Lubyanka and Red Square

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It is better to begin the tour at the outskirts of Kitay-gorod. Despite the name (Kitay means China in Russian and some mistakenly call it Chinatown), China has nothing to do with it – the peculiar coincidence stems from the construction of the Kremlin. In the second half of the 15th century Italian architects took part in the building of the Moscow's fortress. One story suggests that Tsar Ivan III ousted all of the artisans from the Kremlin, and the Italians called their quarters citta ("city" in Italian), while the Russians heard it as Kitay (China). Another explanation of the toponym mentions the word kita that meant a bundle of canes and poles that were originally used for wall construction.

The Polytechnic Museum stands at one of Kitay-gorod's central squares. This huge building is known in Russia not only for its outstanding collection of exhibits demonstrating technological progress, but also for its remarkable lecture halls. In early 20th century the main lecture hall used to bring together the futurists with their fiery discussions, and in the 1960s it was sold out when the Soviet poets Bulat Okudzhava, Yevgeniy Yevtushenko and Bella Akhmadulina read their poems here. Today, the building of the Polytechnic Museum is under reconstruction, supervised by the Japanese architect Junya Ishigami.
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Next to the Polytechnic Museum is the Lubyanksaya Ploschad (Lubyanksaya Square). It acquired its name from the natives of Novgorod who received Ivan III's permission to settle in this part of Moscow: they named it after one of the districts of their hometown, Lyubyanitsy. The northern part of the square is occupied by the central office of the Federal Security Service (FSB). Architect Alexey Shchusev had fashioned this building out of two late 19th century tenement buildings that stood on the spot. In the times of Peter the Great, the modern-day Lubyanksaya Ploschad was the site of the Secret Chancellery, the office of political investigations and justice. Later it was the site of the Senate's Secret Expedition, also the highest office of political oversight and investigation; one of its prisoners was the leader of the peasant revolt Yemelyan Pugachev. In Soviet times, the building first housed the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission and, later, other organisations tasked with state security.
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If you stand with your back to the FSB Building, you will see the building of the former central Detsky Mir (Children's world) store, once the largest toy store in the USSR. The building, designed by outstanding architect Alexey Dushkin, was erected in 1957 and became the symbol of Soviet Union's post-war revival. A six-year reconstruction of the store was completed in 2014: the building's main hall has been raised and today it is seven (originally six), stories high, with an observation deck on top. In the hall you can see a huge clock mechanism made by the Petrodvorets Watch Factory Raketa.

The renovated store is called the Central Children's Store on Lubyanka and, apart from toys, it offers its visitors a number of attractions. There is an interactive library and aquarium. It also offers a light show about the history of Russia and an amusement ride called Travel to Mars. The hall dubbed Magic is decorated with stained glass pictures of the old Moscow and the interactive Alice in Wonderland colouring book. The kids and their parents can ascend to the observation deck on the roof, watch a dinosaur show or spend a few hours at Kidburg – children's play area which imitates a real city where kids try out different professions.
Walking down the Teatralny Proyezd (Teatralny Passage) towards the eponymous square, you can see the Khludov's tenement house and Central bathhouse on the odd-numbered side of the street. The Russian banya (bathhouse) is one of the country's best known traditions. Bathhouses played a special role in the lives of Moscow residents. At the end of the 19th century, the most popular bathhouse was the Sandunovskie Baths (still open at Neglinnaya Ulitsa (Neglinnaya Street)). Factory owner Gerasim Khludov decided to repeat their success. He bought a land plot next to the Teatralnaya Ploschad (Teatralnaya Square) and commissioned the design from Moscow's most expensive architect Semeon Eibuschitz. Khludov wanted the bathhouse complex with its tenement building to look "fairy-like and magnificent." The design was brought to life in 1893 under the management of architect Lev Kekushev. The grand complex has an eclectic look to it: the facade is part classical Russian architecture, part Western European Baroque. Initially the bathhouse was called Russko-kitaysky, for the road of the same name. During the Soviet times it was renamed Central bathhouse, which operated until 1990s. Today there are several restaurants located in these buildings.

