Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Red Square

Russia's Red Square is the most famous city square in Russia, and one of the most famous in the world.

There are common misconceptions about where the name "Red Square" comes from. Some say it is from the association of the Communist Party with the color red, others believe it has to do with the colors of the brick surrounding it. In actuality, the name came about because the Russian word красный can mean either "red" or "beautiful" ("beautiful" being an archaic meaning).

Major streets of Moscow radiate from here in all directions, being promoted to major highways outside the city, which is one of the reasons the Red Square is often considered to be the center of Moscow and all of Russia.

The square was originally covered with wooden buildings, but it was cleared by Ivan III's edict in 1493, as the buildings were dangerously prone to fires. The newly-opened area gradually came the serve as Moscow's main marketplace. The square has been gradually built up since that point and has been used for official ceremonies by all Russian governments since it was established. Later, it was also used for various public ceremonies and proclamations.

In 1990, the Kremlin and Red Square were among the very first sites in the USSR added to UNESCO's World Heritage Site list.

St. Basil's Cathedral
The building most often associated with Russia. This cathedral was commissioned by Ivan IV. It consists of nine chapels built on a single foundation and its architecture is often considered to be representative of Russia's position between Europe and Asia.
(A litte Russians-are-crazy trivia: Ivan IV had the architect of St. Basil's blinded when he finished the project so that he could not create a more magnificent building for anyone else.)

Place of Skulls
Despite the ominous name, Lobnoye Mesto was not a place for public executions. This site has regularly been used as a platform for the issuance of decrees by Russian leaders.

Russia's premier department store is marked by its stone arches and glass roofs and was built in 1893. The building was an achievement for Russia's pre-revolutionary architecture and runs the entire length of the square.

Stalin's Grave
The grave of Joseph Stalin--one of the most influential and infamous leaders of Russia--is marked simply by a granite bust. Even today, thousands of communists visit the grave and leave flowers.

Kazan Cathedral
This Russian Orthodox church is over 300 years old, however, it was destroyed in 1936 by Stalin to allow large military vehicles to parade through the square. It was rebuilt in 1993 with the help of memories, old black and white photgraphs and blueprints. It is viewed by some as a symbol of a dark time followed by a joyous resurrection.

Zero Point
The bronze compass is a symbolic zero point from which all roads in Russia are measured.

One Red Square
At this restaraunt, located on the first floor of the State Historical Museum, visitors can experience
a classic russian tea party. There are also monthly black-tie "history banquets", which include ballroom dancing. It has become a scene of Russia's cultural reawakening.

The Tsar Bell
The Tsar bell, being the largest in the world, measuring ina t 202 tons of bronze, was made to be a symbol of Russia's size and might. However, the bell cracked before it could ever be rung. (Ironic?)

Alexander Gardens
This public park, created in 1821, is full of lush lawns, peaceful fountains, and plenty of walking paths. Although the gardens are right next to the Red Square visitors can feel very relaxed and unofficial.

1 comment:

Dr. Michael A. Denner said...

and you can visit it, when you go to moscow during junior year abroad!