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Moscow. City tour

We start our tour in the heart of the city, in Red Square. After observing St. Basil's Cathedral, Lenin Mausoleum, the State Historical Museum and other sights of the area we move along the Moskva River embankment. On our way, we enjoy views of the Kremlin, and continue to the Cathedral of the Christ the Savior, New Maidens Convent, Moscow State University. Visit to the Sparrow Hills observation ground opens an outstanding view on Moscow. Then we travel to the Memorial Complex at Poklonnaya Hill and Victory Park, Triumphal Arch, Kutuzov Avenue, New Arbat, Boulevard ring, Pushkin square, Tverskaya street and end our tour by making nearly a circle around Moscow at Manezhnaya Square.

The Kremlin

Moscow Kremlin is the centre of the City. First, it was built of wood, then of white stone, and at the late 15th century the present Kremlin fortifications were erected, with red-brick walls of more than 2 km in length, 5-19 meters high, and 3,5-6,5 meters thick. Moscow Kremlin fortress was one of the most fortified in Europe, even more than the ones in Milan and Krakow.
The Kremlin is the stronghold of Moscow and its historical centre. Most of the city had been inside the Kremlin walls until the 16th century. Afterwards, the Kremlin became the official Tsars residence with just several most powerful nobles and a head of the Orthodox church, who lived inside.
 
Now the Kremlin has 20 towers, and hosts numerous architectural monuments inside its territory. Among them are three main ancient Moscow cathedrals Cathedral Square with Cathedrals of the Assumption, Annunciation, Archangel, Palace of the Patriarch (the head of Russian church), the Armory museum, the Diamond Fund, Tsar-cannon and Tsar-bell, Armory, Ivan the Great Belfry etc. Part of the territory is occupied with Kremlin Palace, former residence of Russian Tsars and nowadays - the official residence of the President of Russian Federation.

Armory

The Armory Museum The Armory building, located in the Northwestern section of the Kremlin, was built in 1851 as a factory for making weapons and armor. Today the Armory houses a museum, in which an enormous collection of Soviet national treasures, including the famous Faberge eggs, is on display. Some of the oldest pieces in the Kremlin collection are found in the Armory exhibit. Other exhibits within the Armory give us glimpses of day to day life for the Czars and their families. Food was served on elaborate gold and silver dishes, including this platter, a gift from Ivan the Terrible to one of his wives. Wine was served from enormous silver urns, then drunk from bejeweled goblets. When it came to travel, the Imperial Family rode in only the most extravagant carriages of the day. The Kremlin Museum contains a collection of 16th, 17th, and 18th Century coaches. Jewelry, worn by the Imperial Family, constitutes some of the finest work of Russian Craftsman over the centuries. This Russian gold filigree, an enamel barme, a neck ornament dates to the end of the12th Century. Later, pieces of jewelry are studded with precious and semi-precious stones. Religious scenes in enamel. Portraits of Czars. Perhaps the most spectacular Russian craftsmanship was reserved for the Imperial headpieces. Most of the early Czars chose to wear headpieces lined with sable fur. These were called "caps". Peter the Great was the last Czar to wear a cap. All succeeding Czars favored the European fashion of wearing fur-less headpieces called crowns. Some of the most spectacular displays in the Kremlin museum contain various religious items from chalices, to elaborate covers for Bibles, to ornate icons like the Virgin of Smolensk. And these are perhaps the most familiar items in the Armory-the Faberge eggs. Those Easter trifles, commissioned by the Imperial Family from the workshops of Peter-Karl Faberge. In 1891, the Imperial "Pamyat' Azova" egg was created to commemorate Czar Nicholas II's voyage around the world. Virtually every Faberge egg was accompanied by a surprise. For the Trans-Siberian Railway egg, a miniature platinum and gold train was the extra. To celebrate the 300th anniversary of Romanov rule, Czar Nicholas II commissioned this egg. Eighteen round miniatures of the Romanov rulers are set into the egg. Inside, a blue steel globe of the world shows the growth in the Russian Empire from 1613 to 1913.