At the even-numbered side of the Teatralny Proyezd is the monument to Russia's first printer Ivan Fyodorov by sculptor Sergei Volnukhin, the Tretyakovsky Gates and part of the Kitaygorodskaya Wall. Beyond the gates is the Tretyakovsky Proyezd which ends at Nikolskaya Ulitsa (Nikolskaya Street).
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Up until the end of the 13th century, this was a road leading to the city of Vladimir; the street's current history did not begin until the 14th century. Nikolskaya Ulitsa (Nikolskaya Street) is one of Moscow's oldest streets and quite representative of the city's character: the shops, hotels and tenement houses of the 19th century stand side by side with monastery buildings of the 17th century. The predecessor of the first Russian university – the Slavic-Greek-Latin Academy – was established in late 17th century next to Nikolskaya Ulitsa, in the Bogoyavlensky Pereulok (Bogoyavlensky Lane), thanks to the efforts of writer Symeon Polotsky. Russia's first naturalist scientist Mikhail Lomonosov (the founder of Moscow State University) and poet and scientist Vasily Trediakovsky studied at the academy. Back in 1553, house No. 15 at Ulitsa Nikolskaya, was a print yard, which happened to be the birth place of Russia's first printed book, Apostolos. Before Napoleon's invasion of Moscow in 1812, almost every building at Nikolskaya Ulitsa housed a book shop.
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Nikolskaya Ulitsa (Nikolskaya Street) goes towards the Red Square past the Kazan Cathedral, the Resurrection Gate and the GUM department store. The numerous corbel arches of the 17th century cathedral and 16th century gates are made in "Russian Uzoroche" (patternwork) style, full of intricate forms and elaborate decorations. In the first half of 1990s both buildings were reconstructed in accordance with historical blueprints.
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Next to the cathedral is the monument to the leaders of the second all-Russian volunteer army against the Polish invaders – Zemsky elder Kuzma Minin and Prince Dmitry Pozharsky. Competition for the monument design was won by sculptor Ivan Martos; the memorial was erected in 1818. In 1931 the monument was moved to its current place from the centre of the Red Square to free the space up for military and civil parades and celebrations. The second all-Russian volunteer army was formed at Nizhny Novgorod in 1611 and brought the end to the Time of Troubles in Russia. The residents of Nizhny Novgorod and volunteers from other regions freed Moscow from the Polish invaders and sympathetic Cossack troops and put an end to the Rule of the Seven Boyars, who earlier deposed of the tsar and invited the Poles to rule in their stead. On October 27/November 6 (New Style), 1612, the troops of Pozharsky and the Cossacks of Prince Dmitry Trubetskoy on the side of the volunteer army, gathered at the Lobnoye Mesto (also known as the Place of Skulls) to make a triumphant entrance to the Kremlin. After Dionysius, the Archimandrite of the Trinity Lavra of Saint Sergius, performed the prayer service in honour of the volunteer army's victory, the victors entered the Kremlin to the ringing of the bells.
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Next to the Kremlin Wall is the Necropolis that was built in the days of October Revolution of 1917. The Mausoleum is directly adjacent: the tomb built by the architect Alexey Shchusev in 1930 is clad in black marble, labradorite stone, granite, porphyry and smalt and contains the mummified body of Vladimir Lenin – the leader of the 1917 Russian Revolution that led to the overthrow of the tsar's rule, establishment of Bolsheviks' authority and subsequent founding of the USSR.
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One of the principal landmarks of the Red Square is the 71-metre (233-feet) Spasskaya Tower. It is famous for kuranty (from French courant) – the chiming clock. Italian architect Pietro Antonio Solari, who also worked on the modern-day Kremlin, built the tower in 1491. The pavilion top and the first clock were added in the first quarter of the 17th century. The current chiming clock with a six-metre (20-feet) clock-face was installed between the tower's eighth and ninth tiers in 1851-1852. The musical repertoire of the chiming clock went through several iterations, from the Ach, du lieber Augustin (during the early days of Catherine the Great's rule) to How Glorious Our Lord at Zion (during the rule of Nicholas II), from L'Internationale (in the first years of the Soviet Russia and Vladimir Lenin's rule) to the Glory from Glinka's opera A Life for the Tsar (under first Russian President Boris Yeltsin). Today the musical mechanism of the clock performs the national anthem of the Russian Federation. In 2014 the Spassky Gate that lead to the Kremlin was opened to the public.
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Moving from the Red Square towards Alexander Garden, you can take a look at the facades of the State Historical Museum and the equestrian statue of Marshal Georgy Zhukov – a Soviet military commander, four-time Hero of the Soviet Union who reviewed the Soviet troops during the Victory Parade in June 1945.

