Top historic sites in Moscow

Red Square

Red Square separates the Kremlin, the former royal citadel and currently the official residence of the President of Russia, from a historic merchant quarter known as Kitai-gorod. Red Square is often considered the central square of Moscow, because Moscow's major streets — which connect to Russia's major highways — originate from the square. The name Red Square does not originate from the pigment of the surrounding br ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Moscow, Russia

Lenin's Mausoleum

Lenin"s Mausoleum serves as the current resting place of Vladimir Lenin. His embalmed body has been on public display there since shortly after his death in 1924 (with rare exceptions in wartime). Aleksey Shchusev"s diminutive but monumental granite structure incorporates some elements from ancient mausoleums, such as the Step Pyramid and the Tomb of Cyrus the Great.
Founded: 1924 | Location: Moscow, Russia

St. Basil's Cathedral

St. Basil's Cathedral was built to commemorate the capture of the Tatar stronghold of Kazan in 1552, which occured on the Feast of the Intercession of the Virgin. It is named after St. Basil the Blessed. Basil impressed Ivan in 1547 when he foretold a fire that swept through Moscow that year. Upon his death, Basil was buried in the Trinity Cathedral that stood on this site at the time. The cathedral was constructed from 1 ...
Founded: 1555-1560 | Location: Moscow, Russia

State Historical Museum

The State Historical Museum is a museum of Russian history wedged between Red Square and Manege Square in Moscow. Its exhibitions range from relics of prehistoric tribes that lived on the territory of present-day Russia, through priceless artworks acquired by members of the Romanov dynasty. The total number of objects in the museum"s collection comes to millions. The place where the museum now stands was formerly oc ...
Founded: | Location: Moscow, Russia

Moscow Kremlin

The Moscow Kremlin, usually referred to as simply the Kremlin, is a historic fortified complex at the heart of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River to the south, Saint Basil"s Cathedral and Red Square to the east, and the Alexander Garden to the west. It is the best known of kremlins (Russian citadels) and includes five palaces, four cathedrals, and the enclosing Kremlin Wall with Kremlin towers. The complex serves a ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Moscow, Russia

Dormition Cathedral

The Cathedral of the Dormition is located on the north side of Cathedral Square of the Moscow Kremlin in Russia, where a narrow alley separates the north from the Patriarch"s Palace with the Twelve Apostles Church. The Cathedral is regarded as the mother church of Muscovite Russia. In its present form it was constructed between 1475–79 at the behest of the Moscow Grand Duke Ivan III by the Italian architect Ari ...
Founded: 1475-1479 | Location: Moscow, Russia

Church of the Deposition of the Robe

The construction of Church of the Deposition of the Robe was begun in 1484 by masters from Pskov, most likely by the same group of architects who built the adjacent Cathedral of the Annunciation. The church was built on the site of a previous church, built by Jonah Metropolitan of Moscow in 1451. The name of the church, variously translated as the Church of the Virgin"s Robe, The Church of Laying Our Lady’s Ho ...
Founded: 1484 | Location: Moscow, Russia

Ivan the Great Bell Tower

On the eastern side of Cathedral Square stands the magnificent Ivan the Great Belltower, which, at a height of 81 metres, was the tallest building in all Russia for almost 400 years. It was the work of an Italian, Marco Bono, who was ordered by Ivan the Great to design a belltower for the Archangel, Assumption and Annunciation Cathedrals next to the 1329 Church of St. John Climacus-under-the Bells. Between 1532 and 1543, ...
Founded: 1505-1508 | Location: Moscow, Russia

Cathedral of the Archangel

The Archangel Michael, a suitably war-like heavenly figure, was chosen as the patron saint of the rulers of Muscovy in the 14th century. The Cathedral that bears his name was erected between 1505 and 1508 - the culmination of a grandiose building project begun by Ivan the Great to reflect the growing power of the state, and provide a fitting resting place for Russian Royalty. The cathedral was built under the guidance of ...
Founded: 1505-1508 | Location: Moscow, Russia

Cathedral of the Annunciation

The first church was built on the site of current Cathedral of the Annunciation in 1397 by order of Grand Duke Vassily I. The present building dates from 1484, when Ivan III (the Great), the great Muscovite empire-builder, ordered a new cathedral. It was completed in 1489 by Krivtsov and Mishkin, masons from Pskov, who blended Greek and Russian styles in their design. Generations of princes and tsars added to and altered ...
Founded: 1484 | Location: Moscow, Russia

