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Moscow Students' Guide
Everything to know about staying awhile
Table of Contents (jump to)
- Consumer Goods
- Internet, Computers, Phones, Post
- Short Trips from Moscow
- Longer Trips From Moscow
1. Maps (back to top)
- SRAS Google Map of Moscow is marked with uni locations.
- Bolshoi Gorod has a very cool Moscow map and guide.
- Yandex Maps are Russia's more accurate answer to Google maps.
- 2GIS is a free, downloadable map that seems to be favored by many Russians.
2. The Weather (back to top)
Moscow is a city of weather extremes. Winters often drop below zero for three to six weeks, so pack warm. It also snows quite often, creating ice and dirty sludge, so you should bring a good pair of hiking boots with traction. Summers in Moscow average about 80 degrees in July. Summer can also be quite wet, as can fall and spring. Bring an umbrella.
3. Restaurants (back to top)
- Where Students Go: SRAS has launched the Students Abroad Project to let you know which restaurants are specifically within a student budget.
Traditional Gone Pop:
One of the great things about Moscow is that you can easily try food from all over the former USSR at very reasonable prices. Yolki Palki
(both Russian), Kish Mish (Uzbek), Shesh Besh
(Azeri), and similar restaurants with funny names offer inexpensive buffets and entrees. MuMu
is particularly recommend for those on a budget - it has decent food at some of Moscow's lowest prices. For some amazing and amazingly cheap Russian pirozhki, we highly recommend Stolle
. Excellent Georgian food (friendly to both carnivores and vegetarians!) can be had quite inexpensively at Dzhon Dzholi
. For great Uzbek food, try Chaikhana
, a chain of comfy cafes. Ever wanted to actually try salo? We tried it at Korchma
, a reasonably-priced chain of Ukrainian restaurants, and actually liked it! The Pushkin Café
serves exquisite Russian food in an atmosphere recalling the glory of Czarist times. It's one of Moscow's upscale cafes, so this might be a place to try once - if only once.
Some SRAS Favorites:
One of our all-around favorite places to eat is Kulinarnaya Lavka Bratya Karavaevi
, a new chain that offers hip atmosphere and delicious, surprisingly cheap food. Grabli
is another cafeteria-style chain; its a bit more expensive than MuMu
but offers a near-shocking assortment of very good food to choose from. You should also not leave Moscow without trying Russia's homegrown fast food chain, Teremok
, which serves great blini, pelmeni, kasha, and soups and is better than McDonald's any day...
For Music: Kitaisky Lyotchik
(aka Dzhao Da) features local and European bands with reasonably priced drinks and covers. 16 Tons
is more expensive, but also gets in some bigger names from time to time.
- For Sports: BarBQ is an exapt hangout in central Moscow that shows English and American Football and major basketball and baseball matches. If you have a special request, the management may be willing to tune one of the several bigscreens TVs to the match that interests you most.
For the Homesick: Starlite Diner
, open 24 hrs, is an old expat favorite featuring American food - burgers, milkshakes in metal mixers, and pancake stacks. Moscow is also dotted with numerous TGI Friday's
and other American chains.
- Coffee: The two big chains in Moscow are Kofe Khaus and Shokoladnitsa, both of these have improved considerably in recently years and now have decent breakfast specials in addition to ok coffee and ubiquitous locations. Coffee Bean is a slightly hipper and less ubiquitous choice. Starbucks now has several locations in Moscow, mostly in upmarket locations. Kofemania has good coffee, but at prices that make the chain worth avoiding...
For the Brew:
Craft brews are now starting to catch on in Moscow, with several places featuring large selections. Try for instance, Craft Republic
, Vse Tvoi Druzya
, and Beer Market
. Try Khamovniki
, a bar on the premises of the Khamovniki beer factory, which produces one of Russia's lesser-known, but better-tasting domestic brews. Across from Kosmos bowling, Khamovniki offers good, cheap beer, Russian-style billiards, and a primarily Russian crowd. The outdoor seating is nice in summer. Pyaty Okean
brews on-premises and pipes it directly to you; the microbrew flows from two taps (light and dark) at each table (how cool is that?). A meter measures your drink and subsequent bill. A semi-formal nautical atmosphere, good food and classical piano are probably what keep this from turning into a beer brawl.
Eating and Drinking Soviet Style: Zhiguli
is a revived Soviet standby on New Arbat. The have very reasonable prices and they play live music, usually Soviet retro, at night in the back hall. Varenichnaya
looks like a Soviet answer to Applebee's. They serve traditional Russian/Ukrainian foods in an atmosphere drenched in Soviet nostalgia – with old issues of Pravda and Soviet-produced domestic goods all over the walls. There are still a few Soviet-era eateries around as well. See Blini
, and Pelmenaya
for near-museum eating experiences.
Vegetarian in Moscow: Jagannath
has an all-vegetarian and partly-vegan Indian and Asian menu, plus a shop that sells spices, soy products, rice flour, specialty teas, etc. Viet Café
has tasty vegi-friendly Vietnamese fare. Addis Ababa
has delicious Ethiopian food that is also great for a small group. Ganga Cafe
is another vegetarian and vegan friendly place. Avocado
also offers all vegetarian food with fresh ingredients in creative dishes. See also this article
and this older article from SRAS
4. Groceries (back to top)
- Hard-to-Find Food Items: Most expats eventually crave things like peanut butter, maple syrup, Betty Crocker mixes, and other things which have largely not entered the Russian diet and are therefore rare finds in Russia. Azbuka Vkusa and Stockmann are upmarket grocery chains that generally specialize in imported goods and might have what you might be looking for. Of course, if you want import goods, expect to pay import prices...
- Vegetarian Food Items: If your Russian is good, try Happy Vegan, an internet shopping services for all your vegan needs in Moscow. The Perekrestok located in the Chinese-themed Druzhba Shopping Center (Metro Novoslobodskaya, Novoslobodskay Ul., 4.) is a good spot to get tofu and ingredients for Chinese food. The entire complex is Chinese-owned, as is the very good restaurant (also called "Druzhba"), at the far end of the complex. Indian Spice Market (M. Sukharevskaya, Sretenka Ul., 36/2) has spices needed for vegi-friendly eastern dishes. If you are feeling more adventurous than wealthy, try this page for a list of places to buy budget-friendly vegetarian groceries. Be warned that most of places listed are not easily accessed by metro.
- Kosher: Please check out our Guide to Jewish Moscow!
- Halal: Many stores do have halal meat if you look and many kebab stands are also halal (meat and stands will have labels if they are). At Metro Taganskaya, there is a shopping center with a number of stores catering to Muslims. It is located at Таганская, д.40, стр.2, ТЦ "Радуга." Scarves/undercaps/bonnets/henna are less expensive there than they are at regular stores catering to the general population.
- Organic Produce: Lavka Lavka (5, Susalnyi Nizhnyi Per., Building 10) offers fresh, local, organic milk, meat, fish, and produce. They have several locations and a delivery service. Izbenka is a chain of stores specializing in organic dairy products.
- Anything you want for really cheap: Rinoks are your friend. Know them, love them; they are Russian and you will miss them when you go home. They are, however, a bit of a dying breed as they are being demolished as unsightly by the city authorities for being, they say, unsightly, hard-to-police, and dangerous. A couple that are still around and specializing in food are Lefortovskii and Danilovskii.
5. Consumer Goods (back to top)
- Antiques and Souveniers: The best place to buy these is Vernisazh, located at Ismilovsky Park, at Partizanskaya metro station. Click here for a map. Go into the side entrance flanked by wooden spires. The place will be full of westerners and collectors looking for good deals.
