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Coat of Arms Flag
St. George slaying the dragon 180px
Federal District: Central
Subdivision: Federal city
Location: Template:Coor dm
Area: 1,081.00 km²
Population: 10,415,400 (within the city area, 2005)
Population density: 8,537.2 persons/km²
Altitude: 150-200 m
Postal code: 119992-123182
Dialling code: +7 495 (formerly +7 095); +7 499
License plate: 77, 99, 97, 177

Moscow (Russian: Москва́, Moskva, IPA: Template:IPA Template:Audio) is the capital of Russia, located on the river Moskva. The urban area constitutes about 1/10 of the Russian population, thus making it the most populous city in Europe.

The city is in the federal district located in central Russia. It was the capital of the former Soviet Union, and of Muscovite Russia, the pre-Imperial Russia. It is the site of the famous Kremlin, which serves as the center of the national government.

Moscow is also well known as the site of the Saint Basil's Cathedral, with its elegant onion domes. The Patriarch of Moscow, whose residence is the Danilov Monastery, serves as the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.



Main article: History of Moscow

The first reference to Moscow dates from 1147 when it was an obscure town in a small province inhabited mostly by Merya, speakers of a now extinct Finnic language. In 1156, Prince Yury Dolgoruky built a wooden wall and a moat around the city. After the sacking of 1237-1238, when the Mongols burned the city to the ground and killed its inhabitants, Moscow recovered and became the capital of an independent principality. Its favorable position on the headwaters of the Volga river contributed to steady expansion. Moscow was also stable and prosperous for many years and attracted a large numbers of refugees from across Russia.

Under Ivan I the city replaced Tver as capital of Vladimir-Suzdal and became the sole collector of taxes for the Mongol rulers. By paying high tribute, Ivan won an important concession from the Khan. Unlike other principalities, Moscow was not divided among his sons but was passed intact to his eldest. In 1380, prince Dmitry Donskoy of Moscow led a united Russian army to an important victory over the Mongols in the Battle of Kulikovo. After that, Moscow took the leading role in liberating Russia from Mongol domination. In 1480, Ivan III had finally broken the Russians free from Tatar control and Moscow became the capital of an empire that would eventually encompass all of Russia and Siberia, and parts of many other lands.
File:Kremlevskaya Naberezhnaja Moscow.hires.jpg
Kremlin Embankment and Moscow skyline with Cathedral of Christ the Saviour on the left and Kremlin on the right

Moscow ceased to be Russia's capital when in 1703 Peter the Great founded St. Petersburg on the Baltic coast. When Napoleon invaded in 1812, the Moscovites burned the city and evacuated, as Napoleon's forces were approaching September 14. Napoleon's army, plagued by hunger, cold, and poor supply lines, was forced to retreat. In January of 1905, the institution of the City Governor, or Mayor, was officially introduced in Moscow, and Alexander Adrianov became Moscow's first official mayor. Following the success of the Russian Revolution in 1917, Lenin, fearing possible foreign invasion, moved the capital from St. Petersburg back to Moscow on March 5, 1918. During the Great Patriotic War, the Soviet State Committee of Defence and the General Staff of the Red Army were located in Moscow. In 1941 16 divisions of the national volunteers (more than 160,000 people), 25 battalions (18,000 people) and 4 engineering regiments were formed among the Muscovites. In November 1941, German Army Group Centre was stopped at the outskirts of the city and then driven off in the course of the Battle of Moscow. Many factories were evacuated, together with much of the government, and from October 20 the city was declared to be in a state of siege. Its remaining inhabitants built and manned antitank defenses, while the city was bombarded from the air. On May 1, 1944 a medal "For the defence of Moscow" and in 1947 another medal "In memory of the 800th anniversary of Moscow" were instituted. On May 8, 1965 in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the victory in World War II Moscow was awarded a title of the Hero City. In 1980 it hosted the summer Olympic Games.