Grand Kremlin Palace

The Grand Kremlin Palace was built from 1837 to 1849 on the site of the estate of the Grand Princes, which had been established in the 14th century on Borovitsky Hill. Designed by a team of architects under the management of Konstantin Thon, it was intended to emphasise the greatness of Russian autocracy. Konstantin Thon was also the architect of the Kremlin Armoury and the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. The Grand Kreml ...
Founded: 1837-1849 | Location: Moscow, Russia

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

One of the most imposing and controversial buildings in Russia, the resurrected Cathedral of Christ the Saviour has had a short but turbulent history. It was originally commissioned after the defeat of Napoleon, but work did not begin on its construction until 1839. Designed by the great St. Petersburg architect Konstantin Ton, who was also responsible for the Grand Kremlin Palace and the Kremlin Armoury and whose church ...
Founded: 1839-1883 | Location: Moscow, Russia

Bolshoi Theatre

The Bolshoi Theatre is a historic theatre in Moscow, designed by architect Joseph Bové, which holds performances of ballet and opera. The theatre"s original name was the Imperial Bolshoi Theatre of Moscow, while the St. Petersburg Bolshoi Theatre (demolished in 1886), was called the Imperial Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre. At that time, all Russian theatres were imperial property. Moscow and St. Petersburg each had ...
Founded: 1825 | Location: Moscow, Russia

Kremlin Armoury

The Kremlin Armory is one of the oldest museums of Moscow, established in 1808. The Kremlin Armoury originated as the royal arsenal in 1508. Until the transfer of the court to St Petersburg, the Armoury was in charge of producing, purchasing and storing weapons, jewelry and various household articles of the tsars. The finest Muscovite gunsmiths (the Vyatkin brothers), jewelers (Gavrila Ovdokimov), and painters (Simon Usha ...
Founded: 1508 | Location: Moscow, Russia

Kolomenskoye

Kolomenskoye is a former royal estate situated several kilometers to the southeast of the city center of Moscow, Russia, on the ancient road leading to the town of Kolomna. The 390 hectare scenic area overlooks the steep banks of the Moskva River. Kolomenskoye village was first mentioned in the testament of Ivan Kalita (1339). As time went by, the village was developed as a favourite country estate of grand princes of Mu ...
Founded: 1532 | Location: Moscow, Russia

Main building of Moscow State University

The Main building of Moscow State University, designed by Lev Rudnev, is the highest of seven Stalinist style skyscrapers of Moscow. It is utilized since its inauguration as headquarters of the Lomonosov Moscow State University. The skyscraper has 36 levels in its central part and is 240 metres tall. Its roof is topped by a 57-metre spire which ends with a 12-ton five-pointed star. Lateral towers are lower than the centr ...
Founded: 1953 | Location: Moscow, Russia

Donskoy Monastery

Donskoy Monastery was founded in 1591 in commemoration of Moscow"s deliverance from the threat of an invasion by the Crimean Khan Kazy-Girey. Commanding a highway to the Crimea, the monastery was intended to defend southern approaches to the Moscow Kremlin. The monastery was built on the spot where Boris Godunov"s mobile fortress and Sergii Radonezhsky"s field church with Theophan the Greek"s icon Our ...
Founded: 1591 | Location: Moscow, Russia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Wawel Castle

Wawel Hill – a Jurassic limestone rock, a dominant feature in the landscape of Kraków, have provided a safe haven for people who have settled here since the Paleolithic Age. It is supposed that the Slav people started living on Wawel hill as early as the 7th century. Early medieval legends tell stories about a dreadful dragon that lived in a cave on Wawel Hill, about his slayer Krakus, and about the latter’s daughter Wanda, who drowned herself in the Vistula rather than marry a German knight. Towards the end of the first millennium A.D Wawel began to play the role of the centre of political power.In the 9th century it became the principal fortified castrum of the Vislane tribe. The first historical ruler of Poland, Miesco I (c.965-992) of the Piast dynasty as well as his successors: Boleslas the Brave (992-1025) and Miesco II (1025-1034) chose Wawel Hill as one of their residences.

At that time Wawel became one of the main Polish centres of Christianity. The first early Romanesque and Romanesque sacral buildings were raised here, including a stone cathedral that was erected after the bishopric of Kraków was established in the year 1000.

