24 hours in Moscow
Written by Prodeepta Das Illustration by Fernando Volken Togni
Sitting on the junction of three geological platforms and founded in 1147, Moscow has long been the seat of Russian power. With over ten million people, it is the seventh largest city in the world.
When Constantinople (later known as Istanbul) fell to the Turks, the mantle of Byzantine’s supremacy over the Orthodox world passed to Moscow. A large number of the ornate, onion-domed churches were demolished by Stalin’s orders and their masonry used in building Moscow’s resplendent underground stations.
The change from austere times to the New Russia of ostentatious consumerism is prominent in Moscow. Posters proclaiming ‘The Communist Party is the Vanguard of the Working Class’ have given way to loud billboards advertising major capitalist brands. Moscow also embodies the stark contrast between the haves and have-nots, and reputedly has more billionaires than New York. The rich and well-heeled go club-hopping in their flashy cars past city-dwellers seemingly from a bygone era.
It is a good idea to rent a car with driver, so you can enjoy the sights and not be concerned with roads and maps.
By far the best way to travel is by Metro. It is cheap, fast, and comfortable and covers a wide area.
Buses, trolleybuses, and trams connect places not reached by Metro. The service is usually good and frequent. Tickets are sold onboard.
The central area around the Kremlin is best explored on foot. Watch out for exposed pipes, potholes, and ownerless but friendly dogs.
Most of the places of interest, shops, markets, and eateries are all in central Moscow. Getting around is easy and inexpensive by Metro, bus, or taxi. Moscow’s underground Metro train system is efficient and clean. Stations are deep, but mobile signals are good; platforms and hallways look like palace corridors with decorative marble and stained-glass work. The best stations for Metro art are Prospekt Mira, Novoslobodskaya, Belorusskaya, Mayakovskaya, and Ploschad Revolyutsli.