Moscow is the capital of the world's biggest country, situated
in the centre of the European part of Russia. At the very heart of
the city, and indeed the country, is the Kremlin, the Russian place
of command for almost eight centuries, and the religious centre.
Red Square and the exquisite, colourful domes of Saint Basil's
Cathedral, and the jewelled, FabergÃ© Easter eggs of the Tsars are
images that have long been associated with the Soviet Union in the
minds of Westerners.
The city of Moscow is a fusion of both splendour and ugliness
that is evident in the massive concrete slabs and high-rise
apartments of the Stalinist era, and in the ornate churches,
beautiful neo-classical houses, and the impressive architecture of
the old city. Wide grey thoroughfares give way to narrow winding
inner city streets, and golden church domes gleam between the
looming skyscrapers. It attracts not only those eager to embrace
new business and free enterprise, but also the poor from across the
country, and the extremes of affluence and impoverishment are
Since the fall of communism Moscow has been injected with a
sense of urgency to change the face of the 'Mother City', embracing
capitalism and shaking off the years of communist-imposed atheism
with flashy shop fronts housing western franchises, new restaurants
and glossy hotels, and the restoration of lavish Orthodox churches.
The once dreary streets are now a vibrant commotion of life with
markets and eager vendors offering an assortment of goods that were
unavailable during the Soviet years.
It is also a city of entertainment, with theatres and the
renowned Moscow Circus, museums and art galleries. It boasts the
world's largest and most efficient metro system with gleaming
stations deep underground, astonishingly decorated in elegant
marble, glittering chandeliers and gilded works of art and
magnificent mosaics. It is the soul of the new Russia and an
intriguing mix of history and politics, business and culture.