The Unquenchable History of the Moscow Red Square

June, 2016

Red Square is Moscow’s mythic refuge that links the modern nation to its legendary past. A vast rectangular stretch of cobblestones surrounded by architectural marvels – Red Square truly epitomizes the mystique and beauty of the Russian capital. Red Square lies in the heart of Moscow with Kremlin, St. Basil’s Cathedral, GUM Department Store, and State Historical Museum standing on its four sides. It is often considered the central square of Moscow since all of city’s major streets, which connect to Russia’s major highways, originate from the Red Square.

Origin of Red Square and Its Name

Its origin dates to the late 15th century when the Muscovite Prince Ivan III (Ivan the Great) expanded the Kremlin to the area now known as Red Square in order to reflect Moscow’s growing power and influence. Ivan the Great allotted the present Red Square area for a market and so was named as Trade Square (“Torgovaya”). However, in the 16th century, it was renamed as Trinity Square in honor of the Trinity Cathedral, which stood on the site where St. Basil’s stands now. From the 17th century onward, Russians began calling the Square by its current name, “Krasnaya Ploschad.” The name ‘Krasnaya’ is derived from the word Krasnyi, originally meant ‘beautiful’ in Old Russian and later came to mean ‘red’ in contemporary Russian.

Red Square: A Vast Meeting Place

The square was meant to serve as Moscow’s main marketplace. Merchants from all over the world came to trade here, turning it into a big market. Over the years Red Square has acted as Moscow’s vast meeting place for the Muscovites masses. It has been a place for public ceremonies, proclamations, religious festivals, public gatherings, Government announcements, Tsars’ annual addresses, and even watching executions. The square became famous in the 20th century when the first official military parade was organized to demonstrate to the world the might of the Soviet armed forces on November 7, 1941.

Lenin’s Mausoleum and St. Basil Cathedral

During your Red Square visit, don’t miss the chance to see Lenin’s Mausoleum where remains of Vladimir Lenin, leader of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and architect of the Soviet state, have been interred in a granite mausoleum on the western side of the square. Another must-see is St. Basil’s Cathedral, a culmination of colors, patterns, spires, domes and towers that are unique to Russian architecture.

How to Get There

Moscow is justly famed for its beautiful & magnificent subway system. The nearest metro stations are Ploshchad Revolyutsii (Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya) and Okhotny Ryad (Sokolnicheskaya). Walk in and around Red Square to know more about its history. You can also book your private Moscow driving tour to enjoy the highlights of the city including Red Square while driving around Moscow.

How to Visit

Red Square and its adjacent Kremlin and other iconic sites are some of the most amazing places to see in Moscow. You cannot miss to visit these places during your Moscow tour. One great way to tour Red Square is by hiring personal tourist guides in Moscow, who will tell you more about the rich history of this truly magnificent place and will also guide you through the city’s most important historical sites. Red Square’s varied beauty, beautiful architecture and the magical atmosphere combine to make it a truly fascinating place that you will want to come back to again and again