Moscow is the capital of Russia. The city is located in western Russia and lies in the broad, shallow valley of the Moskva River, a tributary of the Oka and thus of the Volga, in the centre of the vast plain of European Russia. This region is one of the most highly developed and densely populated areas of Russia.
The climate of Moscow is of the continental type, modified by the temperate influence of westerly winds from the Atlantic Ocean. Winters are cold and long, summers are short and mild . The moderate annual precipitation occurs predominantly in the summer months, often in brief, heavy downpours.
Only a small percentage of Moscow's population is employed in the city centre because of the decentralization of workplaces. Industry is the dominant source of employment, followed by science and research. Although Moscow's role in the country's administration is of prime importance, government as a source of employment is relatively minor.
Engineering (production of automobiles and trucks, ball bearings, machine tools, and precision instruments) and metalworking are by far the most important industries. Other important activities include the manufacture of textiles, chemicals and derivative products, and consumer goods (foodstuffs, footwear, and pianos); timber processing; construction; and printing and publishing. Moscow is the headquarters of state insurance and banking organizations.
The pattern of rings and radials that marked the historical stages of Moscow's growth remains evident in its modern layout. Successive epochs of development are traced by the Boulevard Ring and the Garden Ring (both following the line of former fortifications), the Moscow Little Ring Railway, and the Moscow Ring Road. From 1960 to the mid-1980s the Ring Road was the administrative limit of the city, but several areas of the largely greenbelt zone beyond the road have been annexed since then.
The centre of the city and the historical heart of Moscow is the fortified enclosure of the Kremlin. Its crenellated redbrick walls and 20 towers (19 with spires) were built at the end of the 15th century and were partially rebuilt in later years. Within the walls of the Kremlin are located the meeting places of the government of Russia. Among these are the former Senate building (1776-88), the Kremlin Great Palace (1838-49), and the modern Palace of Congresses (1960-61). Other features within the Kremlin include the central Cathedral Square, around which are grouped three cathedrals, all examples of Russian church architecture at its height in the late 15th and early 16th centuries; a group of palaces of various periods; the white bell tower of Ivan III the Great; the Armoury Museum; and the Arsenal (1702-36).
Along the east wall of the Kremlin lies Red Square, the ceremonial centre of the capital. The Lenin Mausoleum stands beneath the Kremlin walls, and the Church of the Intercession, or Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed, is at the southern end of the square. The State Department Store, GUM, faces the Kremlin, and the State Historical Museum (1875-83) closes off the northern end of the square.
In the remainder of central Moscow, within the Garden Ring, are buildings representative of every period of Moscow's development from the 15th century to the present. Examples of the Moscow Baroque style, the Classical period, and the revivalist Old Russian style may be found. In the Soviet period streets were widened, and much of the old part of the inner city was demolished and replaced by large office and apartment buildings, government ministries, headquarters of national and international bodies and organizations, hotels and larger shops, and principal cultural centres.
Beyond the Garden Ring is a middle zone dominated by 18th- and 19th-century developments; many factories, railway stations, and freight yards are located there. Since 1960 extensive urban renewal has occurred, producing neighbourhoods of high-rise apartment buildings. The outer zone has been the site of modern factory development and extensive housing construction in the 20th century. Beyond the newer suburbs are areas of open land and forest, together with satellite industrial towns and dormitory suburbs.
Moscow's inhabitants are overwhelmingly of Russian nationality, but members of more than 100 other nationalities and ethnic groups also live there. Population density, though lowered by outward expansion of the city, has remained high because of the vast number of large apartment buildings.
Moscow has a large concentration of educational institutions, and its centres of higher education draw students from throughout Russia. Moscow State University (1755) is the leading educational institution. The city's many specialized educational institutions include the Moscow Timiryazev Academy of Agriculture and the Moscow P.I. Tchaikovsky State Conservatory. Scientific research is conducted by the Academy of Sciences of Russia and many institutions linked to industry. The city's libraries include the V.I. Lenin State Library.
Theatre, music, and art are important in the city's life. The State Academic Bolshoi ("Great") Theatre (1825), Maly ("Little") Theatre, and Moscow Art Theatre are especially renowned. Of the many museums and galleries, the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts and the State Tretyakov Gallery are notable.
Few people in Moscow own automobiles, necessitating heavy reliance on public transportation provided by the Metropolitan (Metro) subway, buses, streetcars, and trolleybuses. The Metro system, which reflects the city's street patterns, is known for the elaborate architecture of its stations. Moscow is the centre of the country's rail network, on which freight transport is heavily dependent. Trunk rail lines radiate from the city in all directions to major Russian population and industrial centres, to Ukraine, Belarus, and eastern Europe, and to Central Asia. Suburban commuter traffic is facilitated by the Moscow Little Ring Railway (1908) and the Greater Moscow Ring Railway, which link radial lines. Passenger trains connect to destinations throughout Russia and Europe. Moscow is also a major river port and is served by the Moscow Canal. The Volga's various canals link Moscow to all the seas surrounding European Russia. Moscow is the centre of the country's airline network; the Sheremetyevo airport, in the north, handles international flights.