- Clothing: Red Square is now littered with high-end retail at GUM, which is worth a look, but you'll find better prices just outside Red Square, near Tversakaya St., at Oxotnyi Ryad, a three-story underground mall with more realistic pricing. For the bargain shopper, try the Familiya chain, which specializes in cheap clothing, usually from brands you won't recognize. You might also try Usachevskyi Rynok (23 Usacheva Ul. Metro Sportivnaya) which is particularly good for heavy coats and winter boots and has basically everything else from food to plumbing supplies as well.
- Books in Russian or English: Dom Knigi on (Novy Arbat, 8) and Biblio Globus (Myasnitskaya Ul., 6/3) are the main meccas for book worms in Moscow. Most large bookstores in Moscow also offer English-language sections, though it is often limited to classic literature and language-learning resources. If you are looking for books in English, the easiest fix will likely be to just download Amazon's Kindle App for your phone. Downloads for it work in Russia. Ozone.ru is Russia's version of Amazon, although if you are living in the dorms, you may have trouble arranging delivery.
- IKEA and Shopping Malls: Moscow has several large malls. The largest chain of these are appropriately named MEGA and are run by IKEA, which has a location at each mall. These are some of the best places to go for cheap bedding, furniture, and kitchen needs. You'll also find everything from electronics (Media Markt), to everything you need for serious home improvement (OBI) among clothing stores and foodcourts. Go on a weekday to avoid the crowds. Other major malls include Metropolis and, near Moscow State University, is the Kapitolyi Shopping Center.
6. Internet, Phones, Computers, Post (back to top)
For more information on bringing and using electronics in Russia, please see our Packing Guide and our Post and Phones Guide.
Mobile Phones: SRAS students on regular SRAS programs in Moscow will be given a mobile phone for use during their time in Moscow. Anyone else can easily purchase a cheap phone and a pay-as-you-go SIM card in any Evroset store (including those located in every Moscow airport and train station) for about $50.
- Internet Cafes: As personal computing devices and free WiFi become more commonplace, Internet cafes are becoming rarer. However, a few are still to be found, even in the capital.
Diskont is a chain of Internet cafes with locations throughout central Moscow.
Playground.ru is an Internet cafe, but is mostly frequented by gamers who come for the opportunity to play computer games against each other or to try out the latest releases. It's located inside the Tishina Shopping Mall at Tishinskaya Square, 1, near Metro Belaruskaya.
- Free WiFi: For WiFi users with their own laptops or tablets, Moscow has plentiful free WiFi locations. The connection tends to vary from location to location and often there is a limit to how long you can stay logged on for at any one time. A few chains that offer WiFi in most locations include McDonald's, Kofe Khaus, Shokolodnita, Il Patio, Starbucks, TGI Fridays, and Starlite. You can generally stay as long as you want in any of these places. City hotspots now include Gorky Park, Sokolniki Park, and most of the Moscow Metro.
- Paid Wireless Data:
Yota is currently the best option for dedicated wireless internet. You can pick up the modem for about $30-50. After that, you pay a flat fee for a month based on the maximum traffic speed you choose. $5-10 per month will be plenty for most people.
The major cell phone providers offer fairly cheap modems and 3G services. You'll need to buy a modem at any Evroset location for a minimum of about $20 and then can sign up for data package for about $5-15 per month. However, note that students have complained about the coverage around the main MGU dorms. Ask around for what other students in your sector are using now.
- Repair Services: If you find you need laptop repair services while in Moscow, several of our Russian acquaintances have recommended SP-Service.ru for speed, quality, and cost. You'll need to speak Russian with them. Apple users can contact MacCentre for assistance.
- Post: The main post office (in the Tsentralnyi Telegraf building) is located on Tverskaya St., 7. It's open from 8am to 10pm daily and offers stamps, envelopes, postcards, and other mailing services. For packages, etc. there is also a DHL office in this post office (tel: 956-1000). More on post services in Russia.
7. Banyas, Haircuts, Laundry, etc. (back to top)
- Banyas: During the summer, all Russian cities turn off the hot water (communally provided) for pipe maintenance. It is usually off in Moscow for 7-10 days. As an alternative to cold showers or bathing out of pot (the two major options available), find a banya (bathhouse) and have a cleansing, cultural experience. The most famous in Moscow is the Sandunovsky Baths (14 Neglinniy St, 3-7; Tel: (495) 625 4631). It's best to go as a group because you have to rent a full room that are generally meant for at least 4-6 people. Note that towel rental, bedsheet rental (you wrap yourself in this while sitting in the bath), is extra - as are extra servcies for things like tea, etc.
- Haircuts: Most students end up going a whole semester in Moscow without a haircut. If you really want a hairdresser that speaks English, go to Expat Salon, where they specialize in cuts for American and British CEOs and other affluent types. You can also try a more reasonably priced but still fairly expensive place like MONE (there is a location in the Kapitolyi Shopping Center near MGU). These sometimes have a stylist or two that can speak a little English. Or, if you are looking to practice your Russian and hold onto your pocket book - try any building marked "салон красоты" or "парикмахерская" and try out some new vocabulary.
- Dry Cleaners: Diana is the largest chain of inexpensive dry cleaners in Moscow (though not of the highest quality). See their site for pick-up points (in Russian: Приемные пункты). You might also try Contrast Cleaners, which is more expensive, but offers an English-language website, dry cleaning and laundry, and a delivery service.
- Charitable Giving: Giving is not as easy as in the US. The most convenient drop-off point in Moscow is the International Women's Club, who then distributes the items to charities. Check their site for operating hours (which are very limited). See our Google Map for instructions on how to get there. Miloserdie, run by the Russian Orthodox Church, is similar to the Salvation Army in America. However, they only offer one out-of-the-way drop-off location in Moscow and you will probably need speak Russian to go through the process to donate.
- Hobbies: Students looking for art supplies, crafting materials, specialty sporting equipment, or almost anything else should check out Gorod Khobbi (3, Shelkovskoe Shosse, Building 1, Metro Cherkizovskaya). For art enthsiasts, WinZavod (4th Syromytnicheskii Pereulok, 1, building 6), a wine-factory-turned-artistic-community-center has a well-stocked shop on site as well. For art lessons (in Russian) see the Anna and Yuri Mirakov Master Gallery.
- More Cool Stuff to Do: Pick up a copy of The Moscow Times while in Moscow - see particularly the arts section and community section.
8. Health and Fitness (back to top)
Find out more about general health, saftey, and insurance issues in Russia from our guide.
- The Water: You may drink the water in Moscow. However, the mineral content of the water is actually visible and most westerners remark that it tastes funny. Bottled water can be bought fairly cheaply in most stores. Larger supermarkets and any appliance store will also sell water filters.
- Allergies: Sufferers of allergies should be aware that Moscow contains many poplar trees (apparently they were Stalin's favorites), creating "snowstorms" of little white cottony seeds (Russians call it "pukh") in spring. Late April and early May is usually the peak season for alergins. Bring hay fever medication if you think you will need it.
- Doctors and Dentists:
The American Medical Center offers doctors and nurses that speak English and they accept the insurance that SRAS students are issued. They are located at 26/6 Grokholsky per., and are open 24 hours a day. Click here for a map. Office visits are about 200 USD. Reach them by phone at 7 (495) 933 7700 or e-mail.
