What to seeMoscow
The present day capital of the Russian Federation is one of the world’s most remarkable cities. Start your stay in Moscow with a walk around the famous Red Square, followed by visits to St Basil’s Cathedral, Lenin’s Mausoleum, the Kremlin and the majestic Armoury Museum, which houses state carriages from Catherine the Great’s era and a fabulous collection of Carl Fabergé eggs. Moscow’s art galleries contain works by some of the masters, including Van Gogh, Goya and Rembrandt, as well as their Russian contemporaries such as Chagall and Kandinsky. The Pushkin Fine Arts Museum, Tretyakov Gallery and the Russian State Museum are recognised as some most important arts galleries in Europe.
The Golden Ring Towns of Moscow
Combine a stay in Moscow with visits to the circuit of towns that once represented Russia’s political and cultural heart. Today, the towns offer an insight into the country’s history, with their beautiful Orthodox churches, imposing Kremlins and rural villages. The small town of Sergiev Posad is one of Russia’s holiest towns, built around one of the country’s most important religious landmarks, the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius. The two cathedrals of Trinity and Assumption contain some of Russia’s most ornate frescos and icons. Perhaps the best preserved and most attractive of all the golden ring towns, Suzdal features elaborate religious monuments and intricately decorated wooden cottages. Visit the Kremlin, built in 1024 by the founder of Moscow Yuriy Dolgorukiy the Cathedral of the Nativity with its 13th Century frescos and the wooden Church of Transfiguration, constructed without nails. Continue to Vladimir, the medieval capital of Russia. Visit the Cathedral of the Assumption, once the tallest building in Russia, and the stonecarved Cathedral of St Dmitry, which has more than a thousand bas-reliefs on its exterior walls.
While travellers regularly combine Moscow and St Petersburg in an introductory two-centre visit to Russia, an equally rewarding combination is that of the two great Soviet countries Russia and Ukraine. Start your visit with a stay in Moscow before crossing the border to Kiev. Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, is one of the oldest towns in Eastern Europe and was a centre for religion and learning throughout the Middle Ages. From Kiev you can continue your journey to cities on the Black Sea such as Odessa and Yalta. Located on the Black Sea, Odessa offers magnificent architecture, attractive squares and shady lanes. Visit the Potemkin steps, made famous by the Russian director Eisenstein in his film Battleship Potemkin, and the baroque designed opera and theatre house, or simply stroll down the many tree-lined avenues. In the south of the Crimea, the city of Yalta is home to the Swallows Nest. This neo-Gothic designed castle is set on a cliff with the Black Sea as a backdrop.
St Petersburg is one of the world’s most majestic and compelling cities, much of it unchanged since the 18th and 19th centuries. Conceived by Peter the Great as a ‘Window on to the West’, it is home to sumptuously decorated and furnished palaces, uniquely adapted to Russian taste, and a wide variety of cathedrals, churches and monasteries. Visit the Palace of Pushkin, also known as the Summer Palace or Tsarskoe Selo. Built in 1717, this opulent architectural masterpiece houses the staterooms of Catherine the Great and offers a glimpse into how the Imperial family lived and ruled the country. The Palace of Petrodvorets or Peterhof can be reached either by land or hydrofoil and is visually impressive, with over 300 fountains in its landscaped gardens. The palace has a wonderful location overlooking the Gulf of Finland. St Petersburg is also home to numerous museums, including one of the world’s largest and finest – the Hermitage. Set over six buildings, this art museum has some 3 million exhibits.
Theatre: St Petersburg & Moscow
The Bolshoi in Moscow and the Mariinsky (formally the Russian State Kirov) in St Petersburg have a reputation for centuries of opera and ballet. The theatres have brought to life the classics such as Giselle, Tosca and Romeo and Juliet, and also showcased new works from Russian and western composers. The Bolshoi Theatre is located just a few minutes’ walk from Moscow’s Kremlin and is comprised of two stages, the old and new. The old stage is currently being renovated. Cox & Kings can book tickets for a performance during your stay or arrange behind-the-scenes tours of the theatre. The Mariinsky has been transformed under the 20 year tenure of the famous conductor Valery Gergiev. Under his guidance, the theatre has flourished and is now arguably the finest in the country. Whether the theatre is the primary focus of your visit to Russia, or one of the highlights of a longer trip, Cox & Kings can arrange theatre packages to suit your preferences. Please contact us for further details.