Between Europe and Asia, Moscow is the vital center of an empire that knows no boundaries: the Tsarist Russia, the Communist era, Putin today.
With 18 million inhabitants distributed throughout its territory , Moscow is one of the largest city in Europe. It is the political, administrative, economic and cultural center of a country that has contributed to write the history of the last century and which does not seem willing to give up the pen.
From Russia with…
The Russian empire seems bolstered by the spirit of the pioneers, the same that inspired the Cossacks, who expanded the Russian borders in search of furs to sell.
Everything that the Siberian landscapes and Asia had to offer to European buyers, passed through Moscow. The city was – and still is – the hub connecting Europe and the endless kilometres of forests, mines and fields that reach the Pacific Ocean . Russians have conquered and defended these territories “by selling dearly”, literally.
In this modern capital the glories of the communist past coabitate with modern skyscrapers in the urban skyline. Among new and and colorful buildings, the old Stalin’s towers scattered across the city reveal the greatness of its past.
In the city centre, pubs, shops, café and fast food chains, seems suggesting that you have reached just another European capital. But, apart from tourists must-go venues, churches and museums, here, if look carefully, you can get into a different atmosphere, totally unknown to Europe
What to see in Moscow?
With hundreds of Tsarist-era buildings and Cold War memories, visiting Moscow is like a jump back to the past.
Even soviet-style uniforms at Domodedovo’s airport customs (one of the main airport in Moscow) recall that atmosphere already at the beginning of the trip.
So where to start experience the real atmosphere of Moscow?
Simple: Red Square
From here you can get an overview of the city, a summary to fully grasp its historical spirit.
Try to get there in the night, when crowds of tourists are gone and the square is empty.
In this way you can fully appreciate the huge surface of one of the biggest square in the World. Its floor literally absorbed years of parades and even now that the Cold war is over and the Soviet era is gone, when walking in the Red Square it is not hard to imagine soldiers marching under the Kremlin’s walls.
If you want to have an idea of how they looked like, a great military parade still occurs every 9 May to celebrate the Victory Day.
“Lenin vs GUM, come face-to-face.”
On one side of the square, the ideology of the Soviet Era is embedded in Vladimir Lenin’s mausoleum.
How many soldiers and weapons marching on the Red Square has the father of communism seen? How many will pass again under different ideologies?
Right in front of the mausoleum, symbol of the Communist era, the great GUM mall, once a showcase of Soviet wealth and well-being, now a mere representation of consumerism and fashion.
Lenin vs GUM, Communism vs Capitalism, face-to-face from one side to the other of the Red Square. That is the kind of contrast you will notice in every corner of Moscow, but is right here, in the Red Square, that it has its most vivid representation.
Between them, at the top of the 330-meters-long square, the ancient St. Basil stands like a guardian.
The church was originally built to celebrate Russia and its people (rather than celebrating the Orthodox Christian faith).
Its shape recalls a fire rising towards the sky: a symbol of different cultures and ethnicity united in the ideal arms of Mother Russia.
Why visiting Moscow in October?
October in Moscow is unpredictable and fascinating. Everything changes from day to day and you can get from a typical late-summer day into winter: the real winter.
But October in Moscow is also full of symbolism and historical meanings.
In October 1917 the Proletarian Revolution took place, marking a turning point not only for the country, but more broadly for history. What happened after that unique revolution is part of what Russia represented historically and politically in the last century and is an important pillar of what the country is today.
In October, freezing winds start to come through Siberian forests and reach Moscow before heading to Europe, just like they did in past centuries its people and goods.
It is in Moscow, that are placed the winter gates and if you are lucky enough – even if it is just October – you might see the first snow and experience the first touch of winter.
The two “faces” – or colours – of Moscow are now visible: White and Red.