Moscow is the capital and most populous city of the largest country on the planet "Russia", situated on the Moskva River with more than 12 million residents. It is a major historical, political, economic, cultural, and scientific center of Russia and Eastern Europe, as well as the largest city in the European continent. A city of contrasts, Moscow's busy streets all bear witness to Russia's turbulent history and dynamic future. From the medieval Kremlin and the magical golden domes of Moscow's beautiful churches, to its tranquil parks, monumental Soviet architecture and modern skyscrapers, the city's skyline tells a thousand stories.
High culture courtesy of the Moscow Philharmonic and the Bolshoi Theater, jaw-dropping art exhibitions and an energetic live music scene continue to prove that Moscow is really on the cutting edge. Whether you are looking for medieval history, communist nostalgia or high-rolling glamour, Moscow has something really valuable for everyone.
Moscow's history goes back for centuries. In fact, settlements existed in the location of the present day capital during the Middle Ages. However, the exact date of the city's founding is unknown. It was first mentioned in the Hypatian Chronicle: "On April 4, 1147, Prince Yuri Dolgorukiy received his friends and allies in a town called Moscov". With this date used as the official birthday of the capital, its almost 870 years old.
Located at the convergence of trading routes, Moscow became the center of an independent principality in the 13th century. Daniel Alexandrovich, son of Alexander Nevsky, became the founder of the dynasty that ruled first the Moscow principality and then all of Rus by the end of the 16th century. Although during the 13th to 14th centuries, the city's growth was interrupted by a Mongol invasion, the Black Plague, and Khan Tokhtamysh's raid, Moscow nonetheless became one of the economic, political, religious, and cultural centers of Rus. Prince Ivan Kalita built the new Moscow Kremlin ("Kremlin" simply means "Castle"), and during Dmitry Donskoy's reign its oak construction was refurbished using white stone.
By the end of the 15th century under Ivan III the Great, the majority of Russian lands united around Moscow and the newly rebuilt Kremlin. In the following century, Ivan the Great's grandson, Ivan IV the Terrible, first declared himself no longer just the Prince, but the Tsar of Moscow and all of Rus ("Tsar" from the Latin word "Caesar," meaning emperor). In 1589, the Patriarchate was established in Moscow. Having lived through the Time of Troubles in the early 17th century, Moscow was the capital of an enormous state during the rule of the first tsars of the Romanov Dynasty.
This is exactly the place that Peter I the Great, the first Emperor of Russia (beginning in 1721), spent his childhood. Although Peter I moved the capital to St. Petersburg, Moscow remained the location of coronation, or in the words of A.S. Pushkin "a queen-dowager". Napoleon Bonaparte set his sights on Moscow as the ancient capital, hoping that by capturing Moscow, he could conquer all of Russia. However, Moscow proved an insurmountable obstacle, ultimately protecting the entire country during Napoleon's invasion in 1812.
After the revolutionary events of the beginning of the 20th century, Moscow was renamed as the capital. The image of the city underwent many changes, losing much of its old heritage in exchange for new traditions in the process. For example, the city gained the Moscow Metro, unique in both its beauty and its functionality. During the World War II era, Moscow was once again the frontline of defense during the Battle of Moscow.
Today, Moscow is a city that never sleeps. The illumination of Moscow's streets and houses will let you enjoy a stroll including after the sunset. In the daytime, over 300 museums and exhibition halls are at your disposal, you may also go for a walk in a park or enjoy a river trip. At night, theaters and concert halls receive their visitors, while night clubs, disco bars and restaurants stay open until early morning.
Moscow keeps changing, with new buildings and developments completed, and architectural monuments, temples and museums restored. The Bolshoi Theater and the Moscow Planetarium have reopened after reconstruction. The capital's map now features new sights: the restored palace of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich in Kolomenskoye; the manor of Grandfather Frost (Russia's Santa Clause) in Kuzminki offers encounters with fairy tales throughout the year; a once uncharted shelter, located 65 meters underground is now accommodating the Cold War Museum.
Moscow has enough room for recreation, with its green territories occupying over a third of the capital's total area. It includes 116 parks, 118 specially protected natural territories and 64 monuments of palace and park architecture, 2 botanical gardens, and a zoo. Moscow also offers diverse activities and facilities for family and educational tourism. Young guests have every opportunity to have fun and learn lots of useful and exciting information.