Next to the museum and the statue is the Four Seasons Hotel Moscow (formerly Hotel Moskva). Design of the Main Hotel of the Moscow City Council that was supposed to replace the old Grand-Hotel was chosen in the beginning of 1930s through a competition. The winners were architects Oswald Stapran and Leonid Savelyev who submitted designs for a colossal Constructivist building. But the monumental look of the building did not quite fit the nearby architectural setting and another architect, Alexey Shchusev, was invited to co-author the project. In the process of construction he added some Neoclassical decorations, including the eight-column six-storey-high portico with an open terrace and arcade balconies on the main facade. The building's main facade was asymmetrical.

When construction of the new hotel began, the builders decided not to demolish the Grand-Hotel, but to raise its walls to the planned level instead. But in the process the old walls gave way under pressure and the architects were forced to reinforce the whole structure by removing some of the decorations from one of the sides and building over the windows on the lower floors.

The Four Seasons Hotel Moscow is a completely new building reproduced using Alexey Shchusev's original blueprints. The lower-floor windows were left open as envisioned in the original design.
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The Alexander Garden, one of Moscow's first public parks, laid out near the Kremlin Wall, is the location of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier – a monument to all the Soviet soldiers who had died during World War II and whose identities could not be determined. The memorial was designed by the architects Dmitry Burdin, Vladimir Klimov and Yury Rabayev and sculptor Nikolai Tomsky. Deeper into the garden, closer to the Kutafiya Tower, is an obelisk in honour of the 300th anniversary of the Romanov family, designed by architect Sergei Vlasyev.
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The oldest fully preserved building in Moscow is the Dormition (Assumption) Cathedral, built as a main Moscow cathedral by Aristotele Fioravanti in 1479. It is built in the likeness of the Vladimir Assumption Cathedral. In the late 15th or early 16th centuries the cathedral was painted by the famous icon painter Dionisius, some of his paintings survived to this day. The Dormition Cathedral for many years was the place of the coronation of the Russian tsars, even during the reign of Peter the Great, when the capital was moved to Saint Petersburg. Now the cathedral works as a museum, but sometimes the Patriarchal cathedral services are performed there.
The Kremlin's Annunciation Cathedral was the family chapel of the Moscow tsars. Inside, pay special attention to the floor consisting of sheets of agate yellow-red jasper (otherwise known as imperial jade) and to the wall frescos of Feodosy – the son and student of a famous Russian icon-painter Dionisius.
The former name of the Armoury Chamber – the Big Treasury – speaks for itself. The Armoury holds a collection of state regalia, including the famous Crown of Monomakh, which signified the royal authority, as well as military decorations, bejewelled weapons, religious vestments, the dresses of Russian empresses, golden-embroidered fabrics, harnesses and horse-drawn carriages of the 15th-18th centuries.
At the Ivanovskaya Ploschad (Ivanovskaya Square) of the Kremlin you will find the Ivan the Great Bell Tower with Uspenskaya (Assumption) Belfry and the Filaret's Annex. Construction of a bell tower in memory of Ivan III on the spot of the Church of Saint Ivan of the Ladder-under-the Bell was initiated Bon Fryazin and continued by Petrok Maly (both of them Italians). It was completed by the supposedly Russian craftsman Fyodor Kon.

