weekend away - Moscow
Written by Louise Whitworth
A buzzing metropolis with a medieval soul, Moscow is a city of contrasts where East meets West.
There’s no greater place to survey the full breadth of Russia’s long and turbulent history than on the breathtaking Red Square. It is rightly considered to be the beating heart of Moscow, and indeed of all Russia, with each era having left its unique mark here. Ivan the Terrible built the iconic St. Basil’s Cathedral with its colourful fairytale domes, while it was the Communists who added Lenin’s pyramid-like tomb.
History buffs will be dazzled by the priceless treasures of the Russian Empire in the Kremlin, while shopaholics need look no farther than the glittering arcades of the upscale GUM department store and its distinctly 21st-century boutiques and cafés. After getting to the heart of Russian history at Red Square, those in search of the famous Russian soul can do no better than to stroll along the shady tree-lined Tverskoy Boulevard and into the Patriarch’s Ponds district.
Once the stomping ground of Russian writers Anton Chekhov, Mikhail Bulgakov, and Maxim Gorky, it’s now an affluent neighbourhood filled with private art galleries, romantic street cafés, and high-class restaurants. If your feet can keep going, continue down the boulevard to the river and the Red October Chocolate Factory – the hub of Moscow’s contemporary arts scene – which holds open air concerts, film screenings, and exhibitions all summer long.
Finally, if you want to relax and let the sights come to you, a river cruise is the perfect way to admire the Moscow skyline and get a sense of the city’s scale. The Radisson Royal Hotel at Kutuzovsky Prospekt 1 has its own fleet of boats, and a two-hour cruise is perfectly complemented by dinner at the hotel’s Iranian restaurant, Farsi, followed by a sunset drink on the roof terrace with its panoramic view.
Things to do
Winding down in the sauna after a long day on the go is a centuries-old Russian tradition, and the 200-year-old imperial Sanduny Baths at Neglinnaya Ulitsa 14 is the city’s most spectacular. Regular visitors include Naomi Campbell and Roman Abramovich. Women shouldn’t miss the organic honey treatments, while in the men’s section a beating with birch tree branches is a must!
Muscovites love the herbs and spices of Caucasian cuisine and shish kebabs can be found from the humblest to the highest of places. To escape from it all and sample the best of the Caucasus settle into a rocking chair in the tranquil walled garden of Elardgy at Gagarinsky Pereulok 15.