Global Medical System (GMS) offers doctors and nurses that speak English. Any procedure that cannot be billed directly to the insurance that SRAS students are issued can be reimbursed. The are located at 9, 2-ya Yamskaya str in Moscow near Marina Rochina Metro Station. +7 495 781 5577
The American Dental Clinic offers English-speaking, American board certified dentists in Moscow at 1st Tverskaya-Yamskaya St., 5. Reach them by phone at 7 (495) 730-4334 or by email.
Unimed Laboratories are recommended for any blood tests you might need, including HIV, for your visa or other reasons. They are located at 4th Dobryninsky lane, 4 and can be reached by phone at 7 (495) 785-1025 or 931-9976.
MosItalMed is Italian run and does not speak English, but is considerably cheaper than those clinics they do speak English. An office visit costs around twenty dollars. Arbat Ul., 28/1, Str. 1.; Tel: 7 (495) 956-1767 (medical) 956-6095 (dental). You may reach them by email too.
European Medical Center offers doctors and dentists that speak a range of langagues (including English) at 2nd Tverskoi-Yamskoi Pereulok, 10. Reach them at 7 (495) 933-6655. A general practitioner office visit is around 170 Euro. They offer dental services at Konushkovskaya Ul., 34. Call 7 (495) 797-6767 for an appointment. A dentistry office visit is around 100 Euro and a cleaning around 300 Euros.
- Chiropractor: Moscow Chiropractic is run by Dr. Charles Register, an American. His office is at Zubovski Bul., 13, the second door on your right coming from the metro. He works Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Reach him by telephone at 7 (495) 234-9656 or 202-6587 or by email.
- Eyeglasses and Contacts: Lensmasters has several locations in Moscow now. They can sell you disposable lenses, cut glasses, etc. If you know your prescription, no doctor visit will be needed. If you don't, then they can test you. Ochkov.net is Moscow's largest retailer of contact lenses and related supplies. Find them just off Tverskaya at Malyi Palashevskyi Per., Tel: +7 (495) 587 95 95; +7 (800) 100 95 96.
- Pharmacies: We recommend bringing a supply of any needed medications with you. However, if you need something, look for the international symbol of a green cross (or the word "аптека"). If you are looking for specific medication, try looking it up on Wikipedia in English and then clicking on "Russian" in the language menu on the left panel (the names are often very different). You can look up which Moscow pharmacies are currently carrying your medication at Aptekamos.ru if you can operate the site in Russian. Some larger pharmacies (which carry more prescription meds) can be found at:
- Pharmakon, Ul. Tverskaja 4, Tel 292 08 43, 292 03 01 (Most central)
- Drug Store House, 4th Dobrininsky pereulok, 4 Tel 237 40 34 (same building as Unimed Labs - see "Doctors")
- Litpharm, Ul Tschernjachovskogo 4, Tel: 155 87 88, 155 70 80
- Sana, Ul. Nischn. Pervomaiskaja 65, Tel 464 12 54
- Gyms and Pools:
Lata-Track Outdoor Sport Complex rents bikes, balls, etc. in the summer and skis and snowboards in the winter for use on its fairly large facility (though there are few hills of any note, be warned).
Chaika Fitness Complex offers Moscow's best pool as well some aerobics classes, tennis courts, massage, and other facilities. Plus, it is very convenient to MGU, MIRBIS, and MGIMO. They offer student discounts as well.
Planeta Fitness is one of the most reasonably priced chains in Moscow.
Orange Fitness is quite popular - prices are higher, but it is well-equipped.
Other gyms: World Class Fitness; Gold's Gym; Dr Loder's; Sportline.
- Dance and Yoga:
Many gyms (see above) also offer dance and yoga classes. There are also several places in Moscow specializing in such lessons. Galla Dance is not far MGU and MGIMO. Main Stream is located on the same metro line as the universities and specializes in hip-hop, funk, and jazz. Lotos offers student discounts. For serious yoga, try Yoga.ru - a massive network of yoga studios. All of these options will likely offer classes in Russian only.
| Study Abroad
9. Theatre, Movies, and Music Concerts (back to top)
Russia is known for its performing arts. Take advantage and see all that you can. Tickets can be purchased at the theatre or concert hall itself or from a reseller such as Kontramarka
, or Ponominalu
, which allow you to reserve tickets pick them up at location near you or even have them delivered. The Bolshoi
makes tickets available one month in advance and sells out quickly. Plan your visit in advance if you want to get in. For an extended list of theatre recommendations, see Theatres in Moscow
Movies in English:
You can find movies in English (we do not recommend our students spend a lot of time at these places) at The Dome
(for new release Hollywood films), and 35mm
(for international art-house films). There is also The Pioneer
, a beautiful Soviet-era theater that shows a mix of Hollywood and art-house. For other options see the listings in The Moscow News
10. Transportation (back to top)
For more on public transportation in Russia, see our Guide to Public Transport.
- Unified Tickets: Moscow now has a unified ticket system for public transportation. You'll use the same ticket to ride the bus, the trolley, and the metro. Rides run between 60 and 35 cents, depending on how many rides you buy at once. There are also two types of tickets you can get. Generally, we recommend the "Edeni," which is the standard option, and getting lots of rides all at once (which gives you a better value). These cards are good for three months and you'll certainly use 60+ public transport rides durring you study abroad. Note that the other type of card is the "90-Minute Ticket," which allows you to buy one ticket, use it to "check in" and then you can get on the metro, transfer to a bus, then to a trolly, etc. all for the cost of one ride (so long as you do it within 90 minutes). However, that ride is, of course, more expensive than the Edeni option so if you don't consitantly use multiple transport types, the 90-Minute option quickly becomes more expensive per use. These are really meant for couriers who spend all day riding around the city - not people that just need them to get from one place to another.
- The Metro: Not only does Moscow's subway effectively transport a few million people every day, it also contains some of the city's best architecture. The Metro is open from about 6 am to 1 am every day. It has a clickable flash map online that will calculate your estimated travel time. You can also download an app that will do the same thing on your phone. Timing is pretty easy on the Moscow metro in your head, though: allot 5 minutes per station en route, and 5-10 minutes per change of line. This system averages out well enough to nearly always be on time. See also this unofficial but interesting site in Russian on the Metro and its history.
- Bikes: Moscow now has a city bike system called VeloBike - with locations around the center of the city where you can pick up a bike from an automated rack using your bank card. You can then return the bike to any other rack location. You can also rent a bike via a number of businesses including two near MGU: Kant and Rentals on Sparrow Hills. Other options include Kruti Pedali, Velosite, and Titan. Biking enthusiasts can also find like-minded locals via the specialized social networking site Katushkin.ru.
- Buses: Rusavtobus.ru provides bus schedules for Moscow. Just click on the map they provide to select your starting and ending destinations. The site will then calculate which metro lines, buses, trams, and/or trolleys to use. Keep in mind that above-ground transport in Moscow can get caught in traffic jams and should really be used for short trips to and from the metro.
- Marshrutki: Those small yellow or white mini-vans that you see at bus stops are marshrutki. In Moscow, they usually cost about 30 rubles for most routes. For more on marshrutki, see our Guide to Public Transport.
- Taxis: Short trips in Moscow can be had for about 100 RUR, longer trips for 600, a trip to the airport will generally run you 1000-1500 rur (it depends on type of car, how much luggage you have, etc.) - if you pay much more you probably got ripped off. For more, see our Guide to Public Transport.
XXL Taxi is one of Moscow's best values for taxis. +7 (495) 995-82-94
Taxi 921 is fairly cheap and generally reliable. +7 (495) 921-92-13
"Bombili" (bombers) are what Russians call the swarms of unlicensed taxis have typically roamed their cities. Expats, for some reason, usually refer to them as "gypsy cabs." Today, with better regulations settling in and with apps like gett.taxi and uber becoming active in Russia, gypsy cabs are becoming rarer, but can still be easily found. However, we do not recommend these as they are not legal and can pose obvious safety concerns. It's quite easy now to get a licenced taxi in Moscow now.
