This post contains affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase through these links. You can see my full disclosure policy here.So a few months ago, I got the chance to visit a country that I honestly thought I would never visit. Not because I didn’t want to, but because it just didn’t seem likely that it would ever become a reality. You know what I mean? This was Russia for me. It just seemed like it was in the stratosphere and I would never get there. But, I did and the places to visit in Moscow Russia were epic!
Why epic you ask?
One word answer for you. Architecture. The beautiful and unique architecture!
Russian architecture is full of color and…onion domes. Yep, that’s right. Onion domes. Interesting concept, huh? You may already know what I’m talking about, but if not, you will see them in some of the photos below. Essentially, they are the domes that are fatter in the middle than on the ends and come to a skinny point at the top.
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The Red Square, considered to be the main square of Moscow, separates the Kremlin and the historic merchant quarter called the Kitai-gorod.
The Square served as the main marketplace for Moscow, held public ceremonies and sometimes coronations for a Tsar.
You would think there wouldn’t be much mystery as to why it’s called the “Red” Square. But, the color of the surrounding buildings actually had nothing to do with how it got its name. The bricks were even whitewashed at times. The name krasnaya (Russian for “red” and “beautiful”) was given to a specific area inside the square and the Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich applied the name to the entire square.
About to walk through the arches into the Square
Looking back on the other side of the arches
Already starting with that architecture!
The Red Square is located at Red Square, Moscow, Russia, 109012
St. Basil’s Cathedral
The Cathedral of Vasily of the Blessed, commonly known as St. Basil’s Cathedral, is the most stunning building I saw while I was in Russia.
It took six years to build and was completed in 1561 under Ivan the Terrible and is now a museum.
Remember those onion domes?? Here they are!
I am just simply mesmerized by this building. It was the #1 site I wanted to see in Russia! I am amazed a lot when I travel overseas. I think it’s just because here in the US, we’re a young country and don’t have styles like this.
St. Basil’s Cathedral is located within the Square at Red Square, Moscow, Russia, 109012
The Spasskaya Tower overlooks the Red Square and is the main tower sitting on the eastern wall of the Moscow Kremlin.
Commissioned to be built by Ivan the Great, its name means “Saviour Tower” and was once the main entrance into the Kremlin.
The Spasskaya Tower is located at Red Square, 3, Moscow, Russia, 109012
Okay, so not the stuff people chew until it’s flavorless…not that gum! This GUM is actually an acronym for three Russian words that mean “Main Universal Store”.
There are lots of them around Russia, but the most famous GUM is located inside the Square and it’s a gigantic shopping mall!
They had some SERIOUS flower power lining the entrances!
Inside are countless stores and a lot of them are very high-end. It also has several restaurants and a fountain with a beautiful dome in the center!
The GUM is open daily from 10am-10pm and is located at Red Square, 3, Moscow, Russia, 109012
Colorful Arched Doors
I feel very certain that the name of this place is right here in this photo. 😉 In Russian. I tried to figure out what it was, but never could find it or translate it. However, the point of the photo is how colorful, unique, and ornate the door is!
The Bolshoi Theatre is a historic theatre that opened on October 20, 1856. Holding both ballet and opera performances, it is the world’s largest ballet company with over 200 dancers.
The Bolshoi Theatre is located at Theatre Square, 1, Moscow, Russia, 125009
Karl Marx Monument
Located in Teatralnaya Square, this is the last Karl Marx Monument in Moscow which was erected in 1961. Apparently, the communist party still holds the occasional rally here and it’s rumored there has been discussion to replace it, but as of now, it’s still there.
The Karl Marx Monument is located across the street from the Bolshoi Theatre in the Theatre Square, Moscow, Russia, 109012
The Lubyanka Building is famous because it is the former offices of the KGB. Post-KGB, it became headquarters for the Border Guard Service of Russia. It also has a prison onsite and houses a part of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation.
The Lubyanka Building is located at Moscow, Russia, 109012
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Monument to Prince Vladimir
President Putin unveiled the 56 ft (17 m) Monument to Prince Vladimir in November 2016. It honors Prince Vladimir who is credited with bringing Orthodox Christianity to Russia as well as being the founder of the state.
The monument is controversial for a couple of reasons. It interferes with the Moscow site lines and clashes with Ukraine as they, too, believe he was the founder of their state. This has deepened the rift between Russia and Ukraine.
Monument to Prince Vladimir is located in Borovitskaya Square, Moscow, Russia, 125009
The Alexander Gardens is one of the first urban public parks in Moscow. All three sections of the gardens run along the western wall of the Kremlin. Probably its most interesting fact is that in the upper garden, there is a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier along with an eternal flame.