In 1991 Moscow was the scene of a coup attempt by the government members opposed to the reforms of Mikhail Gorbachev. When the USSR was dissolved in the same year, Moscow continued to be the capital of the Russian Federation. Since then, the emergence of a market economy in Moscow has produced an explosion of Western-style retailing, services, architecture, and lifestyles.

Administrative divisions

Main article: Administrative divisions of Moscow.


Moscow and St. Petersburg have for centuries been the sites of much of the country's internationally known history and culture, and the residences of most of its famous personalities.


The city was once known as 'sorok-sorokov' ('forty-times-forty'), in reference to the many Orthodox spires making up the city's skyline. The look of the city was changed drastically during Soviet times, mostly due to Stalin, who oversaw a large scale effort to modernize the city by, on the one hand, introducing very broad avenues and roadways, some of them over ten lanes wide, and on the other, destroying a great number of historically significant architectural works such as the Sukharev Tower and numerous mansions and stores lining the major streets, and various works of religious architecture, such as the Christ the Saviour Cathedral. The latter was demolished to make way for a huge skyscraper that was never built, and reconstructed in the mid to late 90s. Stalin did build seven other skyscrapers however, allegedly inspired by the Municipal Building in New York. They form a series of huge, cathedral-like structures with
Ostankino Tower - the tallest free-standing structure in Eurasia
intricate exteriors, and are given various labels: 'The Seven Sisters', 'Stalinist Gothic', 'wedding cake architecture' and so on. They are among the tallest constructions in central Moscow and can all be seen together from most elevations in the city, apart from the Ostankino Tower which, when it was built in 1967, was the tallest free-standing structure in the world, before the title was taken by the CN Tower.

The Soviet policy of providing mandatory housing for every citizen or their family, and the rapid growth of the huge Moscow population in Soviet times, also lead to the construction of large, monotonous housing blocks, which can often be differentiated in age, sturdiness of construction, or 'style' according to the neighbourhood and the materials used. Most of these date from the post-Stalin era and the styles are often named after the leader then in power - Brezhnev, Krushchev, etc, and they are usually ill-maintained. The Stalinist-era constructions, usually in the central city, are massive and usually ornamented with Socialist realism motifs that imitate Classical themes. However, small churches - almost always Orthodox - that hint on the city's past still dot various parts of the city. The Old Arbat, a popular tourist street that was once the heart of a bohemian area, preserves most of its 19th century or older buildings. Many buildings found off the main streets of the inner city (behind the Stalinist facades of Tverskaya Ulitsa, for example) are also examples of the bourgeois decadence in Tsarist times. Large estates just outside Moscow belonging to nobles from the Tsarist era, and some convents and monasteries both inside and outside the city, are open to Muscovites and tourists.

Attempts are being made to restore many of the city's best-kept examples of pre-Soviet architecture, and these are easily spotted by their bright new colours and spotless facades. There are a few examples of notable, early Soviet avant-garde work too, such as the house of the architect Konstantin Melnikov in the Arbat area. Later examples of interesting Soviet architecture are usually marked by their impressive size and the semi-Modernist styles employed, such as the Novy Arbat project, designed by Mikhail Posokhin.

Like in London, but on a broader scale, plaques on the house exteriors will inform passer-by that a well-known personality once lived there. Frequently the plaques are dedicated to Soviet celebrities not well-known to the outside world. There are also many 'house-museums' of famous Russian writers, composers, and artists in the city.

