A land that lay hidden behind the Iron Curtain for decades was finally revealed in 1991. And now, twenty-one years on, Moscow is one of the greatest cities in the world – and one of the most expensive. An intriguing place of superlatives, the Russian capital is where old world meets with modernity, where decadence joins a vibrant and buzzing energy, where the rich meet with the stark remnants of communism.
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The trip must begin in Red Square. Until you reach here you won't really believe that you are in the heart of the former Soviet Union, where so much of the country's history took place. Standing on the cobble stones of this huge square is overwhelming. With the Kremlin, unseen, on one side, the GUM shopping centre on the other, you can only have the wonderfully unique and colourful St Basil's Cathedral ahead. Commissioned by Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century to commemorate a military victory, the beautiful building, complete with nine dazzling domes and spires is unmatched by any other in the world, and undoubtedly one of Russia's most famous iconic sights.
Founder of the Soviet Union, Vladamir Lenin, still rests in Red Square. Lying within Lenin's Mausoleum, a pyramid-like building made from layers of red, grey and black granite to harmonise with the rest of the square, the Father of the Revolution’s embalmed body can be visited. But be warned, the tomb is open for only three hours a day, and let's say it's not too easy to get in!
At the heart of the historic district of the city is the Kremlin, where the president officially resides. Once the residence of Tsars and Patriarchs, it is now home to Russia's main cathedrals, Assumption Cathedral, Archangel's Cathedral and the Deposition of the Robe Cathedral, as well as museums and palaces.
With the highest number of billionaires in the world, it isn't any wonder that there is a wealth of fun and games for the elite to enjoy by night, as well as day.
The world-renowned Bolshoi theatre reopened in 2011 after six years of renovation to return it to its former pre-Soviet glory. Enjoy an evening of ballet, with the polished high notes thanks to newly perfected acoustics. Afterwards, Café Pushkin is a must. Don't be fooled by the name – this is actually a five-star restaurant, open 24 hours a day – and is like walking into a Russian aristocrat's home in another era. Try the tasting menu – which includes traditional dumplings (pelmeni) and beef stroganoff – and maybe a vodka tipple and one of their many delicious desserts.
Make sure you take a trip on the metro.
Standing in a station is as grand as going to a ball, with chandeliers overhead and statues at every turn between the bustling crowds of commuters. And when you are finally ready to hit the pillow, head to the luxurious InterContinental Moscow Tverskaya for classic Russian design with a contemporary feel, inspired by Moscow’s city skyline. Just a stone's throw from Red Square, it is perfectly situated on Tverskaya, Russia's most famous street, making it the ideal base for your stay. And for such a costly city, the luxury comes at a reasonable price. Click here for more information.
Report by Miriam Foley