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Moscow see + do

Sightseeing in Moscow is both rewarding and frustrating: To explore the city's rich history and dramatic transformation to a market economy, you have to deal with its rough-and-tumble pace, lapses in service, unreliable schedules, and price gouging. If you're traveling on your own and want to see more than Red Square and the Kremlin, plan on spending at least five days in Moscow; seven if you want to explore sights outside the city. While some top attractions (Red Square, the Kremlin) are stunningly obvious, others, such as such as Winzavod (a trendy contemporary art center), the Tolstoy House-Museum, and the river boat tour, can be hard to locate. Once you find your destination, expect to pay a stiff premium at the ticket office unless you can speak Russian without an accent, or are accompanied by Russian friends. And carry your passport and hotel registration slip at all times. The police are known for shaking down tourists: If anything is out of order—and even if it's not—they may demand a "fine," often $100. But it's not all gloom and doom in the capital. The city is trying to become more visitor-friendly by installing English-language signs and developing a tourist route that links central sites with pedestrian bridges. You can walk across a bridge near the Kremlin to the Tretyakov Gallery, for example. For visitors who want to explore the city with fewer hassles than they might encounter on their own, Patriarshy Dom Tours offers a daily selection of tours in English, starting at about $20 plus admission fees.

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Lenin's Mausoleum, Moscow

Lenin's embalmed body—or, some contend, a wax likeness—has lain in this eerie pyramid-shaped mausoleum since his death in 1924 (except for a brief...more

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Kremlin, Moscow

The Kremlin's distinctive red-brick walls and 18 towers date back to the late 15th century, and for centuries its Ivan the Great bell tower was the tallest...more

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Gorky House Museum, Moscow

Maksim Gorky's plays, novels, and short stories did much to glorify the proletariat before the Russian Revolution, but after a falling out with Lenin, he moved...more

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Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, Moscow

There were some snickers when Dasha Zhukova, the It girl companion of billionaire Roman Abramovich known more for her interest in fashion than in serious art,...more

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Circuses in Moscow, Moscow

Stemming in part from the Russian tradition of balagan (clowning and tomfoolery), the circus is a national art form. Moscow has two: The Big Moscow State Circus...more

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Cathedral of Christ the Savior (Khram Khrista Spasitelya), Moscow

Built in honor of Russia's victory over Napoleon in 1812, the original Cathedral of Christ the Savior was dynamited at Stalin's orders and slated for...more

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Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow

After a bad run in the 1990s, when it was overshadowed by St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theater, the Bolshoi is fast regaining its status as one of the best opera...more

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Art4.ru, Moscow

Igor Markin, a businessman who got rich selling refrigerators and manufacturing parts for window blinds, was inspired by the 19th-century philanthropist Pavel...more

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Aptekarsky Ogorod, Moscow

"This doesn't feel like Moscow," is a common reaction to Russia's oldest botanical garden, founded by Peter the Great in 1706. Located in the center of the...more

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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