A country so rich in history, diverse in culture and home to simply mesmerizing landscapes, Russia is definitely a land of superlatives. While most people may recommend visiting in the summer, I wanted to experience Moscow in a different light… pun intended. Moscow saw just 6 minutes of sunlight in December 2018 although that was certainly not an issue for a sun-averse person like me. So, what exactly is there to do during Winter in Moscow? Well, read on to find out more!
1. Visit the Red Square
In the heart of Moscow is the Red Square, home to a number of the capital’s most significant buildings. From the iconic St Basil’s Cathedral to Lenin’s Mausoleum and the State Historical Museum of Moscow, the Red square warrants a full-day visit. In winter, the Red Square seems even more magical. With Christmas decorations lighting up the square and cheerful festive music playing through the speakers, visitors in the winter months can even ice skate or visit the annual Christmas market there!
St Basil’s Cathedral
An acronym meaning “The Exhibition of the Achievements of the National Economy”, VDNKh is a huge complex showcasing the various achievements of the Soviets, featuring over 250 structures in its sprawling 136-hectare compound. These structures include dedicated pavilions for each Soviet Republic and the various industries. Unfortunately, most of them have yet to be reopened/repaired (as of writing) so you can only enjoy its view from the outside. You can also find the famous Worker and Kolkhoz Woman sculpture and the Friendship of the Nations fountain there! Since it is a huge outdoor complex, be sure to dress warmly in winter as you will be out in the open space most of the time. Besides, VDNKH is also home to Moscow’s largest ice-skating rink!
One of the pavilions in VDNKH
On the way to VDNKH from the metro station, you will also pass by an impressive titanium structure titled “To the conquerors of space” to commemorate the launch of Sputnik with a museum of Cosmonautics at the very base of it.
Museum of Cosmonautics
3. Izmailovo Market
The go-to place for purchasing souvenirs, the Izmailovo market is the place to get your hands on those matryoshkas dolls and other Russian memorabilia you may want to bring home. To find an authentic Russian hand-crafted doll, you may have to search deeper into the market as they are normally slightly more secluded. Other than that, the typical bulk-produced souvenirs are roughly priced at the same range across all the stalls.
A typical shop at the market
Second-hand items/antiques for sale
The Izmailovo Kremlin, a lesser known Kremlin can also be found in Izmailovo
4. The Bolshoi Theatre
Rejoice if you are a fan of ballets and operas! The Bolshoi Theatre is definitely one of the most impressive theatres dating back to the 1850s, featuring various productions throughout the year, including the famous Swan Lake and the Nutcracker by the Russian composer, Tchaikovsky. Of course, getting a seat at the Bolshoi is tough for the more famous shows as it is not only pricey but sells out way before the actual date – so do remember to place your orders in advance (Preferably more than 3 months in advance!). If you are not into the theatrics, the Bolshoi Theatre is still worth a visit as its gorgeous interiors are just a marvel to look at.
The Bolshoi Theatre
5. The Kremlin
The word Kremlin means fortified city in Russian and the Moscow Kremlin is synonymous with the Government of Russia. The complex itself is huge with numerous palaces and cathedrals and is also where the President of Russia works and stays. Needless to say, security is high and not all parts are accessible to the public. But most parts are open and are a must-visit!
The Tsar Bell – Largest bell in the world!
Inside the Kremlin – The President’s office
So, where do Co-operatives come into play in Russia? Co-operatives have a long-standing history in Russia, dating back to more than 186 years ago. In fact, co-operatives are so integrated into the lives of the Russians that it even has its own education system with over 90,000 students and 2 institutes of higher learning – The Russian University of Cooperation and the Siberian University of Consumer Co-operatives.
To sum up, I enjoyed my trip to Moscow tremendously despite the sub-zero weather and all the hassle that comes with it (3 layers of clothing is no fun!). Having read a lot about Russian history and being a fan of Russian cultural works in general, it was certainly a dream come through to visit the country itself and I certainly can’t wait for my next trip to Russia!
This article was brought to you by Tammy Lim Lee Xin, a first-year Computer Science and Economics Undergraduate from Nanyang Technological University, SNCF Scholar 2018 who was interning at SNCF during May to July 2019. She likes travelling, reading and hunting for good food.