During the reign of Casimir the Restorer (1034-1058) Wawel became a significant political and administrative centre for the Polish State. Casimir’s son, Boleslas the Bold (1058-1079) began the construction of a second Romanesque cathedral, which was finished by Boleslas the Wrymouth (1102-1138). In his last will of 1138, this prince divided Poland into districts, and provided that Kraków was to be the residence of the senior prince. In 1291 the city of Kraków along with Wawel Hill temporarily fell under the Czech rule, and Wenceslas II from the Premysl dynasty was crowned King of Poland in Wawel cathedral.

In 1306 the Duke of Kuyavia Ladislas the Short (1306-1333) entered Wawel and was crowned King of Poland in the Cathedral in 1320. It was the first historically recorded coronation of a Polish ruler on Wawel Hill. Around that time, at the initiative of Ladislas the Short, the construction of the third Gothic cathedral began, the castle was expanded and the old wooden and earthen fortifications were replaced by brick ones. The tomb of Ladislas the Short in the cathedral started a royal necropolis of Polish kings in Krakow.The last descendant of the Piast dynasty, Casimir the Great (1333-1370) brought Wawel to a state of unprecedented splendour. In 1364 the expanded gothic castle witnessed the marriage of Casimir’s granddaughter Elizabeth to Charles IV accompanied by a famous convention of kings and princes, subsequently entertained by a rich burgher Wierzynek. The accession to the throne in 1385 of Jadwiga from the Hungarian dynasty of Andegavens, and her marriage to a Lithuanian prince Ladislas Jagiello (1386-1434) started another era of prosperity for Wawel. The royal court employed local and western European artists and also Rus painters. During the reign of Casimir Jagiellon (1447-1492) the silhouette of the hill was enriched by three high brick towers: the Thieves’ Tower, the Sandomierz Tower and the Senatorial Tower. The first humanists in Poland and tutors to the king’s sons: historian Jan Długosz and an Italian by the name Filippo Buonacorsi (also known as Callimachus) worked there at that time.

The Italian Renaissance arrived at Wawel in the early 16th century. King Alexander (1501-1506) and his brother Sigismund I the Old (1506-1548) commissioned the construction of a new palace in place of the Gothic residence, with an impressive large courtyard with arcaded galleries which was completed about 1540. Sigismund’s patronage also left an indelible impression in the cathedral, where a family chapel was erected, known today as Sigismund’s Chapel - the work of Bartolomeo of Berrecci Florence, and through various foundations, one of which was that of a large bell, called the Sigismund to commemorate the king. Close artistic and cultural relations with Italy were strengthened in 1518 by the king’s marriage to Bona Sforza. Alongside Italian artists, German architects, wood workers, painters and metal smiths worked for the king. The last descendant of the Jagiellonian dynasty, Sigismund II Augustus (1548-1572), enriched the castle’s interiors with a magnificent collection of tapestries woven in Brussels. In the “Golden Age” of Polish culture Wawel became one of the main centres of humanism in Europe.

The reign of Sigismund III Waza (1587-1632) also made a strong impression on the history of Wawel. After a fire in the castle in 1595 the king rebuilt the burned wing of the building in the early Baroque style. The relocation of the royal court to Warsaw was the cause of a slow but nevertheless steady deterioration in the castle’s condition. The monarchs visited Kraków only occasionally. Restoration of the castle was undertaken during the reign of John III Sobieski, the Wettins and Stanislas Augustus to counteract neglect.

After Poland had lost its independence in 1795, the troops of partitioning nations, Russia, Prussia and Austria, subsequently occupied Wawel which finally passed into the hands of the Austrians. The new owners converted the castle and some of the secular buildings into a military hospital, and demolished some others, including churches. After the period of the Free City of Kraków (1815-1846) Wawel was once more annexed by Austria and turned into a citadel dominating the city. By the resolution passed by the Seym of Galicia in 1880, the castle was presented as a residence to the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I. The Austrian troops left the hill between 1905-1911. At the turn of the 20th century a thorough restoration of the cathedral was conducted, and shortly afterwards a process of restoration of the royal castle began which lasted several decades.

When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the castle served as an official residence of the Head of State, and as a museum of historic interiors. During the Nazi occupation the castle was the residence of the German governor general, Hans Frank. Polish people managed to remove the most valuable objects, including the tapestries and the “Szczerbiec” coronation sword to Canada, from where they returned as late as 1959-1961. At present, the main curators of Wawel are Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection and the Metropolitan Basilica Board on Wawel Hill.