16 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Moscow

Jul 22, 2021

The Russian capital of Moscow is a thrilling place of palaces and cathedrals, of cobbled streets and plazas, of a dizzying array of architectural styles. Russia's decadent past and gritty present are on full display, and Russia's penchant for classic grandeur is evident everywhere, from its buildings and streets to its countrywide park, which offers majestic vistas, lush forests, and grand marble and sandstone pavilions.

Whether you're visiting Russia on a broad cultural journey, looking to dodge the tourist crowds, or are simply a professional traveler looking for some high culture, a vacation in Moscow, Russia, will offer you a memorable adventure.

Moscow is often referred to as the capital of the country, but the other major cities—St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Kaliningrad, Kazan, Saratov, and several others—are also popular tourist destinations, all with their own distinct beauty and fascinating history.

Exploring the countryside, especially if you have your own vehicle, is another way to discover Russia. The country is dotted with such gems, from the fortress-crowned cliff faces of Crimea to the bucolic Cossack dance festivals, and so many other must-see destinations.

Any vacation in Russia can't be complete without some worthwhile experiences, but if you plan your trip properly, you will leave with unforgettable memories of one of the world's most exciting destinations.

Red Square

Photo of Red Square
Red Square: en.wikipedia.org

Red Square is the heart of Moscow, home of the Kremlin and the city's holiest sites, including the Cathedral of the Archangel and the Cathedral of the Archangel Michael, as well as Moscow's most recognizable symbols - the Lobnoe Poliko and the Monument to the Grand Victory. It's the final resting place of Russia's most revered statesmen, including two emperors and several tsars. It also boasts the world's tallest church, the world's oldest churches and many other churches and cathedrals. There are various ways to see the Red Square: on foot, by bus, by car or even by the open-top tourist bus 'Zolotoy vor'.

Tretyakov Gallery

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Tretyakov Gallery: en.wikipedia.org

The Tretyakov Gallery (Tretyakov Gally or Третьяковская галерея) was founded in 1885 in Saint Petersburg. At first a private collection was opened to the public, but following the Bolshevik Revolution, most of the artwork was either sold or transported to storage warehouses. Eventually, the art collection found its way to a new location: in 1922, a magnificent neoclassical building was built in Moscow on the site of the former Beethoven House. It remains one of the finest museums of Russian art. One of the museum's most important paintings is Ivan the Terrible's "Self-Portrait," but there are many other fine works to be seen. As well as the galleries containing modern art, there are the impressive "Stalin's Room," featuring 16th and 17th-century paintings, and "Savage Earth," with more than 30 outstanding Pre-Industrial paintings and sculpture. The collection also includes icons, embroideries and jewelry. Tretyakov Gallery is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 6 pm.

Saint Basil's Cathedral

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Saint Basil's Cathedral: en.wikipedia.org

Built in the 13th century, the spectacular Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow is regarded by many as the spiritual center of Russia. A majestic, soaring building, the Cathedral is so named because it stands on the site where Saint Basil, a teacher who died in 379, is thought to have buried his body. In addition to its historical significance, the Cathedral is well known for the genius of its builder, Michelangelo. His exquisite frescoes, depicting the life of Saint Vladimir the Great, are so well-preserved that some believe the work depicts the actual "miracle of Vladimir."

State Kremlin Palace

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State Kremlin Palace: en.wikipedia.org

Also known as the Palace of Facets, this magnificent example of Russian architecture is the magnificent home of the Russian presidential residence, the state Kremlin Palace. Built in 1958-1959 to a design by Alexander Deyneka, the palace is built of what appears to be a small cube of bright-red marble enclosed by a gray-white cube. The interiors are decorated in a striking way with bright-yellow, red, and blue-black colors, as well as rich carpets. The state Kremlin Palace has now lost its former importance, having been granted the status of a museum and transformed into the Museum of the Kremlin. Today, its magnificent interiors contain the Museum of the Kremlin, where exhibits cover the history of the Kremlin and Russian history, as well as a hall with medieval armor and a room dedicated to children's literature. As part of its tour, visitors can take a bus from the square near the Kremlin or hop on a tour bus and visit the nearby Tretyakov Gallery. The Kremlin Palace is located in the neighborhood of Kitai-Gorod.

