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Red Square (Krasnaya Ploshchad), Moscow
Concierge.com's insider take:
The site of extravagant military parades during the Soviet era, this may be the most famous square in the world. The Kremlin walls and Lenin's tomb stand on one side, on another stands GUM, Russia's largest department store. Onion-domed St. Basil's Cathedral stands at the square's southern end. The square's name is not an allusion to communism, but in fact dates back to the 17th century: The adjective krasnaya originally meant "beautiful," but the word's meaning gradually changed to "red." At night floodlights illuminate the square and the red stars atop the Kremlin towers are lit from inside. Concerts are held on an extension of Red Square called Vasilyevsky Spusk behind St. Basil'swhich, along with the reconstruction of an adjacent building that the Kremlin plans to turn into an auction house, elite hotel, and apartmentsmakes preservationists fear for the cathedral's future. (The vibrations from rock music and construction work are thought to endanger the cathedral's foundation.) Vasilyevsky Spusk is also the site of an increasingly popular celebration of Maslenitsa, or Pancake Week, a kind of Russian Mardi Gras celebrated before Lent in February or March, depending on the date of Easter. In winter, and usually through Maslenitsa, Bosco di Ciliegi, the luxury retailer known for its Russian Olympic Team uniforms, organizes a charming skating rink on Red Square (rental skates are available).
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