The Red Square, home to Lenin’s Mausoleum, the Kremlin, and the 16th-century St. Basil’s Cathedral, draws visitors from all over the world to Moscow and seems to reverberate with the footsteps of military parades. The centuries-old Russian capital was once the heart of the Soviet Union and evidence of this history is everywhere.
However, the city is not without its modern charms. Even the Bolshoi, Moscow’s oldest theater, has had a contemporary facelift, although it maintains its old-world charm.
Near the historic Red Square lies the GUM, a huge shopping complex where locals come to spend their cash. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have a bank-busting budget; you’ll need it for nights out. A huge amount has been invested in the city’s fine-dining restaurants. Turandot, for example, is a must-visit eatery said to have swallowed up $40 million dollars with its interior design alone. Then there’s O2 Lounge at the Ritz, a trendy lounge with prices almost as dizzying as its views. .
Fortunately, there’s another side to the city that does not require Romanov-like riches. In recent years, Moscow residents have embraced a more outdoorsy lifestyle, and there are some lovely green spaces. At Izmailovsky Park, set in a 16th-century royal estate, you can browse the market for souvenirs. Alternatively, Gorky Park, named for Soviet-era author Maxim Gorky, draws visitors and locals alike as soon as there’s a hint of sunshine.