Alexander Gardens is located right outside the Kremlin along its western wall.
Kremlin means “fortress within a city” and is the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation who is currently, Vladimir Putin.
The main entrance to the Kremlin
The Kremlin is open daily (except Thursdays it’s closed) 10a-5p and is located at Moscow, Russia, 103073
This is the back of the Troistkaya Tower, or Trinity Tower, where we entered after clearing security. Completed in 1499, it stands 260 ft (80 m) tall and its gate serves as the main entrance into the Kremlin.
Approaching Trinity Tower
A guard at Trinity Tower
The Great Kremlin Palace
The Great Kremlin Palace is the official residence of the Russian President, although it isn’t usually used as such. There are ceremonies and meetings held here, but President Putin lives primarily in Novo-Ogaryovo as well as several vacation homes.
Great Kremlin Palace is located inside the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia
Also located within the Kremlin, the Tsar Canon is a Russian monument of artillery casting art. Cast in 1586, it is pure bronze, weighs 39 tons and is 17.5 ft (5.3 m) long. The barrel’s external diameter measures 47.2 in (1200 mm) and its internal diameter measures 35 in (890 mm).
It was never used in war but does have evidence of having been fired. It is the largest bombard by caliber in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
The Tsar Canon is located inside the Kremlin across from the Great Kremlin Palace.
The Tsar Bell, or Royal Bell, was commissioned by Empress Anna Ivanovna, the niece of Peter the Great. It is 20.1 ft (6.1 m) tall, has a diameter of 22 ft (6.6 m) and has never been rung or suspended. Have to admit my first thought was why make a bell if you aren’t going hang it and ring it? I guess if I was an Empress, I would know!
The Tsar Bell is located inside the Kremlin just steps away from the Tsar Cannon.
The Cathedral of the Archangel
The Cathedral of the Archangel was built between 1505 and 1508 and dedicated to the Archangel Michael. It is located in the Kremlin right next to the Ivan The Great Bell Tower.
There are 54 burials with 46 tombstones in the cathedral. The most famous of these is the burial tomb of Ivan the Terrible.
Cathedral of the Archangel is open daily (except Thursdays it’s closed) 10a-5p and located inside the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, 103073
Ivan The Great Bell Tower
The Ivan the Great Bell Tower was completed in 1508 and built for three Russian Orthodox Cathedrals: the Archangel, Annunciation, and Assumption. These cathedrals don’t have their own bells or bell towers.
Ivan the Great Bell Tower is located inside the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, 103073
Cathedral of the Annunciation
The Cathedral of the Annunciation is also a Russian Orthodox Church and is dedicated to the Annunciation of Theotokos. It was built in 1484-1489 as part of the Grand Duke Ivan III’s renovation plans for the Moscow Kremlin.
Look! It, too, has several of those onion domes! They are so cute to me for some reason. And these are gold ones which remind me of a genie…that comes out of a bottle. Pretty sure I have my cultures mixed up here. 😜
Cathedral of the Annunciation is located inside the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, 103073
Cathedral of the Assumption
Constructed in 1475-1479, the Cathedral of the Assumption, or Cathedral of Dormition, is another Russian Orthodox church and is dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos. It is the burial place of most of the Moscow’s Patriarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Cathedral of the Assumption is located inside the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, 103073
We saw all of this in our only day in Moscow! That one day was actually a day trip from St. Petersburg so there was 8 hours round-trip travel on a high-speed train involved. This 18-hour day was absolutely worth it though!
So thankful for this day trip because I’m not sure if I will get back to Russia, but I hope to. I would love to go back and see both St. Petersburg and Moscow at night in the wintertime!
Have you been to Russia? If so, where and when did you go and what was your favorite thing to see?
‘Til next time…
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I had no idea that Moscow was so beautiful! Still not sure I want to visit, but I’m glad that you did so that you could share your pictures!
It is absolutely gorgeous! The architecture is my favorite! If you decide to go you won’t be disappointed! 🙂
Eric Gamble says
first of all, let me say that I love your pictures. You had such a beautiful day or days there cause the sky behind the amazing architecture is so clear and crisp!
That said, I love all the buildings and architecture and the colors. To me Moscow is exactly what you showcased….a land of amazing buildings. When you mentioned the GUM I was like ugh a mall but that glass roof had me actually say whoa out loud.
I think the Church of the Archangel in Moscow would be a major highlight for me too especially if you can explore the tomb of Ivan the Terrible.