The bell tower acquired its modern-day look around 1600 and until the construction of the Peter and Paul Cathedral in Saint Petersburg it was the tallest building in Russia. Around the bell tower were the courtyards and household buildings of the boyars (aristocrats) and service class people as well as the clerk offices that later became government ministries. As the Kremlin walls were losing their defensive importance, everyday life moved outside of the fortress.
The Tsar Bell and the Tsar Cannon are major tourist attractions. No one knows why exactly Empress Anna Ioannovna decided to order a 200 ton bell, but after 18 months of preparations, on November 25, 1735 the six-metre (19-feet) bell was cast. As soon as the bell cooled off, the chisellers got to work and spent the next two years decorating it. It was still in a pit, standing on an iron grate, when a big fire broke out in 1737: the wooden dome over the pit burned and, legend has it, the bell fell to the bottom of the pit, which caused a large piece to chip off. Both parts spent the next 100 years in the pit, until the engineers and architects came up with a way to get them out. The bell was never rung – it is impossible due to its weight and structural features. For the same reason no shot was ever made from the bronze Tsar Cannon, the barrel of which has a diameter of 120 centimetres (4 feet).
To get a good look at the Kremlin, walk across the Bolshoy Kamenny Most (Bolshoy Kamenny Bridge) that in the Middle Ages used to house residential houses, shops and offices. The bridge was given its modern-day makeover by the architects Vladimir Shchuko, Vladimir Gelfreich and Mikhail Minkus. The view from the bridge can be found as a sketch on the reverse of the cover of the Internal Russian passport.
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The majestic Saint Basil's Cathedral, Moscow's most readily recognizable temple, a must-see landmark for all tourists and visitors in Moscow, dominates the Red Square. It has a second name: Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat, or Pokrovsky Cathedral. Saint Basil's is not one, but nine churches with 11 domes. The church was ordered to be built by none other than Ivan the Terrible to commemorate his victory over the Kazan Khanate. The multicoloured domes, as most historians believe, were created and built in 1561 by two architects: Barma and Postnik Yakovlev. However, some argue that Barma was simply an alias of Postnik Yakovlev, and the domes were a one-man job. Yet another hypothesis asserts that the church complex was created by some unknown Italian architect. They say that Postnik and Barma (or Postnik alone) were blinded once the construction was finished, to make sure they never build something as beautiful again somewhere else. But historians will not buy this, knowing that Postnik would build the Kazan Kremlin after St. Basil's was built. Saint Basil's Cathedral has museum status. Visitors are admitted with or without a tour guide.
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Moscow's No. 1 shop, Gosudarstvennyi universalnyi magazin (State Department Store), or GUM, has always been a tourist Mecca. The spot where the GUM stands was an outdoor market during the Middle Ages and later, before Catherine II ordered a proper indoor market built here in the Classicist style in the 18th century. They put Giacomo Quarenghi, the creator of the Pavlovsk Palace and Smolny Institute in Saint Petersburg, on the case, but the building was never completed according to his design. After the 1812 fire of Moscow, the project was commissioned to Joseph Bové, the creator of the Bolshoi Theatre, the Moscow Manege and the Triumphal Arch, but the building he had designed quickly went out of date and fell into neglect. The current building of the Upper Trading Rows, which GUM used to be called, was designed by Alexander Pomerantsev, an architect famous for innovation, and built in 1893. Pomerantsev's creation came out as a classic shopping mall of the same configuration that was widespread in Europe in the 19th century, albeit in the Pseudo-Russian style. When it came to the amazing glass vaults, Pomerantsev outsourced the work to Vladimir Shukhov, an engineer of genius, the inventor of arched vaults and numerous hyperboloid structures, including the famous Shukhov's Tower at Shabolovskaya. Shukhov has built the enormous 800-ton roof, which shines in the sun and appears weightless.