One of the world's great cities, Moscow (Russian Moskva) is the capital of Russia. Since it was first mentioned in chronicles of 1147, Moscow has played a vital role in Russian history; indeed the history of the city and of the Russian nation are closely interlinked. Today Moscow is not only the political centre of Russia but also the country's leading city in population, in industrial output, and in cultural, scientific, and educational importance. For more than 600 years Moscow has been the spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The capital of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) until its dissolution in 1991, Moscow attracted world attention as a centre of Communist power; the name of the seat of the former Soviet government and successor Russian government, the Kremlin (Russian Kreml), became a synonym for Soviet authority. The dissolution of the U.S.S.R. brought economic and political change, along with a degree of uncertainty over the future, to the city. Moscow covers an area of about 386 square miles (1,000 square kilometres), its outer limit being roughly delineated by the Moscow Ring Road. Most of the area beyond this highway has been designated as a Forest-Park Zone, or greenbelt.
In March of 1918 Moscow became the capital. The supreme organs of state power and many central institutions moved to Moscow from Petrograd. It was extremely difficult in the years of the Civil war to see the image of a new city in deserted and unheated Moscow.
The rapid growth of Moscow's population occurred during the twenties and thirties, in 1931 work began to develop the Master Reconstruction Plan of Moscow, a plan which many people abroad considered to be vain dream.
The city grew and changed, the streets and squares became wider, the wooden houses at the former outskirts disappeared. But the buildings of cultural and historical value were carefully preserved.
Today, as ever, the Kremlin with Red Square is the centre of Moscow. Here Moscow began more than eight hundred years ago. The city has grown so vast since, the present and the past are so closely interwoven that one can not embrace it all at once.
Certain villages, distant country estates have become the new residential areas of Moscow. New dwellings rose not only within the established parts of Moscow but new neighbourhoods took shape in Tyoply Stan, Orekhovo-Borisovo, Yasenevo.
In the past century Moscow went through the invasion of Napoleon's army that forced all Muscovites to leave their city. Moscow was burned down but was never conquered. Once the enemy was driven away. its inhabitants set about building Moscow anew.
Nowadays in erecting new buildings, the Muscovites take care to preserve its unique monuments. Its architectural ensembles have been formed over the centuries and each generation added features of its Lime to the appearance of the city.
The city has thousands of libraries, schools, kindergartens and nurseries, hundreds of clubs and cinemas, dozens of higher educational establishments, theatres, museums and stadiums.
Neither words nor convincing figures, however, can give a complete idea of what had been done in Moscow. One has to visit Moscow plants and factories, to stroll about its streets and squares, to see its new residential areas.
The Kremlin is now both a piece of living history and an ensemble of masterpieces of Russian architecture.
The first thing that meets the eye is the redbrick walls of the Kremlin, reinforced by 20 towers, five of which are also gates. The Kremlin's towers are unique in appearance. Built in 1485, the Tainitsky Tower is the oldest. The highest of them is the Trinity Tower which is 80 metres tall.
The Bolshoi Theatre was opened in 1825. The theatre seats 2,150. The company has more than 900 members.
The State Tretyakov Gallery. The gallery's works of Russian fine arts range from unique mosaics and icons of the 11th century to works of contemporary artists. The gallery is named after great Russian Connoisseur Pavel Tretyakov who left his collection as a gift to the nation. It has become one of the most popular places of interest in Moscow since then.
1. When did Moscow become the capital?
2. What was the former capital of Russia?
3. When did the rapid growth of Moscow's population occur?
4. What is the centre of Moscow?
5. When did Napoleon's invasion take place?
6. What did all Muscovites do then?
7. Do Muscovites love their city? What do they do for Moscow?
8. What new residential areas in Moscow do you know?
9. Have you ever been to Moscow?
10. What impression did Moscow produce on you?
11. What places of interest do you know?
12. What would you like to see in Moscow?
13. Have you ever been to the Bolshoi Theatre?
14. What do you know about the Tretyakov Gallery?
15. What is the biggest and the most famous university of Russia?
The Kremlin is the symbol of first Russian and later Soviet power and authority. Its crenellated red brick walls and 20 towers were built at the end of the 15th century, when a host of Italian builders arrived in Moscow at the invitation of Ivan III the Great. Of the most important towers, the Saviour (Spasskaya) Tower leading to Red Square was built in 1491 by Pietro Solario, who designed most of the main towers; its belfry was added in 1624-25. The chimes of its clock are broadcast by radio as a time signal to the whole nation. Also on the Red Square front is the St. Nicholas (Nikolskaya) Tower, built originally in 1491 and rebuilt in 1806. The two other principal gate towers--the Trinity (Troitskaya) Tower, with a bridge and outer barbican (the Kutafya Tower), and the Borovitskaya Tower--lie on the western wall.
