If you believe that Moscow is the heart of Russia, then you must know that Red Square is the heart of Moscow.
The square is located in the middle of Moscow at the north of the Moskva River, on the east side of the famous Kremlin Palace.
Many believe that the reason behind the naming of the Red Square is because of the red buildings around the square, or Soviet Russia's red flag, but actually, it's more interesting than that.
Red Square wasn't the perpetual name of the place, the oldest name that we can confirm of is “Veliky Torg” which means "grand market" in Russian. This naming nearly hints that the place former purpose was by all means business. After Tatars attacked Russia, the place had been changed to Trinity square for honoring the Trinity Troitskaya burned structure around the 16th century. Later, the square called "Krasnyi Ploschad." Krasnyi means both "red" and "beautiful" in Russian, that’s why it called Red Square.
The red square has massive historical structures and several symbols all around it. If you ever step into it, you'll instantly realize its hallowed atmosphere all at once. But it was not like this all the time. At the beginning of the formation of the square, it was a gathering place for poor people, drunks, and criminals. It was always like that, until the day Alexander the third, better known as the peacemaker became the Tsar and ordered to clean up the place for good. For centuries, it was under the attack of either Mongols or Tatars, from time to time. These attacks were lead to lots of fire and burned places around the square, so the square was also famous as the burning square.
There are lots of valid logics for travel agencies to put the red square at the top of their priority list of places in their tour to Russia. Maybe, one of the significant reason is the historical structures and major states which are in the square area. It feels like that if you stand in the center of the square, you probably notice a significant piece in each corner of your eye.
At the west side, there it is, the famous Kremlin Palace. The palace was a place for kings and tsars to rule. Today, it's the living place for the president, and also the government’s offices. The palace with its all glory is a perfect place for officials and personal meetings. Therefore, we would identify the Palace as a symbol of Russia political past and present.
After Kremlin Palace, The Saint Basil's cathedral might be the next place that gives the red square more historical identity. The cathedral was constructed by order of the Ivan the fifth -also known as Ivan the Terrible- after his massive success over the Mongols and invasion of Kazan. The cathedral was named after the famous saint of Russia, Saint Basil. The architecture and coloring of the structure are one of the most mesmerizing things in the whole area that even in the urban legends had been cited. it said that after the construction has been ended, Ivan the Terrible ordered to blind both Barma and Postnik Yakovlev, the architects of the cathedral to prevent them from creating such wonder ever again. The Saint Basil's Cathedral alongside The Kazan Cathedral present at the northeast of the red square -which was built for honoring Prince Dmitri Pozharsky, one of the Russian heroes- are the symbol of religious Russia.
Other than political and religious symbols, Russia cultural and historical past are also represented at the Red Square atmosphere. Russia Historical State Museum at the north side of the square is responsible for guarding and promoting Russia heritage from the Paleolithic era till today. The structure which itself can be a Russia architecture little history book, built at the beginning of the nineteen century. But, down under Kremlin's wall, there's another majestic structure which caught eyes. Vladimir Lenin's Mausoleum. The head of government of Soviet Russia preserved the body after he died in 1942 held in there for public display. Photography is forbidden in the tomb, but visitants said that "it is the most terrifying yet majestic place of all time."
These two buildings with all the matters inside them added even more historical and cultural identity to the place.
Like previously said, The Red Square original intention was economic and through history has been loyal to its origin. An iconic example of this loyalty is the grand ancient market of Gum which as of today, is one of the greatest names in the market in Russia. It might be a little bit different from the rest of the square atmosphere with its brand new luxury stores inside it, but it wasn't always like this.
Although before the 16th century, the economic value of Russia, because of the Ivan the Terrible meddling with the law and force everyone to trade goods with goods, wasn't so good, but later, things changed, so businesses get a serious face again. Till the 19th century, the market in the square were some wooden huts, but after Napoleon's invasion of Russia and Moscow's mass fires, those huts were destroyed. After that, the market relocated to the east area. The place that known as the Gum today, was actually the top section of the three partition market back then. Though in the Soviet Russia era, the market was invaded by the government and utilized into their work offices, with the fall of the Soviet Union and privatization in the Russian government in the 90s, the market reborn again.
The Red Square has even more tourism attraction other than these, for instance, we can point out to The Resurrection Gate and the Kilometer Zero. This beautiful gate is located at the northwest side of the square. From the first moments of its presence, it had the responsibility to welcomes guests and merchants who entered the red square. In the communist era, the chapel which was built particularly to protect the symbol of Iberian has interfered and worker symbol replaced the Iberian symbol. But after the dissolution of Soviet Russia, the Iberian symbol gets back at its original place at the chapel.
In front of this gate, at the north side of the square, there's a spot marked on the ground which is called Point Zero. The reason behind this naming is that all the road distances in Russia are calculated from this point. There are some urban legends about this point saying: "If you stand in the circle face to the gate, and do a coin flip, if the coin land in the circle, your wishes come true."
Another attraction of Red Square is the festivals and concerts which held there. In the past, the square witnessed some unpleasant execution ceremonies or military parades, but today, the government focus more on music festivals and making cheerful memories for tourists and guests as much as possible.
Now, with all the information you need, you should understand why Red Square plays a key role in every Russia tour plans. It's recommended that every person who Travels to Russia should at least visit the square once.
There are numerous ways to get to the heart of Moscow, but the easiest and the cheapest way to get there is by using the Moscow Metro. To get to the Red Square by subway, you have three choices, the Okhotny Ryad station, the Teatralnaya station, and the Ploshchad Revolyutsii station. The Okhotny Ryad station which is on line 1 (Red) is the nearest station to Red Square with only two minutes of walk away from the square. However, the Ploshchad Revolyutsii station on line 3 (Blue) which is the farthest station to Red Square with 10 minutes' walk, is also the nearest station to the Zaryadye Park which is only 8 minutes of walk away from the station.
We at the Star Travel Group as Russia tour operator managed to cover a vast part of Moscow tour which you can find in our blog, for example, we provided a brief guide for travelers to Moscow in this blog post.