- Boats: River boats can cruise you around the city via a scenic route during the summer for about thirteen dollars and have snacks, beer, and sodas available for sale. Highly recommended.
- From the Airport: All regular SRAS programs have airport transfers included for SRAS students. For anyone looking to get independently from the airport to Moscow, take a look at these options.
11. Religious Services (back to top)
- International Christian Assembly Phone: 7 (962) 933-35-81
Hours: Sunday from 11am to 1pm for our English-speaking International worship service.
Location: Yunost Hotel. 34 Khamovnichesky Val, 1 minute walk from Metro Sportivnaya
- Russian Orthodox Church of St. Catherine
Hours: Saturday (at 5 p.m.) and Sunday (at 10 a.m., confession starts at 9 a.m.) in Slavonic, and in English the last Saturday of every month. There are English-speaking priests to minister to the needs of English speakers.
Location: 60/2 Bolshaya Ordynka (Metro Polyanka)
- Adventist International Church Phone: 7 (903) 277-9404
- 10:30 a.m. each Saturday, including classes English and Russian
- translated worship service follows at 11:30 a.m.
- Fridays at 7 p.m. is Praise Service
Address: Nagatinskaya Ulitsa 9/3; Metro Nagatinskaya
- International Christian Fellowship Phone: +7 (906) 093 4801
Hours: 11:15 am each Sunday
Address: Nikoloyamskaya ulitsa, 1, 3rd floor, metro Taganskaya.
- Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy (MPC) Phone: +7 (499) 143-5748
Hours: Every Sunday at 3:00 p.m.
Address: St. Andrew's Church, Voznesenskiy Pereulok 8, near metro stations Arbatskaya, Okhotny Ryad, and Pushkinskaya.
- St. Andrew’s Anglican Church Phone: 7 (495) 629-9889; 629-0990
- Sunday: Morning Prayer at 8:00; BCP Holy Communion at 8:30; Adult Education at 10:00; Sung Liturgy at 11:00 Sunday School and Creche available at 11:00 services
- Wednesday: Eucharist at 19:00 followed by Bible Study from 19:30 – 21:00
- Thursday: Classical Music Concerts [PDS] every Thursday night in aid of the church's restoration fund.
- Morning Prayer weekday mornings 8:30 (excluding Saturdays)
- Evening Prayer weekday evenings at 18:30 (excluding Thursdays and Saturdays)
Address: St. Andrew's Anglican Church in Moscow is situated at Voznesensky Pereulok d.8/5 (Pushkinskaya Metro).
- Latter-Day Saints (LDS, Mormons) Phone: 7 (964) 538-3725
Address: Strominsky Pereulok # 6 (Sokolniki Metro)
Hours: Worship service 9:30 am on Sundays
- Salvation Army Phone: 7 (495) 911-2600
Address: Khlebnikov Pereulok, 7., Bld 2
- Catholic Masses at Our Lady of Hope Parish Phone: 7 (499) 243-9621
- 7:00 pm Monday - Friday Daily Masses (English Mass)
- 6:00 pm Saturday and Sunday (English Mass)
Address: Kutuzovskii Prospekt 7/4, Korpus 5, Entrance 3, Apartment 42 (Metro Kievskaya) at the following times:
- Catholic Masses at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral Phone: 7 (495) 785-5434
Hours: Sunday Mass at 12:15 is a Bi-Lingual English-French Mass
Address: 27 Malaya Gruzinskaya Ulitsa (Metro Krasnopresnenskaya).
- International Judaism
The ‘Expat’ Jewish community serves the needs of Expatriate Jews, from many backgrounds, including representatives of the international media, businessmen, educators, diplomats and their families. Offers Shabbat Dinners and regular activities. See our Guide to Jewish Moscow.
Location: 2nd Vysheslavtsev pereulok, 5a
Jummah (Friday) Congregational Prayer takes place at Dhuhr time. (In the winter usually around 12.30, but see salat/namaz calendar for specifics.)
Each of these places has a women's section. Classes in Arabic and basics of Islam are offered many Sundays (informally) as well as many days of the week. Go to each mosque to learn more. Prayer is offered almost exclusively in Sunni-style, though at the Prospekt Mira mosque, Shia-style prayers are offered at Shia prayer times too.
Hijabi sisters should be aware that unlike in the States, where it is mostly swarthy men with beards who are seen as terrorists, in Russia, white women with hijabs are seen as possible terrorists. Women from the Caucuses are the ones who have committed acts of terrorism in Russia. That said, there are a surprising number of appearantly white Russians with Tatar roots and whose parents or grandparents are nominally or practicing Muslims. This makes for more acceptance than you would sometimes expect.
- Metro Prospekt Mira (Вторая Московская Суннитская мечеть / Московская соборная мечеть)
This is the historical mosque located near the Olympic Stadium. There is a halal produkty and several Islamic shops there. The mosque is currently under construction, so prayers are in a warehouse-type building. Sisters pray inside. Brothers pray inside, and if there is not enough room, outside as well. (It is highly recommended to bring your own pocket janamaz/prayer mat or else a plastic bag or something for the ground, because it can be cold and there can be snow. There are also plastic-bag sellers who will sell you one if you forget.) Wudu facilities are near the halal shop. The sermons are conducted in Russian + Arabic or Tajik + Arabic or Azerbajani + Arabic. Do not be surprised if you do not understand the sermon because it's probably not in Russian. Be aware that there is security here, and you will probably have to go through metal detectors and be patted down (sisters too) before entering for jummah. (For regular namaz, there is no such metal detector security.) This is similar to the security for Sundays at the Church of Christ the Saviour. If you do not know where to go, just follow the stream of Muslims coming out of the Metro. This is by far the most popular mosque in Moscow, and if you ask any Muslim where the mosque is, this is the one they will tell you about.
- Metro Park Pobedi (Мемориальная Мечеть на Поклонной горе)
This is a very beautiful mosque located in Park Pobedi. It is called the Memorial Mosque and is about a twenty minute walk from the Metro. Sermons are in Russian. For regular namaz, sisters have the top two floors. For jummah, they have a space on the main floor (accessible through the door to the left of the outside steps.) You must request a key for wudu facilities from inside the mosque. There is also a little shop with very nice Islamic artwork as well as a selection of books. There is no security with the pat-downs or metal detectors. There were police officers on horses standing nearby though.
- Metro Novokuznetskaya (Первая Московская Суннитская мечеть)
This is small but centrally located. Sisters' room is downstairs. Many many people come here for maghrib/asr/dhuhr during the day as well as it is conveniently located. Wudu facilities are very nice. There are two or three small shops with prayer mats and other Islamic goods as well as a halal produckty shop.
- Metro Shelkovo (Мечеть Имама Равиля)
This is rather far away on the Metro, at Советская 10.
12. Museums (back to top)
This is a small sampling of Moscow’s plethora of museums. If you are interested in taking guided excursions to any of these locations (or have requests for others), you may contact the museum directly (they usually have guides on staff that can speak English or Russian) or contact SRAS about arrangements. You should keep in mind that many of the smaller museums in Moscow tend to keep odd hours, and change them at will. You should call ahead to make sure your location will be open when you arrive.
NOTE: Many Moscow museums are open for free on the third Sunday of every month. This site gives a full listing (in Russian) of those museums participating.
