Where do the stories of one’s life usually begin? From one’s native town or the place where you were born? For some people, those are the same places, while for others they are two different places, two completely diverse stories.
While I am originally Armenian and spent most of my life in Yerevan, Moscow has a special corner in my heart. This city is where my life began, this is a place where I was born.
What do I remember about Moscow? When traveling around the city by car, my father frequently asks me “Do you remember this place?” or “Do you know what street is this one?” in spite of the fact that I only lived the first six years of my life in Moscow. Frankly, I barely remember certain localities; but what firmly remained in my memory are those sweet emotions from my childhood and the Vorontsovskiy Park; filled with ponds, squirrels, green areas and playgrounds for children. Nowadays, this Park has turned into a small piece of recreational heaven for both the locals and travelers.
Now I am back here again and trying to recharge my present self with memories of my childhood. Even though it is usually cold in Moscow (except the summertime), it always feels good to get a taste of my childhood.
Things to do in Moscow
Moscow is big, Moscow is infinite… Hence, it is literally impossible to accommodate all those landmarks in one piece of article. Therefore, you will find only some of the major attractions in Moscow illustrated in this article, including the newly-discovered unique places discovered by me.
So first and foremost, where do the travelers usually go when visiting Moscow? Right! The Red Square and Kremlin.
A Short Story About Kremlin
The Grand Duke of Kiev, Yuri Dolgoruky, built a wooden castle at the intersection of Moskva and Neglina Rivers. During the same period, stone buildings were constructed in the territory of Kremlin. When Ivan the Great was on the throne, Kremlin turned into the center of the Unified Russian Empire. Later on, Peter the Great relocated the capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg. However, since 1917, Kremlin has been the official seat of the Russian Government (formerly a Palace of Congresses). Nowadays, the State Kremlin Palace is likewise a stage for big concerts, festivals and other grand events.
Kremlin and the Red Square are literally a must-see in Moscow. If you visit Moscow without seeing Kremlin, forget that you have ever been in Moscow. Being the heart of Moscow city, the Red Square is a stage for many significant monuments and historical sites like: St. Basil’s Cathedral, Resurrection Gate and Iberian Chapel, the Statue of the Prince Dmitry Pozharsky and butcher Kuzma Minin.
When walking around the Red Square, there is an easy way to reach the large shopping center from there; Gum. During the Soviet times, it was called State Department Store. This building presents an exceptional role not only from a commercial point of view but also from architectural aesthetics view. By visiting this center, you will combine two benefits: shopping and nurturing aesthetics through the glance at the graceful interior of the building. Gum was opened in 1893 and it was the largest passage in Europe during that period.
Arbat Street: There are two Arbats in Moscow. One is an Old Arbat; a pedestrian street adorned with souvenir shops, street artists, and cafes. It is similar to Barcelona’s La Rambla. The other one is a New Arbat, which is larger and full of car traffic. So, here I am talking about the Old Arbat. I was there recently, walking along the way and fulfilling my wanderlust. Some street artists came over and asked me to take a photo with them. Then my attention was caught by a museum with an original name “Museum of Illusions”. Inspired by the name, I went further and found myself delved into illusions. No words are able to describe my sensations in the world of illusions. The pictures below will speak better:
On the same Arbat Street, I discovered a heavenly corner of enticing aromas, the Museum of Perfume. This museum opened its doors three years ago for admirers of fragrances and exquisite aromas who are ruled by their senses and simply for those who want to delve into the magical aura of the alluring perfume world. The museum presents vintage and antiquarian perfumes accompanied by organized excursions filled with tastings of an infinite number of scents and fragrances. A visit to the Museum of Perfume will awaken your senses. Magically-said, it will take you to aromatic voyage back in time, coloring it with stories about each of these unique fragrances. For example, during my visit, I heard a romantic story about the creation of Guerlain’s perfume “Jicky”, linked with a love story of the guy who invented the perfume. Likewise, at this very museum, I learned why Chanel’s N5 is called N5. These were just a couple of infinite stories that I was told during the one-hour aromatic voyage back in time.
For lovers of grandiose musical and theatrical events, Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow is awaiting you there… The Theatre, designed by architect Joseph Bové, opened its doors to the audience in 1856 and is presently a grand venue for world-famous ballets, operas, masquerades. However, if you have a shortage of time, you may visit this site to only admire the spectacular architecture of the Theatre that is one of the greatest landmarks of Moscow.
Helikon Opera is a comparably new stage for opera lovers. Founded in 1990 by Dmitri Bertman, Helikon Opera is a small arena but offering a wide range of repertoires from Tchaikovsky till Verdi.
A boat trip through Moscow River is a delightful way to spend an evening during the summertime.
Other Interesting Sites to visit in Moscow
Tretyakov Gallery is where you will find a huge collection of national Russian art from different eras and painters like: Goncharova, Bryullov, Ivan Aivazovsky, Petr Vilyams, Vladimir Gavrilov, Shchedrin and many others.
Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts is another important artistic heritage site which houses a large collection of European art, by periodically presenting exhibitions of the world famous painters: Gustav Klimt, Chaim Soutine, Francisco Goya and so on.
Izmmaylovsky Park is a very old park dating back to the fourteenth century that has been a beloved relaxation place for Muscovites. For those who do not know: Muscovite is a term used to describe a native from Moscow city.
Kuskovo Park and Estate formerly has been a residence of the wealthy Sheremetev family but is presently a marvelous scenic area with a well-preserved palace of Neoclassical style. Nowadays, a collection of ceramic art is being preserved in Estate.
Ostankino Park and Estate is located close to Ostankino TV center, the park houses a list of classical statues, while the interior of the Palace preserves a rare collection of Chinese ceramics and European gift furniture. The Estate formerly belonged to the Princess Cherkassky, but later on, was transferred to the Sheremetev family.
Gorky Park is one of the major landmarks of Moscow city. Nestled along the river Moscow, it is mostly an amusement park and a leisure site for many Muscovites.
Cosmonautics Memorial Museum displays items showcasing man’s exploration of the cosmos.
State Diamond Fund is an exceptional museum housing a precious collection of Imperial jewels.
Kremlin Armoury Museum displays a huge collection of Russian and foreign armor, as well as Tsarist artifacts.
Last but not least, when visiting Moscow during the winter time, do not miss your chance to attend fabulous ice-skating events performed by the great Russian figure-skaters. Moscow is a fantastic scene for figure-skating providing plenty of opportunities for watching great performances, as well as practicing it for yourself. It is an ideal winter holiday for a family with kids and/or a romantic couple. One of my childhood dreams was to practice figure-skating that remained unrealized till the present.