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Say [EAT DRINK WALK] to Moscow
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text by Henry Shew
Quick Guide to Moscow
Top 5 places that you shouldn't miss if you get to visit Moscow
Moscow is beautiful. The city has its unique beauty. It's not quite the same as Western Europe. Moscow has its own identity. The architecture is gorgeous. I would say that the buildings in Moscow are quite spectacular. Some of the statues are even over-the-top. Of course, how could you miss the Red Square and Saint Basil's Cathedral? There are so many attractions here in Moscow that it will take you a while to fully explore this city. Even little local hang-out spots like the Gorky park is worth checking out.

Moscow is a city that doesn't sleep (at least in the weekend, that I can attest). There are too many places in Moscow that you should check out. While I cannot list all the attractions, I will list you my top 5 places that you shouldn't miss if you get a chance to visit Moscow.

№1. Red Square and Saint Basil's Cathedral
When you see Russia, you see the Red Square, it's that iconic. This square is about 73,000 square meters in size, which makes it the third largest public city square in the world, only behind Tiananmen Square in Beijing and Praca do Religion in Sao Paulo. While the square is called "Red Square", it is not red at all. "Red" actually means beautiful. When you stand on the Red Square, you can see the Kremlin on the side and Saint Basil's Cathedral at the back. Every year on May 9th, there is a large Victory Parade marched in this square.
As at 1990, this square is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Saint Basil's Cathedral - a church that is so colourful that there is no way you can miss it. You can imagine the number of tourists trying to take selfie pictures right in front of Saint Basil's Cathedral. This church was designed by Postnik Yakovlev in 1555, under the orders of Ivan the IV to commemorate the capture of Kazan and Astrakahan. According to the legend, Ivan the IV (or Ivan the Terrible) killed Postnik Yakovlev so that he couldn't design a more beautiful church ever again.

№2. Sergiyev Posad (Zagorsk)
Sergiyev Posad is a little administrative region/town inside the Moscow Oblast (or the Greater Moscow Region). Originally this place was called Zagorsk. Sergiyev Posad is a Russian monastery that essentially turned into a city of its own. This city has a population of 110,000. Sergiyev Posad is surrounded by walls and became a holy city of the Eastern Orthodox church.

Originally, this place was founded by St. Sergius of Radonezh as a small monastery in the woods. Slowly, other people and monks started following him and build the monastery together, including St. Sergius' brother. It was told that St. Sergius was once able to heal a blind man to see again. News about this miracle broke out. Shortly after, this little monastery began to attract more prominent figures, the rich and nobles. One of such important figure was a grand general, who came to St. Sergius to ask for peace and victory against the Mongols. When the general returned to the city victorious, he donated a lot of money to St. Sergius to expand the church. After that, the city exploded and became one of the important sites of the Eastern Orthodox church.
Inside Sergiyev Posad, there are several churches. Inside the church, you are not allowed to take pictures of people. However, you are allowed to take pictures of anything else that do not have a person in it. This really means that selfies are not allowed. In the Eastern Orthodox church, there is a difference between a "white clergy" and a "black clergy". A "white clergy" is married while a "black clergy" is not.

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At one of the churches in Sergiyev Posad, the water that flows from the tap is blessed. The church allows the worshipers to bring their water containers to fill their bottles with holy water as you can see in the video below
№3. Moscow Kremlin
In Moscow, there are many regions that are surrounded by walls, these are referred to as "Kremlins". The most famous "Kremlin" is the one beside the Red Square, which is also the office of the president of Russia. If you see a risen Russian flag, that means the president is in the office working; if you don't, that means the president is out of town.

Aside from government buildings, the Kremlin also has other interesting attractions. First, it has two very large items: A large cannon and a large bell. The large cannon, called the Tsar Cannon, was mostly for symbolic impact as it was never used in a war. The length of the canon was too short to fire a cannon ball because the power couldn't sustain the weight of the cannon ball.
The large bell, not surprisingly called the Tsar Bell, was also never been in working order. Unfortunately, a major fire broke out at the Kremlin in 1737. The fire damaged the wooden support structure of the bell. The guards stopped the fire by throwing cold water, however, the expansion and contraction effect cracked a piece of the bell. Even till now, the bell and the cracked portion remain a tourist attraction.
As you keep walking inside the Kremlin, you will encounter an interesting complex within the Kremlin. This place is called "the Cathedral Square" where it has six churches. If you visit the churches on a clockwise order, the churches are called Church of the Archangel, Church of the Annunciation, Church of the Deposition of the Robe, the Assumption Cathedral, the Twelve Apostle and the Tower of the Ivan the Great tower bell. The Assumption Cathedral was used as the church for the coronation of the Tsar
№4. Moscow Subway
First, the subway system in Moscow is very complex. The downtown of Moscow is surrounded by a ring of subway stations which serves as the core of transportation. Then, there are several other subway lines that extend to the outer areas of Moscow.

The subway stations themselves are gorgeous. The subway stations have been designed like palaces. The reason being is to spread the idea of communism. What is the best way to demonstrate the benefits of communism? By making sure that everyone can enjoy the same benefits as the rich would have. The best way to display that is by decorating the subway stations because those can be enjoyed by every common person.

Komsomolskaya, Novoslobodskaya, Kievskaya and Arbatskaya stations are definitely worth visiting. But be careful, you can really get lost here in Moscow if you don't know your way around.
№5. Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics
You don't really see this kind of architecture in North America often.

The museum displays the space technology prowess during the Soviet times, CCCP, and also the Russian period. If you want to take pictures or videos by using a camera, you need to pay for a temporary license, which is frankly quite cheap - only 230 rubles. However, if you take pictures using your cellphone, then it is free.
This museum showcases the period when they sent mammals (really just dogs) into space for space travel testing. The Soviet sent over 20 dogs into space, some of which never returned or died. Until 1960, two dogs (Belka and Strelka) were sent to space, actually orbited Earth and successfully came back. One dog (Strelka) even gave birth to 6 puppies afterwards.

Belka and Strelka
When the Soviet declared this as a space technological breakthrough, they sent one of the puppies to the daughter of the US president (John F Kennedy) at the time. The museum also shows the space capsule where the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, sat on. It also displayed the space suit where Gagarin went for a 12 minute space walk.

My name is Henry Shew and I am a Chartered Accountant tax professional in Canada. I began my backpack travelling trips around 6 years ago. Over the last 6 years, I had quite a few backpack travelling trips. These trips covered five different continents: Asia, Europe, South America, Africa and Australia. In my trips, I walked through the romantic streets of Paris, explored the towering mountains of the Andean valley, listened to the sound of the Africa safari and dove deep in the Great Barrier Reef. I definitely enjoy travelling because it allows me to meet new people and often gives me inspiration.

I started a blog (Walk in my Shew) to document all my travelling stories, and of course to blog about interesting places that I want to see. While I travel, I tend to make a lot of travelling videos, which you will see throughout my blog. Make sure you check it out!


Henry Shew
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