Red Square, Moscow 103132, Russie
GPS: 55.754011148376, 37.620890778031
Red Square (Красная площадь) is a monumental symbol of central Moscow and a must-see on any visit to the Russian capital. Its construction dates back to the end of the 15th century on the site of former wooden walls and fortifications from the 11th century. It was built during the reign of Ivan III of Russia, known as Ivan the Great, one of the most powerful monarchs in Eastern Europe. This ruler was responsible for the unification and centralisation of Muscovy (or Grand Principality of Moscow). The construction of Red Square coincided with the completion of the Kremlin walls, which had been destroyed by a series of fires that devastated Moscow in the Middle Ages.
Undeniably associated with the country’s history, power and military might, this vast square has a rectangular shape. It was originally designed as a food market and was occasionally used as a training ground by the Moscow army. Later, Red Square became the site of the Tsar’s coronations, political forums, religious festivals, Napoleonic sieges during the French invasion of Russia, military battles, public executions and even the burial of prominent Russians. Witness to a multitude of historical events, it was after the October Revolution in 1917 that this place was reserved for popular demonstrations such as the impressive military parade of the Red Army every year on 9 May (commemorating the Victory Day of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1945 over Nazi Germany).
In addition to its impressive proportions (400 by 150 metres), Red Square is surrounded by remarkable heritage assets such as the State Historical Museum (a reference on Russian history) or the Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed (Saint Basil’s Cathedral) with its nine multicoloured domes. The latter was built in the second half of the 16th century to celebrate the victory of Russia’s first tsar Ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible) in 1552 over the castle of Kazan khans, which was the capital of the Tatars. Flanked by the imposing and fortified complex of the Kremlin, Red Square is home to the tombs of former Soviet leaders on its western side, including Lenin’s Mausoleum (founder of the Soviet Union in the 20th century). Other monuments around the huge esplanade include museums, art galleries, palaces, gardens, religious sites and luxurious shops. They are highlighted by special events in winter (Christmas market, giant ice rink…) and summer (book fair, concerts…). With its magical and fascinating atmosphere, this Moscow place is today the political, historical, cultural and religious heart of the world’s largest country.