Moscow has a long history and is named for the river that runs through it, the Moskva. It began as a medieval city and developed into what was known as the Grand Duchy of Moscow, an administrative region ruled by a prince. The grand duchy preceded the formation of Russia as a nation. It replaced Kiev as the most powerful territory in the area during a time when cities were under constant threat of attack and invasion.
Status as the Capital
Though Moscow is the capital city of Russia today, it wasn't always so. From 1712 to 1918, St. Petersburg acted as the capital of Russia. Peter the Great had moved the capital in his efforts to westernize the Russian Empire. The Bolshevik Revolution prompted the capital's move back to Moscow.
Moscow is regularly named one of the most expensive cities in the world. Although you'll find a historic center here, complete with palaces, churches, and monuments, Moscow is a fully modern city with skyscrapers, a network of public transportation, and traffic, traffic, traffic.
Moscow is served by three major airports: Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo, and Vnukovo. Most international travelers to Moscow fly into Sheremetyevo International Airport.
The Metro System
The Moscow Metro dates from the early 1930s and is one of the most-used subway systems in the world. Over 180 Moscow Metro stations, some decorated with artwork and expensive materials, connect the 12 lines that shuttle passengers throughout this huge city.
Seat of Government
Moscow is home to the Moscow Kremlin, the seat of government of Russia, and a popular tourist attraction. This walled fortification preserves cultural and historical monuments important to Russia. The crown jewels of the Russian tsars are kept here, and the Russian president has his official residence here. (Take a photo tour of the Moscow Kremlin.)
Art and Literature
Moscow's population is over 11.5 million. Most of the people are ethnically Russian, Belorusian, or Ukrainian, though other ethnicities are represented. The main religion of Moscow is Orthodox Christianity. Moscow citizens are called Muscovites.
Visitors from the US, UK, and other countries must first obtain a travel visa before they will be permitted to enter Moscow. A valid passport and other documents are required for obtaining a visa.
ranges from frigid in the winter to scorching in the summer. Winters are long, with heavy snowfall. The short summer months are the most popular time to travel to Moscow.
Moscow follows the Moscow Time zone, followed by St. Petersburg and most of western Russia as well. Moscow Time is UTC+4 and is one of nine time zones in Russia. Moscow does not observe daylight savings.
Moscow is often included on tours of Russia and river cruises. If you're interested in seeing other Russian cities as well as Moscow, consider booking one of these group travel options.
Moscow Greeter is a volunteer organization that offers free tours of Moscow. Just follow the guidelines for booking to see Moscow through a local's eyes.
Alphabet and Language
Because Russia's official alphabet is the Cyrillic alphabet, signs will also be in the Russian language and written in Cyrillic script. This can make getting around tricky at first, but a Russian phrasebook can help you decipher street signs and place names.
Famous people from Moscow include Alexander Pushkin (author of
), and Wassily Kandinsky (known as the Father of Abstract Art).