Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990, Red Square of Moscow is an area of great prominence due to its inextricable links to Russian history since the 13th century. Red Square is essentially separates the Kremlin, the current official residence of the President of Russia, from a merchant quarter known as Kitai-gorod. Red Square derives its name from the word ‘krasnyi’, which originally meant ‘beautiful’. In contemporary Russia, the term has come to mean ‘red’. Red Square was previously called Trinity Square, due to the location of Trinity Cathedral here, the predecessor of St. Basil’s. The name Red Square became official in the middle of the 17th century.
Formerly, Red Square was a slum of wooden huts clustered beneath the Kremlin walls. Peddlers, criminals and drunks, who were rejected in the official boundaries of the medieval city housed in this region. At the end of the 1400’s, Red Square was cleared on the orders of Ivan III. During the Mongol and Tartar invasions, it was the site of fierce fighting. In the 20th Century, Red Square became famous as the site of official military parades,showcasing the might of the Soviet armed forces. Today, Red Square has emerged as a modern space, which hosts a variety of shows such from rock concerts to classical music performances and fashion shows. All Moscow’s major streets, which connect to Russia’s major highways originate from the square.
Today, Red Square is also home to some of the most glorious and significant buildings in Russia.
Kremlin: This is former royal citadel and continues to be among the top must-visit destinations in Russia.It is currently the official residence of the President of Russia.
St Basil’s Cathedral: A museum today, its construction was ordered by Ivan the Terrible to mark the 1552 capture of Kazan from Mongol forces. The structure was completed in 1560. Visitors should note that one service a year is held in the Cathedral, on the Day of Intercession in October.
Lenin’s Mausoleum: It is home to the embalmed body of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union. Architect Aleksei Shchusev was commissioned to design the mausoleum in 1929. It is opened daily from 10.00 to 13.00. Visitors should note that the mausoleum remains closed on Mondays and Fridays.
Statue of KuzmaMinin and Dmitry Pozharsky: This statue commemorates the two individuals, who helped to clear Moscow from the Polish invaders in 1612, during the Times of Trouble. Incidentally, this bronze statue happens to be the only sculptured monument on the square. It was designed by the architect I. Martos, and finally erected in the year 1818.
Kazan Cathedral: One of the most revered icons in Moscow, Kazan Cathedral was built in the 17th century, near the Resurrection Gate. It was built to commemorate both the repulsion of Polish invaders, and in honor of the Virgin of Kazan icon.
Some of the other interesting sights on Red Square include the GUM department store on the Eastern side and the State Historical Museum on the Northern side.
When in Moscow, Red Square is a major hub and should definitely top your itinerary !