Thanks Eric! I appreciate that! My photos from there are some of my top favorites but it’s because the architecture is so colorful and beautiful that it doesn’t need any help in the photography department! I’m actually not a shopper either, I just walked through to see it and found the glass roof! The history in the city is rich….EVERYthing was something you had heard of! Highly recommend going! Thanks for reading!
It never ceases to amaze me how beautiful the architecture and colors in Moscow are. Amazing inspiration to get there someday!!
Hi Meagan, it truly is incredible! Definitely need to go! Thanks for reading!
I’ve always wanted to go to Russia, I just think the architecture is so unique! You’ve captured it beautifully!
Hi Amy, thank you! So glad you liked it! Definitely visit Russia if you get the chance. You won’t regret it! Thanks for reading! 🙂
Emma | The Gap Life Diaries says
Love that you just popped there for a day trip – I guess Russia is the kind of place a lot of us will only see once in a lifetime, so despite the long trip, I definitely think you did well – and you saw SO MUCH in one day, a girl after my own heart! Agree with you that it’d be awesome to see Russia in winter though (not sure my poor little nose would agree though!)
Hi Emma! It was a later decision to do it from St Petersburg and I was like I am NOT going to miss out on what might be my only chance to visit Moscow! I like to see as much as I can! If the wind isn’t a problem and I’m dressed appropriately, I can usually do winter and love it! I just did 9 miles in 6 hours around downtown Minneapolis in the blizzard last weekend! Thanks for reading!
Mel Butler says
I went to Moscow Russia for Christmas about 12years ago and I found the place to be really interesting and fun. Also everything was covered in snow and nothing like how colourful and pretty your pictures are. I have always wanted to go back through and explore longer. You have some really good ideas on here, I especially like GUM that is the only one I haven’t been on your list. I definitely head back to the The Kremlin and The Cathedral of the Archangel. Great pictures by the way
Hi Mel, thank you!! Yes snow can prevent you from seeing all the colors for sure. Definitely go back! GUM is interesting and pretty and if you’re a shopper-heaven! I would also want to go back to see more inside the Kremlin!! Thanks for reading!
Erica Edwards says
Fantastic photos, they really make your post come to life! I’ve yet to visit Russia, but I’ve always dreamt of visiting St. Basil’s Cathedral – it’s so whimsical and wonderful! Great post 🙂
Hi Erica, thank you!! Yes, whimsical is a GREAT word to describe St Basil’s!! You definitely need to see it-hard to beat its colorful architecture! Thanks for reading!
You’ve really captured the colours of Moscow well. I’ve never seen, but from this blog post, I do wonder if it’s the most colorful city in the world. I’m amazed you managed to see all this in 24 hours, and when I finally get over there I’ll be sure to look out for the onion domes :).
Hi Chris! Moscow might be the most colorful city and if not, it’s definitely up there! I’m amazed we saw all of this in the same day too. I was so thankful! Those onion domes are something else! Thanks for reading!
Carmen Edelson says
I LOVE how bright and colorful your photos are, looks like Moscow has some incredible architectural masterpieces. What do you edit with? I explored St Petersburg more when I was in Russia so this definitely makes me want to go back.
Hi Carmen! Thank you so much! I edit mostly in Lightroom and sometimes run a couple of actions in Photoshop, but I mostly use it to resize. Moscow is awesome for architecture! I explored St Petersburg some too and I really like it also. But, I too, would love to go back and explore both of them more! Thanks for reading!
Victoria Valle says
Great post and amazing pictures!!! Let me say you; your article was super usefulness for me because I hope to go next month to the World Cup. I am excited about it. Thank you!!
Hi Victoria, Thank you! I’m so glad you found it useful and that you like the photos! Wow, World Cup next month? Super fun! You will have a great time. Hope you have extra time to see the beautiful city of Moscow! Thanks for reading!
Samantha Ruizo De Vera says
Thanks for sharing your beautiful pictures, Heather! This will be my company’s incentive trip by 2021, and I’ll be printing your shots, and paste it in my dreambook planner (for motivation purposes!) 🙂 I didn’t imagine Russia is so gorg! <3 What restaurants or food do you recommend? 🙂
Hi Samantha-That’s awesome! Russia is absolutely beautiful. I wanted to go solely based on the architecture and color to be honest and it just blew me away! As far as food/restaurants, I definitely have recs. In St Petersburg, the Russian Vodka Room is a must! Try authentic Russian dishes such as Russian mushroom and barley soup, Russian meat and pork dumplings, been stroganoff and any one of their gazillion homemade Vodka flavors! Check out my St Petersburg post for more info and photos of these 🙂 Hope that helps and that you get to go to Russia! Thanks for reading! 🙂