Views of Moscow

Visual, Performing and Other Arts

There are many museums and galleries in Moscow with collections that can be compared to those of the best museums in the West. Frequent art exhibitions thrive on both the new and the classic, as they once did in pre-Revolutionary times, and from their diversity in every branch of the arts - painting, photography, sculpture and so on - it would appear that the Muscovite art world is steeped in many traditions: Russian, Western, Oriental, both old and new. Two of the most notable art museums in Moscow are the Tretyakov Gallery, founded by Paul Tretyakov, a wealthy and generous patron of the arts who accumulated a very large private collection before donating it to the State, and the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, which was founded, among others, by Marina Tsvetaeva's father. Currently there are two Tretyakovs. The Old Tretyakov, the original gallery in the Tretyakovskaya area on the south bank of the Moskva, houses the works of the classic Russian tradition, with famous pre-revolutionary painters such as Ilya Repin, going all the way back to early Russian icon painting with exhibits of rare originals by Andrei Rublev. The New Tretyakov, created in Soviet times, mostly houses the work of Soviet and a few contemporary artists, but there is some overlap between the two for early 20th century art. The latter includes a small reconstruction of Vladimir Tatlin's famous Monument to the Third International and a mixture of other avant-garde works by artists like Kazimir Malevich or Wassily Kandinsky, and Soviet propaganda. The Pushkin Museum is like The British Museum in that its halls are a cross-section of world civilizations, with many plaster casts of ancient sculptures, but it also hosts famous paintings from every major Western era of art - the work of Monet, Cezanne, Picasso and so on can all be sampled there.

Moscow is also the heart of Russian performing arts, including ballet. Theatres and ballet studios are very common in Moscow. The most famous of these are the Bolshoi (Big) and Malyj (Small) theatres, a centerpiece of Moscow; the Bolshoi is usually closed during the summer, but in 2005 it closed semi-permanently for reconstruction work. Ticket prices were as low as $1 in the Soviet era, but have increased dramatically since. The repertories in a typical Moscow season are exhaustive and modern interpretations of classic works, whether operatic or theatrical, are quite common.

Soviet films are integral to film history, and the Mosfilm studio was at the heart of many classics, both artistic and more mainstream productions. However, despite the continued presence and reputation of internationally renowned Russian filmmakers, the once prolific native studios are much quieter, and there are fewer independent cinema theatres in Moscow than there were around the end of the Soviet Union, having given way to multiplexes and recent Hollywood productions. The overall maintenance and condition of theatres has improved, though ticket prices are much higher and increase every year.


File:Moscow scene traffic.jpg
Heavy traffic and active construction, 2003

Moscow has five airports, Sheremetyevo International Airport, Domodedovo International Airport, Bykovo Airport, Ostafievo International Airport and Vnukovo International Airport. The city is also the main rail hub for Russia, with daily trains to diverse destinations such as Vladivostok (9 000 km) and Brussels (2 000 km) [1].

Local transportation includes the Moscow Metro, an excellent metro (subway) system famous for its art, murals, mosaics, and ornate chandeliers. Begun in 1935, the system has 11 lines and more than 171 stations. The system is the world's busiest, with 9 million passengers every day and trains every 90 seconds at peak times.

As Metro stations outside the city centre are far apart in comparison to other cities, up to 4 km, an extensive bus network radiates from each station to the surrounding residential zones. Suburbs and several city areas also connected with electric train (elektrichka) network. The buses are very frequent, often more than one a minute, and inexpensive at about $0.5. Every large street in the city is served by at least one bus route and none of the city's 13,000 apartment blocks are more than a few minutes walk from a stop. There are also tram and trolleybus networks.

Underground electric railway (elektrichka) station in Vnukovo Airport

There are over 2.5 million cars in the city on a daily basis (2004). Recent years have seen explosive growth in the number of cars, which have caused traffic jams and the lack of parking space to become major problems.

The road system is structured with sequences of radial and ring roads. The first and innermost, Bulvarnoe Koltso (Boulevard Ring), built at the former location of 16th century city wall around what used to be called Bely Gorod (White Town). Boulevard Ring is technically not a ring - it isn't connected and has a horseshoe-like shape. The second ring, Sadovoye Koltso (Garden Ring), follows the line of another 16th century wall - the Earth Wall encircling historic Earth Town. After the war of 1812 the Earth Wall was demolished and replaced by streets and gardens. During the reconstruction of 1930's the Garden Ring took its current shape - the streets were widened, and the gardens were gone. The Third Transport Ring was completed in 2003, and the Fourth Transport Ring is being constructed to reduce traffic congestion. The outer ring, a large road called MKAD, forms the approximate boundary of the city. MKAD, along with Third and future Fourth Transport Rings are the only freeways within city limits.