NOTE: Click on the titles for more info!
Must Sees! (back to top)
The State Tretyakov Gallery
(Lavrushinsky per., 10; M. Tretyakovskaya; Tel.: 231-13-62)
This is Moscow’s largest and most famous collection, started when the great Count Tretyakov gave his massive collection to the state. Open daily except Monday from 10 to 8pm (kassa closes at 6:30). The nearby special gallery occasionally hosts very interesting exhibitions of everything from icons to Shagal. Call to see what Many complain that this gallery tends to show mostly portraits of Russian aristocracy who, many times, were not Russian, painted by painters who were also not Russian. For a more art-centered museum, see the Puskin.
(Lybyansky Proyezd 3/6; M. Lybyanka, Kitai Gorod; Tel: 921-9560)
They took the building Mayakovsky once lived and worked in, gutted it (save the small room he once lived in) and filled it with a profusion of colors, futurist structures, original manuscripts and photographs and other exhibits, which combine to make the visitor rather feel as if he is taking a stroll through Mayakovsky's bizarre and futurist brain! The museum is a real experience and shouldn't be missed!
Central Armed Forces Museum
(2, Ulitsa Sovietskoy Armii; M. Novoslobodskaya; +7 (495) 681-48-77)
This has all of the top end goodies from WWII - big deal trophies from every battle, including Zaitsev's rifle from Stalingrad and the eagles from the Reichstag rooftop. The great hall has all of the trophies from the Victory Day parade, including all of the Nazi battle standards laid on the ground next to their positions on the giant photo of them being laid at the foot of Lenin's mausoleum. At the end, you walk into the back courtyard to massive collection of military equipment from jets to tanks to rocket launchers. Admission is cheap, there's a cheap guide with English translation for each battle hall, and the folks who work there are wonderful. Every couple of years they reprise their "Hitler's Private Office" exhibit of stuff from the Berlin bunker.
The State Gulag Museum
(16 Petrovka ul; M. Kuznetsky Most; +7 495 621 73 10)
Run by a Gulag survivor, this interactive museum tries to take you inside the Gulag with sound, sight, theatrical experiences, and more.
(M. Biblioteka Lenina, Aleksandrovsky Sad; Tel.: 921-4720)
Definitely worth a visit and be sure to bring your student card for a significant discount. There are always tons of tour groups, so you can listen in on several different guides, if you don’t want to pay for one yourself. There are always tons of intellectual-looking Russian outside who will tell you in perfect English that you cannot enter the facility without a guide (they are lying and will overcharge you for the experience). Located near the Armory is the Diamond Fund (tel.: 229-20-36), where a collection of precious stones and Russian jewelry, golden and platinum nuggets is displayed. It is somewhat pricey to get into this exhibition (no student discounts).
The Mausoleum was built in January 1924 to preserve Lenin's body. Lenin's coffin was brought from the village of Gorki, where he died, on 23 January and placed in the Hall of Columns of the House of Unions for people to pay their last respects. The same night the architect A. Shchusev was instructed by the government to design and build a temporary mausoleum near the Kremlin walls in which the body would remain until the funeral, which was fixed for 27 January. Shchusev wandered around Red Square for a long time, and by sunset the design for a wooden mausoleum was prepared. It was in the form of a cube (a symbol of eternity) with a height of three meters. The contemporary Mausoleum was erected in Red Square in 1930 replacing the wooden mausoleum. Lenin's body, with its face uncovered, was placed in a glass sarcophagus, and thousands of people filed past each day.
Victory Park and the Museum to the Great Patriotic War
(M. Park Pobedii - can't miss it)
Construction on this complex actually began just before WWII ended. The museum is a massive collection of arms, uniforms, propaganda and social history pieces from the war, and some interesting tributes to Stalin (the “Great Commander”). Unfortunately, all information is in Russian, so you may need a guide. The new park was finished in time for the 50-year celebration WWII. Makes for interesting stroll (or rollerblading - bring your own skates) and on summer weekends you can play “count the brides” due to the Russian tradition of visiting war memorials on your way from the cathedral.
(M. Sportivnaya - Exit Metro and turn right. Walk until you see the monestary. The cemetary is at the back.)
Here lies Gogol, Shostakovich, Kruschev, Tupolov, Mayakovsky, Chekov, Bulgakov, and many, many others amongst impressive headstones. Exit Metro Sportivnaya and follow Luzhnetsky prospect to Novodevichy Convent, turn right and follow the wall. You will be charged a small admission and can (recommended) buy a map of the famous graves.
Quirky but Interesting (back to top)
The Metro Museum
(Inside M. Sportivnaya; 3rd floor - past the militsya stand, up the stairs; Tel: 222-7309)
Dedicated to the history of the Moscow Metro, this is small and all in Russian, but has displays where you can take a picture of yourself (if you pay the extra photo fee) getting “run over” by the metro or driving one of the trains. The old guy that takes care of it will turn on the little cut-away model that shows you how the escalators work.
The Water Museum
(Sarinsky pr-d, 13; M. Proletarskaya; Tel: 276-92-13)
Shows the history of Moscow’s water system. A mecca for those who still wonder why the city shuts off their hot water for a month every summer to “clean the pipes.”
(B. Gruzinskaya, 1; M. Krasnopresnenskaya; Tel: 255 5375, 253 6367, 252 3580)
Mayor Luzhkov, with all of his resources, finally decided to put some money in the Moscow Zoo. Doesn’t seem to have had much affect on overcrowding in the cages, but the entrance is clean and impressive, and there are more things to spend money on.
Museum of the Lend-Lease Program
(Zhitnaya Ul., 8; M. Oktyabrskaya; Tel: 238-75-89)
A small group of Russians organized this small museum in a public school as part of the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII. The thing that makes it interesting is that the Land-Lease Program, hailed by western history textbooks as major contributor to that victory, is understated (if mentioned) in the Russian. This museum is one-of-a-kind here.
Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines
(Baumanskaya Ul, 7; M. Baumanskaya; Tel: +7 (916) 167 19 25, +7 (926) 576 62 08)
Here you can see about 30-40 fully-restored, Soviet-era arcade games - all those on display are in full working order and you can even play some of them. Admission will run you just over $10, but include 15 tokens to play the games on display!
Art (back to top)
The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts
(Volkhonka str., 12; M. Kropotkinskaya; Tel: 203-79-98)
While the massive reproductions of Egyptian and Greek art are a bit over-blown, this is our favorite museum of art. A good collection from ancient Russian art to a couple of Chagals and a Picasso on permanent exhibition.
Some of Moscow’s most beautiful art and architecture is underground! Chances are you will see many of the nicer stations in the center without having to make a special trip, but you might want to make a point of visiting all of the stations on the ring line, as these are especially impressive.
The Tsaritsyno Museum
(Dolskaya Street, 1, "Tsaritsyno" or "Orekhovo" M Orekhovo, Tsaritsyno, Tel: 321-07-43)
This museum displays antique furniture and ceramics, and a fine collection of modern paintings.
The Andrei Rublev Museum of Early Russian Culture and Art
(Andronyevskaya Square, 10; M. Ploshchad Ilyicha; Tel: 278-1289). On display are the icons of Moscow's school of the 15th to 16th centuries, sculptures of the 12th–17th centuries, copies of frescoes. An affiliate of the museum is located at the Church of the Intercession (ul. Novozavodskaya, 6; M. Fili; Tel: 148-4552) which displays the icons of the end of the 17th century painted by the Tsar's craftsmen.
