Russia’s capital city is culturally rich, very green and…. HUGE! Inspired by the traditional Russian wooden doll, here is an organised and original way of exploring some of Moscow’s essential wonders.
Biggest Matryoshka: Modern Moscow
Start off by skimming the surface of the Russian metropolis. The best way to move around is the metro – the second biggest in the world. You will soon notice Russia’s new rich and, if your bank account allows it, you too can feel like an oligarch for a day (or just a couple of hours!). The lavish shopping malls like GUM and TsUM, the shamelessly expensive Tverskaya Street, the yachts down the Moskva river and the casinos and clubs will annihilate your savings in a blink: no wonder Moscow is considered the most expensive city in the world!
Middle Matryoshka: Soviet Moscow
After a pricy and superficial taste of modern Moscow, dive deeper into the city by exploring its Soviet past. Communist USSR is very much present in Moscow’s Stalinist architecture, its most important monument being the Lenin Mausoleum, where you can pay homage to the embalmed father of the Russian Revolution. The ex-KGB headquarters and the Red Army Theatre are just a couple of the many enormous and sober buildings reflecting the authentic Socialist Realism. For some Soviet (and non-Soviet) art go to the famous Tretyakov State Gallery.
Get that typical red-cheeked Soviet face by tasting the various vodkas, the Limonnaya (lemon) and the Pertsovka (red pepper) in particular. Put on an ushanka military fur hat with a red metal star, try a few moves of the traditional kazachok dance and there you are, an exemplary Soviet comrade!
Smallest Matryoshka: Tsarist Moscow
Your most precious matryoshka tour will take you further back in time to the fairy-tale “Mother Russia”. Have a long walk around the impressive Red Square; visit the Kremlin – the fortress that has always been the centre of Russian power, and the magnificent St Basil’s Cathedral with its colourful domes and gold plated icons. Feel like a tsar for a day: invest in a precious (fake) fur coat (and if you are visiting Moscow in the winter you will definitely need it!), get in one of Moscow’s restaurants for the typical bliny (or pancakes) with black caviar and sour cream on the side and read Pushkin’s poems. In true aristocratic spirit, add a spoonful of marmalade to your strong, black Russian tea coming from a silver samovar, while outside huge snowflakes cover the majestic Bolshoi Theatre. Stroll down the Old Arbat area, once the home of artists and artisans, where you can still breathe the bohémien air in its romantic cafés, old-style mansions, many museums and souvenir shops. And if you are wondering what souvenirs to take back home, your best option is this: a happy, red-and-gold matryoshka!
A guest post by Nazeli K. Kyuregyan.