Everyday life

Although less than a quarter of Russians live in the countryside, Muscovites, like other urban dwellers, are still attached to the country. Many live in country homes (called dachas) over the weekend and over holidays, and retire to the country when they are old. Moscow contains many parks and gardens; see Sport. Huge shopping malls, both urban and suburban, with their multiplex theatres, department stores, grocery chains, food courts, and other common features are now very common in Moscow and they are very popular with the city's adolescents most of whom, like their Western counterparts, like to project themselves as trendy.


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Moscow State University

There are numerous large universities in Moscow, including the renowned Moscow State University housed in the 240m high tower on Vorobyovy Gory (Sparrow Hills). The university has over 30,000 undergraduates and 7,000 postgraduate students. Bauman Moscow State Technical University offers a wide range of technical degrees. Moscow State Institute of International Relations [2] is Russia's best known school of international relations and diplomacy.

See Also: List of universities in Russia

Business and Trade

A major part of Russia's profits and development is concentrated in Moscow. Many multi-national corporations have branches and offices in the city. The plush offices and the lifestyles of the typical corporate employee in Moscow are practically indistinguishable from any other Western European city, although the average salary for the Russian is still lower here. After the financial crisis in the late 90s, various business sectors in Moscow have shown exponential rates of growth. However, while the overall stability has improved in the recent years, crime and corruption continue to remain a problem hindering business development. A recent study showed that far from decreasing, corruption in the Putin era has been on the rise, and large businesses can expect to pay an average of over a hundred thousand dollars a year in bribes to officials. The Mafia also runs extortion rackets in most parts of the city, though there are no reliable data to understand how large their influence is.

According to a July 22, 2004 article in Forbes, Moscow became the city with the most billionaires. It had 33 billionaires, passing New York City by two. The nouveau-riche, also called the "New Russians", often pejoratively, have a reputation for flaunting their wealth; the avenues for doing so, and subtly, have also increased in recent times - a sense of fashion and self-consciousness has instilled itself through the many haute couture and haute-cuisine spots in Moscow.


Average temperature (red) and precipitations (blue) in Moscow

Moscow has always been a popular destination for more adventurous tourists. The better known attractions include the UNESCO World Heritage sites of the Kremlin, Red Square and the Church of the Ascension at Kolomenskoye, all dating from between the 14th and 17th centuries. Other popular attractions include the Zoo, expanded in the 1990s. Moscow is also the western end of the 9 300 km Trans-Siberian railway to Vladivostok. The city presents a unique look in midwinter when the streets are cloaked in powdery snow and the dusky twilight of the continental winter. In winter the locals face the cold with the warm embrace of hospitality. However, as temperatures can often be below -25 °C (-13 °F), early summer or early autumn can offer a much more comfortable and lively visit. Russians like to have fun as much as anyone else, and the very short summer nights mean that one can find people involved in social events, or roving about, or drinking outside at very late hours. The abundant greenery of Moscow gives the city a semi-tropical feel that pleasantly surprises the visitor accustomed to stereotypes about the Russian cold. The long days will also afford one more time to cover the immense wealth of historical, cultural or simply popular sites in Moscow. Scenic vantage points include the Sparrow Hills, on the Moscow river to the south-west of the city.

Moscow presents many obstacles to the independent foreign tourist without local contacts. While it is not hard to get a visa and enter the country, it is quite common to resort to somewhat expensive, semi-legal procedures to 'register' oneself. The registration process is deliberately bureaucratic, complicated and immensely time-consuming, if one is not staying at a hotel. New medical and work permit requirements have also been introduced by the government, which increases the stress and expenses involved for long-term visitors, who are already required to leave the country every six months and re-register upon entry. While excellent hotels are found all over Moscow, they are usually not for the budget traveller, and not for long-term visitors.

