Also in this section
Moscow Guided Tours
To make your stay more interesting, informative and memorable we invite you for our WALKS (walking tours). If you are in Moscow just for a day or you simply can’t choose the tour we can offer you a hotchpotch of our tours. You can book these tours with your local rep on arrival in the City. We also have a range of special tours which you need to pre-book, have a look at this options on the the following page.
These tours are definitely recommended, a guide for the first day will show you around the city and you will gain a much better understanding of Moscow in a short time. The guide will give you advice and tips to make it much easier to get around by yourself for your remaining days.
For example, The Hotchpotch Walk will include all major sights in the city center (you can even pick them yourselves). The Walks last about 3 hours. But we are flexible and if you think that 3 hours is too long we can make it 2 hours. But the more you want to see and hear the more time you will need! Our Walks are so interesting that 3 hours will fly by without noticing. However if you do get bored (which never happens) you can “say good-bye” after an hour.
The cost of a Walk depends on how long it lasts.
We charge (+ admission fee where necessary): 1–2 persons - €25 per hour, 3+ – €5 per person per hour.
The Walks can be booked with the Buddy who meets you on arrival in Moscow - or you can call our office.
Walks can be arranged on the same day. We try to make our Walks not only entertaining but useful as well. We always have tips about where to go shopping, how to get around the city, where to go and what to see in Moscow.
The Kremlin Tour
The Kremlin is the true heart of Russia, the history of both of the early Tsars and of the 20th-century Communist State. The Kremlin contains architectural monuments of 6 centuries. We will see the Assumption Cathedral where Russian Tsars and Emperors were crowned, the Annunciation Cathedral - private chapel of the tsar’s family, the Archangel Michael Cathedral - the burial place of the Russian Princes and Tsars with UG tombs in it, Ivan the Great Bell-Tower. All the cathedrals (late 15th - early 16th centuries) contain ancient frescoes and icons. The Annunciation Cathedral boasts the 14th century icon stand executed by celebrated icon painter Andrei Rublev. We can get into all the three or one of the Cathedrals according to your wish. You will learn how icons were made and what ancient frescoes depict. You will hear how Russian tsars received foreign ambassadors and gave feasts in the palace or learn why Moscovites spread rumours when the bell was being cast. You will also see the Tsar Cannon (16th century), the Grand Kremlin Palace (19th century) - built as Imperial Residence, the Senate building - which today is the office of the Russian President. After the tour you can sit and rest in the Upper Kremlin Gardens.
The Armoury Museum
The oldest museum of Russia. It contains items of applied art of the 12th to the 20th centuries. Here are: royal regalia; diamond encrusted crowns of the Russian tsars, the oldest crown «the Cap of Monomakh» dating from the 14th century. The collection of thrones: the oldest throne of Ivan the Terrible, the double throne of Peter the Great and his brother Ivan, the diamond throne, vestments made of priceless silk, velvet and brocade embroidered with gold, encrusted with jewels and pearls, once worn by tsars, patriarchs and metropolitans.
A collection of the 18th to 20th century jewellery, including Faberge Easter Eggs. The Armoury holds court carriages and dress harnesses, silver and gold objects brought to Russia in the 16th and 18th century as ambassadorial gifts from England, Denmark, Sweden, Holland and Germany.
This one is special. Miss it and you have missed Moscow, because over the last 60 years the Moscow metro has become an integral part of the city. This, one of the most efficient underground systems in the world, is at the same time one of the most astonishing. And no wonder, as it was designed by the best Soviet architects and artists. Their work was highly appreciated throughout the world. Two stations are protected as heritage monuments by UNESCO, and two others were the winners of World Fairs in New-York in the 1930s and 1950s.And we will not be just idly looking! We will be talking about people who created this metro, their fate, historical events (often tragic) which are associated with some stations, we will raise the shroud of mystery covering the so-called “special-purpose-metro”, and we’ll trace how changes in the life of the country reflected on the design of the metro stations. In short, welcome to the world of mosaics, marble, hundreds of statues, thousands of trains and 8 million passengers. We promise not to stick to the older stations which are no doubt the most ornate, but we will show you that modern stations are also designed in an interesting and attractive manner. They are light, airy, and graceful and each has its own little nuance.
Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery
This convent is a jewel in the crown of Moscow’s convents and monasteries. Its white walls, towers topped by festive coronas, the magnificent Smolensky Cathedral and a beautiful bell-tower attract the eye of both Muscovites and tourists. Tranquil and charming today, the convent was more than once the eye of turbulent storms of the events of Russian history. It recalls Boris Godunov, Ivan the Terrible, Nicholas II, Napoleon and of course many Russian princesses and tsarinas who were imprisoned or took the veil here. We also go to Novodevichy Cemetery, which is famous not only for its distinguished inhabitants, but for the monuments of exceptional beauty and pleasing variety.
