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Moscow: Heart of the Soviet Union

Every hero has its main rival; and for the better part of the 20th Century the two great rival powers were the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. It is a story of dualism: West vs. East, NATO vs. the Warsaw Pact, Democracy vs. Communism; and at the heart of the two beasts, Washington DC and Moscow. I was privileged to have had the opportunity to visit Moscow, and these were some of the amazing photos from that journey.

St Basil Cathedral

* Nothing symbolizes Russia quite like the iconic Saint Basil's Cathedral.


St Basil Cathedral

* Located at the heart of the Red Square, the Cathedral was built by one of Russia's most famous / infamous Tsars (kings), Ivan the Terrible.

St Basil Cathedral

* Its colorful, unique, even strange, design was made to resemble flames from a bonfire, rising into the sky.

St Basil Cathedral

* Being iconic, the building is swamped with tourists angling to take selfies. We found an amazing spot just across the street by GUM Department Store to the delight of my parents.

St Basil Cathedral

* Of course, the wife had to get in on the action!

Red Square Artillery

* I, on the other hand, was content to pose with the dozens of artillery pieces lying around the Red Square.

GUM

* GUM is the main chain of department stores found in all the major cities of the former Soviet Union.

GUM

* The flagship GUM Department Store, located on the Red Square, now contains shops, galleries, and boutiques from all the major labels in the West; a product of Russia opening itself up to capitalism! 

GUM

* Though prices here, and in Russia in general, are higher than anywhere else in the West. Expect to pay 50% more for that top, bag, pair of shoes!

GUM ad

* Soviet-era ads are the BEST! We shall persevere.. with this bottle of Cola!

Red Square

* The Red Square is the political and spiritual heart of Moscow. As such, the area is often the site of parades, propaganda demonstrations, and military exhibitions (think tanks, artillery, and ICBMs). Check-out the pyramid shaped mausoleum of Lenin, founder of the Soviet Union, in the background!

Kremlin Wall

* The Red Square also lies right next to the Kremlin, the royal residence of the Tsars up to the current President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. Go back up one photo, and you'll see Putin's office (the yellow building) behind Lenin's mausoleum. 

State Historical Museum

* This interestingly-colored building, that for some reason reminded me of a Red Velvet Cake, is the State Historical Museum, which contains millions of priceless relics.

Marshal Zhukov

* At the front of the Museum stands this Monument to Marshall Zhukov, the General who led the Soviets during the Battle of Berlin, resulting in the fall of Nazi Germany.

Resurrection Gate

* The Resurrection Gate (or Iberian Gate, though it doesn't really look Spanish) is another interesting building on the Red Square. The Gate is considered the Square's official entrance.

Kazan Cathedral

* And yet another interesting building (which also reminded me of cake) is the Kazan Cathedral, an actual Russian Orthodox Cathedral despite having the size of large chapel / small church.

Souvenirs

* Moscow is heaven for collectors of unique souvenirs! Check out all these Soviet-era medals!

Red Square

* Kremlin Tower, State Historical Museum, and Kazan Cathedral standing side-by-side.

Nikolskaya Ulitsa

* Heading out of Red Square, we pass through Moscow's famous Nikolskaya Ulitsa, a pedestrianized shopping street containing prestigious Russian brands.

Nikolskaya Ulitsa

* Here's another look at the Red Square's quirky buildings. Doesn't it look like something out of a fairy tale?

Nikolskaya Ulitsa

* Model unit of a Ginger Bread House? This is actually the entrance to one of Moscow's famous eat-all-you-can buffets!

Bolshoi Theater

* Walk down the entirety of Nikolskaya Ulitsa, and you'll end up in Lubyanka Square where the wold-famous Bolshoi Theatre stands. The Theatre is home to the Bolshoi Ballet, one of the oldest and most renowned ballet companies in the world!

Malyy Theater

* As well as the Maly Theatre, famous for its production of Russian and Western plays.

Karl Marx

* Comrade Karl Marx, the philosopher behind Communism, is honored with this grim, manly, statue of him looking resolute.

Hotel Metropol

* Fans of the suspense and thriller literary genres are sure to get a kick out of seeing the Hotel Metropol, the setting for countless novels involving spies.

St Vladimir Statue

* Outside of the Red Square lie even more unique attractions, like this incredible "Lord of the Rings looking" statue of Vladimir the Great, who really over-achieved in life becoming Prince of Novgorod, Grand Prince of Kiev, Kievan Rus (king), and Christian Saint! 

Moscow University

* Built in the very distinct Soviet-style, the Moscow State University was the Soviet Union's most prestigious university.

Moscow University

* And given the USSR's rivalry with the US back in the day, one can surmise that some of Russia's most important scientists, personalities, and statesmen came from this University.

Monument to Peter the Great

* Drive down the Moskva River and you'll come across this spectacular monument to Peter the Great, Emperor of Russia who expanded Russian territory considerably back in the 18th Century and led the drive for Russia to be more Westernized / Enlightened. 

Radisson Royal Hotel

* Commissioned by Stalin to celebrate the superiority of the Soviet way-of-life, the Hotel Ukraina was once the tallest hotel in the world. Today, it is known as the Radisson Royal Hotel.

International Business Center

* Very much a modern city with a booming start-up and digital movement, Moscow also has its share of skyscrapers with impressive architectural designs clustered in an area known as the Moscow International Business Center. Moscow has six of the tallest buildings in the whole of Europe. 

Worker and the Kolkhoz Woman

* Nothing screams the value of Soviet perseverance like this Statue of the Worker and Kolkhoz Woman, each carrying a hammer and sickle stretched out to the heavens. 

"Wokers of the world, unite!"

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