Novodevichy Convent is just one of many medieval monuments that dots the city

Everyone is also required to carry their passport for identification and so that the registration can be checked by local militia, who also pose a problem. They are found all over the city but especially in and around Metro stations. Being underpaid, they frequently attempt to supplement their income by stopping people arbitrarily, checking their passports, and demanding bribes to prevent arrest over trivial reasons. Also, with the recent terrorist actions being associated with the darker-skinned Caucasian population, official police racism against all dark-skinned people is rife and the latter are likely to be stopped much more often, sometimes as much as thrice a week. Violent crime, especially but not only directed against foreigners, is also a frequent occurrence in Moscow.

However, the average tourist making a brief visit on a package tour is not likely to encounter any of these problems. The general, educated section of the populace are open-minded and can be very helpful; and expatriates who like making Russian friends find their curiosity and enthusiasm reciprocated and usually have fond memories of their stay, once they understand the system. While customer service is still something new to many Russian vendors, burgeoning Westernization means that high-profile and tourist stores all over Moscow may give you special attention if you are a foreigner.

Moscow tourist attractions

Bolshoi Theatre | Kolomenskoye | Kremlin | Poklonnaya Hill | Kuskovo | Manege | Europe's tallest tower | Stalinist skyscrapers | Ostankino Palace | Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts | Red Square with Lenin's mausoleum, Monument to Minin and Pozharsky, and Lobnoye Mesto | Saint Basil's Cathedral | Novodevichy Convent | Donskoy Monastery | Simonov Monastery | Red Gate | Bolshoi Kamennyi Bridge | Shukhov radio tower | Cathedral of Christ the Saviour | State Tretyakov Gallery | All-Russian Exhibition Center | Alexander Garden | Moscow Zoo | Patriarch's Ponds | Moscow State University | Krutitsy | Elokhovo Cathedral | Nativity Church in Putinki | Menshikov Tower | Church of the Intercession at Fili | Tretyakov Drive


Some prices are considerably higher for the foreign visitor than for locals. A cost of living survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting puts Moscow in second place after Tokyo, making it the most expensive city in Europe. For natives, small apartments bought or given by the state in the Soviet era, coupled with extremely low utility costs and easily avoidable income tax serve to lower the cost of living greatly. A look at transport prices offers a good illustration. A taxi from Sheremetyevo International Airport will cost the non-Russian speaking traveller upwards of $60; the Russian speaking foreigner will be charged $30-$40. The native Moscow dweller will negotiate the price to $15-20 or will avoid the taxi rank altogether and take a marshrutka (shuttle, shared taxi) to the nearest metro station for about 0.5 dollar.


In recent times there has been a large and quickly growing range of restaurants with a range of prices to match. The average cost, per person, for a meal in a middle to high class restaurant will be $30 to $200, especially if one orders vintage wines. Chain restaurants, such as "Moo-Moo," offer adequate quality canteen food – with English menus – for around five dollars per person. Although most Moscovites do not eat in even cheap restaurants very often, lately many new "middle-class" restaurants have opened, targeting families on weekends. The 'Korchma' chain of Ukrainian restaurants offers menus in over a dozen languages.

A number of fast food restaurants have outlets near many metro stations. That includes the omnipresent McDonald's as well as other chains, notably Rostiks, which specializes on serving chicken, and Kroshka Kartoshka, serving traditional baked potato with numerous toppings, Danish-style Stardogs! and many others. Many McDonald's menu items, such as McNuggets, are simply phoenitically translated into the Cyrillic script, which makes it virtually possible to order in English. Recently, a large number of coffee shops have sprouted up around the city; two of the best known ones are Coffee House and Coffee Mania, conceptually identical to the Starbucks model. Foreign cuisines, notably the Oriental ones - Japanese, Chinese and Indian - are growing in popularity all over the city. Georgian cuisine has always been a favourite, and 'shawarma' (usually 50 roubles each or about US$1.70) stalls are often found near most Metro stations. Popular and profitable chain restaurants, such as Il Patio (Italian cuisine), Sushi Planet (Japanese) and T. G. I. Fridays (American), all connected to the Rosinter group, are found in clusters in many parts of the city.


