Moscow is the biggest city in Europe. A thronging, vibrant place, it veers from high culture to hedonistic excess, to monolithic concrete architecture. Whether you despise it or adore it, very few people remain unmoved by the place. Whether that is due to romantic evenings at the ballet, wild parties that last for days, or philosophical encounters with locals, Moscow is a city not to be missed.
As the capital of the Soviet Union, Moscow was at the forefront of the development of Soviet architecture. Whether you see that as a positive thing is a matter of taste, but the city’s twentieth century additions are certainly impressive. Buildings such as Stalin’s skyscrapers, war memorials and the Moscow metro – arguably the most beautiful underground system in the world – are must-sees.
Time to Celebrate
Nobody parties like Russians, from the pomp of annual celebrations to mark the end of World War II to New Year’s Eve, the city comes alive with people celebrating from the outskirts to Red Square.Expect a lot of local champagne, loud music and some serious firework displays.
From the Moscow Art Theatre, founded by the father of modern theatre Konstantin Stanislavsky, to Moscow’s awe-inspiring ballet tradition, the Russian cultural scene is well-worth checking out whether you’re looking for a fairytale evening at the Bolshoi or cutting edge new theatre.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, migrants from former Soviet countries have flocked to Moscow and it is a great place to experience food less readily available in the West. Uzbek and Georgian cuisine has the strongest reputation, both of which are widely available in Moscow.
Without the restrictions of pub closing times or smoking bans, Moscow is a great place to party. Whether you want to party in glitzy clubs surrounded by the city’s beautiful people or drink shots in cheap local hangouts, Moscow should leave even the most hardened hedonist satisfied.
Whether you want to relive the scenes in Bulgakov’s ‘The Master and Margarita,” tick off some landmarks from War and Peace, or discover why Chekhov’s three sisters were so keen to go to Moscow, the city is steeped in easily-accessible literary history.
The Third Rome
While St. Petersburg was home to the Russian monarchy during its expansive imperial era, Moscow’s royal role goes back further, and is heavily linked to the Orthodox Church. The Kremlin is the best place to explore the remnants of this era, but small streets within the city centre are also peppered with beautiful small churches that date from this period.
Moscow is also a popular destination for migrants from across Russia. From regional folk art available at places like Izmailovo market, to dancers from the north Caucasus brightening up Manezhnaya Square, in Moscow you can get a taste of what the rest of the country has to offer.