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  RusNet :: Encyclopedia :: M  

Moscow: Sightseeing

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Adjoining the Kremlin in the east is the huge Red Square, originally a marketplace and a meeting spot for popular assemblies; it is still used as a parade ground and for demonstrations. On the west side of Red Square and along the Kremlin wall are the Lenin Mausoleum and the tombs of other Soviet political figures; on the north side is the completely rebuilt Kazan Cathedral (constructed in the XVIIth century, razed by Stalin, and rebuilt in 1993); and at the southern end stands the imposing Cathedral of Basil the Beatified (constructed in the XVIth century).

One of the most exuberant examples of Russian architecture, the cathedral has numerous cupolas, each a different colour, grouped around a central dome. In front of the cathedral stands a monument to the liberators Minin and Pozharsky.

To the east of Red Square extends the old district of Kitaigorod (China Town), once the merchants' quarter, later the banking section, and now an administrative hub with various government offices and ministries.

Tverskaya Street (formerly Gorky Street), a main thoroughfare, extends north from the Kremlin and is lined with modern buildings, including the headquarters of the council of ministers; it is connected with the St. Petersburg highway, which passes the huge Dynamo stadium and the central airport. Near the beginning of Tverskaya Street is Theatre Square, containing the Bolshoi and Maly theatres.

Encircling the Kremlin and Kitaigorod are the Bely Gorod [white city], traditionally the most elegant part of Moscow and now a commercial and cultural area; the Zemlyanoy Gorod [earth city], named for the earthen and wooden ramparts that once surrounded it; and the inner suburbs. In the Bely Gorod is Christ the Saviour Cathedral; demolished in 1931 to be replaced by a never-built Palace of Soviets, it was rebuilt in the 1990s.

A notable feature of Moscow are the concentric rings of wide boulevards and railroad lines on the sites where old walls and ramparts once stood.

Except for its historical core, Moscow was transformed into a sprawling but well-planned modern city under the Soviets. Among its many cultural and scientific institutions are the Moscow University (founded 1755), the Russian Academy of Sciences (founded 1725 in St. Petersburg and moved to Moscow in 1934), a conservatory (1866), the Tretyakov Art Gallery (opened in the 1880s), the Museum of Oriental Cultures, the State Historical Museum, the Agricultural Exhibition, and the People's Friendship University (1960) for foreign students.

Theatres include the Moscow Art Theatre, the Bolshoi (opera and ballet), and the Maly Theatre (drama). Moscow is the see of a patriarch, head of the Russian Orthodox Church. The many large parks and recreation areas include Gorky Central Park, the forested Izmailovo and Sokolniki parks, and Ostankino Park, with its botanical gardens. The ornate subway system opened in 1935.

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