Weekend in Moscow, 3 nights
Day 1 – Thursday or Friday: Moscow (arrival)
Arrival to Moscow
Transfer to hotel
Day 2 – Friday or Saturday: Moscow
Breakfast at hotel
Panoramic tour of Moscow: the ideal way to get in touch with the city, including its historical center and major monuments. We will stroll along the broad avenues, making our way though famous Tverskaya Street to the top of Sparrow Hills, under the imposing stare of Lomonossov University, one of the Stalin-era skyscrapers scattered throughout the city. From there we will admire an impressive panorama of the city, followed by a stop at Victory Park and another in front of Novodevichy Convent and its lake, the inspiration for Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. We will approach the historical center from the banks of the Moskva River, coming out near the White House, location of the siege of the Russian Government. We will also stop at Arbat Street, a busy pedestrian thoroughfare nicknamed the “Moscow Montmartre” because of the artist that used to live in the area and the painters that nowadays populate the street. We will pass in front of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, the Parliament Building (Duma), Bolshoi Theatre, and the imposing facade of Lubyanka, headquarters of the KGB. We will continue through the alleyways of the ancient merchant district Kitai-Gorod, which contains numerous small churches, finally arriving at Red Square, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful in the world and designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It was named Red, or “Krasnaya” in Russian, which in Old Russian was a synonym of “beautiful.” Now the square is surrounded by the famous buildings of the Russian Historical Museum, the Kremlin, and Saint Basil’s Cathedral with its gorgeous onion domes, built by order of Ivan the Terrible. Red Square is also home to Lenin’s Mausoleum and features Russian Army parades on various holidays throughout the year.
Exterior visit toNovodevichy Convent. Novodevichy Monastery, designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, is one of the most beautiful monasteries in all of Russia and is situated in the southwest of the capital on a meadow next to the Moskva River. It was founded as a fortified monastery by Vasili III in 1524 to commemorate a victory over the Polish and Lithuanian armies and the seizure of Smolensk. During the 16th and 17th centuries the great boyar families and even the tsar’s family sent their daughters there. The monastery is situated next to a small lake which served as the inspiration for Tchaikovsky’s famous Swan Lake ballet, the exteriors of its five-domed cathedral and bell tower being stunningly beautiful.
Visit to the Moscow metro. Opened on May 15, 1935, by the Soviet government as a symbol of the technological and industrial prowess of the political system, the Moscow metro was considered to be the “People’s Palace.” The most important artists of the period took part in its decoration, and materials were brought from all corners of the country, representing the union of the Soviet people. The metro is still the city’s main transportation artery and even one of the most important in the world, with its 200 kilometers of railway lines and 145 stations. We will visit the most important stations decorated with luxurious materials: more than 20 types of marble, granite, and onyx, as well as paintings, majolica, glass, mural paintings, mosaics, etc.
Free time for lunch
Visit to the Kremlin and its cathedrals. The word “Kremlin” in Russian means fortress, and in early Rus every important town had a fortress encircled by a wall where the main buildings, churches, and cathedrals were located and protected. The Moscow fortress, the cradle of the city, is the main fortress in the country and has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Built in the 12th century, it took the form we know today in the 15th century. It is an excellent reflection of the different stages of Russian art; a single monumental center of architecture, painting, and decorative and applied arts. The best craftsmen and artists worked on its churches, cathedrals, and palaces, bequeathing to us their priceless work framing the power and fame of Russia that is concentrated in its unforgettable alleyways and different sections. The Kremlin is even today the seat of some of the main political and religious government bodies: the President’s Palace, different administrative and military buildings such as the Senate and Armoury, and also numerous churches and cathedrals. Its walls, 19 meters high and 2235 meters long, tower above the Moskva River and Red Square and are made from eight kilogram bricks. We will visit the fortress, enjoying the view of the world’s biggest “tsar bell”, forged in 1733, and the “tsar cannon”, one of the biggest guns ever made in the entire world. Forged in 1586 by Andrew Chokhov, its purpose was to defend the gate of the Spasskaya tower, though it has never been used. The Cathedral Square is an architectural jewel, flanked by the Dormition Cathedral, the Cathedral of the Annunciation, and the Cathedral of the Archangel.
– Visit to the Kremlin Armoury
– Visit to the Moscow circus
Day 3 – Saturday or Sunday: Moscow
Breakfast at hotel
Excursion to Sergiyev Posad and visit to its monastery. Located about 70 kilometers to the north from Moscow on the Imperial Road of the Golden Ring, Sergiev Posad (formerly known as Zagorsk) is one of the most important centers of Russian Orthodoxy. Its construction was begun by St. Sergius, who established a monastery-fortress there in 1340 that would over the course of the centuries become one of the most important spiritual centers in Russia. There you will see the characteristic elements of the military architecture of the 15th-18th centuries, the period of its development. Nowadays, the Monastery of the Holy Trinity and St. Sergius is still operational and is home to a seminary, the Technological Institute, the Pilgrimage Centre, and the residence of His Holiness the Patriarch of All Russia, thanks to which the city picked up its nickname as the “Russian Vatican.” Among its numerous churches and cathedrals, the most notable and significant are the Cathedral of the Assumption with its blue domes and the Cathedral of Dormition. It houses the tomb of Boris Godunov and his family as well as a copy of Andrei Roublev’s famous icon of the Trinity, the original of which is in the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow. Sergiev Posad has been designated by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Free time for lunch
Visit to Izmailovo. Located near Moscow, Izmailovo is famous for its huge flea market where you can buy not only cheap souvenirs, but also valuable articles made by the best craftsmen. In addition to the typical Russian dolls, jewels, Soviet era objects, and craftwork from around the whole country are available. The range of products and their varied origins are proof that we stand at the crossroads between Europe and Asia. Several workshops offer the opportunity to try one’s hand at traditional jobs such as goldsmithery, pottery, and weaving. You can also admire many imitation buildings representing traditional Russian architecture made from wood and stone.
Visit to the Vodka Museum in Izmailovo including vodka tasting in order to get to know the history of this well-loved beverage in Russia – it is just as common to drink it during a marriage as it is to do so when celebrating a birth! It was even used as currency at the beginning of the 20th century. The principles of distillation will be detailed in order to understand how to produce this 80 proof alcohol (or at least the commercial version) that was even served to troops during World War II. Moreover, a part of the museum is dedicated to this tragic period. The visit is followed by a little vodka tasting.
Day 4 – Sunday or Monday: Moscow (departure)
Breakfast at hotel
Optional (depending on the flight time):
– Visit of St. Saviour Cathedral
– Visit of Zamoskvorechie
Transfer to the airport
- Katerina City
- or similar
- Novotel Moscou Centre
- Holiday Inn Lesnaya
- Holiday Inn Suschevsky
- or similar