All-Russia Museum of Decorative-Applied and Folk Arts
(Ul. Delegatskaya, 3; Tel.: 921-0139, 923-1741, 923-7725)
The State Museum of Oriental Art
(Nikitsky bulvar, 12;, M Pushkinskaya, Arbatskaya; Tel: 202-4555)
Art Complexes (Urban Revitalization)
(4th Syromytnicheskii Pereulok, 1, building 6)
This former wine factory is now an artistic community center hosting some of Moscow's most cutting-edge art as well as film showings, concerts, art lessons, and the largest crowds of Moscovite-bohemians to be found anywhere.
(Bersenevskaya Embankment, 6)
This former chocolate factory is now a complex of trendy bars and cafes, galleries and show rooms, designer and consignment clothes shops and more. Nothing here is cheap, but everything is cool.
Flacon Design Factory
(Bolshaya Novodmitrovskaya ulitsa, 36 строение 2)
Flacon opened in 2009 on the site of a former glass factory in central Moscow. It calls its a "creative cluster" and hosts festivals, workshops, and several shops for the creatively-minded.
Contemporary Art Galaries
The following gallaries are considered to be the most prestigious show rooms in Moscow among today's Russian artists (list contributed by E. Varshavskaya)
Stella Art Gallery
(Skaryatinksy Per., 7 and Mytnaya Ul., 62; Tel: 495-291-3407)
Marat Guelman Gallery
Marat Guelman, Curator
(Malaya Polyanka Ul, 7/7, apt. 5; Tel: 495-238-8492)
(Fax: 495-238-4040 Email: email@example.com)
Aidan Salakhov, Curator
(10th Tverskaya-Yamskaya Ul., 22, 3rd Floor; Tel: 495-251-3734)
(Fax: 495-250-9166; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Elena Selina, Curator
(Podkolokolny Per., 16/2; Tel: 495-917-8508)
Laboratory of Conceptual Design (ARTStrelka)
(Bersenevskaya Emb., 14 - on the site of the Red October Chocolate Factory; Tel: 495-621-3317)
Gary Tatintsian Gallery
(Ilyinka Ul., 3/8, str. 5 - enter from the courtyard Tel: 495-101-2102)
Anastasia Matyushina, Director
(1st Zachatievsky Per., 10; Tel: 495-201-4475)
History (back to top)
Red Square, Lenin Mausoleum, the Cathedrals of Basil the Blessed and the Intercession
(M Okhotny Ryad, all located on Red Square)
Lenin Mausoleum keeps odd hours. You will have to just go and see if it is open. The square is blocked off during “visitation” hours. Visiting “Dead Lenin” is a strange experience, not one that every one enjoys. If you are one of those people that sense “negative energy,” you will sense it here. Luckily, Stalin has been tucked away in the wall, or it would really be eerie. Talk still goes on about whether or not to bury Lenin, so, if you want, see him now. It could be anyone’s last chance. The churches are interesting and Basil the Blessed is that big, colorful, domed building you have seen acting as the Kremlin “poster child” for years.
State Historical Museum
(Red Square, ½; M. Okhotny Ryad; Tel: 292-8452)
A general collection of exhibitions from ancient to modern times in Russia. Affiliates of the State Historical Museum are located in unique 16th–17th century buildings. These are Red Square, tel: 298-3304); Palaces in Zaryadye (ul. Varvarka, 10, metro "Kitai-Gorod”, tel: 298-5018); Krutitskoye Podvorye (ul. Krutitskaya, 11, metro "Proletarskaya”, tel: 276-9256), Novodevichiy Convent (Novodevichiy Proezd, 1, metro "Sportivnaya", tel: 246-8526, open 10.30-5.30, except Mondays); "Izmailovo" estate (the metro "Izmailovsky Park", tel: 367-5579).
The Kuskovo Estate
The Kuskovo Estate is one of the most beautiful palace and park ensembles in Moscow. The estate and the lands around it belonged to Count Sheremetev at the beginning of the 17th century. The ensemble, together with the palace and park, was designed by architect Karl Blank.
The Museum of Modern History
(Ulitsa Tverskaia, 21; Tel.: 299-54-58)
It is one of the world’s biggest museums of modern history. The way of life in Russia during the last 150 years is exhibited here: days of peace and war, the greatest revolutionary events of the XX century. Many collections of the fund have no analogues - personal belongings of statesmen and political figures of the country, paintings, sculptures, numismatics and a scientific library.
The Museum of the History of Moscow
(Novaya Ploshchad, 12; M. Lubyanka; Tel.: 924-84-90)
A unique collection of artifacts detailing Moscow's history since ancient times to now.
Museum-panorama "Battle of Borodino"
(Kutuzovskyi prospekt, 38; M. Park Pobedii; Tel: 148-19-67)
Gives a few exhibitions and a very interesting panorama painting of the battle, which is viewed with sound effects and narration playing over loudspeakers.
Literature, Theatre and Music (back to top)
The Palace-Museum of Serf Art in Ostankino
(1st Ostankinskaya Street, 5; M. VDNKh; Tel: 283-4645)
This is a brilliant monument representing the classic architectural style of the 18th century, as well as to once common-practice of serf theaters (rich counts kept serfs as professional actors, scene builders, etc., when the serfs were freed, these “kept” actors turned professional and helped found Russian theatre practices).
If you don’t know Bulgakov (Master & Margarita, Heart of a Dog, etc.) go find his books immediately. Then, take note that many of the sites mentioned in Master & Margarita can be visited in an afternoon’s walk. Start with Bulgakov’s apartment near the Mayakovskaya metro station. It has recently been turned into a house-museum with a live “Behemoth” strolling the premises. Then walk over to Patriarch’s pond for an image of the opening scene of Master & Margarita.
The A.A. Bakhrushin State Central Theater Museum
(Ul. Bakhmshin; M Paveletskaya; Tel: 233 44 70)
This is one of Russia’s largest repositories of exhibitions and materials on theatre history. They host seminars on theatre history occasionally and other events.
Tolstoy Museums (there are a handful)
First, at Tolstoy’s estate-museum, you can see the writer’s Moscow home, including paintings of his family and the bed he slept in. Ask the babushkas to play the audio recording of him playing with schoolchildren. (Ulitsa Lva Tolstovo 21; M Park Kultury; (095) 246-9444). Second, at the Tolstoy Museum, see original manuscricpts, first-edition prints and more artifacts. (Ulitsa Prechistenka 11; M. Kropotkinskaya; (095) 202-2190). Lastly, the true Tolstoy fan will not want to miss a day trip to Yasnaya Polyana, where his ancestral estate has been kept preserved.
Russia has tons of these preserved apartments, estates, and houses which also house things like original works, first-edition prints, and other gems from the famous people who lived in the residences. These sometimes host special performances, concerts, and lectures. You will also probably find babushkas that have worked there for ages and can tell you lots of interesting facts. Here are a few that may be of interest, if you don’t find what you are interested in, you may contact us for more options.
(Old Arbat, 53 M. Arbatskaya).
Memorial House of F. Shalyapin
(Novinskii bulvar, 25; Tel: 205-62-36, 252-25-30)
Scriabin Memorial Flat
(Ul. Vakhtangov, 11)
The Glinka Museum of Musical Culture
(Ul. Fadeyev, 4; Tel.: 972 3237)
(Leontyevsky Pereulok 6; M: Pushkinskaya; Tel: 229-2442)
The Chekov House-Museum
(Ulitsa Sadovaya-Kudrinskaya 6; M. Barrikadnaya; Tel: 291-6154)
Religious/Architechtural (back to top)
Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed
(Red Square; Tel: 298-33-04)
The “poster child” of the Kremlin, now fully restored to its early-medieval glory.
