Moscow – Red Square

For our first day in Moscow we decided to tick of the most important station for tourists from our list: The Red Square

To get the educational part out of the way:

[…] The name Red Square does not originate from the pigment of the surrounding bricks (which, in fact, were whitewashed at certain times in history) nor from the link between the color red and communism. Rather, the name came about because the Russian word красная (krasnaya) can mean either “red” or “beautiful” […]. This word, with the meaning “beautiful”, was originally applied to Saint Basil’s Cathedral and was subsequently transferred to the nearby square. […]

[from Wikipedia]

Red Square, Moscow

(On the outermost sides is the Kremlin, then from left to right: The State Historical Museum, the Iverian Gate (the smaller red building), several less important smaller building, the GUM department store (the big non-red building) and – last but not least – Saint Basil’s Cathedral)

Saint Basil's Cathedral, Moscow

We entered the square through the Iberian Gate, which is already a worthy stop for tourists. Around the square are four main buildings or sites. The most eye-catching is Saint Basil’s Cathedral (see above), a beautiful church with colorful onion domes and most likely THE image people have in their minds when thinking of the Red Square. At the other end is the State Historical Museum, also a beautiful red building. On the long side to the south-west and south lies a huge site well – actually some kind of a citadel – with high walls and several palaces, churches, museums and lots of security: The Kremlin

We actually didn’t visit any of those buildings, yet. We’re expecting rain tomorrow and have that as one option to spend the time tomorrow. But we did visit the smaller Kazan Cathedral (haven’t seen that many pictures of saints in one place) and the place vis-à-vis of the Kremlin: The ГУМ (GUM)

The GUM is a department store or as we call them today, a mall. If you think mall, adjust your expectation to MALL. The place is frickin’ huge. If it wasn’t actually from the beginning of the 19th century , I’d say that this is what happened to Russia after they discovered capitalism. But it seems the aspect of consumerism is a bit older. In it’s high times it had about 1,200 (smaller) stores. Today the stores are larger, but 200 of them are still quite a lot. Well, to play the cheauvi card: The site was commisioned as a trade center by Empress Yekaterina Alexeevna (Catherine II; Catherine the Great), but I’m sure not all of them were shoe-makers.

(I really seem to like colons today.)

We also walked around the area a bit, past a Duma (not the State-Duma as we know by now), the Bolshoi Theatre (and found our first Russian geocache there) and finally got something to eat at Planet Sushi, obviously a Japanese restaurant (but we didn’t dare to try the sushi and settled for rice with chicken/eel). Yeah, we can hear you. “You’ll visit Japan in a few weeks, why go for Japanese food already?” Well, we were confused, thanks to this sight:

African Segway Samurai

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