Moscow: Illuminating beyond the spotlights

Moscow is definitely a must-visit as the Russian capital. (Photo credit: Maria Michela D' Alessandro)

Enviable architecture, stunning churches and the Kremlin are some of Moscow’s best, but aside from the main attractions are some highlights you shouldn’t miss

The capital of the Russian Federation has much more to offer than fancy metro stations or a stroll through Red Square, both for those who are planning a short visit and for the 12 million people who live there. It is not hard to understand why Muscovites put so much effort in defending their city as the best in the country.  

For starters, the cultural offerings go beyond the amazing Tretyakov State Gallery and the worldwide known Bolshoi theatre. Moscow has one of the largest bookstores of all Europe: Biblio-Globus. Founded in 1957, the three-level store, also known as The Main Book Store, has a range of over 250,000 items of printed products and welcomes over 10,000 visitors every day. This is a place where Muscovites go to read a book while relaxing at the cafe and tourists can reserve tours and buy tickets for several attractions. cinemas, theatres and book tours with agencies.

Moscow hosts one of the most important creative clusters of the country. Situated in an old-factory, Artplay is a specialized business and shopping center in the fields of architecture and design. To name a few spotlights, it has welcomed aspiring Moscow galleries, workshops, cafes, bars, bookstores, a music club, a school of design, a cinema, a children’s art studio and others. The complex also offers courses in literature and hosts the Moscow Film School.

The colourful stall of vegan food at Artplay (Photo credit: Priscilla Castro)

Alla Khamidulina is a new student of literature at Litband, one of Artplay’s projects, and recommends a visit to the complex: “It is a good experience studying here and very much worth visiting during the week, with all the workers coming in and going for lunch or leaving, it actually looks like a busy small town”.

One curiosity worth mentioning about Artplay is the Ecology sphere (Russian:Сфера экологии), one of the best recycling points in the city, where one can bring recyclables: glass, metal, tetra-pack, and all kinds of plastic that are recyclable in Russia.

Options for everyone

Moscow offers several options for children at different ages and one of their favourites is the Children’s Central Store, a seven-level modern renovated shopping mall with all kinds of activities, stores, games and a special decoration for kids, such as the largest Hamleys toy store in Europe and one of the largest mechanical clocks in the world.

However, not only the little ones can enjoy what it has to offer. Adults are also paying a visit for the spectacular views of the city offered at the mall’s rooftop. From up there, it is possible to admire the city centre–Red Square, the Kremlin, appreciate the architecture of some amazing constructions such as the Cathedral of Christ the Savior  and, if done by night, enjoy the magical illumination of the city.

View of the Kremlin from the rooftop at the Children’s Central Store (Photo credit: Priscilla Castro)

Nadezhda Kovarskaya, has been living and working in Moscow for seven years and  says this is one of the best areas the city has to offer. “The area at the station Kitay Gorod is one of my favourite places in Moscow, because it is at the same time historical with very old buildings, but also provides us an energetic atmosphere and this amazing view.”

Illuminated city

The light scattered by the city is one of the highlights of Moscow and it can turn a simple walk on the street into a grandiose experience. Moscow preserves its brightening charm every night and keeps part of the city centre constantly illuminated with different types of lights and colours that reveal wonderful designs and paths.

The major Chistoprudny Boulevard (Russian: Чистопрудный Бульвар) is one option to enjoy these shining nights, following the beautifully decorated medians and appreciating the figures that the colourful lights shape. In addition, all over the city it is possible to find skyscrapers and commercial buildings, such as the famous GUM department store,  or just simply decoration features on the streets with a special and charming illumination that reflects the more kindled mood of the city.

Special lights decoration at Moscow's streets (Photo credit: Priscilla Castro)
Special lights decoration at Moscow’s streets (Photo credit: Priscilla Castro)

The nightlife only begins here. With different options for every taste, Moscow offers some special and traditional bars for those who wants a fun and unique night out. Outside of the busy and touristic points, it is possible to find peculiar and traditional places to have a good time, like the bar Pod Mukhoy. Located in a hidden backyard, the place offers all kinds of drinks and a cool atmosphere to start the night. Another option well-attended by the Muscovites is the bar Kamchatka, a favourite pre-party local.   

How to get there

Most of the people who live in St Petersburg prefer to go to Moscow by train, which can take up to nine hours for an average price of 1,000 roubles for a one-way ticket. There is, however, the fast train option, which usually takes four hours with an average fare of 2,000 roubles. The schedule of trains for the Russian Railways can be checked here.

Surprising to most, taking a flight to Moscow from St Petersburg isn’t much more expensive than the fast train. On average, a one hour 30 minute flight will cost you 2,800 roubles. Check out flight options here.

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