Tretyakov Gallery.

The Tretyakov Gallery -- now often called the "Old Tretyakov" in light of the annex, the New Tretyakov -- is the repository of some of the world's greatest masterpieces of Russian art.
 
Hanging in the gallery are paintings by Nikolai Ge (Peter the Great Interrogating the Tsarevich Alexei), Vasily Perov (Portrait of Fyodor Dostoyevsky), Vasily Polenov (Grandmother's Garden), Viktor Vasnetsov (After Prince Igor's Battle with the Polovtsy), and many others. Several canvases of the beloved Ivan Shishkin, with their depictions of Russian fields and forests -- including Morning in the Pine Forest, of three bear cubs cavorting -- fill one room. There are also several paintings by the equally popular Ilya Repin, whose most famous painting, The Volga Boatmen, also bedecks the walls. Later works, from the end of the 19th century, include an entire room devoted to the Symbolist Mikhail Vrubel (The Princess Bride, Demon Seated); Nestorov's glowing Vision of the Youth Bartholomew, the boy who would become St. Sergius, founder of the monastery at Sergeyev-Posad; and the magical pieces by Valentin Serov (Girl with Peaches, Girl in Sunlight).

Metro

In 1935 millions of Muscovites celebrated the opening of the first line of the Moscow Metro. Initially linking what was then the outskirts Sokolniki (North) to the downtown Gorkii Park (Park of Recreation and Culture), the line numbered only 13 stations, all designed and decorated by prominent Russian sculptors, architects and artists.
To many it is still a peculiar sort of, 'museum' rather than a convenience and a means of transportation. Many stations are of great architectural interest -'Kievskaia' contains mosaics depicting scenes from Ukrainian history, while, 'Maiakovskaia' is constructed using a combination of stainless steel and marble.

Novodevichy

Novodevichy, or "New Maidens Convent" in English, was founded by Vasily III in 1524 to commemorate the recapture of Smolensk from the Lithuanians in 1514. The convent's main cathedral was consecrated in honor of the Smolenskaya Icon of the Mother of God Hodigitria, which according to legend was painted by St.Luke himself Novodevichy was Moscow's richest convent and many wives and widows of tsars and boyars and their daughters and sisters entered the convent and in doing so handed over all their jewels, pearls, gold and silver. Among the convents more notable residents were Tsarina Irina Godunova, who withdrew to Novodevichy after the death of her husband Tsar Fyodor, and was accompanied by her brother, the boyar Boris Godunov, who remained there until he was crowned in the monastery grounds in 1589.

Pushkin Museum

Opened in 1912, the Pushkin Fine Arts Museum possesses a collection of European art second in Russia to only St. Petersburg's Hermitage. Much of the strength of the collection is in Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painting, a result of the oft-forgotten fact that such works gained an appreciative audience in Russia long before they captured the imagination of collectors further west. Manet's “Dejeuner sur l'herbe” resides here, as do Renoir's Bathing in the Seine, a host of fine works by Van Gogh and Matisse, and an entire gallery of Gauguins.

Sergiev-posad

Sergiev-Posad (formerly Zagorsk) is located 71 km from Moscow. The town was founded in the 14th century by the Saint Sergy Radonezhsky who was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church. The heart of the first settlement was the Trinity Monastery - one of the largest founded in Russia in the 14th to 15th centuries. In 1774, the monastery was given the title Lavra, i.e. a monastery of the highest rank. On the grounds of the Trinity Sergiev Monastery there is a museum which was founded in 1920. Ancient Russian art of the 14th to 17th centuries, embroidery, gold and silver work and masterpieces of ancient icon painting are on display in the museum. In Soviet times, the Monastery used to be the official residence of the Patriarch of All Russia and is considered a Mecca for Russian Orthodox Church goers.
City tour St.Petersburg
J.J.CREMERPLEIN 3-1
1054 TE AMSTERDAM
TEL: +31- 20 683 94 94
FAX: +31- 20 612 60 04
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