Moscow has always delivered excellent bars and restaurants and a rich variety of museums and cultural attractions. But there is also a thriving new art scene of creative hubs and galleries, not to mention the eclectic and eccentric array of music venues, bars, clubs, nightlife and restaurants.
The Russian capital offers a heady concoction of old and new. While Moscow’s impressive Red Square will always draw a steady crowd it’s the capital’s dynamic pockets of nightlife and trendy bars and restaurants that epitomise modern Muscovite living.
New veins of activity and creativity continuously feed the pulse of Russia’s largest city and evoke a vibrant and unexpectedly hip New York air. While perhaps not as beautiful as St Petersburg, Moscow manages to be both cool and elegant. Take, for example, the former Red October chocolate factory on Bolotny Island which rivals Manhattan’s Meatpacking District for its edgy clubs, hipster cafes and modern art galleries. The Golden Mile on Ostozhenka Street, meanwhile, oozes class with its mix of luxury apartments, Art Nouveau mansions, and bustling Russian and Georgian restaurants.
It’s not all about the new and shiny though, as Moscow’s history still plays a major part in shaping the modern city. Russia’s largest cathedral, the Church of Christ the Saviour (where Pussy Riot infamously performed in 2012), glistens poignantly on the urban skyline. While a symbol of deep-set Orthodox traditions, in its new guise as a beacon for punk activism it has also come to symbolise young Moscow’s progressive outlook.
The government, meanwhile, has been tightening its curtailment of civil liberties. The recently passed law banning ‘homosexual propaganda’ among juveniles has provoked condemnation from many Western onlookers and has seen gay activists arrested and sometimes violently abused. Life goes on for gay culture in Moscow, but at a noticeably lower volume. If you are intending to sample the city’s gay scene, it’s wise to be aware of the recent legislation in this area and the controversies surrounding it.
With a population of more than 11.5 million, the capital can feel overwhelming but it sports recently printed English language maps and a new bicycle-hiring scheme similar to London’s Boris Bikes. These make Moscow far more accessible to visitors – finding the latest Chinatown eatery or Gorky Park pop-up market is so much easier by bike than by Metro. Moscow’s vogue hotspots often appear with vigour and vanish without a trace, but healthy curiosity and a good supply of energy is all that is required to keep up with this ever-changing city.
Museums and attractions
It’s easy to see how the transient Moscow lifestyle and glittering River Mosca has inspired Russian art for centuries. No visit to the city is complete without immersing oneself in the painterly scenes of the Tretyakov Gallery – a walk through history from Russia’s early religious relics to the modern avant-garde.
If you only visit one of the Kremlin museums make sure to see The Armory Chamber (a decadent array of exquisite Russian relics). The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, known for its collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist work by the likes of Monet, Van Gogh, Gauguin and Picasso, is also a must see.
For modern art, see the temporary pavilion at the Garage Centre of Contemporary Art designed by eco-friendly architect Shigeru Ban (situated on Gorky Park’s Pionersky Pond) or the Multimedia Art Museum inOstozhenka Street, which is devoted entirely to photography (think everything from Rodchenko to Nan Goldin).
The Manege exhibition halls, have recently reopened after refurbishment and the work displayed in the Rabochiy i Kolkhoznitsa (Worker and Kolkhoz Woman) space provides a particularly evocative insight in the live of women in Russia.
For a more interactive experience, visit avant-garde landmark the Bakhmetevsky Bus Garage, home to the largest Jewish Museum in the world. Here, personal testimony, archival video and interactive displays engage visitors in a modern and intelligent way, with all literature available in both English and Russian.
Moscow museums and attractions details
The Tretyakov Gallery 10 Lavrushinskiy pereulok. +7 499 230 77 88.
Kremlin Museums Moscow Kremlin, Red Square. +7 495 624 55 03.
The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts 12 Volkchonka Ulitsa. +7 495 697 79 98.
Garage Centre of Contemporary Art Pionersky Pond, Gorky Park. +7 495 645 05 20.
Multimedia Art Museum Moscow 16 Ostozhenka street. +7 495 637 11 00.
Moscow Manege 1 Manezhnaya Square. +7 495 645 92 77.
Jewish Museum Building 1A, 11 Obraztsova Street. +7 495 645 05 50.
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