Now it is one of the most beautiful squares not only in Russia, but all over the world. No wonder that this unique architectural ensemble is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
History of Red Square
Some scientists consider that Red Square began life in 1353.
At first the square was a Moscow’s main marketplace. Then the wooden stalls were burned down in the great fire in 1493. It was cleared on the orders of the russian tsar Ivan III.
Firstly, the rebuilt Moscow Kremlin had to be protected from fire, because there were many wooden buildings at that time. It was necessary to have a free space to open fire on the enemy from the Moscow Kremlin as well.
The ensemble of Red Square has a turbulent history. It has several basic periods: at the end of the XV – beginning of XVI century the Moscow Kremlin was built. Then in the XVII century, Ivan the Terrible reorganized the lines of streets near the Kremlin. The third main period in red square’s history is a time of fires in 1612. And finally, in 1812, Red Square was burnt down: as a result it lost its all former buildings.
The buildings surrounding the Square are all fantastic.
They are the Kremlin Walls, St. Basil’s Cathedral (it was ordered by Ivan the Terrible to celebrate the 1552 capture of Kazan from Mongol forces), the State Department Store, GUM (The Fire destroyed the old Upper Trading Rows, and the new building was erected in 1893. The architect of GUM was Aleksander Pomerantsev and the engineer of this building was Vladimir Shukov. At that time this building was very-very up-to date indeed), the State Historical Museum.
St. Basil’s Cathedral
Lobnoe Mesto (The Place Of Skulls)
Lobnoe mesto is the stone platform which stands near St. Basil’s was constructed in 1598.
There is an opinion that Lobnoe mesto was used for public executions. But in fact it is not so true. For the executions wooden daises were placed near Lobnoe mesto.
The Place of skulls appeared when Ivan the Terrible addressed the citizens from there in the 1530s.
At first Lobnoe mesto was a dais with a grating but in 1786 the new stone lobnoe medto was planned by Matvey Kazakov. According to traditions, from this place, the criers announced the Royal decrees, important news: a birth of the heir, a declaration of War or declaration of Peace.
Now Lobnoe mesto has another position as there are military parades on Red Square now and then. The Place of Skulls is next to St. Basil’s Cathedral (Pokrovsky Cathedral).
The Lenin Mausoleum
On Red Square you can see the Mausoleum of Vladimir Lenin( the Father of the Russian Revolution). The Lenin Mausoleum was rebuilt several times. The first Mausoleum was a wooden mausoleum. But the today Mausoleum was built by the famous architect Alexey Shchusev. Earlier the Mausoleum was some kind of a tribune for the leaders of the USSR and then for the leaders of the Russian Federation during the festivities.
The mausoleum is open to the public; inside you can see Lenin’s body.
It is interesting but Stalin’s body was also in the Mausoleum (Stalin was the leader of the USSR for 25 years).
Some scientists were trying to compare the Lenin Mausoleum with ancient Oriental structures, such as Persia and Mesopotamia ones. But it is hard to say that they are similar in architecture and structure.
Opening hours: daily from 10 am to 1 pm, closed on Mondays and Fridays.
How to Reach the Square
Today, the square is a pedestrian zone. It is open to the public. But during the holidays, military parades, it can be closed or the square access can be restricted for some time.
Red Square is the heart of Russia. But in the very center of Moscow it is difficult to park. That is why it is the best way to get to the square by Metro or on foot. The metro stations “Okhotny Ryad”, “Teatralnaya” and “Ploshchad Revolyutsii”.
To discover Russia with Alexey Gureev