Tour guide in Moscow
Guide touristique à Moscou
Reiseleitung in Moskau
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The square was first mentioned in 1434, at the time it was known as “Torg” or “Marketplace”. During that period it was the center of a town with lots of houses and shops. In XVI century the square was called “Fire” (because of the fire of 1547). It was always crowded with people who were selling things, eating, drinking, listening to the news and shopping.
The word «Red» doesn't refer to color: in Old Russian language the word “red” meant “beautiful”, “nicely dressed”.
Spasskaya Tower with a clock is the official entry point to the Kremlin. It was constructed after the design of the Italian architect Pietro Antonio Solario in 1491. In XVII century an 8-faceted spire was added to it. In the middle of the XVII century a double-headed eagle was added to the top of the spire.
The name of the tower is due to the image of the Saviour (Spas) above its gate.
In 1534 an elevated sport known as «Lobnoye Mesto» was constructed. It was used for announcing the tsar decrees as well as for other announcements and speeches. In the XVII century this spot started to be used to present the heir to the throne to the people, on the day when he turned 16, to protect the country from self-proclaimed heirs.
Next to the Kremlin wall near the Senat tower there is the Mausoleum with the body of Lenin.
Modern building faced with granite and marble dates back to 1930 (it was constructed to replace the first wooden mausoleum built in 1924 – on the year when Lenin died). The body is placed in a glass case, and is kept in the Mourning room, which visitors can access through the entry hall.
During the war the body was evacuated to Siberia (city of Tyumen), and brought back to Moscow in 1945.
From 1953 to 1961 the Mausoleum had two bodies – of Lenin and of Stalin. But during the the ХХ meeting of the KPSS in 1956 Chruschev spoke against the “cult of personality”, and in 1961 the body of Stalin was removed and buried behind the Mausoleum (except Stalin, the Necropolis of the key politicians includes graves of Kalinin, Brezhnev, Zhdanov, Suslov etc). There are only three such mausoleums in the world: except Lenin, there is a mausoleum with the body of Mao Tse-tung and of Ho Chi Minh.
The Mausoleum of Lenin doesn't have sentries any more, now they stand in front of the Memorial to the Unknown Soldier in the Alexandrovski garden (on the left, where the wall ends).
In the wall you can see the niches with the urns of the revolutionaries, writers, scientists, inventors, cosmonauts. Among others there is a niche of Gagarin (who died in an accident during a trial flight of a new plane in 1968), and of other cosmonauts who died during the flights to space.
There were a lot of discussions in the Russian society and in the Russian parliament about keeping the body of Lenin in the Mausoleum after the fall of the communism. Among other things, the idea of burial is supported by the will of Lenin, which states that the head of the bolsheviks wished to the buried. The same request was expressed in a letter of his wife Nadezhda Krupskaya. However, there is a significant share of voters who support the communist party and almost 20% of the deputies of the Duma (parliament) that wouldn't even want to hear about removing the body of Lenin from the Mausoleum.
The building at the back is the State Historic Museum. Its collection includes thousands of the precious archaeological items that help to discover the history of Russia from paleolithic times till the ХХ century.
On the right from the museum you can see the Voskresenskiye gates and the Church of Our Lady of Kazan, constructed upon the order of prince Pozharski who liberated Moscow from Polish invaders.
All the right side of the square is occupied by a department store known as GUM, it was constructed in the end of the XIX century to replace an old market.