Jennifer Eremeeva, the author of Lenin Lives Next Door: Marriage, Martinis, and Mayhem in Moscow shares her take on the capital city of Moscow Russia which offers a wealth of traditional experiences. Take your time to explore the city, there are marvels at every turn.
1 Attend a service in a Russian Orthodox Church
Peer into the elusive Russian soul by joining a service at an active Russian Orthodox Church. Women should refrain from wearing shorts and should cover their heads with a light scarf or hat. Most churches hold daily evening services around 6:00 pm and there is no need to join for the entire service, during which the faithful stand and move around the church at will.
2 Visit Red Square at Night
Nothing captures the grandeur and magnificence of Russia’s capital better than a visit to its major public square at night to see St. Basil’s Cathedral and GUM Department Store flooded with light.
3 Take in a Cultural Performance
Moscow and St. Petersburg are performing arts Meccas! On any given night, you can enjoy ballet, opera, and world-famous classical music. Contact your hotel or travel representatives for details, or visit these sites: The Bolshoi Theater; The Mariinsky Theater ; The Moscow Conservatory ; The Petersburg Philharmonic.
4 Take a SUMMER Boat Ride on the Moskva River
See Moscow from a completely different angle as you sail up and down its primary waterway. Enjoy iconic views of St. Basil’s, the Kremlin, Moscow University, and the Church of Christ the Savoir. Pick up the boats near Kievskaya Metro Station. In St. Petersburg, see the city in a whole new way from the vantage point of a small canal cruise boat. Piers are located throughout the city’s center.
5 Go Ice Skating in Winter
Moscow boasts several skating venues, the most iconic of which is in Red Square. Quieter and a more genuine experience can be found in elegant Patriarchy Ponds near Mayakovskaya Metro station. Skate rental available at both venues.
6 Take a sauna!
The banya (sauna) holds a special place in Russian culture and everyday life. This is a great way to see Russians in their natural state, while you relax in the heated steam of the historic Sanduniy Baths. Don’t be surprised if someone offers to beat you with a bunch of eucalyptus branches! Reservations recommended.
7 Ride the celebrated Moscow Metro!
No visit to Russia’s capital is complete without a trip on the city’s sprawling public transportation system, the Moscow Metro, which dates back to the early years of the new Soviet State, and seen as one of its early tangible success stories. Churches and palaces were stripped of marble and gold leaf to decorate what Stalin called “the people’s palace.” Of particular interest are Kropotkinskaya, Biblioteka imeni Lenina, Teatralnaya, Ploshad Revolyutsii and the award-winning Mayakovskaya.
8 Get on your walking shoes and visit the Hermitage Museum.
The Hermitage is the world’s largest museum, housing great works of art from all eras, and a particularly fine collection of Old Masters and Impressionists. Plan on at least half a day to enjoy the galleries as well as the magnificent interiors of the Winter Palace, which forms part of the museum.
9 See how the Other Half Lives – the Summer Residences of the Tsars
Take a trip outside St. Petersburg to visit the opulent residences at Tsarskoye Selo, home to the Catherine Palace and the Alexander Palace, the home of the last Tsar and Tsarina. Take a hydrofoil in the summer from the center of St. Petersburg to visit Russia’s Versailles: stately Peterhof, with its world-renowned fountains.
10 Rub Shoulders with Russia’s Power Brokers – Visit the Moscow Kremlin!
Devote at least one half day to exploring the majestic Moscow Kremlin, the powerful heart of Russia’s capital and seat of its government. Inside the Kremlin Armory Museum are housed priceless historical treasures of Russia’s past, including the crown of thrones of the Russian tsars, ambassadorial silver, and Faberge eggs. Visit the Diamond Fund for the dazzling display of precious jewels from Russia’s imperial past. Cathedral Square is home to the magnificent fifteenth century Assumption Cathedral, where all Russian Tsars were crowned, and Archangel Michael Cathedral, the necropolis of Russian Tsars until Peter the Great. Buy tickets and photo permsion for all the Kremlin Museums at the Kutafya (Painted Lady) Tower in the Alexander Gardens.
Where to Stay?
The Four Seasons Hotel Moscow
Newly opened, the 180 room and suite hotel is reminscent of the legendary Hotel Moskva with 5 dining venues.
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2014/15 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.