We hope this will be interesting not only for Jewish people, but for all visitors who come to Moscow. We hold the door ajar, on something that was hidden for so many years..... We shall tell you when and how the Jews came to Russia, and settled here. You will see some interesting places in which the lives of Jews are deeply rooted, and we shall try to explain why and how Russian culture has influenced Jewish culture and vice-verse. We shall also show numbers of places connected with the names of world famous Russian Jews and among them Mikhoels, Mandelstam and Chagal. Mention should be made that in this century no other European country except Germany and the communist countries experienced State Anti-Semitism. That’s why we think that the highlight of the tour is the Museum of the Jewish Heritage and the Holocaust on Poklonnaja Hill, which was opened to the public on the 3rd of September 1999. Holocaust is a Greek word meaning «burnt whole». That is what literally happened to the Jews during the Second World War who were exterminated in camps, ghettoes and even homes. On the one hand this museum is a memorial to those who died in the holocaust - and on the other it is a testament to the Jewish heritage in Russia.
Count Potemkin, Alexander Pushkin, Alexandre Dumas, Felix Dzerzhinsky, «a suspicious foreigner», the Party elite and other... We will meet them all on the Walk which explores one of the oldest living quarters of Moscow. At different times this area was populated by the royalty, by the nobility, by rich industrialists and merchants - and in Soviet time, by the Party elite. Each period has left its trace here. Mock-medieval chambers; classical pre-Napoleonic mansions; outstanding houses of Moscow’s industrialists, bold constructivist buildings and not so exciting but top quality apartments for Party «big-wigs». Behind each house there is a story about: a Moscow millionaire sympathizing with Bolsheviks; a most beautiful house which became a «gold cage» for a famous Soviet writer; the Cheka’s operation and even appearance of Satin in Patriach’s Ponds one hot afternoon. For those who have read Leo Tolstoy’s «War and Peace» and Mikhail Bulgakov’s «Master and Margarita» it will be interesting to walk in the footsteps of their characters.
This tour wouldn’t have been possible even 10 years or so ago. But today we can walk in the footsteps of the so-called «soldiers of the invisible front». See where it all started, when “Iron Felix” the founder of the “Cheka”, and the Cheka itself moved to Bolshaia Lubyanka in 1918. From the Lubyanka prison we walk to the places of executions. From Cheka to its successors the NKVD, the OGPU, and... the KGB. And these bring us to the «Big Goose» dominating Lubyanka square. Here in the not so distant past people were brought for interrogations. Author Alexander Solzhenitsyn once walked on its roof - which was used as an exercise yard. We will unmask some of the legendary spies who managed to infiltrate the German, and later the British and U.S. security services.
(The tour does not include the visit to the KGB museum, if you would like to go it please call to Patriarshii Dom Tours – tel 795-0927, open Mon-Fri 09-18)
We are off to the History Museum - which is, itself, a historic relic. Unlike the Kremlin’s Armoury Chamber, this museum does not impress the visitor by the abundance of gold and silver, or gems or luxurious fabrics. Instead you will see books, deeds of purchase, thrones, models of ships, ancient coins and fragments of sculptures and etc. Sounds boring? But wait until you see them and hear stories behind and past will come alive. We will look into a book which is 900 years old, see the sign of the Great Khan’s authority (there are only three of them in the world), Ivan the Terrible’s robe, a cup carved by Peter the Great himself, the private home photographs taken by Nicholas II, and a sword which was the gift of Rasputin to the son of Nickolas II. A gallery of portraits of Russian statesmen gives you a rare opportunity to see people you may have heard or read about. We hope that this tour will attract people who visit Moscow in winter and may prefer to listen to stories about the Russian history in the warmth of one of the world’s greatest history museums.
Beyond the Moskva River
Discover the area of beautiful Merchant’s Churches. Listen to the tragic story of the Sisterhood of SS Martha & Mary, and its founder, Princess Elizabeth, the sister-in-law of the last Tsar. Admire the tile-work, by a talented craftsman with a strange mane, Polubes, (“the half-possessed). Walk along the Drainage Canal, whose embankments are a pleasure to the eye. See a three-century-old mansion, which is believed to be cursed, as all the owners of this palace died a bloody death. We end the tour with a rather bizarre story about the monument to Peter I. This monument was causing controversy even before it was unveiled…
The Boulevard Ring
There is a place in Moscow where you can walk without being afraid of bumping into another pedestrian, where you don’t have to stop and wait impatiently for the traffic lights to change, where even Muscovites slow down their pace and relax, where you just want to sit down on a bench and watch and soak in the atmosphere of the great city as there is no better sense of place in Moscow that its Boulevards. Built on the orders of Catherine the Great in the 18th and 19th centuries they have avoided the hustle and bustle of the modern city and still retain the atmosphere of old Moscow. It is a miracle that most of their pre-Revolutionary architecture survives. The past here is everywhere and we’ll try to imagine it as we proceed along the boulevards: French soldiers putting up their tents in Tverskoy in 1812, the vodka merchants giving a party at their house in Tverskoy Boulevard, Moscow students celebrating Tatyana’s Day at the Hermitage in Petrovskii Boulevard, carriages pulling over outside the English Club in Strastnoy Boulevard, members of the Masonic lodge at their secret meeting in Sretenskii Boulevard, the tragic events of March 1953 (Stalin’s funeral) when hundreds of people were crashed to death, Muscovites praying for miracle salvation from the armies of Tamerlan and so and so. Whenever possible we will look into Perlov’s tea house. This unusual building in pseudo-Chinese style will come to you as a surprise. And at the end of the tour a real gem awaits you a fascinating church of SS Peter and Paul. It is so well hidden from major routes that we bet you would never find it off your own bat.
