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    Vnukovo International Airport: Vnukovo, Moscow, Russia

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The Kremlin
The Kremlin

The Kremlin

Distance from Vnukovo International Airport: 37.7km
Telephone – (095) 202 3776
Website – www.kremlin.museum.ru
Transport – Metro stop Biblioteka imeni Lenina or Aleksandrovsky Sad.
Opening time – Daily except Thursdays from 10am to 5pm.
Admission – 300 rubles; Armoury Museum 350 rubles. Concessions available.

The oldest part of Moscow dating back to the city’s foundation in 1147, and situated at the very heart of the city on top of a hill, the Kremlin is a fortress surrounded by a thick red wall interspersed with 20 towers. The complex consists of a number of glittering, golden-domed churches and palaces, museums, residences, offices, assembly halls and monuments. It was the royal regime during the Tsarist rule and from 1918, the seat of the Communist government. Cathedral Square is the religious centre of Moscow and the historic heart of the Kremlin, and is home to numerous churches. The attractive Annunciation Cathedral was set aside for the private use of royalty and contains beautifully painted murals and icons on the interior walls. The throne of Ivan the Terrible can be found in the Cathedral of the Assumption, which was used for the coronation of tsars; most of the leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church were buried here and their tombs line the walls of the spacious, richly colored interior. The Belfry of Ivan the Great is the tallest structure within the walls and a visible city landmark. At its foot lies the world’s biggest bell, broken in a fall from its bell tower in 1701, and nearby is the world’s largest cannon, the Tsar Cannon. Also within the Kremlin is the Armoury Palace, the richest and oldest museum housing a staggering collection of treasures gathered over the years by the church and Russian state, including jewel-studded coronation capes, thrones encrusted with diamonds, royal coaches and sleighs and the renowned jeweled Fabergé Easter eggs, each containing an exquisitely detailed miniature object of precious metal inside. The Diamond Fund Exhibition in the same building contains the 180-carat diamond given to Catherine the Great by Count Orlov.

The Kremlin
Red Square

Red Square

Distance from Vnukovo International Airport: 32.0km
Address – Krasnaya Ploshchad
Transport – Metro stop Ploshchad Revolutsii.

Red Square is a dramatic open cobbled space in the centre of Moscow, originally the city’s market place that served as a public gathering place to celebrate festivals, listen to government announcements or to witness executions, especially common during the reign of Ivan the Terrible. The Soviet state turned it into a memorial cemetery, and constructed Lenin’s Mausoleum to one side – a crystal casket containing the preserved body of the founder of the Soviet Union that is still open to public viewing today. The communist government destroyed several ancient buildings around Red Square, including the Resurrection Gate and chapel, to make space for and to allow easy tank access to the demonstrations and military parades that frequented the area. The current Resurrection Gate and chapel are replicas that were built in the 1990s. Its most impressive parade involved the gathering of thousands of Russian soldiers ready to march to war against the Nazis in 1941, the rumble of tanks a demonstration of Soviet might during the Cold War. The word ‘red’ doesn’t apply to the color of the brickwork, neither is it a reference to communism. The meaning of the word ‘krasny’ originally meant ‘beautiful’ in Old Russian, referring to St Basil’s Cathedral at the southern end, but over the centuries the word changed to mean ‘red’ too, thus the square’s present name. St Basil’s Cathedral is the city’s most well known building and is crowned by the bulbous multicolored domes that have made it an instantly recognizable landmark.

St Basil's Cathedral
St Basil’s Cathedral

St Basil’s Cathedral

Distance from Vnukovo International Airport: 29.5km
Address – Krasnaya Ploshchad 4; Telephone: (095) 298 5880
Transport – Metro stop Kitai Gorod.
Opening time – Daily except Tuesdays between 11am and 5.30pm.
Admission – 100 rubles, concessions 50 rubles.

St Basil’s Cathedral with its multicoloured domes is the most famous image of Russia, standing on the edge of Moscow’s Red Square, a striking design that was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible to commemorate his victorious military campaign against the Tartar Mongols at Kazan in 1552. Legend has it that Ivan was so overwhelmed by its beauty that he had the architect blinded to prevent him from creating anything to rival it. It comprises a central chapel surrounded by eight red brick tower-like chapels, each crowned with a different coloured and uniquely patterned onion-shaped dome. The church escaped demolition many times during the city’s turbulent history and with the beginning of the Soviet regime the cathedral was closed and later turned into a museum. The interior is a dimly lit maze of corridors and delicately decorated chapels, one of them housing a priceless 16th century screen decorated with icons that shields the inner sanctuary. In comparison to the exquisite exterior, the interior can seem disappointing.

Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre

Distance from Vnukovo International Airport: 31.7km
Address – Teatralnaya Ploshchada
Telephone – (095) 292 9270 (ticket outlets).
Website – www.bolshoi.ru
Transport – Metro stop Teatralnaya.
Admission – Ticket prices for performances vary.

Moscow’s oldest theatre, the Bolshoi dates from 1824 and is Russia’s most famous theatre, with its world-renowned opera and ballet companies in residence. Completely rebuilt after a fire in 1856, the grand building is a masterpiece of Russian neoclassicism, including an eight-columned entrance porch topped by a horse-drawn chariot of Apollo, patron of the arts. The glittering five-tiered interior is richly adorned with red velvet furnishings, gold decoration and chandeliers, and the size of the auditorium makes it the largest theatre in the world. The Bolshoi Theatre has hosted some of the world’s most celebrated premieres and performers, including Swan Lake, Spartacus and concerts by Richard Wagner, and an evening performance at the Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre constitutes one of Moscow’s best nights out.

Tretyakov Gallery

Distance from Vnukovo International Airport: 28.5km
Address – Lavrushensky Pereulok 10/12, and 10 Krymsky Val.
Telephone – (095) 951 1362, 238 1378, 230 9766; recorded message: 230 7788
E-mail[email protected]
Website – www.tretyakovgallery.ru
Transport – Tretyakovskaya or Novokuznetskaya metro stop to Lavrushensky Pereulok, or metro to Park Kultury.
Opening time – Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 7.30pm.

The Tretyakov Gallery houses some of the great masterpieces of traditional Russian art from before the Revolution and has the world’s finest collection of Russian icons from the 11th to the 17th centuries. The gallery’s collection of paintings, graphics and sculptures covers Russian art from the 18th to the 20th century. The gallery was named after its founder, Pavel Tretyakov, an art collector who donated about 2,000 works of art from his private collection to the city of Moscow, forming the basis of the collection to which state acquisitions were later added. He also donated his own house, which became the original site of the art gallery. Two separate buildings at different locations house the works selected for display.