Red Square

Krasnaya ploschad

Red Square is the country’s main one, its heart and soul. The common translation of the square’s name as ‘red’ is not entirely accurate, since the Russian word for ‘red’, ‘krasnaya’, originally stood for ‘beautiful’ (in Rus. ‘krasnaya’ means ‘krasivaya’). A thousand years ago this was a wooded field with a peculiar name – the Fire. The 13th century saw the flatland outside the Kremlin occupied by a settlement. Accessing the Square through the entrance to the right of the Historical State Museum, you will notice the uneven surface: that is where Alevizov moat ran between the 16th and early 19th centuries covering almost half of the modern Red Square separated from it by a crenelated wall. Built by an Italian architect Aleviz Fryazin the moat connected the Moskva and Neglinnaya rivers, completing the water circle around the Kremlin. The moat was 36 meters wide and 8 to 13 meters deep. The rest of the Square was occupied by shops.

In the early 16th century a stone-fenced platform called Lobnoye Mesto was built in Red Square. According to a common misconception the Lobnoye Mesto was used for public executions, whereas in fact special scaffolds would usually be erected for those purposes. The Lobnoye Mesto was used to announce tsar’s edicts, election of a new Patriarch, beginning of war or conclusion of peace; it was also used to place relics for public worshiping. In 1942 an assassination of Joseph Stalin was attempted close to the Lobnoye Mesto – the assassin mistakenly fired a rifle at the car of Anastas Mikoyan, Minister of Foreign Trade.

Red Square is the location of many important historical landmarks. It obtained its current look only by the end of the 19th century, when new buildings for the Upper market lines (the future GUM Shopping Mall) and the State Historical Museum were constructed. In 1942 a wooded version of Lenin’s Mausoleum was erected just outside the Kremlin wall. In the 1930s the Square was equipped with reviewing stands; Kazan Cathedral and the Resurrection Gates were demolished, while Minin and Pozharsky Monument was moved to the Intercession Cathedral.

The Square is a pedestrian area. In winter it hosts a 2800 m2 skating rink. Besides being a regular place of official ceremonies and grand concerts it once served as a film set for The Barber of Siberia directed by Nikita Mikhalkov, who managed for the first time ever to have the entire Kremlin’s illumination shut off for one of the film’s episodes. Annually in early September Red Square turns into a stage for the Spasskaya Tower International Military Music Festival, a parade of the best Russian and foreign military music bands.

Address: Red Square (Krasnaya ploschad)
How to reach: Okhotny Ryad, Ploschad Revolutsii, Teatralnaya or Kitay-Gorod metro stations
Coordinates: 55.754032, 37.620384