As you leave M. Sportivnaya, follow Luzhnetsky prospect till you get to the big Convent wall. Inside you may visit one or two of the cathedrals (depending on where they might be doing repairs). Much has been restored in the last few years. If you can catch a service, you will enjoy the women’s choir. See the cemetery connected with it
The Alms-house of Count N. Sheremetev
(Sukharevskaya .ploshad, 3; M. Sukharevskaya; Tel: 921-08-06)
(Andropov Avenue, 39; M Kolomenskaya)
This architectural and historical preserve built in the 16th-17th centuries used to be a village residence of the Russian Tsars (Peter the Great spent his early years here – you can see one of his old houses). The museum is famous as an outstanding example of 16th-century tent-roof architecture, as the home of The Church of the Ascension (1530-1532) and for interesting samples of the Russian wooden architecture brought here from different regions of Russia. This is also the location of a yearly “Honey Festival” and Maslenitsa celebrations.
Science and Technology (back to top)
Memorial Museums of Astronautics
(Prospekt Mira, 111; M VDNKh; Tel: 283-79-14, 283-18-37)
If this is a subject that interests you, think about taking a day trip to “Star City,” the command center and main training hall for Russian astronauts.
(Leningradskii prospekt d.80, k.11, Sokol subway station; Tel: 120-05-20)
This is a very fun hand-on, interactive science museum.
(57/1 Vavilova st.; Metro Akademicheskaya; 783-2253)
One of Moscow's best science museums. This takes you through ecosystems and evolution with lots of big, colorful exhibits.
Moscow State University Museum of the Earth (Geology)
(Inside the Main MSU building at Sparrow Hills; M. Universitet; 939-29-76)
Vernadsky Geological Museum
Moscow's oldest museum.
(ul. Mokhovaya, 11, k. 2; Tel: 203-53-87)
(Profsouznaya St., 123; Tel: 339-15-00)
Whether you just had a childhood thing for dinos or mammoths or are really into paleontology, you will certainly enjoy a visit to this well-designed museum. Ask about any courses or seminars. Many of them are mainly for kids, but it might be good language practice anyway.
(M. Shabolovskaya) s
This television tower is the largest built under the Soviets. There is a viewing platform at the top.
(26 Prospekt Mira; M. Prospekt Mira; Tel: 280-6765)
13. Short Trips from Moscow (back to top)
Yasnaya Polyana and Tula
Yasnaya Polyana was the home of Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (1828 – 1910). He strove for simplicity on his estate where he quietly wrote most of his greatest works including War and Peace. He is still revered locally as a man who loved children, told great stories, and used his personal wealth and talents to improve the economy of the local village and create educational and cultural opportunities for its residents. Today, the simple, beautiful site of his former home and present grave is a state preserve and sacred ground to many.
Yasnaya Polyana is about 30 minutes from Tula, the main benefactor of Tolstoy's generosity. Tula is known for many things first, the phonetic dialect and old-style literary vocabulary sets its residents apart from most of Russia. The city is also known where one can get the best (and often most ornate) pryaniki – or Russian spice cookies. Tula is the birthplace of the Russian samovar, legendary metal smiths, and arms makers. In 1702 Peter the Great awarded the famous Tula smith Nikita Demidov with metal-rich land in the Urals. The Demidov Dynasty that was created left a huge imprint on the city's economy and history. The 275-year-old Tulsky oruzeinii zavod (Tula Weapons Factory) is still in operation and Tula is where the AK-47 was designed and tested by Mr. Kalashnikov. Tula's Kremlin hosts a large museum of weapons showing everything from semiautomatics to Mongol-era arms.
Sergeev Posad, sometimes still known by its Soviet name "Zagorsk," is the former religious capital of Russia and offers beautifully restored architecture, as well as a taste of what smaller towns in Russia are like without having to head too far from Moscow. See this student review of a trip to the city.
Abramtsevo was once one of Russia's most influential art centers, and helped cultivate many of Russia's most famous movements and artists. It still houses a multitude of museums for the fine arts and the folk arts.
Borovsk hasn't changed much in the last couple centuries. Passed over by railroad development plans and Soviet industrialization plans, the town became a museum relic depicting its own 19th century image, from a time when merchants used the river to harvest wealth from Russia's profitable trade routes. It is thus perhaps ironic that the city is now a darling of the Internet. Posted pictures and discussions of the work of local mural artist Vladimir Ovchinnikov are proliferating almost as fast as Ovchinnikov's murals, which are rapidly painting the town in its own history.
Rostov Veliky (The Great)
Located on the shores of Lake Nero, Rostov Veliky is one of the oldest towns in Russia, tracing its roots back to 862 AD. The town has a long history of rebellion, and many of its inhabitants (including women who dressed in men’s clothing) went on to fight other principalities and invading armies. The city played a critical role in Russian history, having been a major site of siege and revolt against the Mongols in the 13th and 14th centuries, and the birthplace of some of the most influential leaders and clerics of the early Russian state. The earthen ramparts and 17th-century stone walls surround a medieval city. The Kremlin, unique in its architecture and dating back to 1162, is also where you will find the town's hotel.
Tver is over 800 years old. Its rich history dates back to Prince Vsevolod of the Big Nest, who built, in 1182, a fortress at the confluence of three rivers: the Volga, the Tvertsa, and the T'maka. The famous Prince Mikhail of Tver (1271-1317) played a significant role in the unification of Rus' against the Mongol-Tatars. The present layout of Tver is connected with Catherine the Great and Rostrelli, the most famous of St. Petersburg's architects, who incorporated many of his ideas for the construction of St. Petersburg in rebuilding the city after the disastrous fire of 1763. Tver's clear and rational design is a unique example of architecture and city planning. Tver boasts a philharmonic orchestra and several theaters as well as one of the richest picture galleries in European Russia. Tver also boasts historical, local lore, and literary museums.
Known as Russia’s “third capital,” for it’s long-standing economic importance. It was the first city to privatize industries after communism and is today one of the most prosperous per capita in Russia. Also: the birthplace of writer Maxim Gorky and the town of internal exile for famed dissident Andrey Sakharov. Both men have special museums here now.
Vladimir / Suzdal
Suzdal was long sort of a repository for churches and monasteries, and an extraordinary amount can be seen here. Suzdal was also largely untouched by development, making it fabulously rural. Vladimir, while less interesting, still offers a lot (and is where the train station serving both cities is located).
Kursk is today most famous for the Battle of Kursk (WWII). Following their disastrous defeat at Stalingrad during the winter of 1942-43, the German armed forces launched an offensive in the East known as Operation Citadel on July 4, 1943. The climax of Operation Citadel, the Battle of Kursk, involved as many as 6,000 tanks, 4,000 aircraft and 2 million fighting men and is remembered as the greatest tank battle in history. Kursk is, in fact, ancient, however. First mentioned in written record in 1032, as a fortress of Kievskaya Rus, it joined the Moscow state at the beginning of the 16th Century and developed as a center for trade and industry. The history of the city is reflected in its architecture and historical monuments.
Yaroslavl was officially founded in 1010 by Prince Yaroslav. Before that, it was a small but growing trading post inhabited by pagans who worshiped a sacred bear. According to legend, Yaroslav rode into the village, killed the bear with his axe and thus subdued the city. Today, the fabled site of the ceremonious killing is marked by a large stone monument and the city's emblem features a bear and an axe.
