Moscow is the capital of Russia and is the biggest city in the country. With a population of 12.4 million inhabitants within the city limits, it’s the biggest city in Europe and it also has the biggest metropolitan area with over 20 million residents.
The city was established during the Middle Ages in the year 1147 and became the capital city of the Grand Duchy of Moscow. It lost this title during the Russian Empire when the capital was moved to Saint Petersburg but it was moved back following the Russian Revolution between 1917 and 1922.
One of the most remarkable facts about Russia’s capital is that it’s the northernmost megacity (over 10 million inhabitants) in the world and the coldest one as well. It’s also one of the most expensive cities and it has a thriving urban economy.
Its rich history and its current status as a power city have resulted in countless fascinating buildings being constructed. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most famous landmarks in Moscow, incredible structures in one of the most fascinating places on earth!
1. Saint Basil’s Cathedral
Saint Basil’s Cathedral is without a doubt the most famous of all landmarks in Moscow. This iconic church is located right in the heart of the city and has become a symbol of Moscow and all of Russia, mainly due to its 10 colorful and stunning domes.
The church was built between 1555 and 1561 and was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible (1530-1584), the Grand Prince of Moscow who became the first Tsar of Russia. Today, the building can be accessed by tourists and houses a museum.
2. Red Square
Red Square is the most important square in the city of Moscow and is situated right in the historical heart of the city. There are numerous important historical buildings located on it, including Saint Basil’s Cathedral and the eastern Kremlin Wall.
The nearly rectangular square is huge as well, with a total width of 70 meters (229 feet) and length of 330 meters (1,082 feet). It has always been the main focal point in the city and was originally used as the city’s marketplace and also for ceremonial purposes, a purpose it still serves today.
3. Moscow Kremlin
The Moscow Kremlin, often referred to as simply the “Kremlin” even though all major in Russia have a Kremlin, is an enormous fortified complex in the center of Moscow. It overlooks the Moskva River and borders the Red Square on its eastern side.
The word “Kremlin” literally translates to “fortification inside a city,” and that’s exactly what it is. It features numerous government buildings, five palaces, four cathedrals, the famous Kremlin wall, and multiple fascinating towers. Today, it’s the official residence of the President of Russia and a popular museum that is visited by millions of people every year.
4. Ostankino Tower
The Ostankino Tower is one of the most astounding towers in the world that serves its purpose as both a television and radio tower and observation tower. It’s the tallest free-standing building in Europe and the 11th-tallest in the world at the moment with a height of 540.1 meters (1,772.0 feet).
This enormous height also made it the world’s tallest structure between its completion in 1967 and 1974 when it was surpassed by the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada. It was built in honor of the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution and its observation deck offers astounding views of the city!
5. Evolution Tower
The Evolution Tower is one of the most fascinating skyscrapers in the Moscow International Business Center (MIBC). Even though it’s far from being the highest building in the area at 246 meters (807 feet), it’s one of the most intriguing landmarks in Moscow because of its twisting design.
It was designed by British architect Tony Kettle who based it on the Turning Torso skyscraper in Malmö, Sweden, the pioneer building regarding this peculiar shape of buildings. The tower was bought by the Transneft company for $1 billion USD in 2016 and now serves as its headquarters.
6. Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour is a Russian Orthodox Cathedral located on the northern bank of the Moskva River just to the southwest of the historical heart of the city. It’s the second church on the site as the original 19th-century building was destroyed by Joseph Stalin in 1931.
The current building was rebuilt between 1995 and 2000 following the fall of Communism and has distinctive golden domes. It’s also the 3rd-highest Orthodox Christian church in the world at a height of 103 meters (338 feet).
7. State Historical Museum
The State Historical Museum is an enormous landmark building on the northwestern edge of Red Square in central Moscow. It dominates the square on the opposite end of Saint Basil’s Cathedral and was built between 1875 and 1881.
The building was constructed to house the museum of Russian history which was established just a few years earlier in 1872. It’s one of the most popular museums in Russia and it’s estimated that its collection includes millions of items, including a 1.7 million coin collection, the largest of its kind in Russia.
8. Bolshoi Theatre
The Bolshoi Theater is an amazing historic opera house and theater in the center of Moscow which is used to hold ballet and opera performances. It’s the home of both the “Bolshoi Ballet” and “Bolshoi Opera” which are both among the most renowned in the world.
The building was constructed in the early 19th century and opened its doors in the year 1825. It features an iconic Neoclassical façade which has been featured on Russian banknotes. The building was completely renovated between 2005 and 2011 at the cost of 21 billion rubles, the equivalent of $688 million USD back then!
9. Lenin’s Mausoleum
Lenin’s Mausoleum is also referred to as “Lenin’s Tomb” and is located on the western end of Red Square near the eastern wall of the Kremlin. It houses the body of Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union and the leader of the Soviet Government between 1917 and his death in 1924.
This means that he’s an important figure in Russian history, which is the main reason why he was given such a prominent final resting place. What’s remarkable is that his preserved body has been on public display ever since 1924, shortly after he passed away.
10. Grand Kremlin Palace
The Grand Kremlin Palace is one of the most astounding palaces in the world and is one of the most prominent buildings inside the Moscow Kremlin. The palace was built between 1837 and 1849 and replaced the original Baroque palace.
This former palace originally served as the residence of the Tsars of Russia, and the area was used for this purpose since the 14th century. The palace was designed by the official Imperial architect at the time, Konstantin Thon (1794-1881), a man who also designed the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
11. Hotel Metropol Moscow
Hotel Metropol Moscow is a historic hotel in the heart of the Russian capital which was built between 1899 and 1905. It was designed in the Art Nouveau style and a wide variety of architects and artists working on it.
The hotel is also famous for being the biggest hotel that still stands dating back to before the October Revolution of 1917. This and the remarkable design elements of the building making it one of the most fascinating places to stay while visiting Moscow!
12. Moscow State University
Moscow State University was established in the year 1755 and features one of the most remarkable educational headquarters in the world. The main building of the university has 36 floors and stands 240 meters (790 feet) tall.
This fascinating Moscow landmark was constructed between 1947 and 1953 and is one of the “Seven Sisters,” a collection of skyscrapers built during the Stalin era. It was the tallest building in Europe until the year 1990. It remains the tallest education building in the world until today.
13. Spasskaya Tower
The Spasskaya Tower is a remarkable clock tower that dominates the western side of Red Square. It is part of the eastern section of the Kremlin Wall and its name translates to “Saviour Tower.”
The tower was originally constructed in the year 1491 and it was the first of the Kremlin Towers to feature its distinctive roof. It’s also uncertain when the clock was added exactly, but it’s certain it happened anywhere between 1491 and 1585.
14. Triumph Palace
Triumph Palace is another remarkable skyscraper in Moscow which is often referred to as the “Eighth Sister,” a reference to the “Seven Sisters” which have a remarkably similar architectural design.
The reason it’s not part of the “Seven Sisters” is that this skyscraper was only completed between 2001 and 2006 and not during the Stalin era. This remarkable residential building stands 264.1 meters (866 feet) which makes it the tallest apartment building in Europe.
15. Monument to the Conquerors of Space
The Monument to the Conquerors of Space is one of the most remarkable monuments in the world. It’s located in the northeastern part of Moscow just outside an area referred to as the “Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy.”
As the name suggests, it was dedicated to the people of the Soviet Union who were part of the early space exploration projects in the 1950s and 1960s. The giant obelisk stands 107 meters (351 feet) tall and was erected in the year 1964.