Moscow: overview.

One of the world's great cities, Moscow (Russian Moskva) is the capital of Russia. Since it was first mentioned in chronicles of 1147, Moscow has played a vital role in Russian history; indeed the history of the city and of the Russian nation are closely interlinked. Today Moscow is not only the political centre of Russia but also the country's leading city in population, in industrial output, and in cultural, scientific, and educational importance. For more than 600 years Moscow has been the spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church. Although many places of worship were closed, converted into museums, or destroyed after the Revolution, Moscow retained a number of functioning Russian Orthodox churches in addition to a few other Christian churches and Jewish and Muslim places of worship. The Russian Orthodox patriarch has a residence in Moscow ( St.Danilov cloister).

Moscow covers an area of about 386 square miles (878,7 square kilometres), its outer limit being roughly delineated by the Moscow Ring Road. Most of the area beyond this highway has been designated as a Forest-Park Zone, or greenbelt.

The pattern of rings and radials that marked the historical stages of Moscow's growth remains evident in its modern layout. The center of all rings is Moscow Kremlin and famous Red Square. Successive epochs of development are traced by the Boulevard Ring and the Garden Ring (both following the line of former fortifications), the Moscow Little Ring Railway, and the Moscow Ring Road. From 1960 to the mid-1980s the Ring Road was the administrative limit of the city, but several areas of the largely greenbelt zone beyond the road have been annexed since then. Among the most famous Moscow streets are Arbat and Kutuzov avenue.

In the remainder of central Moscow, within the Garden Ring, are buildings representative of every period of Moscow's development from the 15th century to the present. Examples of the Moscow Baroque style, the Classical period, and the revivalist Old Russian style may be found. In the Soviet period streets were widened, and much of the old part of the inner city was demolished and replaced by large office and apartment buildings, government ministries, headquarters of national and international bodies and organizations, hotels and larger shops, and principal cultural centres. You can get a flavor of Moscow architecture via a small exhibition maintained here.

Beyond the Garden Ring is a middle zone dominated by 18th- and 19th-century developments; many factories, railway stations, and freight yards are located there. Here you can look at old postcards: Moscow in the beginning of XX century. Since 1960 extensive urban renewal has occurred, producing neighbourhoods of high-rise apartment buildings. The outer zone has been the site of modern factory development and extensive housing construction in the 20th century. Beyond the newer suburbs are areas of open land and forest, together with satellite industrial towns and dormitory suburbs.

Moscow has a large concentration of educational institutions, and its centres of higher education draw students from throughout Russia. Moscow State University (1755) is the leading educational institution. The city's many specialized educational institutions include the Moscow Timiryazev Academy of Agriculture and the Moscow P.I. Tchaikovsky State Conservatory. Scientific research is conducted by the Academy of Sciences of Russia and many institutions linked to industry. The biggest city's library is so-called the V.I. Lenin State Library. The old KGB headquarters building is known worldwide.

Theatre, music, and art are important in the city's life. The State Academic Bolshoi ("Great") Theatre 1825, Maly ("Little") Theatre, and Moscow Art Theatre ("MHAT") are especially renowned. Of the many museums and galleries, Moscow Kremlin, the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, the State Tretyakov Gallery and the Andrei Rubliov museum are especially notable. Tretyakov Gallery and A.Rubliov museum exibits a great collection of Russian icons and paintings. In particular, the most eminent Russian icon - the Trinity icon by Andrei Rubliov (JPG file, 220K) has being preserved in the Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow) since 1927.

Relatively few people in Moscow own automobiles, necessitating heavy reliance on public transportation provided by the Metropolitan subway (Metro), buses, streetcars, and trolleybuses. The Metro system, which reflects the city's street patterns, is known for the elaborate architecture of its stations (some old stations look as palace under the ground, JPG image, 68kb). Moscow is the centre of the country's rail network, on which freight transport is heavily dependent. Trunk rail lines radiate from the city in all directions to major Russian population and industrial centres, to Ukraine, Belarus, and eastern Europe, and to Central Asia. Suburban commuter traffic is facilitated by the Moscow Little Ring Railway (1908) and the Greater Moscow Ring Railway, which link radial lines. Passenger trains connect to destinations throughout Russia and Europe. Moscow is also a major river port and is served by the Moscow Canal. The Volga's various canals link Moscow to all the seas surrounding European Russia. Moscow is the centre of the country's airline network; the Sheremetyevo-2 airport (schemas of arrivals hall and departures hall), 24 miles (39 km) north, handles international flights.

Moscow is located at 55.55'of northern latitude and 37.37' to the east of the Greenwich's meridian, in the centre of the East-European plain in the zone of mixed forests. The city is intersected by the Moscow river, which takes a number of tributaries between the Oka and the Volga. The largest of the tributaries are the Yausa and Setun'. The cool period of the year starts at the end of September and ends in the beginning of May. Normally, the rainfall ranges within 540--650mm per year. The climate is moderately continental; the winter and summer temperatures significantly vary from year to year. Weather conditions in Moscow are unstable, and the weather forecast service is the most common object for jokes.

Moscow is one of the world biggest megapolis. Its population was equal to 8,011,000 people in January, 1979 (1991 estimate of population is 8,801,500). The area of Moscow is 878,7 square kilometres (or 386 square miles). The boundary of Moscow (since 1960) corresponds to the Moscow Ring Road distanced from 17 to 21 kilometres from a city centre.


The official tourist guide to the city on the eve of its 850th anniversary is constructed on Moscow Government server.

A professionally guided sight-seeing tour around Moscow is provided by Seanet Corporation.

Text is based on excerpts from articles provided by "Britannica Online". Copyright (c) 1995 Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Hyper-links to pictures are provided by RusPhoto.

If you would like to see images, please go to Pictures from Moscow.

Back to All Regions of Russia in Pictures.


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