Moscow, once the epicentre of the Soviet Union.
Moscow, once the epicentre of the Soviet Union, is a surprisingly charming and picturesque city. Modern architecture is mixed with Stalinist buildings of the bygone ear of the USSR. The natural centre of town, the Red Square is surrounded by the cities main attractions, such as the Kremlin and the onion domes of the Vasilij Cathedral. The best way of getting around in Moscow is by metro, which main city stations impress with grandiose ornaments and beautiful murals. Wherever you are heading, spending a couple of days in Moscow is well worth the time. This is a metropolis of the Russian empire and still a world city.
Off the beaten track options in Moscow, according to Lonely Planet:
This grand, historical grocery store on Tverskaya street opened in 1901, becoming the first such place in Moscow. It was famous both for the luxurious interior, decorated in Baroque Revival style, and for the vast selection of rare and high-quality goods. The building itself used to be a private mansion where famous Russian literary figures, Alexander Pushkin among them, gathered in the mid-19th century. During the Soviet times the Yeliseev Grocery was called Gastronome Number 1 and was one of the few food stores in the country with no shortage of supplies. Today you can still shop here for delicacies – or just swing by to admire the interior.
Bakhrushin Theatre Museum
Russian merchant Alexey Bakhrushin was a devoted collector of all things theatre – costumes, designs, posters, props and more. He first presented his treasures to the public in 1894 and a museum was created to exhibit the collection. It went through hard times during the Russian revolution, and was at constant risk of plunder. Bakhrushin lost his fortune, like many wealthy men in the newly created Soviet Union, but he kept working on expanding the museum’s exhibits, receiving donations from abroad and purchasing what he could afford. Now you can explore the incredible collection, which lists over 1.5 million objects, in a gorgeous old building near Paveletskaya metro station.
The construction of this secret hideout in the centre of Moscow was completed in 1953. As the United States developed a nuclear bomb, Josef Stalin ordered Soviet scientists to invent methods of protection against the new weapon. Located at a depth of 65m underneath Taganka square, the bunker was supposed to serve as a safehouse for top Russian officials in the event of a nuclear attack. Fortunately, the attack never came, so until 1986 the bunker was used to manage the Russian nuclear arsenal. Now anyone can explore it on a guided underground tour and learn about the risks and challenges of the Cold War era.
The gentrification of former industrial areas around Moscow continues, with the team behind Flakon (abandoned glassware plant turned into a shopping centre) now developing its neighbour – Khlebozavod 9, a former bread factory. The building, dating from 1934, is a fine example of Soviet constructivism. Once the full-scale renovation is complete, the space will house offices, cafes, education centres, boutiques and galleries. At the moment it’s worth a visit to browse some interesting design stores that can already be found here, and on many weekends various crafts and food markets and festivals take place in the area.