Located along the banks of the Volga and Kotorosl rivers, the city was long an important commercial center. After being declared the capital of its region in 1218, the first stone buildings were built, although none of them survive today. By 1463, Yaroslavl was usurped politically by Moscow, and it was never to regain its former power, excepting, perhaps, for a brief period in the 17th century when it was temporarily made the capital of Russia after the Poles and Lithuanians captured Moscow. Yaroslavl was one of Russia's and Europe's largest trade centers in the 16th and 17th centuries. The wealthy merchants who inhabited the city vied with each other to build bigger, better, and more modern churches. The large population of skilled craftsmen they brought to the city experimented with architectural and artistic styles, establishing the town's famous collection of frescos on mythological, historical, and religious themes.
The historic downtown area was planned on romantic ideals, with streets radiating from major points, which, in Yaroslavl, usually means ancient churches. Yaroslavl offers more than 20 churches dating to the 12th century. Most of the architecture, however, dates from the 16th and 17th centuries, boasting porticos and courtyards, all surrounded by a near-ponderous array of parks and monuments. Today, the city is large enough to host several theatres (including the Volkov, one of Russia's oldest), a major circus, concert halls, and museums. Furthermore, Yaroslavl is quickly becoming a modern city, with comfortable hotels and inviting restaurants. However, it retains a loose, sleepy feel due to its structure and relatively small population.
Located on the beach of majestic Lake Pleshcheevo, Pereslavl (sometime known as "Pereslavl-Zalessky") offers beautiful and quintessentially Russian vistas, shrouded in legend and mystery. Founded in the 12th century, Pereslavl's well-fortified ramparts are still visted by tourists and legend says that the most famous Russian military leader, Duke Alexander Nevsky, credited with defeating the Mongol Hoards, was born here. A monument to him marks the front of Spaso-Preobrazhensky Sobor, a light cathedral dating from the city's founding. Near the lake's beach to the right of the city is the famous Blue Stone, a mysterious rock that may have once been a meteor. Current folklore says that the Blue Stone has healing power, so people keep coming to touch it. Nearby there are also the fabled “Varvara Springs,” which are also supposed to have healing powers. For a taste of true Russian village life and the "old way of living," a trip to Pereslavl is highly recommended.
Voronezh marks the center of the famous Black Earth Region. Officially founded over 400 years ago, and at least 300 years older than that, Voronezh is the cradle of the Russian Navy: here, on the Voronezh River, Peter the Great built Russia's first fleet. Voronezh gave birth to G. Shelekhov, a merchant and navigator who founded the first settlements in Russian America. Under Stalin, the great poet Osip Mandelshtam lived in Voronezh in exile. Other notables include: Semyonov-Tyanshansky, the explorer of Central Asia and President of the Russian Geographic Society; Nobel prize-winner academician N. Basov, one of the founders of quantum physics; composer G. Svirldov; and artist I. Kramskoy.
Ryazan was once a trading and defensive center of the Grand Duchy of Ryazan. In 1365 and 1379, it was burnt by Mongol-Tatars, and then rebuilt in its same strategic position on a hill overlooking the Oka River. It was conquered by Moscow in 1521. The city is perhaps best known today as the birthplace of psychologist Ivan Pavlov and where the poet Sergey Esenin married the dancer Isadora Duncan. The Russian Art Museum exhibits pictures from painters like Aivasovsky, Korovin, Sarian, Serov, Venezianov & others. The concert hall is a center for classical music. Twelve beautiful churches here are fully restored and full of ancient valuable icons. Not far from the town are the Monastery of Ioan Bogoslov (circa 15th century) and the Solotcha Convent (circa 12th century).
Gzhel is the name of the oldest and most famous Russian ceramic center which is situated at the distance of some 50 km south-east of Moscow and known since XIVth century as a home of potter’s production. Gzhel is also the name of a village in this area and this name is applied to the beautiful artistic porcelain and majolica ware made there.
The Museum of Decorative, Applied and Folk Art
This museum is the only one of its kind in Russia, with a large and diverse collection of works of Russian applied and folk art. The collection contains more than 65,000 exhibits dating from the XIV century till the present time. Russian folk art is represented by items made from wood, birch bark, metal, ceramics and clay.
14. Longer Trips from Moscow (back to top)
The following locations will take a bit more time to get to (more than the 9 hour train trip of the short trips above). However, as it is possible that you will never be this close to them again, it is worth considering the trip. Russia is a big place - but travel by train is relatively easy, cheap, and recommended! It is a Russian tradition. Travel by plane is also an increasingly easy option.
The city’s main tourist attraction is Stalin’s WWII war bunker, built several stories under the old Mayor’s residence. Beyond this, however, the city produces much of Russia’s spacecraft (see the museum!) and boasts an interesting blend of old Russian and German architectural styles as well as a handful of ultra-modern buildings, which serve as a sign of the city’s growing economy. Also worth mentioning are the city’s very friendly people and growing nightlife.
In the late sixteenth century, the Volga region was still largely untamed, greatly hindering the trade possibilities. A series of fortresses along the river was therefore constructed, and several towns subsequently grew up around the protection of the fortresses. One of these towns was Saratov, founded in 1590. After several Cossack raids and three Peasant Revolts (16th -17th Centuries). Catherine the Great sought a larger and more stable population for the area and invited hundreds of peasants from her native Germany to settle along the Volga. Saratov became the capital for this effort. Although most of the Volga Germans were deported to labor camps in Siberia and Kazakhstan in the anti-German frenzy that accompanied WWII, the city of Saratov still maintains a distinctly German feel, and attracts enough German tourists that Germany maintains a consulate here. Saratov is also the city where Yuri Gagarin studied and lived, and the location where his rocket crash-landed after his trip to space. Today there is an extensive Museum dedicated to him, his life, and the near-mythology the Soviets built around him. There is also an impressive monument marking the site of his landing. In Saratov you can also see the Radishchev Fine Arts Museum (the famous artist lived here).
Formerly known as Stalingrad, Volgograd should be on the bucketlist of every student interested in modern Russian or Soviet history. A solemn but reverent air of respect hangs over the city. Long a small military garrison, then a rapidly growing center of commerce and transport, Volgograd is best known to Russians and foreigners alike as the site of the bloodiest battle of the Second World War. Today, Volgograd is an industrial city and transport hub with the Volga River as its heart - and has several museums dedicated to WWII.
Kazan, a majority Turkic and Muslim city just 500 miles from Moscow, was a regional capital of the Golden Horde Empire in the 15th and 16th centuries. When Russian Tsar Ivan the Terrible conquered this strategic rival on the Volga, the event was celebrated throughout Russia by a wave of cathedral building, which includes Moscow’s St. Basil’s and many others, often known as "Kazan Cathedral." In an effort to consolidate his new political power, Ivan first asked to marry the Tartar princess Suyumbika, a beauty whose troubled life had already seen her married to three Mongol Khans. Legend states that she agreed only after Ivan burned the city’s main mosque (the Kul Sharif, now rebuilt) but only if he built a tower taller than the enormous mosque and complete it in a week. When the “impossible” task was completed, she then threw herself off it. Unfortunately for the tower, its foundation was not secure and it now leans slightly (194cm). Ivan also secured the Muslim Kahn’s conversion to Orthodoxy and built the Russian-designed Annunciation Cathedral (1562) on the territory of the Kremlin in an impressive 10 years. Today, Kazan is the capital of Tatarstan, one of Russia's oil producing regions. Although tensions still exist, the city is known as a culturally tolerant "Gateway to the East" along the Trans-Siberian with a unique mix of Russian Orthodox churches standing near mosques, markets that sell Russian and Turkic staple foods, and, of course, an incredible mix of people.