The historic restroom in GUM's basement was reopened in 2012, following protracted restoration. It looks much too chic for a restroom, rather resembling a room in some nobleman's mansion. The Bolsheviks closed the restroom after the 1917 Revolution. Perhaps they considered such luxury excessive. They say that the GUM was the first shop in the history of Soviet retail to introduce a book of complaints and suggestions, but there exists no conclusive historical evidence to prove it.

Muscovites go to the GUM to have a good time, not just to shop. There are a few cafés and a cinema on the third floor. It is customary to eat the delicious ice cream, sold in the GUM, by the fountain in the middle of the shop. It is also customary to schedule dates by the fountain.

The classical ice cream, which is familiar to any Muscovite from early age, can be definitely found in GUM. The sales of this ice cream started on July 3, 1954. In the basement of the store a special ice cream workshop was opened. In the beginning, only plombir (rich ice cream) and crème brûlée were prepared there, later on some other kinds of ice cream were introduced. The workshop is still operating, people who work there thoroughly keep the recipes and the production secrets of the ice cream in waffle cups.

Some time ago in GUM there were elegant saleswomen with ice cream wagons, where you could see a lot of crunchy waffle cups with traditional flavors: rich cream, crème brûlée, cream with chocolate crisps, melon. Now you can see big kiosk in GUM, where the assortment has become bigger: along with the classical flavors you can find cherry, pistachio, and Eskimo ice cream in foil paper. There is a big line in front of the kiosks even during wintertime.
This museum of impressive proportions is a repository of the milestone artifacts of Russian and world history, from primeval times to the present. The collection holds close to 5 million items and 14 million priceless documents. The State Historical Museum, which owes its existence to Emperor Alexander III, took 11 years to be created. The building in Red Square opened to the public in 1883. It is possible to explore the whole thing in one day, but it hardly makes sense to try: there are just too many exhibits. It is believed that if you spend about one minute on each exhibit, you will need about 400 hours to see the whole collection. Visitors are advised to pay special attention to the ornate axe with the Rurik dynasty symbol, Napoleon's saber, the Codex Mosquensis II (a 9th-century Greek text of the Gospels), Blaeu's copper globe, which is taller than two metres (seven feet), crafted for Charles XI, the King of Sweden, at the end of the 17th century, and many other incredible items.
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This is Moscow's and Russia's main square, the immediately recognizable cityscape few foreign films about Russia do without. Surrounding the square are the Kremlin with its Nikolskaya and Spasskaya Towers overlooking the square, the State Historical Museum, GUM department store with multicoloured windows and outdoor café, and Pokrovsky Cathedral (Saint Basil's Cathedral), behind which there opens up a peaceful view of the Moskva River and the tranquil Zamoskvorechye District beyond. Also in the square or facing it are the Lobnoye Mesto (execution spot), Lenin's Mausoleum, the monument to Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky, the leaders of the second people's militia, which freed Moscow from Polish occupation in 1612, and a part of the Kremlin Wall with entombments of famous Soviet political and cultural figures, including Joseph Stalin and the writer Maxim Gorky.

Before the 1900s, the Red Square, the city's finest place (the Russian word for "red" – "krasny" – meant "beautiful"), was always abuzz with life. Here vendors hawked their wares, royal edicts were read out loud, the occasional public executions were staged, and the public house Pod Pushkoy by the Lobnoye Mesto, surrounded by trophy cannons, was always full. The archaeological digs conducted here yielded lots of small change, cheap glasses and human teeth.

While Red Square is still crowded most of the time, fairs are only held here during the Christmas season. Those fairs are lots of fun, with skating, the honey brew, hot pancakes and beautiful Russian porcelain. At the beginning of September, Red Square becomes the grounds of the Spasskaya Tower international festival of military brass bands, and welcomes the military parade on Victory Day, May 9. The rest of the year the square remains open to strollers, enjoying the sight of the illuminated GUM and listening to the chimes of Spasskaya Tower.