48 Hours in Moscow, Russia with Volga Dream

by | Jan 11, 2019 | Russia, Wanderlust Travel Diary | 0 comments

There is no doubt that Moscow is the symbol of Russia and its eclectic mix of buildings represent a political power that goes back 850 years. This is just one way to spend ’48 Hours in Moscow’ the last stop of my simply life-changing travels through Russia with Volga Dream and Cox and Kings from St Petersburg, (you can click here for my ’48 Hours to St Petersburg’ post) through Rural Russia along the Volga River to the cosmopolitan and dazzling Moscow. Today this Russian city mixes ancient monasteries with everything associated with an exciting European capital to preserve its national cultural traditions and yet embrace the changes that are sweeping through Russia. 

Kazan Cathedral, the State Historical Museum, Moscow

Red Square

kremlin red square moscow russia
the kremlin from red square moscow russia

Where else can you start your visit to Moscow than Red Square? Stepping onto Red Square never ceases to inspire and I’ll never ever forget it. With a large area of cobblestones, that is surrounded by architectural wonders, it’s truly unforgettable.

In old Russian ‘krasny’ was the word for ‘beautiful’, and Red square absolutely lives up to the original meaning of its name. It’s just incredible to stroll across a place where so much of Russian history unfolded. Now it is recognised throughout the world for its mighty military parades however nothing could be further from that austere sight than the lively atmosphere of thousands of tourists all trying to capture the contrasts of the stark mausoleum of Lenin, the irresistible profusion of colours of St Basil’s Cathedral and the grandeur of the department store called GUM.

State Historical Museum, Moscow

The unmissable red-brick palace with its silver roof, towering opposite St. Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square, houses the State Historical Museum that is one of the main sightseeing attractions of the Russian capital. Designed by V.Shervud, this Museum was built to commemorate the national history and traces the development of Russia and its people from ancient times to the present day.

GUM (ГУМ) Department Store

ГУМ moscow

State Universal Store or GUM was a general name given to the main department store in cities in the Soviet Union but of course this one is the most famous and a must-see! The largest and most over-the-top shopping destinations in Moscow is 242m that runs right along the east side of Red Square and contains about 200 foreign and Russian shops selling everything from designer label clothes, luxury goods and foods. Our guide told us her story of queuing as a child to buy the simplest utilitarian clothes in Soviet Union times – a far cry to today!  

ГУМ moscow russia interior
ГУМ department store food hall
ГУМ department store food hall

Even if you’re not a shopper, I highly suggest visiting for the stunning hallways and decor alone as there’s just nothing quite like it. And I highly recommend this cafe called Bosco that is fabulous. Green matcha lattes and delicious food! 

russian doll handbag
russian doll handbag

And before I left my time at GUM I simply couldn’t resist this cutest Russian Doll handbag that was exclusive to Furla in GUM. It’s the perfect reminder from my amazing travels and something I will always treasure.

St. Basil’s Cathedral 

st basil's cathedral, Moscow, Red Square
st basil's cathedral, Moscow
St. Basil’s Cathedral
st basil's cathedral moscow

Don’t leave Red Square until you have strolled around the spellbinding St. Basil’s Cathedral and admired its domes, cupolas, arches, towers and spires, each with their distinctive colours that looms majestically over Red Square. 

Built by Ivan the Terrible (as in the same one mentioned in my Uglich travels) in the 1550s, this intriguing cathedral bordering Red Square consists of nine separate chapels, each capped with its own individually shaped candy striped esque dome. It gets its name from a poor holy man who foretold the Moscow fire in 1547.

Honestly I could not take my eyes of this breathtaking design. And to think this psychedelic wonder was built in the 16th century is even more remarkable. 

Bolshoi Theatre

Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, Russia

Situated on a beautiful square, that is fairly near Red Square, is the Bolshoi Theatre. This theatre is the main temple of Russia’s culture being one of the world’s biggest opera and ballet theatres. It is hard to overestimate the importance of the Bolshoi Theatre for Russia.

You can only enjoy its immortal creations and to admire its magnificent building, which is also an outstanding example of Russian architecture. To think of all the stories this place holds is simply overwhelming.

Moscow Metro

Komsomolskaya Moscow Metro Station
Komsomolskaya, Moscow Metro Station
Komsomolskaya, Metro Moscow

As well as being one of the most efficient and cheapest underground transit systems in the world, the Moscow Metro is also undoubtedly one of the most beautiful that has translated into some truly spectacular, subterranean architectural gems. They were built by Stalin in the 1930s to show the people that communism could achieve the same or better than capitalism.

It’s possible to spend an entire day or more travelling the metro and exploring the vast array of ornate stations; each constructed and decorated in its own unique way and I did my very best to see as many as possible!

But I’ll highlight the incredibly beautiful Komsomolskaya seen above that is one of the most active stations in the Metro. To deal with the volume of daily passengers in transit between the three nearby rail terminals, the station has an upper gallery above the platform!!

Komsomolskaya is also perhaps Moscow’s most lavish station. Entry is into an imposing building fronted by a stand of Corinthian columns. Inside, travellers descend to one of two sub-stations. At the platform level, an enormous hall is topped by a sunny, yellow Baroque ceiling from which hang several grand chandeliers. The platform is lined with 68 marble-faced columns topped with pilasters, and on the ceiling, eight mosaics chronicle the Russian fight for freedom and independence. Komsomolskaya opened in 1952. If you flick through I’ve also added some more stations to show the variety of styles you can see. 

