Red Square and the Kremlin are the most important sights in Russia. Both these places are known to every foreigner, even those who have a vague idea of the location of Russia. And this is so because Red Square is the symbol of all the country, and all the people.
Red Square is at the western wall of the Moscow Kremlin. It is quite rightly put among the most beautiful squares in the world. It appeared in the 15 century in the reign of Ivan III, who ordered not to erect buildings around the Kremlin after the fire. It became a marketplace and there was erected the Lobnoye Mesto (place of execution) where tsar`s ukases were announced. In general, the square was quickly made the commercial, public and political center of the city.
Under Ivan the Terrible Red Square began to acquire the look that we are accustomed to see now. After the capture of Kazan in 1555 on the Vasilievsky Spusk (Basil`s Descent) near the Saviour Gate there was built the Intercession cathedral, which was later called St. Basil Cathedral.
By that time the Kremlin Wall of red brick was erected along Red Square. It was built during 1485-1516 instead of the white stone wall of the Kremlin erected in the time of Dmitry Donskoy. As most cathedrals of the Kremlin, the Kremlin Wall was built by Italian craftsmen. That’s why the swallow-tailed teeth of the wall remind of the city wall of Verona.
The other buildings of Red Square were erected much later. In 1813 opposite the Kremlin Wall, along all the length of Red Square (695 meters) there were erected the Trading Rows, so the square preserved its functions as a marketplace, but in 1890 they were substituted for by the building in the Pseudo-Russian style, which was given the name of the Upper Trading Rows. Today the building is called the GUM (the State Department Store).
In 1924 in the center of Red Square the Lenin`s Mausoleum was built. For almost a century there was kept the embalmed body of Vladimir Lenin. It is open every day from 10.00 to 13.00, except holidays, Mondays and Fridays. For a long time there have been public discussions about burying Lenin`s body, but so far nothing has been changed.
In 1895 near the GUM, opposite the St. Basil Cathedral, there was erected the building of the History Museum, and the architectural ensemble of Red Square was completed. At the museum one can see a fairly interesting exposition devoted to the history of Russia from the earliest times down to our days.
Among the historic buildings you should also note the Resurrection (Iberian) Gate built in 1535. Before it was the main gate of the China Town wall, through which you could come out on Red Square. Today it connects the buildings of the History Museum and the Museum of Patriotic War of 1812.
Near the History Museum on the corner of Red Square the Kazan Cathedral is located where the Icon of the Mother of God of Kazan was kept before it was moved to the Kazan Cathedral of St. Petersburg.