kremlin walls are the Tsar Cannon and the Tsar Bell. The bell is the largest bell in the world, although it’s never been in working order. It cracked during a fire and you can see the broken slab leaning against the bell’s plinth.
An interesting fact about the Kremlin is that there is also now a helipad inside the Kremlin, built in 2013. Apparently the president’s coming and going caused too much of a disruption to Moscow traffic, so Moscow installed the helipad to prevent the traffic problem.
One of the oldest museums in Moscow is the Kremlin Armoury. It contains the Diamond Fund and a huge collection of regalia belonging to the Tsars.
You can read all about visiting the Kremlin on their official website.
I recommend you go!
Although, as I said at the beginning of this post, I haven’t visited the Moscow Kremlin yet, I highly recommend you put it on your list if you’re going to visit Moscow. It’s full of history and beautiful architecture, as is the whole of Moscow!
That’s the end of our 5 Minute Guide to Moscow part 2, however due to the popularity of the subject, I’ll be writing more about Moscow in future posts. Be sure to check back from time to time to see what’s new, or subscribe below to get all the latest news on the blog. Joining our Facebook group is also a good way to keep up with all the happenings!
If you have a favourite place in Moscow which would be interesting for visitors, let us know in the comments!