Past the Pitch: Exploring Some of Russia’s Popular Cities

By: Carolina Herrera

Moscow: Places to Go


Red Square 

The Red Square is one of the world’s most famous public squares. It is considered the central square of Moscow, as Moscow’s major streets that are connected to the major highways in Russia all originate from the square. The Red Square’s origins date to the late 15th century, when Prince Ivan III, also known as Ivan the Great, wanted to expand the Kremlin in order to reflect Moscow’s growing power and influence. As an important public center and meeting place, the 16th-century St. Basil’s Cathedral, the State Historical Museum, the enormous GUM Department Store, and the modernist mausoleum for Vladimir Lenin are housed or close by to the Red Square.

Tretyakov Gallery

The State Tretyakov Gallery houses the best collection of Russian fine art in the world. The gallery is actually comprised of two buildings, often referred to as the “Old Tretyakov” and the “New Tretyakov.” The museum features masterpieces ranging from the 11th century to the 20th century. Admission is approximately $10 USD (300 rubles) for adults and $6 USD (180 rubles) for students, and visiting hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 10:30a.m. until 7:30 p.m., with the last admission at 6:30 p.m.

St. Basil’s Cathedral 

Saint Basil’s Cathedral, also known as The Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed, is a church in Red Square, and is known for its vibrantly colored onion domes. The building now functions as a museum, and its official title is the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat or Pokrovsky Cathedral. St Basil’s Cathedral was built from 1555-1561 under the command of Ivan the Terrible to commemorate the capture of Kazan and Astrakhan. It is the most iconic landmark in Russia, as it is immediately recognizable by its unique bonfire-style design. Admissions into St. Basil’s Cathedral will set you back around $3 USD (100 rubles), and it is usually open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., except on the first Monday of the month.

Cathedral of Christ the Savior 

Located along the bank of the Moscow River and only a few blocks away from the Kremlin, The Cathedral of Christ the Savior attracts tourists from all over the world for its impressive architecture, design, and history. The cathedral was initially built to commemorate the Russian victory over Napoleon in 1812 and to honor the soldiers who sacrificed their lives fighting against him. Over a century later, in 1931, Stalin had the cathedral “dynamited to make room for his Palace of Soviets project–an ambitious skyscraper that never materialized.” As a result, in 1958, the site was then transformed into the Moscow pool, one of the largest public swimming pools in the world. It later closed in 1944 and in its place, the cathedral was rebuilt in 1997. Visitors are welcome to come anytime from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m., however, it is important to not that the Cathedral of Christ the savior is an active church, so it is important to respectful of worshipers present.

Moscow Kremlin 

Just off the Red Square, sits The Moscow Kremlin, a fortress located in the center of Russia’s capital, overlooking the Moscow River to the south, Saint Basil’s Cathedral and Red Square to the east, and the Alexander Garden to the west. The name “Kremlin” means “fortress inside a city.” It is known for the kremlins, Russian citadels, and serves as the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation. One of the major highlights in The Kremlin is the Armory Palace, one of the city’s oldest museums. Prior to being converted into a museum, the Armory Palace was originally the Russian arsenal where weapons were produced and stored. It was turned into a museum during the early 1800s and currently showcases Western European, Asian, and Russian weapons and armory, as well as several collections of work from goldsmiths, silversmiths and jewelers. Admission to the Kremlin is about $10 USD (300 rubles) and includes access to all the churches inside. Additionally, admission to the Armory Palace will be another $11 USD (350 rubles) in addition to the admission fee to the Kremlin.

Saint Petersburg: Places to Go


Hermitage Museum and the Winter Palace 

The Winter Palace was, from 1732 to 1917, the official residence of the Russian monarchs. Today, the restored palace forms part of a complex of buildings housing the Hermitage Museum. The Hermitage Museum was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great to house her private art collection. It is noted that the palace was constructed on a monumental scale that was intended to reflect the might and power of Imperial Russia. In 1852, it was opened to the public, and since then it has been one of the largest and most interesting museums in the world. More than two million visitors come every year, and the museum is one of the main reasons that travels visit St. Petersburg. A one-day ticket is about $18 USD and a two day ticket costs $26 USD. You can purchase tickets online in order to avoid the very long line at the ticketing office. The museum is closed on Mondays, but it is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood 

The ornately decorated onion domes and the breathtaking mosaics inside the Church draws crowds to the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, one of the main attractions in St. Petersburg. As a tribute to his slain father, Alexander II, who was assassinated by a group of revolutionaries, Alexander III commissioned the construction of the church in 1883. Travelers rave about the beauty of the church , and say that the church is small, which allows visitors to tour the inside of the site in less than an hour. The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is open on Thursday through Tuesday from 11:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.; however the ticket office closes at 6:00 p.m. Since the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is no longer an active church, the admission fee is approximately $10 USD (300 rubles).

St. Isaac’s Cathedral 

In the early 1800’s, Alexander I ordered for the construction of St. Isaac’s Cathedral, which was completed in 1858 after 40 years of construction. It is the largest orthodox basilica and the forth largest cathedral in the world. It is dedicated to Saint Isaac of Dalmatia, the patron saint of Peter the Great, who was born on the Saint Isaac’s feast day.  The cathedral survived Nazi shelling in World War II because the dome was painted over in gray to avoid attracting attention from an enemy aircraft, and the cathedral even briefly served as a museum of atheism under the Soviet regime. Admission into the cathedral will cost around $10 USD (300 rubles). Visitors are welcomed from Thursday through Tuesday from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. during the summer and from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 pm starting from October to April.

Peterhof Palace and Garden 

The Peterhof Palace is a series of palaces and gardens located in Peterhof, Saint Petersburg that was commissioned by Peter the Great. The palaces and gardens are sometimes referred as the “Russian Versailles,” and it is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Admission ranges between $10 and $30 dollars ( or about 300 rubles to 520 rubles) depending what exhibits you see. Nevertheless, visitors says that the experience, most notably the gardens, is worth it.


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