Apart from being the capital city of Russia, this enigmatic capital serves as the country’s economic and political centre! It’s a cultural hub that boasts a long and colourful history. Fancy a trip to see the Kremlin, Red Square, and St Basil’s cathedral? Check out these 50 facts about Moscow before you go!
Fact 1: Moscow is the most populated city in Russia!
- The city has around 12 million residents.
Fact 2: Moscow is the major political, economic, cultural, and scientific centre of Russia and Eastern Europe.
- For example, the ‘Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology’ is here, or more commonly known as the ‘PhysTech’.
Fact 3: In 2013, Moscow was ranked 9th in Forbes’ list of most expensive cities in the world.
- The city also has one of the world’s largest urban economies, being ranked as an alpha global city.
Fact 4: Moscow is also the coldest megacity on the planet.
- Weather can fluctuate widely with temperatures ranging from −25 °C in the city, and −30 °C in the suburbs, to above 5 °C in the winter, and from 10 to 35 °C in the summer.
Fact 5: The city is home to the tallest free-standing structure in Europe, the Ostankino Tower.
- The Federation tower comes in second.
Fact 6: Moscow is one of the greenest capitals in the world with 40% of its territory being covered by lush greenery.
- It also has the largest forest in an urban area within its borders.
Fact 7: Moscow is a seat of power for the Government of Russia.
- It’s the site of the Moscow Kremlin, a medieval city-fortress that is today the workplace for the President of Russia.
Fact 8: On January 31, 1990, Moscow’s very first McDonald’s opened in Pushkin Square.
- That day thousands of people swarmed to the streets to queue outside the new restaurant just waiting for it to open.
Fact 9: Moscow’s Gorky Park serves as the city’s central park.
- It sees more than 100,000 visitors a day on weekends.
Fact 10: The city’s Metro-2 remains a mystery.
- Legend has it that Metro-2 is a secret underground metro system that comes complete with bunkers and tunnels, that connects the Kremlin and other strategic facilities in Russia together.
Fact 11: During the WWII the Metro was used as a bomb shelter underground.
- The 196th metro station was opened on Dec 8, 2014, and is now called Troparevo or the ‘red line’.
Fact 12: On October 16, 1941, the Metro stopped working for the first time.
- The Germans came very close to destroying Moscow’s Metro, fortunately, the Metro resumed operations by the end of the day.
Fact 13: It is a city of billionaires.
- According to Forbes, there are approximately 84 billionaires in Moscow with a combined wealth of $367 billion.
Fact 14: On June 29, 1904, a tornado devastated the city.
- It also resulted in the destruction of century-old trees in the area of Sokolniki.
Fact 15: The famous Neglinka river is just outside the Kremlin, in the Alexander Garden.
- The river’s waters are now channelled into a pipe that flows underground, and into the city’s reservoir.
Fact 16: Moscow is one of the 12 Hero Cities.
- A city is awarded the ‘Soviet Honorary’ title for its outstanding heroic acts during the Second World War.
Fact 17: It once lost its status as the capital of Russia’s empire.
- During this time, the population of Moscow decreased from 200,000 in the 17th century to 130,000 in 1750.
Fact 18: By 1700, the building of cobbled roads had begun inside the city.
- In November 1730, permanent street lights were introduced, and by 1867 many streets already had gaslights.
Fact 19: Moscow was founded by Prince Yuri Dolgoruky in 1147.
- At that time the city was called Moskov, having more in common with its present English name Moscow.
Fact 20: M10 highway was completed in 1746.
- It connected Moscow with St. Petersburg.
Fact 21: Moscow State University was established in 1755.
- Its main building was reconstructed after the 1812 fire by Domenico Gilardi.
Fact 22: It was not until Catherine II’s ascension to power that Moscow’s sanitation was given focus.
- This move became part of Catherine’s plans for increasing control over social life.
Fact 23: During World War II, the Soviet State Committee of Defense and the General Staff of the Red Army were located in Moscow.
- In 1941, 16 divisions of the national volunteers, 25 battalions and 4 engineering regiments were formed among the Muscovites.
Fact 24: Nikita Khrushchev launched his anti-religious campaign in 1959.
- By 1964, more than 10,000 out of the 20,000 churches were shut down, with most being demolished.
Fact 25: By 1964, only 16 convents and monasteries were operational.
- Moreover, 36 out of 50 churches in Moscow were either closed or demolished.
Fact 26: On the 20th anniversary celebrating the end of WWII in May 8, 1965, Moscow was named a Hero City.
- The city also hosted the Summer Olympic Games in 1980.
