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Red Square

Red Square is the very heart of Moscow, just outside the Kremlin, along its Eastern wall. The square isn’t called ‘Red’ because of the red Kremlin walls, nor because of the connection that the square has with communism, but instead because in old Russian it meant beautiful.

Red Square not only recalls Soviet Russia and Lenin; its history stretches back to the days of Tsarist Russia. In the late 15th century, people came to this square called Torg, or market square, to purchase food, livestock or other wares. By the late 16th century it was renamed Trinity Square and served as the main entrance to the Kremlin. It was not until 1650 that it received the name Krasnaya Ploshad.

During the Soviet Era, the square was very important in the life of the new state. Besides being the official address of the Soviet government, it was a venue for military parades. To make room for those parades some important buildings were demolished. There was even a plan to destroy Moscow’s most recognized building, Saint Basil’s Cathedral.

However, Saint Basil’s cathedral stands to the present day, and next to it is a so-called Lobnoye Mesto, where Russian tsars gave speeches. At other times, the nobility would be brought here and prosecuted for various reasons. It was not a bloodthirsty affair though – they would simply lose their rank or title. In May 1606 the body of Dmitry, the pretender to tsar, was shown to the public.


Lenin’s Mausoleum, on the western edge of Red Square, is a monument to the founder of the Soviet Union. Following his death, Lenin’s body was placed in a temporary wooden mausoleum. Thousands of telegrams flooded the state government, requesting the construction of a special place for the dead leader. Although Lenin had clearly indicated his desire not to be immortalized, the temporary structure was replaced in 1929 with the one seen today. Each year thousands of people line up for the opportunity to view Lenin on his glass-enclosed bier and to watch the hourly ritual of the changing of the guard.

Today Red Square is a place where people gather to celebrate official state events, to be photographed in front of favourite sights, or just to drink in the historic splendour.

When going to Red Square you should remember that, there are many sights to see nearby. These include not only Lenin’s Mausoleum, Saint Basil’s Cathedral, and Lobnoye Mesto, but also the GUM department store, situated directly opposite the resting founder of Russian communism, Kazan Cathedral, the State Historical Museum, and the monument to Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky.


Essential Information for Visitors

Metro: Ploshchad Revolutsii, Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya or Okhotny Ryad

Opening Hours

24 hours!

Admission Prices

Free!

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