You could easily spend a week in Moscow, the most populous city in Europe and the seventh largest in the world, and not see everything it has to offer with the plethora of history, art and culture on offer. Now a fascinating mix of old and new, be prepared to be mesmerized -- from the ancient Red Square to the famous Bolshoi Ballet. Here's a handy list of must-see things in "the city by the Moskva River."
1. Russia's presidential administration is located in the Moscow Kremlin, once the royal citadel and the seat of Communist USSR, where you can see the Cathedral Square with the Tsar Bell, and the Amory Museum. But the country boasts a series of Kremlins - walled, unwalled or in ruins - from Izmaylovo to Smolensk.
2. Just outside the Kremlin is the grand old Red Square, from where all major streets in the city radiate. It became a focal point for the new state in the Soviet era. Its checkered past includes being a trade center for Moscow in the 18th century, the heart of the famous Palm Sunday processions, and the home of the famous St. Basil's Cathedral that first gave the square its characteristic silhouette.
3. The world's foremost collection of Russian art can be found in the renowned State Tretyakov Gallery. Built in 1902–04, the façade of the gallery building was designed by the painter Viktor Vasnetsov n an odd fairy-tale style and expanded to include several nearby buildings like the 17th century Church of St. Nicholas. During the 20th century, the gallery expanded to several neighboring buildings, including the 17th-century Church of St. Nicholas. In 1985, it merged with a gallery of contemporary art in a large modern building along the Garden Ring. The grounds of this branch includes the "Forge sculpture and the "Young Russia" monument. Nearby is Zurab Tsereteli's 86-meter statue of Peter the Great, one of the tallest outdoor statues in the world.
4.The Pushkin Museum is the largest museum of European art in Moscow, on Volkhonka street, and has nothing to do with the famous poet. t was founded by professor Ivan Tsvetaev. Tsvetaev persuaded the rich philanthropist Yuriy Nechaev-Maltsov and the fashionable architect Roman Klein to give Moscow a fine arts museum. Construction work began in 1898 and Tsvetaev's dream was realised in May 1912, when the museum opened its doors to the public. It's collections include Impressionist greats by Picasso, Van Gogh, Matisse and ancient papyrus documents.
The International musical festival Svyatoslav Richter's December Nights has been held in the Pushkin museum since 1981.
5. The Bolshoi Theatre was founded in 1776 by Prince Peter Urusov and Michael Maddox. Associated from its beginnings with ballet, particularly Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, the repertory theater normally introduces two to four new ballet or opera productions each season with the sets and costumes for most productions made in the Bolshoi's own workshops.
The current building was built on Theatre Square in 1824 to replace the Petrovka Theatre, which had been destroyed by fire in 1805. It was designed by architect Andrei Mikhailov, who had built the nearby Maly Theatre in 1824.
The theatre is the parent company of the Bolshoi Ballet, one of the world's leading schools of ballet.
6. For a panoramic view of the city, head to Sparrow Hills, one of the highest points 200 meters above sea level, is a haven for tourists and photographers. Immortalized by many Russian poets and writers, it is a on a hill situated on the right bank of the Moskva River. Landmarks seen from the top include the Moscow state University, the Trinity Church, and the Khamovniki District.
7. One of the oldest surviving streets of the Russian capital, Arbat Street is pedestrian-friendly and dotted with performing artists,historic buildings and cafes.
Originally the street formed part of an important trade route and was home to a large number of craftsmen. In the 18th century, the Arbat came to be regarded by the Russian nobility as the most prestigious living area in Moscow. The street was almost completely destroyed by the great fire during Napoleon's occupation in 1812 and had to be rebuilt. In the 19th and early 20th centuries it became known as the a place where artists and academics lived. In the Soviet period, it was the home of many high-ranking government officials.
8. Gorky Park opened in 1928 and is located at Krymsky Val and situated just across the Moskva River. The park was created by the amalgamation of the extensive gardens of the old Golitsyn Hospital and the Neskuchny Palace and covers an area of 300 acres. It includes several activities for tourists from a cave of horror to bumper boats. It's also a great place to watch locals run or relax, much like NYC's Central Park.
10. The Moscow Zoo has over 6000 animals representing more than 1000 species and covers an area of about 21.5 hectares. It was founded in 1864 by a group of professor-biologists and nationalized in 1919. Renovated in 1990 it was expanded to include a sea aquarium, an aviary, a creatures of the night exhibit, and a sea lion exhibit.