Moscow Mix: A Holiday Guide

While the rest of the world is bent on worrying about the future, Moscow has returned to its past and embraced it fully. Age-old structures seen on a Moscow holiday send visitors back in time, although the spell may be broken every now and then by the modern establishments.

The Red Square, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the stage where tsars were once crowned. It is immortalised on canvas as a vibrant marketplace, and at the height of the cold war, it was the venue for military parades. The Russian word for “red” also means “beautiful,” and taking in the sites around the Red Square, it isn't difficult to understand why. In recent years, concerts by popular musicians such as Shakira, Paul McCartney, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers have been held here.

For a good, long look at Old Moscow, plan a trip to the former home of the Russian Ruling Family, the Palace of the Romanov Boyars. Built in the 16th century, it has two levels: one adorned with masculine themes, including leather interiors and dark hues, and the other feminine, called “the room of sunlight.”

A visit to GUM, Moscow’s “State Department Store,” is a must. Although the arcades boast of products from the hippest designers, the building is more than a hundred years old, and has quite a history. What used to be one of the liveliest markets in Moscow later became the office of former Russian president Joseph Stalin’s followers. After Stalin's wife, Nadezhda, committed suicide, her body was presented in GUM for everyone to see. This was also a production house for Soviet propaganda. These days, GUM remains an architectural beauty, a sample of Russian medieval ecclesiastical style, as designed in the 19th century by Alexander Pomerantsev.

A wealth of European art, like the works of Van Gogh, Renoir, Matisse, Manet, and Gauguin, as well as other Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, is kept within the Pushkin Fine Arts Museum. The Tretyakov Gallery, on the other hand, showcases traditional Russian art. The Gorky House Museum, dubbed a “hallucinatory masterpiece,” is a spectacular example of art nouveau architecture by Fyodor Shekhtel; vivid colours, floral mosaics, and wave figures are characteristic of the interiors. The winding staircase is another visual treat.

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