Within the Kremlin walls is one of the most striking and beautiful architectural ensembles in the world: a combination of churches and palaces, which are open to the public and are among the city's most popular tourist attractions, and the highest offices of the state, which are surrounded by strict security. Around the central Cathedral Square (Sobornaya Ploshchad) are grouped three magnificent cathedrals, superb examples of Russian church architecture at its height in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. These and the other churches in the Kremlin ceased functioning as places of worship after the Revolution and are now museums. The white stone Cathedral of the Assumption (Uspensky Sobor) is the oldest, built in 1475-79 in the Italianate-Byzantine style. Its pure, simple, and beautifully proportioned lines and elegant arches are crowned by five golden domes. The Orthodox metropolitans and patriarchs of the 14th to the 18th century are buried there. Across the square is the Cathedral of the Annunciation (Blagoveshchensky Sobor), built in 1484-89 by craftsmen from Pskov; though burned in 1547, it was rebuilt in 1562-64. Its cluster of chapels is topped by golden roofs and domes. Inside are a number of early 15th-century icons attributed to Theophanes the Greek and to Andrey Rublyov, considered by many to be the greatest of all Russian icon painters. The third cathedral, the Archangel (Arkhangelsky), was rebuilt in 1505-08; in it are buried the princes of Moscow and tsars of Russia (except Boris Godunov) up to the founding of St. Petersburg.
Just off the square stands the splendid, soaring white bell tower of Ivan the Great; built in the 16th century and damaged in 1812, it was restored a few years later. At its foot is the enormous Tsar Bell (Tsar-Kolokol), cast in 1733-35 but never rung. Nearby is the Tsar Cannon (Tsar-Pushka), cast in 1586. Beside the gun are located the mid-17th-century Cathedral of the Twelve Apostles (Sobor Dvenadtsati Apostolov) and the adjoining Patriarchal Palace.
On the west of Cathedral Square is a group of palaces of various periods; the Palace of Facets (Granovitaya Palata)--so called from the exterior finish of faceted, white stone squares--was built in 1487-91. Behind it is the Terem Palace of 1635-36, which incorporates several older churches, including the Resurrection of Lazarus (Voskreseniye Lazarya), dating from 1393. Both became part of the Kremlin Great Palace, built as a royal residence in 1838-49 and formerly used for sessions of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R.; its long, yellow-washed facade dominates the riverfront. It is connected to the Armoury Palace (Oruzheynaya Palata), built in 1844-51 and now the Armoury Museum, housing a large collection of treasures of the tsars. Along the northeast wall of the Kremlin are the Arsenal (1702-36), the former Senate building (1776-88), and the School for Red Commanders (1932-34). The only other Soviet-period building within the Kremlin is the Palace of Congresses (1960-61), with a vast auditorium used for political gatherings and as a theatre.
The History of Moscow
In 1147, when Moscow began to figure in Russian history, it formed part of the principality of Suzdal’; the date of its settlement is unknown. The development of the little village into a sprawling city dates from 1295, when it became the capital of the newly established principality of Moscow. Growth was especially rapid during the first half of the 14th century, a period marked by sharp expansion of the power and wealth of the principality. In 1325 the metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox church transferred his seat to Moscow, making the city the national religious capital. It became the national political capital during the reign (1462-1505) of Grand Duke Ivan III Vasilyevich, who unified the Russian principalities. The seat of the Russian government was removed from Moscow to Saint Petersburg in 1712.
Moscow has survived many disasters, including conflagrations, plagues, riots, revolts, sieges, and foreign occupation. In September 1812, during the Napoleonic Wars, the city was occupied by the armies of Napoleon. Russian patriots set fire to the city soon after his entry; the resultant French withdrawal from Russia led to Napoleon's downfall. The Moscow populace figured significantly in the Revolution of 1905 and the Revolution of 1917. In 1918 the new government of Russia moved to Moscow, and in 1922 the city was officially made the Soviet capital. Large sections of the city were rebuilt and modernized after the Bolshevik victory. In December 1941, during World War II, powerful German armies were decisively repulsed at the approaches to Moscow. In 1991 the city was the hub of the discussions and confrontations that led to the dissolution of the USSR, and in 1993 was the site of an armed clash between the forces of President Boris Yeltsin and conservative legislators. More than 140 people died in the uprising before Yeltsin's government reclaimed control.