1. Red Square
This gargantuan cobblestone plaza – just next to the Kremlin – is surrounded by beautiful buildings, historical monuments and grand cathedrals. Don’t miss Lenin’s Mausoleum, GUM State Department Store and St Basil’s Cathedral (below), which lies at the southern end of the square. One of the most famous architectural sites in the world, it looks like a castle made from candy that’s covered in colours and crazy patterns.
2. The Kremlin
Arguably one of Russia’s greatest architectural ensembles – and perhaps even the world – the Kremlin is an imposing, and striking landmark. It’s not only the official residence of the President, but it’s also a treasure trove containing hundreds of artworks and impressive relics. Photographing the artefacts inside the Armory Chamber and the Crown Jewels may use up all your phone’s memory.
This former 1800s wine-bottling factory has been transformed into a cluster of spaces that house exhibitions as well as stores selling innovative design objects, jewellery and fashion. It’s a good place to begin exploring Russia’s contemporary art scene – especially in the vaults of a former cellar, three floors below the ground. Look out for the eye-catching murals too.
4. Red October Chocolate Factory
As with Winzavod, this collection of red-brick jumbled Victorian buildings has been given new life. It lies just across the Moscow River from the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and it’s where Muscovite art buffs, bloggers and “It-crowd” Instagrammers congregate at the various galleries, shops, showrooms, restaurants, clubs, cafes and design studios.
5. Peter the Great
Zurab Tsereteli’s controversial, 98-metre, bronze, copper and stainless steel statue of the former Russian ruler is not far away from the Red October Chocolate Factory. It’s admired by some and despised by others. Either way, it’s impossible to ignore and makes for an attention-grabbing image.
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Founded in 2008 by billionaire Roman Abramovich’s partner Dasha Zhukova, the institution is another pioneer of the avant-garde, showcasing the latest and best contemporary art. The museum building itself is a site to be captured. It sits inside the former structure of the 1960s Vremena Goda (Seasons of the Year) Soviet-modernist pavilion in Gorky Park and was designed by architect Rem Koolhaas.