Russia – Red Square, Moscow

I remember the days of watching Soviet military parades on the evening news. The route always went through Red Square and I grew up thinking that the square was so named because of the connection between communism and the colour red. I could not have been more wrong. In Russian, the name Red Square translates to “Beautiful Square” and the place is indeed very beautiful. The entire square has a fairy tale feel about it and is entirely majestic. It is bordered on all 4 sides by iconic Russian buildings erected during the Imperial days of the country. The building that everyone is the most familiar with is St. Basil’s Cathedral, built in 1552 by Ivan The Terrible. Its candy coloured onion domes are emblematic of Russia herself.

St.Basil's Cathedral

St.Basil’s Cathedral

Directly across from St. Basil’s is the Russian State Historical Museum. It was built in the late 1800’s especially to house over 4 million state treasures ranging from fossils to fine gems and everything in between.

Russian State Museum

Russian State Museum

Beside the sate museum resides the Upper Trade Rows, better known as the GUM department complex. It is known for its glazed roofs, interior bridges, fountains and galleries. Today it houses the finest of designer stores and is very exclusive.

GUM Department store

GUM Department store

Interior, GUM department store

Interior, GUM department store

Finally, the last side of the square is occupied by the fort wall of the Kremlin.

Kremlin with Lenin's tomb

Kremlin with Lenin’s tomb

In this photo you see Lenin’s tomb in the foreground, then the central nexus of the Kremlin Fort wall and finally one of the main buildings of the Kremlin in the the background. Lenin’s body is still on display and open to visitors everyday except Sunday, which is, of course, the day we were there.


Link to previous post – Russian Adventure


  1. says

    Beuatiful pictures of a beautiful place no doubt, but the origin of the name confuses me now. Because that much I remember from russian -- кра́сный means “red” in russian but in Czech very similar word “krásný” means “beautiful” therefore we were warned about this word as a false friend. краси́вый is russian word for “beautiful” and it is indeed similar to кра́сный, but it is not the same. so Кра́сная пло́щадь really means “red square” not “beautiful square” but it could originate from the latter.
    Now I wish that my russian did not rust so much over the years, I itch to read some original source on the matter.

  2. says

    Sorry for the double post. I could not resist to look into this and it is indeed a word shift -- the former word for “beautiful” is in modern russian the word for “red” thus the name and confusing translation to other languages.

  3. voyager says

    Thanks, Charly. That was information given to us by our guide and I did wonder what the etymology was.

  4. Ice Swimmer says

    Beautiful pictures.

    My dad visited Moscow (by train) in the 80s. I went through the pictures he got there. It seems St. Basil’s was under repairs at the time as there was scaffolding around it in one picture.

    He may have only had one or two rolls of film with him. It’s also possible the bottle of vodka he was going to bring home that broke in his suitcase may have destroyed the rest or the Soviet customs may have confiscated some photos. Too late to ask now, he’s been dead for 8 years.

  5. voyager says

    Thanks Ice Swimmer. Photos were so much more precious in the old days of actual film.
    There was scaffolding up on the other side of St. Basil’s when we were there, too. You can see it from inside the Kremlin. Those will be the next set of photos that I post. From what we were told, the building is more or less constantly undergoing some type of renovation. I guess that’s to be expected for a place that’s over 400 years old.

  6. says

    Beautiful pictures!

    I like how GUM has been made into a sort of museum of capitalism, now. It used to be a museum of secret consumption by the party elite. They were indistinguishable from their kin in New York.

    When I was at Red Square I got shaken down for 60 euro by a freelancing cop because I did not have my passport on me. I didn’t have Russian money, either. So he threatened to “show me inside of Lubyanka prison” and I got all excited and offered to pay fo lr the tour.

  7. rq says

    He may have only had one or two rolls of film with him. It’s also possible the bottle of vodka he was going to bring home that broke in his suitcase may have destroyed the rest or the Soviet customs may have confiscated some photos.

    My dad was in Soviet Latvia in the 1970s, and had a strange experience, because throughout the trip he took a lot of photos, including of less-visitor-visited places because of the abundancy of relatives who were willing to risk smuggling him around (not too far of course but outside of the capital nevertheless), he had a whole bag of film to look forward to… which mysteriously disappeared somewhere in transit on the way back to Germany. It’s the only time anything ever got stolen from him. Of course, it may just be a coincidence.
    In other words, I’m not surprised someone returned from a trip with less photos than originally expected. ;)


    The scale of buildings in Russia is a constant source of being impressed, and St Basil’s wonderful colour scheme always reminds me of candy and fairy tales.

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