Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Top 10 Moscow Must Do & More


ST transparent insert bodyOur recent ramblings around Russia were mostly in the form of city breaks.

Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's

Staring with the might and magic of Moscow and ending with the pristine St. Petersburg. Russia being at the centre of the communist movement, any visit to Moscow was naturally loaded with strong hints of history in every direction we looked at. With the Stalin skyscrapers standing firm on ground and kissing high the Moscow skyline in one hand, we also experienced the simply gorgeous Palaces of the People built deep underground in the form of relentlessly running metro services. We stretched our vision as far as we could to see the entire capital from up above an affluent 34th floor restaurant and we also got ourselves enchanted during the sailing dinner cruise along the waves of river Moskva. Onion domed orthodox churches, majestic museums, opulent palaces and mesmerisingly beautiful metro stations deep underground – the land of the tsars and the socialist spearheads – captured perfectly as the Scorpions famously sang – “Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park, listening to the wind of changes…..”. Shehzaad kept whistling and humming this tune almost every day we roved around the Russian capital and while doing so we gathered our top 10 recommendations for you to do in Moscow. Literally you could “Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park, and listen to the wind of Russia, change”.

Red Square

Red Square is a square by name only but the centre of the Russian capital where every traveller descends, every march starts, every thing revolves and everything keeps moving. Undoubtedly the best place in town to be at the heart of all things happening and  historic, Red Square hosts a number of restaurants, historic buildings, churches, shopping centres. Perfect to start your induction as the voyager in the Russian capital.

Nearest Metro: Ploshchad Revolyutsii

Recommended visiting duration: 2-3 hours

Tickets needed? No

Moscow Red Square
Femme Fatale seen in the Moscow Red Square

Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's

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One of the Red Ruby Starred towers of the Kremlin
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Lined up souvenir shops in the Red Square, better bargain well or simply stay away from purchase

Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's

Kremlin

Kremlin on the other hand – is the area blocked by the red wall with the towers and the glowing ruby stars. Housing the residence of the President of the Russian Federation, the complex has historic churches and burial places of previous tsars. Also worth the visit inside Kremlin is the Armoury and the Diamond Fund.

Nearest Metro: Alexandrovsky Sad

Recommended visiting duration: Half day

Tickets needed? Yes, book in advance online, especially for the Armoury

Special tips: Buy additional water bottles before entering, there is no kiosks selling water inside. No photography inside the Armoury and Diamond museum.

Bird's eye View of Kremlin at night
Bird’s eye View of Kremlin at night
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Inside Kremlin, the Armoury on the left
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Inside Kremlin, where Russia draws its lines
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Entrance of one of the Churches inside Kremlin
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The onion shaped golden tombs are a symbol of Orthodox Christianity in Russia
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Some argue that the Cross over the Crescent is symbol of victory of Christianity over Islam
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The proud Cross inside Kremlin
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The Ruby Red Stars of the Kremlin walls, pretty much visible from eveywhere inside Kremlin

Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's

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The double headed Eagle, the emblem of the Byzantine emperors
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The Tsar Bell – largest in the world, located between the Ivan the Great Bell Tower & Kremlin Wall
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Inside Kremlin – Cathedral of the Annunciation

Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's

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Ivan the Great Bell Tower

Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's

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A sneak peek through the Kremlin Wall

Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's

St. Basil’s Cathedral

Fondly claimed to be mascot of Moscow, largely popularised in numerous posters and displays around the world to allure interested tourists and explorers to visit Moscow. The uniquely colourful tombs were built as per orders from Ivan The Terrible to commemorate the capture of Kazan. Situated in close proximity to the Kremlin and Red Square, this cathedral has no parallel in terms of architectural resemblance to any other building anywhere in the Byzantine developments anywhere in Russia. The tombs were supposed to denote bonfire flames pointing towards the sky and they still amuse visitors for a picture perfect moment as a gorgeous backdrop.

Nearest Metro: Ploshchad Revolyutsii

Recommended visiting duration: 1 hour

Tickets needed? If you want to go inside

Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's

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The brave men posing permanently in front of the colourful domes
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Every twist is different, every dome is different, a designer’s playground – that is why must be seen

Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's

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Biblical stories depicted on the wall of St. Basil

Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's

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Inside interior showing splashes of colour of design

Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's

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The icon of Moscow, featured almost in every other posters to woo tourists from abroad

GUM

Moscow‘s answer to architectural wonder housing an array of restaurants, posh designer boutiques and general retail shops. In literal Russian, this means the Main Universal Departmental Store bearing the same name in many Russian cities. Situated in close proximity to Red Square, GUM is an interesting place to spend some time or to have a meal inside its traditional Russian dining joint Stolokaya 57. Read more about this restaurant in our blog  post on must try Russian restaurants.

