This tour of Moscow will start with the Bolshoi Theater, an iconic neo-Classical building with a unique place in Russian culture, which has recently been restored to its original 19th century grandeur. You will marvel at the lavish interior, and see where Chaliapin sang, Nijinsky and Ulanova danced, and Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff conducted their work. You will also see other parts of the theater’s interior, including the luxurious foyer, the rehearsal rooms, and the famous state salon, once reserved for members of the imperial family and their guests. This will be followed by a pedestrian excursion around Moscow’s historic city centre - you will see Red Square, the Kremlin Walls, saint Basil’s Cathedral, GUM, the Alexander Gardens, and much more. Then, after a delicious lunch in a traditional Russian restaurant, we will take you on a cruise along the Moscow river on one of the luxurious Radisson river boats. Enjoy a drink in the comfortable lounge or sit on the open top deck and enjoy the sight of the city’s famous sights gliding past you: the Kremlin and White House, Novodevichy Convent and Moscow State University, Gorky Park and the densely-wooded Neskuchny Gardens. Far away from the traffic and crowds, this is the most relaxing way to discover the beauties of this great city.
- English-speaking guide for the entire programme
- Entrance fees to museums
- Ticket to the 2,5-hour cruise on a modern boat from the Radisson flotilla (Royal class)
- Guided tours as per the programme
The Bolshoi Theatre is one of the oldest and biggest theatres in Russia. It is also one of the most renowned opera and ballet theatres in the world. People sometimes call it shortly "The Bolshoi" and it is situated in the central part of Moscow. Originally it was an Imperial theatre.
The architect who designed the building of The Bolshoi was Joseph Bove. It was built between 1821 and 1824. Since then, the building was renovated and rebuilt several times. However, it kept its original imperial decorations. Today, it’s not simply the building of the theatre but it is also an outstanding landmark of Moscow. The neoclassical view of The Bolshoi can be seen on the Russian 100-ruble banknote.
The theatre is always associated with opera and ballet. It has been the site for many notable premiers. Among them, Rachmaninoff’s “Aleko”, Mussorgsky’s “Boris Godunov”, Tchaikovsky’s “The Voyevoda” and “Mazeppa”. Ballet repertoire includes Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake”, Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet”, Adam’s “Giselle” and several others. Many productions are based on classical works of Russian composers. However, the works of such Italian composers as Verdi, Rossini and Puccini are also staged.
The Bolshoi is well-known throughout the world. It is frequently visited by tourists and guests of Moscow. The Bolshoi’s sibling – The Maly Theatre – situated right next to it, is also frequented by visitors from all over the globe. The Maly Theatre specializes in dramas.
The unique architectural ensemble of the square has been under protection of UNESCO; it includes the Place of Fronts, the Monument to Minin and Pozharsky, the Mausoleum of Vladimir Lenin, the Necropolis near the Kremlin wall where political and military figures of the Soviet state are buried. To the west is the Moscow Kremlin, to the east – the Upper (GUM) and the Middle Trade Rows, to the north – the Historical Museum and the Kazan Cathedral, to the south – the St. Basil's Cathedral.
The Neglinnaya River, blocking the way to the Kremlin from the West, had became polluted and shallow by the 18th century, so in 1819, beneath the Resurrection Gate of China Town, it was enclosed under vaults and covered with earth. On this place in 1819 - 1823 the park was destroyed, which was called the Kremlin (from 1856 - Alexandrovsky) garden. We go into the garden from the side of the Resurrection Square through a large cast-iron gate. The park's decoration was built near the Central Arsenal Tower on an artificial hill, designed by the architect J Bove, a cove with four columns, which still exists today.
In 1913, a 20-meter obelisk was erected in honor of the 300th anniversary of the Romanov's house in the garden, which in 1918 was converted into a monument to the great thinkers and revolutionary-socialists.
In 1967, the obelisk was moved to the south, and in its place a simple and majestic memorial ensemble "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier" was built, dedicated to the heroic deeds of the Soviet people in the Great Patriotic War. In the center of the complex is the Eternal Fire of Glory, next to the red porphyry blocks with the land of heroic cities.
The building, like most buildings of the late 19th century, was designed in the style of historicism whose cornerstone is the use of architectural elements and details typical of a particular epoch in history. Carved window surrounds, small keeled arches and the decoration of the grand staircase are all reminiscent of 17th century architecture, i.e. the famous Russian patternwork (uzorochje). The architect paid special attention to the front facade as well as the corner which connects Red Square and Nikolskaya street. In addition, the Upper Trading Rows echo the architecture of the building of the Historical Museum, also built in an historic style.
Once inside, you get a totally different impression of the GUM. It is not just one building, but a kind of miniature city. It is formed by three street-like arcades intersecting at right angles and featuring a fountain in the center of the building, located under a glass dome which lets in natural sunlight. The arcades have transparent arched skylights, giving the impression that you are outdoors. Framing the arcades are three-storey buildings housing numerous stores. Each level has concourses and walkways which link different arcades. Inside as well as outside, three tiers of decoration can be seen, marking the three storeys. This is the architect’s way of conveying the medieval atmosphere of a whole trading quarter while turning it into a small town sheltered from any rough weather or inconvenience – basically, anything that might prevent its visitors from having an enjoyable time inside.
The Upper Trading Rows were constructed to meet the new specifications of the time. The building was equipped with central heating, electric lighting and running water. The innovation lay in the use of metal support structures, which allowed for a large number of decorative elements with no constructive function. But more importantly, the construction features arched roofs with slanting trusses designed by V. Shukhov. Glass panes were attached to the steel framework, which was instrumental not only in covering long and wide arcades and providing illumination but also in in increasing the efficiency of the construction in terms of overall cost.
The same principle was used to build a number of arcades in Europe among which are the famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan and the Galleria Umberto I in Naples.
Today, the GUM arcades host different exhibitions, while the mall itself, which has long become an architectural and historical landmark, is unmissable for all who find themselves in Moscow.
This rather squat tower (its height on the outer side is just 13.5 meters), was built in 1516 by Aliosio de Carcano, in order to defend the bridges to the Kremlin. It is the only bridgehead watchtower to survive to the present day, and was previously surrounded by a moat and a river. In times of enemy attack, the gates were tightly shut, and the tower became a formidable obstacle to those besieging the citadel. In the 16th and 17th centuries the water level of the Neglinnaya River was high enough that water surrounded the tower on all sides, thanks to a system of dikes. It is said that the tower got its name from its heavy, ponderous form: the word "kutafya" in Russian once meant "ugly, clumsy woman". In 1668 a causeway leading through the tower to the Troitskaya Bridge was built. The building was thoroughly restored in the 1970s.