If the Kremlin is the heart of Moscow, Arbat is its soul. Muscovites used to say “for money go to Zamoskvorecye, for a career, to to St.Petersburg, but for knowledge and memories to the Arbat”. The area was known from the 15th century. In the second half of the 18th century it was populated by aristocracy and progressive intelligentia. There have never been factories here, not any workers’ huts, there were not taverns or bazaars. It was the most aristocratic quarter, St.Germain of Moscow as it was described that time. Unfortunately time has not been merciful on the Arbat. It has been reconstructed and part of it has been converted into New Arbat commonly known as “the artificial jaw of Moscow”. This walk is a real eye-opener to the real Arbat a delightful area between New Arbat and Prechistenka. Tracing its back streets we take in here a little wooden cottage with intricate fretwork; there is a curious constructivist building in the shape of two interlocking cylinders; round that corner a lovely Moscow courtyard which has such a countryside look that one realizes why Moscow was once called a big village; leave alone A.Pushkin museum and buckets of colorful characters who once lived in this area. If you want to finish this walk in style right at the beginning of the street stands one of Moscow's oldest restaurants Prague. It was here that in 1901 after the first night of Chekhov’s Three Sisters, the actors held a dinner in Checkhov’s honour. If you want to eat for less money go to the take-away-shop on the ground floor of the restaurant. Starters prepared at Prague are superb, let alone their famous Prague cake.
Solyanka, Maroseika, and the hills around
This walk will take you through some of Moscow’s lesser-known backstreets, a hilly part of town with a cultural mix engendered by its once multiracial inhabitants – Ukrainians, Armenians, and a German foreign community. Like the rest of Moscow the area is a hotch-potch of architectural styles from elegant baroque churches and mansions to huge Stalin-area apartment buildings. We will go into the courtyard of one of them to feel the atmosphere of the Moscow of the 1930’s and 40’s. We linger in a small square in pre-revolutionary Moscow, which was once the site of Moscow’s notorious Khitrovo Market, which was the inspiration for writer maxim Gorky’s play “The Lower Depths”. You will hear stories of the rise and fall of Peter the Great’s contemporaries, powerful and influential Count Menshikov, and the Ukrainian Hetman (Chief) Mazeppa, noblewomen, prisoners of the Svanovsky Monastery, and the great Russian actor and director, Stanislavsky. We may look into the Church of SS Peter & Paul – and if you don’t make a habit of going into churches, this one should be an exception – it never closed in the soviet times, and is one of the most radiant of Moscow’s smaller churches.
In modern Russian “kitai” means “China”, and “gorod” means “town”, but if you think the area we are going to see is called China-Town, you are mistaken. In fact, it has nothing to do with China. So why is it called that? Join us for the Kitai-Gorod walk to explore the city’s oldest trading quarters. This relatively small area lies to the east of the Kremlin and comprises Moscow’s splendid sights – Red Square, and the Church of St. Basil the Blessed; quite apart from Moscow’s first educational establishments, the Slavonic-Greek-Latin Academy; the six-century-old Varvarka Street, with splendid fairytale churches; the Romanov Chambers; the old English Embassy (16th century); and modern and less-attractive buildings like the Hotel Rossia, Moscow’s biggest eyesore. As for the characters on this walk, they range from Ivan the terrible, St.Basil, Michael Romanov, Catherine the Great, and Napoleon, to writer Anton Chekhov, scholar Lomonosov, and communist leaders Stalin, Trotsky, and Lenin.
Soviet and Post-Soviet Moscow
Moscow has been the capital for more than 80 years. Whoever came to power over all these years wanted to immortalize himself. So, apart from the 15th to 19th century architecture we can trace the architecture of the Stalin, Bregnev, Krushev and now what is known as the Lugkov architecture. But it's not only architecture that changed in Moscow. The city changed socially, politically, and culturally. We'll visit places, which reflect this diversity: churches (original and replicas), shops and markets. We'll walk around areas, which give a very clear picture of the 20th century Moscow, we'll get acquainted with "Stalin Archecture" and the architecture of the 60's which is not much different from the European architecture of the same period. It will be a walk and it will give us food for thought. We'll try to follow the most significant phases of the city's development from the political and cultural aspects. Special attention will be payed to the Stalinist period in Russian history and its impact.