The Red Square

The main square of Russia. It is just in the heart of Moscow. Those who came to Red Square, with their own eyes see the main symbols of Russian Federation. The spacious area of the square is paved with block stones, functioning as a pedestrian zone. The reason a big square was established near the Kremlin was actually a severe fire. It happened during the reign of Ivan the Third. The wooden buildings of the Great Trading Quarter were very close to the Kremlin walls, and when a fire broke out, the houses and shops of merchants were completely destroyed in 1493. For a considerable time, a wide strip of approximately 250 metres long remained undeveloped. During the reign of Ivan the Terrible, the square was called “Big”. Since the 16th century, the unoccupied space in front of the Place of Execution began to be referred to as the “Red Square”. And, finally, tsar Aleksey Mikhailovich signed a special decree in 1661, according to which “Red Square” had became the name of the whole square.

 

Spasskaya Tower

The Red Square – Spasskaya Tower

 

The the buildings and temples surrounding the square were erected and altered for several centuries until a unique architectural ensemble was created. Since 1990, the ancient square and buildings around it have been protected by UNESCO as the world’s heritage site. The whole square is embowered with a crenellated wall of the Kremlin that consists of several towers – Nikolskaya, Senatskaya, Spasskaya, Tsarskaya, Nabatnaya, Konstantino-Eleninskaya and Beklemishevskaya tower.

 

Moscow Historical Museum

The Red Square – Moscow Historical Museum

 

Exactly in the middle between the Spasskaya and Nikolskaya towers one can find the granite Mausoleum of Vladimir Lenin. There is a necropolis behind – a memorial cemetery, where the leaders of the party and government, as well as foreign communists were buried. From the north the panorama of the square is closed by the Historical Museum, which has rich historical collections of Russia. An intricate red brick building for the museum was constructed in the late 19th century, designed by architect V. Sherwood. There are more than 4.3 million exhibits – a real national treasure! If you stand on the Red Square facing the Historical Museum, to the right of it you can see the two-aisle Resurrection Gates and the Iverskaya Chapel. From the south one of the most recognizable churches in Russia shines out – St. Basil’s Cathedral. The multi-domed church was built after the conquest of Kazan in the 16th century. Almost simultaneously with the cathedral a Place of Execution was erected. It was built on a small hill and was used to announce the decrees of the Sovereign and to conduct public executions. In front of the cathedral you can see the expressive sculptural group “Minin and Pozharsky”, dedicated to the victorious events which made the end of the Time of Troubles (1612), the opening of the historical monument took place in 1818. Opposite to the Kremlin wall, the facade of the Main Supermarket stretches out, which also was given the status of an architectural monument. A beautiful three-story building in pseudo-Russian style was erected at the end of the 19th century according to the project of A. Pomerantsev. The St. Nicholas Street corner is decorated with the picturesque Kazan Cathedral, ornated with neat kyle-shaped corbel arches. The church was built in 1990, accurately recreating the original forms of the cathedral lost during the anti-religious Soviet campaign.

 

GUM Department Store

GUM – Main Department Store of Russia

 

Interesting facts

  • The square measures 330 metres by 75 metres. Since 1963 it is a pedestrian zone, where cars, motorcycles and bicycles are prohibited.
  • Actually, the whole square was paved with cobblestone only in 1804. Before that time, it was mostly wooden.
  • The two most famous parades held here are related to the events of the Great Patriotic War. The first of them took place in November 1941 before the counter-attack began, with the Nazis still standing near Moscow. And the second was organized after the victory, in June 1945.
  • Every winter a large skating rink is created in the square, for more than 500 people to be skating at the same time. A gigantic Christmas tree is installed nearly, decorated with New Year’s toys.
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