Red Square - Russia's Glorious Heritage

Not only is the Red Square a popular attraction in Moscow, but is flanked by world known sites and tourist attractions. Contrary to popular belief, Red Square received its name through the Russian word for “red”, which centuries ago meant “beautiful”, and not due to a communist symbol or the red Kremlin walls. Red Square came into being during the reign of Ivan III at the end of the 15th century. Named after the Trinity Cathedral, the Red Square was formerly known as Trinity Square, and is believed to only have had the name change at the end of the 17th century. St Basil’s Cathedral is now located in the site where Trinity Cathedral once stood.

St Basil's Cathedral is situated along side the eastern wall of the Kremlin, with its spiraling bright colored onion domes. Also located around the Red Square, is the Kazan Cathedral, Russia’s National Museum, the GUM department store and the 1990 replica of the Resurrection Gate. The Red Square served as Moscow’s meeting place. Here people used to crowd to meet friends, hear Government announcements and celebrated church festivals. During the reign of Peter the Great and Ivan the Terrible, the Red Square was used for public executions, and on the Red Square platform named Lobnoye Mesto, the Tsar would some times address the people.

When Peter the Great moved to St Petersburg in 1712, the Red Square became dormant as Moscow was no longer the Russian capital. The new communist regime, the Bolsheviks, moved the capital back to Moscow in 1918, and turned the Red Square into a parade ground and memorial cemetery. The Lenin Mausoleum was built in 1924, where the embalmed body of the communist founder was laid to rest. The new communist regime was focused on the goals on the Soviet, and saw no space for the historical Kazan Cathedral or the Iverskaya Chapel with the Resurrection Gates, and destroyed these buildings to make space for demonstrations and military parades. The GUM Department Store and Historical Museum were also in line for destruction, but the outbreak of World War II saved the buildings, as attention was diverted the war effort. The Red Square was home to many military parades but most significant was the parade on 7 November 1941. Nazi troops were advancing on the Moscow capital, and the Russian soldiers paraded on the square and marched off to lines to defend the capital. This action lifted the spirit of the Soviet people and renewed their confidence in the war. Hundreds of Soviet troops again filled the square in June 1945, but this time it was to celebrate their victory over the Nazi’s and German banners were thrown down in front of Lenin’s Mausoleum.

The Red Square is surrounded by history and beauty, which provides education and endless attractions for the visitor. It is still used as a place of celebration, but instead of victorious parading soldiers, it is filled with excited, chanting concerts goers.


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