For a country that officially rejected religion for much of the 20th Century, the amount of historic churches still surviving in Moscow is interesting in its own right. While the number of churches that perished under communism was significant, there are still hundreds remaining. Ubiquitously scattered between the historic center of Moscow and its drab residential neighborhoods, Moscow’s century-long history of Orthodox religion still stands prominently throughout the city. While there are hundreds to choose from, this article will present three that you shouldn’t miss.
Discover the world-famous landmark Saint Basil’s cathedral
For the traveler spending a short time in Moscow, seeing most churches is impractical, but there are many great ones that can be seen as part of your other sightseeing activities. For those wanting to spend an afternoon at the Kremlin and Red Square, the first, and most iconic is the Cathedral of Saint Basil. Completed in 1561, for centuries the cathedral has been associated with images of Moscow and the Kremlin. Designed to look like flames piercing the sky, its appearance was unlike any other Cathedral in Orthodox religion. It had a major impact on future centuries in Russian architecture.
Don’t miss Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, the largest church in Russia
Moscow’s biggest cathedral, Christ the Saviour, is located along the river just southwest of the Kremlin at Kropotkinskaya metro station. Czar Alexander I commissioned its construction to commemorate the Russian Empire’s victory over Napoleon. It took several decades to complete and stood for only 50 years. In the 1930s, Joseph Stalin ordered the Cathedral to be demolished with plans of putting a large public swimming pool in its place. Around the time of the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russian Orthodox Church gained permission to re-build the church exactly as it was.
Definitely visit the one-of-a-kind Izmailovsky Kremlin
Everyone is aware of the Kremlin next to Red Square, but what some visitors may not know is there is a different Kremlin outside the center of the city. Built to model Russian architecture of the 18th Century, the Izmailovsky Kremlin has to be seen to completely take in the mixture of architecture and amusement park atmosphere the complex has. Visitors can enjoy a flea market, the Vodka Museum, and Russia’s tallest wooden church. The market begins at 9:00 am and the nearest metro station is Partizanskaya. It is definitely worth spending your morning here.
Perhaps the best option for seeing a variety of churches is spending some time getting used to the Moscow Metro. For those able to read the names and navigate the Metro, the entire city becomes conveniently reachable. The best part of having such an accessible Metro is having the option of starting in one spot in the city and walking as long as you want, and always being within five minutes walk of another metro station. If you are able to do this, then a seemingly endless number of cathedrals, monasteries, and churches await you around every corner.
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