Moscow was, of course, the heart and soul of the Soviet Union, where Lenin, Stalin, and many other important political figures made decisions that changed the world, keeping the country under Communist rule for more than 70 years. Moscow housed the headquarters of the Soviet secret service, the KGB, and the developing nuclear and aerospace breakthroughs of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. If you’re a history buff – or just curious about the Moscow sights & attractions that are relics of the Soviet Union – here is a USSR tour of Moscow:
Red Square has always been the heart of Moscow (and perhaps even Russia itself). During the Soviet Era, Red Square was the seat of the Soviet government, and the square was used for military vehicle traffic and demonstrations; the Kazan Cathedral and Iverskaya Chapel were even destroyed to make more room on the square. These were rebuilt after the fall of the USSR. After Lenin’s death, his body was embalmed and placed in a mausoleum right on Red Square itself (it’s still there and can be visited).
This square houses a large building which served as the KGB headquarters and its prison during the Soviet era. The chief’s office was on the third floor while the prison was on the first. The building hasn’t changed much; it now houses the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Lubyanka prison. There is also a KGB museum which is open to the public – enter if you dare…
This street in Moscow used to be the area where a large part of Russia’s space program developed. Now it houses several monuments dedicated to pioneers in Russia’s aeronautic industry, with the Museum of Cosmonautics and the Monument to the Conquerors of Space at one end of it (and VDNKh metro station on the other end). The Monument to the Conquerors of Space was built after a design competition to select the sculptor and architect to best construct it; it was finished in 1964. The Museum of Cosmonautics was not opened until 1981.
Muzeon Sculpture Park
This “Park of Fallen Monuments” or “Park of Fallen Heroes” is located near the Park Kultury amusement park and the Krymsky Val building. The park is a haunting collection of over 700 sculptures that were made during the Soviet era. When the Soviet Union collapsed, many Soviet-themed statues were literally removed from the streets, dragged here and left lying on the ground (hence the name). In 1995 a World War II section was added, with sculptures installed which had never been on display before. By far the most haunting piece is Evgeny Chubarov’s monument to the fallen victims of Soviet-era concentration camps, which is a collection of 300 sculptures displayed as faces in a single cage. While this park is not in many Moscow guidebooks, it is definitely a must-visit, since it appears to have retained much of the Soviet atmosphere in a rapidly developing Moscow.
Moscow’s oldest and largest film studio, Mosfilm, provided the location and sets of all of Russia’s most famous films made during the Soviet era. Today you can take a tour of the studio (although you have to subscribe for it in advance) and take a look at original props, costumes, and sets from Soviet-era films. They even have a collection of old cars on display. This was a hugely important place in the USSR, since Soviet films were one of the only mediums where a modicum of freedom of expression survived during the Communist rule.