Old Town Square and St. Nicholas Church

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Moscow: en.wikipedia.org

The ancient quarter of Moscow used to be the Kremlin. This was once the Russian capital's dominant and most powerful city and is situated on the right bank of the Moskva River. Today's version of the Kremlin is the city's seat of power, and is considered as the heart of the capital. Although you can no longer enter the Kremlin, you can visit its courtyards and museums such as the Terem Palace, the Palace of Facets, the Tretyakov Gallery, and the famous Stroganov Palace. Other main attractions in Moscow include the St. Basil's Cathedral, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, and the Cathedral of the Dormition of the Theotokos.

Lenin's Mausoleum

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Lenin's Mausoleum: en.wikipedia.org

The Kremlin is the primary power structure of Russia. Home to the Kremlin of Russia, a blend of Roman, French and Byzantine architectural styles; this is also the only Kremlin you can enter. Lenin's Mausoleum is the resting place of Vladimir Lenin, founder of the Soviet Union. You have the option of walking the 25-meter path or you can enter the mausoleum from the central garden. Here you'll see the most important treasures associated with Lenin; the blue-lacquered limestone casket containing Lenin's embalmed body, which lies on display under glass; the marble sarcophagus used for Lenin's burial; and the table Lenin used to preside over the debates that created the basis of the Soviet government.

State Kremlin Museums

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Moscow Kremlin Museums: en.wikipedia.org

The State Kremlin Museum is not simply a museum of Russian history but, rather, a monument to that history. It not only presents the history of Russia from the early Middle Ages through to the Russian Revolution but also emphasizes a chosen theme, such as the collection of documents about Lenin or Imperial Russia's Czarist era. The galleries show a series of historic events in a clear, chronological order, with vivid reproductions of items dating back to the earliest centuries of Christian Russia. Of particular note is the number of icons in the museum, with images of great interest and variety. Another aspect of the museum is the collection of rare books, particularly the books of Russian spiritual leaders. Visitors are taken into the libraries of great Russian spiritual leaders and can see documents they once held, for example the Bible given by Ivan the Terrible to the Russian Orthodox monasteries. The collection includes Bible manuscripts in Cyrillic and the Slavonic version of the Bible (Bogoslov). It is worth visiting the museum for its beautiful arrangement and collection of the literature of the Russian church.

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

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Church of the Savior on Blood: en.wikipedia.org

Built in 1743 by Christoforo Rastrelli, a member of the celebrated Italian baroque era of architecture, the church is best known for its gilt icons, some dating back to the 12th and 14th centuries. Its modern counterpart is Baroque, but with a Christian theme. The most recognizable attraction is probably the enigmatic Spilled Blood Monument, with its large cracked cracked blood-red bas-relief. Other works of art inside the church include a fine fresco, "Virgin of Golgotha," as well as other works of art from the 19th century and earlier. Visitors have noted that inside the church are no fewer than 72 altars, each of which contains relics of saints. On display are some real treasures including the remains of St. John the Baptist, St. Zosimos and St. Theophanes the Confessor. If you want to get a closer look at this unusual building, consider taking one of the English-language guided tours which are offered regularly and last just over an hour. These are conducted by an English-speaking guide and go for a modest 30 rubles.

Pushkin Museum

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Pushkin Museum: en.wikipedia.org

The Russian poet Alexander Pushkin lived and worked in Moscow until his early death in a duel in 1837. After his death the poet's home was turned into a museum, now known as the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. A visit begins on the second floor, where an extensive collection of paintings and engravings from his era is on display. Highlights include portraits by French artist Antoine-Jean Gros, Russian master Lev Kerbel and German painter Jakob Friedrich Tugendhat. Downstairs, a large group of paintings by other 19th-century artists can be found, along with works by Kramskoy, Konstantin Savitsky and others. Other artworks and exhibits change, but always reflect the area in which Pushkin lived and worked. Included in the museum's collection are works by Van Gogh, Gauguin and Paul Cézanne.

