Red Square and the Kremlin
Visiting Moscow is best in late spring or autumn when the weather is warm and sunny, and there is simply no better place to begin your exploring than its historic heart: the Red Square (Krasnaia Ploshchad'). Much of Russia's turbulent history has played out either in public on the Red Square itself or in private behind the walls of the Kremlin (Kreml'). The Kremlin is a powerful mix of church and state, of European and Russian styles, and of historic and modern-day Russia. The Red Square is an impressive and famous city square separating the Kremlin from the city's merchant center. Entering from the north end past the State Historical Museum, you will instantly recognize the multi-colored onion domes of St. Basil's Cathedral (Sobor Vasiliia Blazhennogo) looming on the far side of the square. To the left of the square is the vast edifice that is the GUM department store and down on the right are the towering walls of the Kremlin. Beneath the walls sits Lenin's Mausoleum, a step-pyramid structure housing the embalmed remains of Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin.
By and large a thriving commercial area, Kitai-Gorod incorporates the broad area east of Red Square. Kitai is encircled by reconstructed medieval walls and separated from the Kremlin by the Red Square. The area is a unique demonstration of architectural history. It is a mix of traditional, art'nouveau and monumental Soviet-era architecture. Nestled between sights are the remnants of richly decorated churches and mansions. Notable examples include the well-preserved 17th-century Tserkov Troitsy v Nikitinkakh (Church of the Trinity in Nikitinov) and the Romanov Boyar House in Zariadie (Muzei Palaty v Zariade), the former home of Romanov boyars. Gradually, beginning in the 19th Century, it was transformed into a commercial center with banks, shops and businesses.
Bulvarnoe Kol'tso & Sadovoye Kol'tso
Moscow sits on the banks of the Moskva River and its road system is centered around its heart, the Kremlin. The road system is an intricate circular system of roads, which forms rings around the Kremlin. The first, innermost ring is known as the Bulvarnoe Kol'tso, (Boulevard Ring). The Bulvarnoe Kol'tso was built on the former site of a 16th-century city wall. Despite its name, the Boulevard is not a full ring, but more of an arc shape. The Boulevard Ring extends from Cathedral of Christ the Savior (Khram Khrista Spasitela) to the Yauza River. North of the Bulvarnoe Kol'tso is a hugely varied and rolling area encompassing many of Moscow's main sights and attractions, including the Bol'shoi Theatre.
The Sadovoye Kol'tso (Garden Ring), also known as B Route, is the second circular avenue consisting of about 17 streets and 15 squares. The buildings along Sadovoye Kolt'so are eclectic, from a 19th-century mansion to recently constructed shopping malls. While under the rule of Stalin, the ring underwent construction, yet no part was rebuilt in the Stalinist style. The western side of this arched area was once one of the city's fashionable districts. Several famous names resided here, and many of their former homes have now become tourist attractions such as the Tolstoi House-Museum and the Pushkin Museum on the Arbat among others. The area around the Arbat and Novi Arbat used to be a thriving zone for Soviet Bohemians.
To the north of the Garden Ring, you'll begin to get a sense of the dizzying size of Moscow; the vast residential districts stretch north as far as the eye can see. There are many sights here that are worth checking out, including the All-Russian Exhibition Center, the nearby Botanical Gardens and the Ostankino Television Tower. Closer to the center, there are a handful of nice museums such as the Dostoevsky Apartment Museum and the Glinka State Central Museum of Musical Culture.
South Of The City Center
Immediately south of the Moskva River is the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow's foremost gallery of Russian art. The famous Gorky Park is also located here, not far from the controversial Monument to Peter the Great (Monument Petry Velikomu). Farther south, lies the Tsaritsyno.
Taganka Square is filled with palaces and churches built by Moscow's former social elite to the east, now surrounded by extensive residential development. It is home to the famous Theatre on Taganka. Other sights include the Andronikov Monastery and the Pomorskaya Old Believers Commune of Moscow.
The White House (Belyi Dom) on the River Moskva, has profound cultural and political significance in Russia's Post-Soviet history. Over the river resides the memorial Victory Park (Park Pobedy), commemorating the victory over fascism and Nazism in the "Great Patriotic War," World War II. Farther south (and back over the twisting river) you'll find the famous Novodevichy (New Maiden) Convent and Cemetery. The cemetery houses the graves of famous Russian authors Anton Chekhov and Mikhail Bulgakovlikes, among other notable Russians. From there across the river, you'll see the imposing presence of Moscow State University's Main Building.