The history of Red Square goes hand in hand with that of the Kremlin - when the stone walls were built around the Kremlin in the 1490s the builders decided to leave an open area to the east of the Kremlin wall so that attackers would have no cover if they decided to attack the Kremlin from that direction. This big open area soon became a marketplace, a place for public gatherings, religious ceremonies, and, at a time when few people could read, for public announcements. You can still see the stone platform where the heralds used to read out the Tsar’s edicts. The square was used for markets right up until the 20th Century, and there was a tram stop here.
After the Revolution Moscow became the capital city again, the Kremlin became the center of government, and Red Square took on new functions. Lenin’s mausoleum was built here, first in wood, and then in marble, and, during the Great Patriotic War the Square was used for great military parades, a tradition that has continued until the present day.
On our tour you will walk around Red Square and the guide will tell you about its history, so closely linked to the history of Moscow and of Russia itself. You will admire the buildings that surround the square: the palatial State Historical Museum, built in the 19th in an ‘old Russian’ style, the 16th-century Kremlin wall and the Spasskaya Tower with its famous clock, the charming Kazan Church, GUM - the famous 19th-century department store with its glass roof designed by the great architect and engineer Shukhov, and, directly opposite it, Lenin’s mausoleum. All these buildings, from different periods of history and in styles, nevertheless form a harmonious whole.
The highlight of the tour is definitely the excursion around the interior of Saint Basil’s church, with its richly-painted chapels connected by galleries and corridors, and windows with dramatic views over Red Square. Saint Basil’s Church, which dominates the east end of the square is often considered to be the high point of Russian architecture, and is known around the world as a symbol of Russia. It was built in the 1550s as a group of linked churches to commemorate the conquest of the city of Kazan, and they were combined in the next century to form the church as we see it today. It was Moscow’s tallest building until the Ivan the Great bell tower in the Kremlin was built in 1600. The church narrowly avoided getting demolished twice, once by Napoleon, and once by Stalin. Fortunately this unique church, now a museum, was preserved for future generations to admire.
With so much to see in such a small space, so many layers of history and so many wonderful stories, we are sure that this trip will leave you with many lasting memories and inspire you to learn more about Russia’s history.