Cathedral of the Archangel Michael

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Cathedral of the Archangel: en.wikipedia.org

Completed in 1140 by Saint Vladimir and the cornerstone laid by Saint Basil, Moscow's Cathedral of the Archangel Michael is one of the great wonders of Russian architecture and the largest church in the city. Surrounding the four huge dome-topped towers are soaring, spindly spires, lavishly decorated with Baroque gilding and sculpture. Inside, the interior is bright and airy with colorful patterns on the frescoed walls. Every weekend, the cathedral is the setting for a varied and free arts and crafts festival featuring different ethnic groups from Russia and the rest of the former Soviet Union. On Sunday, pilgrims flock here to attend the "Annunciation" Orthodox service.

The Kremlin

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Moscow Kremlin: en.wikipedia.org

The Kremlin is an historic complex of buildings enclosing the cathedral, various chapels, towers and cathedrals, located just north of Red Square, in the heart of Moscow. The Kremlin was first built in 1147, with its layout having been slightly changed in the years to follow. The first fortified citadel was built in 1147. In 1238, the existing wooden structure was replaced by the current stone and brick palace. From 1481, the first stone towers were built on the northeast corner of the Kremlin. In the early 14th century, the area of the Kremlin became the residence of the Grand Duke of Muscovy, who would be crowned tsar, or emperor, three years later.

Moscow State University

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Moscow State University: en.wikipedia.org

Built in 1930, Moscow State University (MGU) was once home to many of the famous names of Russian literature. Today, this largest and most prestigious university, with over 300,000 students, offers excellent higher education in engineering, law, and medicine. The campus, set in Moscow's western suburbs, is located next to the great metropolitan train station. Various parts of the university buildings, such as the Velikoretsky Institute of Plant Protection, the Institute of Computer Science, the Institute of Physics, the Department of Astronomy and Space Physics, the Institute of Solar Energy and the Institute of Dental Medicine, are all worth a visit.

Gorky Park

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Gorky Park (Moscow): en.wikipedia.org

Moscow's most popular urban space, Gorky Park (Gorkogo Parka), is a vast, one-square kilometer greenspace created from the former grounds of the Gorodok County Seat. A perfect green space to escape the stress of city life, the park is home to sports facilities, a zoo, and cultural attractions, including a museum, an art gallery, a planetarium, and a historical planetarium. Gorky Park is home to numerous events throughout the year, with the Gorky Drama Theater usually staging performances on the grass during the warmer months. The state-run MASSO museum and gallery on Gorky Park are also popular, especially during the Golden Ring Ring Festival, when hundreds of events take place in its premises.

State Historical Museum

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State Historical Museum: en.wikipedia.org

This vast museum is housed in three splendid 19th-century buildings on Red Square, one of which is Moscow's oldest surviving edifice, the Konstantinovsky Palace. Its collection includes a large selection of historical artifacts, and the building itself has been preserved as an example of the palace architecture of the Russian Empire. The state historical museum's collection of objects has the highest level of conservation of any museum in Russia. In addition to the palace, the collection also includes the red-and-white Crystal Hall and the Embroidered Velvet Palace.

Church of the Deposition of the Robe

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Church of the Deposition of the Robe: en.wikipedia.org

This pretty church, the scene of the famous Robe of the Holy Virgin, has a history of almost 500 years and is located at the heart of the city. The orthodox church is built from 1737 to 1747 with a sculpted interior designed by Fyodor Shekovetsky and Sergei Bakhrushin. The original construction was adorned with stucco reliefs but these were destroyed by a fire in the 19th century and the designs of Shekovetsky were replaced with others by Ilya Repin. The religious frescoes are extremely rich. Among them are the frescoes of the Deposition of the Holy Virgin. The Church of the Deposition of the Robe can be visited during the week at 10 AM. The church is also known for its eleven high campanile towers, that are decorated with red bricks and white mortar. There is also a three-domed bell tower that dates back to the 15th century.

Kazan Cathedral

Photo of Kazan Cathedral, Moscow
Kazan Cathedral, Moscow: en.wikipedia.org

Kazan Cathedral (Kazansky Sobor) was built between 1631 and 1665, the most important church in the city of Kazan and one of Russia's greatest examples of Baroque architecture. Its most prominent feature is its soaring inner dome. Designed by two outstanding Italian architects and architects, Carlo Maderno and Carlo Rossi, the church is also notable for its numerous sculptures, some dating to the 16th and 17th centuries. The present church was built using the remains of the original structure, which was destroyed in 1735 and 1643, respectively. The cathedral stands at the heart of a famous square with two palaces and a statue dedicated to Catherine the Great.