Must do for first-timers in Moscow

12 April, 2015

Starting with a free walking tour will be truly helpful for first-timers in Moscow. Our tour started at Церковь Всех Святых на Кулишках (The Church of All Saints in the Middle of Nowhere – go on the tour to find out why!) and ended at the Александровский сад (Alexander’s Garden). It was 2 hours long, and during that time, the guide told us a bit about Китай-город (Kitay Gorod) – which you will find out it has nothing to do with China, then went up Улица Варварка (Ulitsa Varvarka) – one of the oldest streets of Moscow, passed by the Romanov Museum and learned a bit about the history of the Romanov family. As we got closer to the Собор Покрова Пресвятой Богородицы, что на Рву – a.k.a. Храм Василия Блаженного (Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat – a.k.a. St. Basil’s Cathedral), we also learned a few “interesting” facts about Ivan, the Terrible. Did you know that when he ascended the throne, there were 2 million Muscovites, but by the end of his reign the population had reduced to half a million? He wasn’t called “The Terrible” for nothing. Speaking of St. Basil’s Cathedral, you will also learn how Ivan, The Terrible, came up with that name. When we got to Красная площадь (Red Square) it was already 11h30, and soon after we took a 10-minute break inside ГУМ (GUM) for some ice cream. Turns out, Red Square has nothing to do with the color red, but actually with the word “beautiful”. At the time, the word красный (red) and красивый (beautiful) were used interchangeably to call something beautiful. As we got closer to the Государственный исторический музей (History Museum), Marina – the tour guide – was kind to let us know that there is a great deal for RUB 600.00, which allows you to see the Romanov Museum, St. Basil’s Cathedral and the History Museum. Not far from the History Museum, you will see the Four Seasons Hotel, which used to be the Гостиница «Москва» (Hotel Moskva) – completed at the height of Stalin’s power. If you look closely, you will see that the front of the hotel is not symmetric (you will have to go on the tour to know why). One of the last things we saw was Могила Неизвестного солдата и «Вечный огонь» – (The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Eternal Fire), a war memorial dedicated to the Soviet soldiers that were killed in World War II. A guard stands next to the memorial site between 8h00 and 20h00, and every hour you can watch the “Changing of the Guard Ceremony”.

I have only good things to say about this tour, starting by the wonderful Marina – our tour guide. And if you get a chance to go on some of their other tours, I highly recommend you to! These will not be free (though there is a 30% for students), but definitely worth it.

To book the Free Walking Tour (starting everyday at 10h45) or any other tour, please visit

I hope you have a great time in Moscow!

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