Fact 27: Moscow is home to a unique and colourful mixture of architecture.
- It’s home to Saint Basil’s Cathedral whose elegant onion domes have made the structure known all over the world. The city is also the site of Cathedral of Christ the Savior and the Seven Sisters.
Fact 28: There are 96 parks and 18 gardens in Moscow, including 4 botanical gardens.
- There are 450 square kilometres of green zones in the city apart from the 100 square kilometres of forestland.
Fact 29: Gorky Park was founded in 1928.
- The park’s main part along the Moskva river features estrades, children’s attractions, dancing, tennis courts and other sports facilities.
Fact 30: Izmailovsky Park is one of the largest urban parks in the world.
- Its area is 15.34 hectares (3790.597 acres).
Fact 31: Moscow’s Lenin Library is the largest in Europe, with over 43 million artefacts in its storage.
- In the 70s, at the peak of the popularity of The Beatles, the library was tagged as the “Lennon Bitlioteka”.
Fact 32: Bolshoy Kamenny Bridge also known as ‘The Big Stone Bridge” is the oldest of all the Moscow bridges.
- It was built in the 17th century.
Fact 33: Moscow has been ravaged by numerous fires throughout the years.
- In 1547 a huge fire took over the streets of Moscow and burned down whole sections of the city to the ground. In its stride, the fire claimed almost 4,000 lives.
Fact 34: The Kremlin was not built by Russians.
- The structure was in fact built by Italians. The original structure really needed a makeover during the 15th century. Seeing that Russian architects couldn’t solve the problem, the Grand Duke Ivan III called in reinforcements from experts in Italy, leading to the construction of new temples and walls.
Fact 35: There are 3,500 historical streets and alleys in Moscow.
- Tverskaya Street was known as Gorky Street between 1935 and 1990, and it’s the oldest known street in the capital.
Fact 36: In 1864, Russia’s largest zoo was built in Moscow.
- It is currently home to more than 3,000 animals, which includes 550 species from all over the world.
Fact 37: With a height of 141.8 meters, Victory Obelisk is Moscow’s highest standing monument.
- The structure was unveiled on May 9, 1995.
Fact 38: Trains in Moscow travel more frequently compared to other subways in the world.
- At peak times the interval between trains is just 1.5 minutes.
Fact 39: Moscow’s infamous serial killer, Darya Saltykova, killed over 100 women and girls.
- Ironically, her house now serves as one of the many offices of the FBI.
Fact 40: Saltykova has been compared to the earlier Hungarian “Blood Countess”, Elizabeth Báthory, who committed similar crimes in her castle.
- Saltykova was finally imprisoned in 1762 and was sentenced to life imprisonment for her crimes.
Fact 41: Moscow is home to the largest bell on Earth, the 200-ton Tsar Bell.
- Interestingly, it took three attempts to create the bell, and after it was constructed in a 10-meter pit, it took another 40 years to get it out.
Fact 42: Moscow’s train stations is a museum for aspiring archaeologists.
- Various fossils can be found in these stations including ammonites, prehistoric shellfish and nautilus shells.
Fact 43: Moscow State University is the world’s largest university building in the world.
- It was founded on 23 January, 1755 by Mikhail Lomonosov.
Fact 44: Moscow’s stray dogs know their way around the city’s Metro.
- They even know when and where to grab lunch.
Fact 45: Moscow Botanical Garden Academy of Sciences is the continent’s largest botanical garden.
- It was founded in April 1945, just after the end of the Second World War and houses around 18,000 plants.
Fact 46: You’ll find Vladimir Lenin’s preserved corpse in a mausoleum in the city’s Red Square.
- After his death in 1924, his body was kept preserved and is maintained to this day. Maintenance of Lenin’s remains reportedly costs around 13 million roubles each year.
Fact 47: Vladimir Lenin’s body is embalmed every 18 months.
- Furthermore, scientists would sometimes replace damaged tissue with artificial material to keep Lenin’s body looking good.
Fact 48: The first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, has the Kremlin wall as his final resting place.
- Astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong also left medals awarded to the Soviet astronaut on the moon’s surface.
Fact 49: One company in Moscow holds the record for ‘serving the most number of pancakes in a day’—12, 716 to be exact.
- During the 2017 Pancake week celebrations, JSC MAFKA served up 12,716 pancakes, cooked by 16 professional chefs, in a day to win a place in the Guinness World Records.
Fact 50: Moscow has a man-made underground river.
- During the 18th century, the Neglinnaya river was diverted into a tunnel to convert its riverbanks into residential areas. Now, the river runs underground and flows into Moskva.