Your Life: Travel: Moscow Cool; AN EPIC RUSSIAN ROMANCE

The Mirror (London, England), October 1, 2005 | Go to article overview

Your Life: Travel: Moscow Cool; AN EPIC RUSSIAN ROMANCE


Byline: DAVID EDWARDS

IT is, quite simply, the most stunning thing I have ever seen. If you think the Eiffel Tower is spectacular, or reckon Barcelona cathedral is an architectural triumph, then you'll be blown away by Red Square.

This vast space in the heart of Moscow is surrounded by some of the most incredible buildings you'll ever see.

To the south lie the multi-coloured domes of St Basil's Cathedral, to the north is the ornate Historical Museum, while the west and east are occupied by the imposing 65ft walls of the Kremlin and the intricate GUM building.

That's just for starters. Moscow has never been top of my list of holiday destinations but I can't wait to go back because - let the adjectives roll - I've never visited a city so vibrant, so unique or so much damn fun.

It truly is a city for everyone, boasting not just hundreds of years of culture but brimming with hip bars, great restaurants and fine hotels.

If that doesn't convince you, heading to a cinema near you next week is Night Watch, a thriller set in Moscow that has broken Russian box-office records. Its director, Timur Bekmambetov, says: "Moscow is a mythical city, a place like no other."

In the Tverskaya district lies the Gorky House Museum, a 1900 mansion boasting a range of design styles, from the flowing Style Moderne staircase to the frieze of irises running around the top of the building.

More modern are the seven skyscrapers built during Stalin's reign. The Foreign Ministry is the most spectacular, an ornate but severe behemoth which shows that, even if the Soviets couldn't put bread on the shelves, they sure could put up a building.

Moscow has more than 80 museums, from Tolstoy House, where the author lived, to the State Armoury which houses the art accumulated by Russian princes and tsars. Highlights include Catherine the Great's coronation dress and her crown, inset with 5,000 gems.

If you're tempted to hit the shops, the best place to start is the GUM building running parallel to Red Square. Completed in 1893, it houses three separate arcades. Nestling between the cafes and cookie stalls are all the designer stores you'd expect to find in any European capital. Don't expect bargains but it's worth going along to check out this season's must-haves for wealthy Muscovites. My favourites were a pair of black and gold stiletto boots and - I kid you not - a multi-coloured fur stole. This is a city where the rich dress worse than the poor.

Since the end of the USSR, Moscow has become renowned as a city that likes to party hard, and I got worryingly lairy after knocking back a few too many Pertsovkas - red chilli vodka.

If you fancy a pub crawl, the cheapest, fastest way of getting around is the underground Metro, whose stations are amazingly ornate. …

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