File:Moscow scene Sanyo.jpg
Modern Moscow; the Sanyo sign overlooks the statue of Lenin, barely visible above the billboard

Soccer is an extremely popular spectator sport among the young. Clubs such as Dynamo, CSKA, Lokomotiv and Spartak are prominent on the European stage. Supporter violence has become a serious problem when international teams play in Moscow. In 2002, a dozen Irish fans in Moscow for a Russia-Ireland game were attacked by neo-Nazi groups. One later died of his injuries. That same year, when a Russia-Japan World Cup match, played in Japan but broadcast live to the crowds in Pushkinskaja Square, went badly for the Russians, the crowd turned violent and wrought havoc in the centre of the city, breaking windows, smashing and burning cars and looting several shops. A Chinese restaurant was incidentally attacked and five Japanese tourists were beaten. One policeman died (other sources say two) and about one hundred people were injured.

Winter sports have a large following. Most Russians own cross-country skis and ice skates and there are many large parks with marked trails for skiers and frozen ponds and canals for skaters. Often parks will have small local businesses offering ski and skate rental. Prices range from $1 to $5 an hour for rental.

Moscow was the host city of the 1980 Summer Olympics, although the yachting events were held at Tallinn. Huge new stadium and other athletic facilities were built especially for the occasion. The main international airport, Sheremetyevo Terminal 2, was also built at this time. Moscow has also made a bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics. However, when voting commenced on July 6 2005, Moscow was the first city to be eliminated from further rounds. The Games were finally awarded to London.


Newly-built Triumph-Palace building residental apartments - the tallest building in Europe
Residental apartments in Strogino

Although the population of the Russian Federation declines by about 700,000 (143.8 million * 0.5% decline) every year due to low birth rates, Moscow appears to be immune to these problems in recent years. Moscow has a very high population growth rate, largely due to migration (despite an internal passport system that makes it illegal for non-city residents to stay in the capital for more than 90 days without registration). These new Moscovites are attracted by the local economic growth rate of up to 20%, versus stagnation or even decline in most of Russia, the result of sharp polarization of the country in recent years. The city is home to small numbers of people of every racial and cultural group, from African students to Irish business people (there is an annual St. Patrick's Day Parade on the Novy Arbat avenue). However, the major part of the population are ethnic Russians, Tatars, Ukrainians and Belarusians.

See also History of Moscow for historical population growth


As with many cities, terrorism is a threat in Moscow. On February 6 2004 a bomb explosion in a subway car near the Avtozavodskaya metro station killed at least 40 and injured many. Other prominent acts of terror include the destruction of two apartment buildings in September 1999 (see Russian Apartment Bombings), an explosion in the pedestrian subway under the Pushkinskaya square in August 2000, and the capture of the theatre at Dubrovka in October 2002.

Air pollution in Moscow

Moscow has a very high air pollution level. One obvious source of this pollution is heavy traffic with virtually no automobile emissions control.


Moscow is the headquarters of many Russian television networks, radio stations, newspapers and magazines. The following is a brief list, beginning with English-language sources, followed by Russian.



  • Echo Moskvy "Echo of Moscow", The first Soviet and Russian private news radio and information agency. 91.2 FM in Moscow, in Russian only.


  • NTV - the first privately-owned Russian TV station


  • Karel Neubert. "Portrait of Moscow". 1964
  • Albert J. Schmidt. "The Architecture and Planning of Classical Moscow: A Cultural History". 1989
  • Kathleen Berton. "Moscow: An Architectural History". St. Martin's, 1991
  • Marcel Girard. "Splendours of Moscow and Its Surroundings", trans. from French. 1967
  • John Bushwell. "Moscow Graffiti: Language and Subculture". Unwin Hyman, 1990
  • S.S. Hromov et al. (eds.). "History of Moscow: An Outline", trans. from Russian. 1981
  • Galina Dutkina. "Moscow Days: Life and Hard Times in the New Russia". Trans. Catherine Fitzpatrick. Kodansha America, 1995

Further reading

External links


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