A bustling metropolis, Russia’s beating heart

Vibrant, modern, and oh-so–fashionable, the Russian capital rivals the world’s best cultural destinations. The thriving metropolis is home to famous Bolshoi Theatre and the impressive Kremlin. Theaters, concert halls, chic stores, hip restaurants, and trendy clubs abound along the Moskva River.

Moscow is the biggest Russian and European city, with more than 12 million inhabitants. It has been the capital of Russia since the 15th century, except from 1712 to 1918, when the capital was transferred to St. Petersburg. The city was founded in the 12th century and the Kremlin, its main fortress, was erected in 1156. Moscow rapidly gained importance and the Duchy of Moscow became the main political center among the principalities of central Russia before Ivan III, Grand Prince of Moscow, united most of these states under his control. He liberated central Russia from the Mongol and Tatar invaders, expanded the Russian state, and was named Grand Prince of Rus, with Moscow as its capital. The city has been destroyed by invaders several times throughout its history: the Mongols, Crimean Tatars, Poles, and Swedes have all occupied the city, and even Napoleon remained here for six weeks before beginning his catastrophic retreat during the Russian winter. During World War II, the German armies were stopped only 20 kilometres from Moscow. These events have shaped the city’s landscape and architecture, making it extremely eclectic: medieval fortresses neighbor Stalinist skyscrapers and beautiful baroque and neoclassic churches are located next to Art Nouveau buildings. Moscow is therefore a great center of cultural life and arts, with several monuments on the UNESCO World Heritage List, many first-class museums, and some theaters ranked among the best in the world. It is a dynamic, always-on-the-move city which in the past few years has reinvented itself as a tourist attraction.