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Moscow
Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Moscow

Other places to visit are the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour,  one of the 4 largest in the world. Originally built to commemorate Russia’s victory over Napoleon, Stalin destroyed it in 1931 by turning it into a swimming pool but thankfully it was rebuilt in 1999 to its original size and glory with help from all over the world and is well worth a visit.

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Moscow
Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Moscow
Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Moscow
Christ The Saviour Cathedral, Moscow.

Above you can see the breathtaking ceilings and interiors of Christ The Saviour Cathedral in Moscow. 

 New Maiden Convent and Cemetery

Prima ballerina Galina Ulanova
Dmitri Shostakovich Novodevichy Cemetery Moscow
Novodevichy Cemetery Moscow

Get back on the metro and get off at the New Maiden Convent and Cemetery for something different. This convent was used to get rid of unwanted royal women such as Peter the Great’s older sister! Next to it is the most famous cemetery in Russia where the most influential Russians are buried such as Yeltsin and Chekhov. Don’t miss the lake nearby said to have inspired “Swan Lake”. And if you’re a football fan look up and you’ll see the enormous Luzhniki Stadium used for the world cup.

The Kremlin

The Kremlin, Moscow
kremlin, moscow, russia
kremlin moscow russia

I hope you’ve had a good night because I’ve packed 2 huge visits into your second day. It’s worth getting up early to avoid the crowds as the morning tour is to the Kremlin.  You may think it’s a building but the Kremlin is a huge complex which means fortress, originally it was a self contained city. It has been part of every part of Russia’s turbulent history from the 11th century to Putin today. You will enter from Red Square via one of the 4 entrances in the distinctive red wall of the fortress, some 2.2 km long with 20 towers. We started at the Armoury which sounds boring but it is a wonderful collection of Russian treasures. It is a treasure house of Russia’s imperial heritage and includes incredibly ornate dresses, jewellery, carriages, crowns and thrones used by the tsars and empresses. From here we saw the imposing yellow and white Grand Kremlin Palace used by the President and therefore rarely opened to the public.

the kremlin palace, moscow, russia
kremlin palace cathedral square, moscow

The beautiful exterior of the Grand Palace of the Kremlin that can be seen above is stunning. It took over 12 years to build the Palace, symbolising the greatness of Russian autocracy. It features 9 churches, 700 rooms, the Terem Palace, and the Holy Vestibule.

Once used exclusively as the Moscow residence of the reigning Tsar, it is now considered the residence of the President of the Russian Federation and the location for ceremonial events that include official meetings and conferences with foreign dignitaries, inauguration ceremonies, and presentation ceremonies for state awards.

The palace also has a combination of architectural styles ranging from Byzantine-Russian to Renaissance. My heart skipped a beat at this section alone. 

Cathedral Square

catherdral square, moscow
Cathedral of the Dormination, Moscow
Cathedral of the Dormination
Cathedral Of The Annunciation, Moscow
Cathedral Of The Annunciation

Cathedral Of The Archangel Michael, Moscow
Cathedral Of The Archangel Michael
Church Of The Deposition Of The Robe, Moscow
Church Of The Deposition Of The Robe

What most tourists head for in the Kremlin is Cathedral Square which is the ceremonial heart of Russia. We started at the grandest and oldest Cathedral of the Dormination which was used for the coronation of the Tsars. Facing this on the other side of the square is the Cathedral of the Archangel Michael. This is where the tsars including Peter the Great and his murdered son Dmitry were buried until 1712 when the capital moved to St Petersburg. The neighbouring golden-domed Annunciation Cathedral was the church of the Tsars. Other things to see are tallest building in the Kremlin which is the bell tower,and the massive Tsar Bell and Cannon.

Tretyakov Gallery

Tretyakov Gallery Moscow Russia
The Tretyakov Gallery

Nearby, your final stop should be to one of the finest museums in the world especially if you are an art lover like me. The Tretyakov Gallery covers a whole millenium of Russian cultural development. A young Pavel Tretyakov bought his first painting in 1856 and went on the amass a spectacular collection for the next 3 decades. He left his 3,500 paintings to the nation and today there are over 130,000 works of art from the 11th to 20th century. Try and go throughout the gallery in chronological order to enjoy the early outstanding icons through to modern art.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

Monastery of the Holy Mandylion & Nikolskaya Street
Monastery of the Holy Mandylion & Nikolskaya Street
The Lomonosov Moscow State University that was founded in 1755 by Mikhail Lomonosov with the ‘floating bridge’ also here in view
The Lomonosov Moscow State University that was founded in 1755 by Mikhail Lomonosov with the ‘floating bridge’ also here in view

Thank you so much for all the interest, all the support and all the love I have had for my Russian travels series with Volga Dream and Cox and Kings. For me, visiting Russia was beyond anything I could have imagined. It’s a country I have longed to visit ever since I was a child and I’m just so happy and blessed to have shared that journey with you.

I travelled with Volga Dream through Cox and Kings and couldn’t recommend them more for a truly perfect itinerary to experience just one part of this deeply fascinating and enigmatic country. 

If you’ve just stumbled across this post, you can recap the whole of my Russian travels right here that I took with Volga Dream. The first stop was the magnificent St. Petersburg. then we set sail for the charming Svirstroy, then the otherworldy Kizhi Island,  next up it was Goritsy then Yaroslavl , then to Uglich and finally here in glitzy Moscow. If you’ve followed my whole journey what stop was your favourite? I’d love to know!

Finally, if you enjoyed my Russian Travels you can head here for the rest of my travels. Thank you so much for reading once again, and let me know if Moscow is now on your travel bucket list if you haven’t been before!

xoxo

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HI, I´M GEORGIE

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