Winter is one of the best times of year for a city break. There’s something magical about a new city dusted in white, but it’s worth taking a look at a city that isn’t readily accessible but sometimes can be overlooked. We’re talking about Moscow, Russia’s capital. With it’s own unique history and architecture, it can sometimes feel like another world, but there’s ever a vein of the familiar that makes this particular city feel even more special.
Russia has its own, long complicated history and the city makes for one of the most wonderful monuments to that history. Of all places, you can’t miss out on visiting the Red Square, where you have an immediate view of some of the most architecturally unique and jaw-dropping sites. Perhaps most notable of all is Saint Basil’s Cathedral with it’s iconic pointed dome towers ever looming large over the city. Red Square also offers quick access to the Kremlin, Lenin’s Tomb and the State History Museum, each of which offer a look into specific periods of the city’s long, tumultuous history. The Winter Palace, Imperial Court of Peter the Great, is just as indomitable and impressive looking.
Russia isn’t as far away from the western world as you might think. The McDonalds in Red Square might be a very bright signal that this is the case, but the taste in luxuries and finer things is very much palatable to Western European and American sensibilities as well. Nowhere can you experience these luxuries better than in accommodation like the Moscow Marriott Grand Hotel. Take a stroll out through the city streets and you can enjoy the kind of shopping you might think only available in Paris or London, too. Moscow is it’s own fashion capital, with the GUM Department Store offer lots of high street brands and small boutiques. The Petrovsky Passage is worth a wander for the architectural style of the arcade alone, even if you can’t justify fitting a souvenir from this luxury shopping centre in your budget.
Moscow is, of course, famous for its winters. They can be truly bitter with snowstorms that have made many an invader shiver. However, if you can find your way there when it’s a little wilder, then the whole city transforms into a real winter wonderland. The VDNH Park is transformed with a huge elaborate lit ice rink every year. Gorky Park becomes home to a whole host of gorgeous ice statues. The Stravinsky Theater enjoys its high season with world-class ballet. Whether you’re there for the family, for the sights, or for a little culture, Moscow is best enjoyed in the winter, there’s no doubt about that.
It’s most certainly worth putting Moscow on the bucket list. While it might not be one of the first cities you think of visiting, the mix of the unique architectural history, the familiar comforts of western cities, and the magical nature that permeates the whole area in the winter demands a little more attention.