28 March 1776 is considered the beginning of the Bolshoi Theatre. However, the Bolshoi building that we know and view as a symbol of Moscow today only opened on 20 October 1856, the day the coronation of Alexander II took place. In 1987, a decision was made to renovate the structure. The theatre couldn’t simply close its doors, however, so in order to save the troupes, the New Stage was provided in 2002, to accommodate performances during the reconstruction (from 2005 to 2011). Today, the Bolshoi Theatre is not only one of oldest Russian musical theatres, but also a leader in opera and ballet.
The main and the most famous square in Moscow is located right at the foot of the northeast wall of the Kremlin. Since 2000, every year around New Year’s an ice-skating rink is built right at the square. Visitors can also find lots of architectural memorials at Red Square, including the State Historical Museum on the north end, Saint Basil’s Cathedral on the south end and the GUM Department Store (upper trade rows) and the middle trade rows on the east end. Among other tourist spots you can also find the Monument to Minin and Pozharsky (leaders of the militia in 1612), which is located right next to Saint Basil’s Cathedral and the very famous Lobnoye Mesto — a stone platform which was used to announce the Tsar’s ukases.
Moscow State University (MSU) is one of the oldest and largest universities in Russia. It was founded at the time of Elisabeth I in 1755, based on the project of government official I. Shuvalov and the great Russian scientist and writer M. Lomonosov.
MSU is a great honor and legacy of the Russian capital. Today, 250 years after the opening, MSU has 40 faculties. A partner of many international universities, MSU is considered the leading educational, scientific and cultural institution in Russia.
The Moscow Zoo, located between Krasnaya Presnya and Bolshaya Gruzinskaya streets, was founded in 1864 by the Imperial Archeological Commission initiated by Moscow State University Professor A. Bogdanov. It is currently one of the oldest zoos in Europe.
The Moscow Zoo is also involved in many international animal protection, breeding and exchange programs with zoos all over the world.
Novodevichy Convent was founded in 1524 by Vasily III, right after the conquest of Smolensk. It is located in the curve of the Moscow River at Devichye Pole (Maidens’ Field). After the Streltsy (Archer) uprising in 1689, following the orders of Peter I, his sister Tsarevna Sophia Alekseyevna was confined here. The most famous attraction at Novodevichy Convent is Naprudnaya Tower, where Sophia’s chambers were located. Legend has it that if you make a wish and touch Naprudnaya Tower, your wish will come true. The Novodevichy Convent grounds also house the Novodevichy Cemetery, where many famous Russian writers and politicians are buried. In addition, adjacent to the sprawling Novodevichy Convent Pond, visitors can take a nice walk in one of Moscow’s most beautiful parks.
Gorky Park, the main park of the capital city, was first planned in 1923. In 1932, it was named after Soviet writer Maksim Gorky in honor of the 40th anniversary of his work. In 1978, just before the Moscow Olympic Games, the colourful Musical Fountain appeared. Then, in 1990 the Chudo Grad amusement park was founded on Pushkinskaya Embankment. In 2011, Gorky Park went through another major reconstruction: the amusement park was transformed into a new fascinating garden, and the park was renovated to meet the highest European standards. It has since become a favourite place for locals to spend their free time. Every winter an amazing 15,000-square metre skating rink — the biggest artificial ice skating spot in Europe — is built. During summer people can play tennis, rent bicycles, sunbathe and experience an open-air movie theater.
Arkhangelskoye Palace, located in the suburbs of Moscow right at the Moscow River, was built at the end of the 18th century, and is known as the ‘Russian Palace of Versailles’ with its magnificent art collections and splendid views. Nowadays, the estate is still being restored, but the park and museum are open to visitors. There are concerts held at Arkhangelskoye Palace on a regular basis, including the famous Usadba Jazz Festival.
Dormition Cathedral was built from 1475-1479 by Italian architect Aristotele Fioravanti.
Over the years, the cathedral was home to a number of fires and robberies. The coronation of the Russian tsars took place there as well, starting with Ivan the Terrible. Even when Saint Petersburg became the capital, the coronation still took place at Dormition Cathedral. In 1955, the cathedral became a museum which to this day houses sacred objects such as the Holy Nail and the Crosier of Saint Peter, Metropolitan of Kiev and all Rus’.
Located right at the Red Square, Saint Basil’s Cathedral — also known as Pokrovsky Cathedral — was founded in the middle of the 16th century, following the orders of Ivan the Terrible. This was the act of victory to commemorate the Siege of Kazan in 1552. ‘The Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin by the Moat’ (in the 16th century, the moat was located between the cathedral and the Kremlin Wall) unofficially became Saint Basil’s Cathedral because of the famous Muscovite ‘Holy Fool’ Vasily, who was buried by the church. Many believe that Saint Basil’s Cathedral symbolises the New Jerusalem; however, the meaning of the different-shaped tops and their colours remains an unsolved mystery.
The founding stone of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, which accommodates up to 10,000 people, was laid in 1817 at Vorobyovy Gory (Sparrow Hills). The cathedral was built as a memorial, honoring the bravery of the Russian people in their fight against Napoleon's invasion in 1812.
Today, many funerals for contemporary Russian historical and cultural figures are held at the cathedral, as well as other important church events. There is also a museum, which people visit on a regular basis to observe a rich collection of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour’s historic relics.