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Moscow Must-Dos

Our experts recommend the top attractions in and around Moscow—with advice on how to get the most out of your visit.

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In Red Square—the city's most famous square—the one-domed Kazan Cathedral was destroyed under Joseph Stalin in 1936 and reconstructed to its original design in 1993.

All-Russian Exhibition Centre
“Socialist kitsch on a grand scale.”—Kevin O’Flynn, co-founder, Moscow Architecture Preservation Society ( Vast complex of grandiose pavilions and monuments glorifying socialism; now used for trade fairs and other capitalist pursuits. Estate 119, Prospekt Mira. tel. 7 495 544 3400.

The Kremlin
A kremlin is a Russian citadel and The Kremlin is the most famous. Birthplace of Moscow and seat of Russian power, this fortified complex of ancient churches, palaces, and government buildings dates back to 1156; Armoury building contains an amazing collection of tsarist paraphernalia; also home to the President of the Russian Federation. Separate fees for Kremlin and Armoury. Red Square; tel. 7 495 202 3776.

Lenin’s Mausoleum
Humorless guards ensure that the line moves swiftly and the atmosphere remains somber at Vladimir Lenin’s final resting place; his embalmed body has been on view since his death in 1924. Tip: No bags or cameras allowed; leave them at the bag check inside the State History Museum. Red Square.

Moscow Metro
“It’s a bomb shelter, it’s an art gallery, it’s the Moscow metro!”—Gerald Easter, associate professor, Russian politics and history, Boston College. Seemingly endless escalators descend to platforms adorned with mosaics and marble; heavily decorated stations include Mayakovskaya, Ploshchad Revolyutsii, Teatralnaya, and many stations on the ring line. Metro fare charged.

New Tretyakov Gallery/National Museum of Russian Fine Art

“Fallen socialist heroes in search of a pedestal.”—Gerald Easter. Twentieth-century Russian art, from avant-garde to socialist realism; sculpture park is the home of Soviet-era sculptures, as well as more contemporary works. Tip: Sharing a building with the New Tretyakov, the Central House of Artists (Tsentralny Dom Khudozhnikov) exhibits and sells contemporary art by local artists. Separate fees for sculpture park, New Tretyakov, and Central House of Artists. Krymsky Val 10; tel. 7 495 951 1362.

Novodevichy Convent & Cemetery
Sixteenth-century convent celebrates the taking of Smolensk from Lithuania; centerpiece is the fresco-filled Smolensk Cathedral, built in 1525; final resting place of Russia’s most prominent cultural figures (Chekhov, Gogol, Prokofiev). Novodevichy Proezd; tel. 7 495 246 8526.

State Tretyakov Museum
The world’s premier museum of Russian art, including thousands of works from the 11th to the 20th centuries; especially strong collections of medieval icons and paintings. Lavrushinsky Pereulok 10; 7 495 230 7788.

Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed
Built to commemorate the 16th-century victory over the Poles; officially Church of the Intercession, or Pokrovsky Sobor. Tip: “If you can arrange to visit at night with a light snowfall then you have it all.”—Kevin O’Flynn. Red Square; tel. 7 495 298 3304; fee.

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