Nearest Metro: Ploshchad Revolyutsii

Recommended visiting duration: 2 hours (more if having dinner/lunch)

Tickets needed? No

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When the GUM lights up, it lights up everyone who comes to see it

Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do'sFollow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's

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Inside GUM, looking for perfect photo opportunities
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GUM boasts of beautiful architectural designs, mix of light and retail offerings

Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do'sIMG_5326

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Not for riding, just for display

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

It is man who build the houses of God, it is them who destroy it fight for it and restore it while God keeps living happily and safely in his resort somewhere  else. Similarly this iconic monument situated on the banks of the river Moskva was destroyed by Stalin in the 1930s and rebuilt in late 1990s to what you can see at present times. One of the most gorgeous churches in terms of interior details and design in  entire world. Do cover up well before entering, Shehzaad was initially turned away for wearing even a distressed jeans but could get in later as Jesus stepped in at the right time.

Nearest Metro: Kropotkinskaya

Recommended visiting duration: 1 hour

Tickets needed? No, but be covered up, not even shorts or distressed jeans

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Built twice on the same site

Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do'sFollow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do'sFollow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's

Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's

Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's

Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's
Clouds clouding over the glowing sunset
Day light slowly falling into the lap of night queen
Day light slowly falling into the lap of night queen
Man made lights are on, nature's lights went off
Man made lights are on, nature’s lights went off
No glow like the pre-sunset glow
No glow like the pre-sunset glow

Moscow Metro

The famous Palaces of the People under ground are a must visit by any one wishing to explore the Russian capital mingling with the daily commuters who keep this city moving day in and day out.   We have happily dedicated a full fledged blog post on 10 recommended most beautiful metro stations in Moscow and St. Petersburg here which are compulsory reading to select your preferred stations and plan.

Recommended visiting duration: Full day

Tickets needed?  Yes

Beats any stations in the world for its aesthetic
Beats any stations in the world for its aesthetics

10 Jewels of the Crown of Russian Metro: The Beautiful Palaces of People

Light, architecture, decoration, art, arch, infinite and perspective...it has all
Light, architecture, decoration, art, arch, infinite and perspective…it has all

Moskva River

After you have experienced the very pulse of Moscow from below ground level through it massive network of metro, it is imperative that you view the city from its life-line above ground  – the famous river Moskva.  We selected the Radisson Royal’s Flotilla Cruise with a memorable dinner experience on the river to celebrate Tanuree’s birthday. Full post can be found here for your reading pleasure and detailed delights of the Moscow monuments from the river.

Nearest Metro: Kievskaya

Recommended visiting duration: 2 hours

Tickets needed? Yes

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Kremlin seen before sunset from the bridge of Christ the Saviour

Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's

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One of the many historic bridges over  the Moskva River

Gorky Park

This is the park where you have to take a stroll, hum and record yourself in a video while you play along Scorpion’s Wind of Change. Very much the green lungs of Moscow, this park offers the tranquil and respite needed from day to day rush. Interestingly the day we went to this park, there was a youth festival of young students from leading Moscow universities. We could see the real ‘wind of change’ in the jubilant, colourful, English-speaking and very friendly Russian new generation having a great time at the Gorky Park.

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Gorky Park entrance, listening to the wind of change
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Know your location before wandering around

Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's

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Certainly this is not Maxim Gorky, this is to inspire the sportsmanship
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Some green, some gossip, some good times inside Gorky Park

Nearest Metro: Park Kultury

Recommended visiting duration: 2 hours

Tickets needed? No

Moscow State University

From Gorky Park, it was convenient to take a taxi to visit the imposing Moscow State University which claims to house the tallest educational institute in the world and the tallest among the Seven Sisters identical colossal buildings in Moscow which were built as per instructions of Stalin. It would suffice to just see the university from its front to try to capture its entire width in an 18mm lense. It was massive, magnificent and mighty. Along with the communist  emblems,  you could see engrossed in Russian  “Science is the clear learning of truth and enlightenment of the mind”.

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Grand, gorgeous, imposing and the adjectives can go higher and wider

Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's

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The temperature clock, must be below freezing most of the time

Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's

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The Star is everywhere, not the Tsars
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Studying since stone age or turned into stone studying?

Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's

Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's

Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's

Nearest Metro: Universitet

Recommended visiting duration: 1 hour

Tickets needed? No

Kolomenskoye

One of the most beautiful locations away from the busy and bustling Moscow center.  The main attraction of this park is the stone Church of the Ascension of the Lord which was constructed to commemorate the birth of Ivan the Terrible. The church and the other infrastructures have an interesting blend of older wooden architecture and influences from Italian designs. A rare view of the Moscow skyline is visible from the edges which is magnificent. There is also  the pretty Church of the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan – with its bright golden domes which is a familiar image of Christianity in Russia. Finally don’t forget to contemplate at the beautiful wooden cabin where Peter the Great lived for couple of months.

Nearest Metro: Kolomenskaya

Recommended visiting duration: 2 hours

Tickets needed?  No

Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's

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Our Lady of Kazan Church

Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's

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Church of the Ascension
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Bell Tower was built by an unknown Italian architecht in the place of a more wooden ancient church of the Kolomenskoye village and served as the belfry of the church of the Ascension
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Wood cabin where Peter the Great stayed
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Neatly built, wood on wood, no nails used
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Church of the Ascension – entrance gate

Bolshoi Theatre

Our top 10 Moscow recommendations are listed above but the wild card entry to this list will  have to be by the beautiful Bolshoi Theatre. We did not include it in the list above because we could not watch the ballet we were interested in but it doesn’t mean that it will not feature in recommended things to see. Make sure you watch a performance as an audience in this historic theatre and don’t just pose for photos outside. ‘Bolshoi’ means ‘big’ in Russian, certainly the biggest and best theatre for historic opera and ballet performances in the world. Situated in close proximity to Red Square, a spectacle at this venue is imperative. An important emblem of Russia and Moscow so much so that it is imprinted on the 100 Ruble notes. However we opted for the ballet performance Le Corsaire at the equally famous Mikhailovsky Theatre at St. Petersburg.

Good To Know: 

Metro best but taxi saves

Moscow Metro is the best, no doubt about it. Its perfect for travelling long distances. However for short distances and for a formal dinner – get a taxi. It will save precious time if you are not travelling in rush hours.

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Best to write down the address on paper and show it to the driver

Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's

Hydrating before entering Kremlin

There is no place to buy water or any snacks inside Kremlin. Make sure you buy water before entering as you will be spending a good few hours inside.

Matryoshka – Red Square or Arbat Street?

You cannot leave Russia without buying the famous Russian dolls. Don’t buy them at the first sighting of them either at Red Square or at Arbat Street. Look around, bargain and be ok to walk away if not happy with quality and price. We bought ours from Arbat Street as there were plenty of shops leaving scope for a good bargain.

Arbat Street
Arbat Street

Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's

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This is the set we bought for ourselves
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Down on bended knees, but for the photo opportunity at Arbat Street

Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's

Don’t Miss

Painters in the underpass

Certainly the city can be proud with beautiful art galleries and museums, be on the lookout for undiscovered talents of painters with their craft found for example in the under pass opposite the entrance of Gorky Park.

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Talent in display on the staircases to exposure
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Underpass? Gallery? Subway? Museum? You choose

Ice creams in GUM
It is a must do activity to try out the famous ice cream sold just at the entrance of the GUM superstore, its simply delicious and traditional.

Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's Follow the Moskva, down to Gorky Park: Moscow Must Do's

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The cat who got the (ice) cream?

Putin rocks (?)

The President is regarded by many as a rock star, so you will see him on t-shirts, mugs, key rings, posters. Feel free to get photographed with any of his printed versions as a memoir.

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Who is cool, cooler, coolest? Who is putin’ a lot of effort?
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If you keep looking at me for 10 seconds like this, I can read your mind and see you via webcam

Love was in the air

On many locations and on many occasions, we could see newly weds either being directed by wedding photographers to pose in certain ways or just seen walking hand in hand, while the other hand of the bride carrying the tail of the gown.  It was not even unusual to see more than one wedding parties on the same day, nice to watch the human bonds in full flow.

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A selfie-less love is true to find these days
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Mr. Putin-Look-Alike taking a break to tie the knot and get back to duties

Make friends along the way

One of the best parts of travelling is meeting new people. Our endless voyage experienecs introduce us to many surprises and wonders in life. Many of it is brought to us by some amazing people along the way. We never shy away approaching strangers and befriending with them, sometime promising to be a lifelong friendship. Russia was no exception, we befriended with University going Russian youngsters at an event in Gorky Park on a day which also happened to be Tanusree’s birthday. What better way to stay youthful!

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The youngsters of Russian universities drawing a line, marking territories and flexing muscles
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Shehzaad checking the pulse and vibe of the Russian youth

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Here is where to find onetimefashionista.com on line, direct promotion underway
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Tanusree with the upcoming Russian face of fashion – friendly, fun and forward thinking

When in Russia, be a Russian. Pose with a Birch Tree

Birch trees have always been a strong symbol of Russian culture and are often associated with female characters in fairy tales, songs, and folklore. When a local friend pointed out to us that Birch trees are quintessentially Russian, we went a little too far to blend in.

Surely it will not do any justice to explore Moscow in a hurry. But if you are tight in time and want to make sure you don’t fall in love permanently with the Russian capital or with any Russian femme fatale, it will suffice to spend some quality time exploring these recommended locations above. Some pre-readings on these locations will surely enrich your experience even further. And as the ‘good to know’ experiences above show, observe the most usual of events around in Moscow– those are the icings on your experience on the Russian cake – simple yet unique.

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