History of Moscow

History of Moscow



Moscow is the capital of Russia, as well as its main economical and financial center. The city, populated by around 12 million people, lies on the banks of the river Moskva. It used to be the capital of the Great Duchy of Moscow, The Soviet Union, and, finally, the Russian Federation.

The first mention of Moscow in historical texts dates back to the 12th century. At the time, Moscow was a town, much like the rural towns around Russia today. In 1156, Prince Yuri Dolgorukiy ordered the construction of defensive walls around the town to protect it from Mongol invaders. However, in the mid-13th century, the Mongols managed to force their way into Moscow, promptly pillaging it, killing almost the entire population of the town. Nevertheless, Moscow was rebuilt quickly thereafter, becoming the capital of the independent Duchy. In 1300, Moscow was conquered by Daniil Aleksandrovich, the son of Alexander Nevsky and a member of the Rurik dynasty. The favorable geographic position of the town enabled it to develop quickly, attracting people from all parts of modern-day Russia to move there.

During the reign of Ivan I Danilovich, Moscow became the capital of the Duchy, and the only urban center that later collected tribute that was then given to Mongol leaders. As the tribute was paid regularly, the Mongol Khan was willing to give certain benefits to the city, which led to his permission for the city to have a single leader, i.e. that the ruler’s eldest son would be chosen to inherit the throne.

As Lithuania was gaining strength, which posed a threat to the Mongol Empire, the Khan decided to further fortify Moscow, making it the mightiest of all Russian cities. In 1380, Moscow finally started an offensive against the Mongol Empire, taking the initiative as the leader in the liberation of the whole of Russia from Mongol rule.

In 1480, Ivan III completely took over the control over Moscow from the Tatars, promptly surrendering the city to the Russians; Ivan III then married Sophia Palaiologina, niece to the last Emperor of Tsargrad, a marriage that significantly boosted the importance of the city. The seat of the Orthodox Church was then re-located from the Byzantine Empire to Moscow. This new political and religious significance that Moscow gained through international relations brought about the idea of Moscow being the third Rome (Rome itself and Tsargrad being the first two).

Ivan IV, remembered as Ivan the Terrible, succeeded in uniting the whole of Russia. Even though he is remembered for many wrong doings, such as his savage treatment of the Tatars, one cannot say that such a divided and poor country could have been united without any conflict. Ivan significantly expanded the country, but these conquests became engraved in historical memory for Ivan’s order for all of the Tatar leaders to be beheaded and their heads brought to the Kremlin, whose round roofs actually signify the heads of Tatar leaders Ivan III killed.

Between 1610 and 1612, Moscow was occupied by the army of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, whose ruler, Sigismund III Vasa wanted to usurp the Russian throne. In 1612, the Russia occupied Kremlin with the goal of annihilating the invaders, which they subsequently succeeded in doing, and the following year saw the coronation of Michael Romanov as the emperor of Russia and the beginning of the long and fruitful reign of the Romanov dynasty.

In 1703, many rejoiced as Peter the Great built the royal city of Saint Petersburg, which was declared the new capital of the empire. Many invaders wanted to conquer Russia to obtain its wealth, one of these invaders being Napoleon himself. In the 19­­th century, the citizens of Moscow retreated from the city, having set the majority of the city on fire so that Napoleon’s invading army would be forced to retreat due to the extreme cold, famine and lack of supplies. Many battles were fought between Russia and Napoleon’s army, but the one that is the best remembered is Kutuzov’s victory at the Battle of Borodino in 1812. In honor of this great event, the Triumfal’naya Arka still stands in Moscow.

After the October Revolution of 1917, Lenin moved the capital from Saint Petersburg to Moscow, in fear of foreign invasions.
During World War Two, Russia was the biggest of the victors, as it not only liberated its own lands from invaders, but the whole of Europe and the world were also freed from fascist rule. The situation seemed almost hopeless at the beginning of the war, as the German army, along with its allies, attacked Russia with all of their might. However, thanks to the bravery of the Russian people, every single soldier who fought on the frontlines, as well as the artillery fire introduced after the initial casualties, Russia succeeded in defending itself and conquering its German enemy. The Germans didn’t actually reach Moscow, but they came close to doing so. The Red Army managed to launch a massive counter-offensive on the 5th of December 1941, which resulted in the defeat of the German Army. The city was therefore saved, and the enemy was forced to retreat.

Many monuments were erected in honor of the heroes who died in the Great Patriotic War (a Russian term for the battles at the Eastern Front), and these monuments still proudly stand in the squares of Moscow. The Russians are very proud of their history, and this is to be expected from the people who paid the highest price to keep their freedom.

Today, Moscow is a modern city in every sense of the word. It has everything you might want, as well as a guarantee of unique impressions and emotions it can offer.

Tourist destinations in Russia:

Saint Petersburg

There is so much beauty in one place there one fails to find anywhere else. Somewhat inaptly named the Venice of the North, Saint Petersburg is like a fairy tale the splendor of which is complemented with towering golden domes of the Petropavlovsk Fortress, the Isaac Cathedral, the Church of Saviour on Spilled Blood and the Admiralty. This is the city of famous writers Dostoyevsky and Yesenin, the Hermitage, the most beautiful museum in the world, the divine Imperial Village, a magical river Neva, a plethora of bridges and most importantly, this is the city of incredibly polite people.

Discover Saint Petersburg


Petrozavodsk, is not only the capital of the Republic of Karelia and a vibrant tourism centre, but it is also the cultural centre. Petrozavodsk museums, galleries, and exhibition halls are well known in the northwest of Russia and in other countries. The list of sights to see and places to visit in Petrozavodsk does not end at Kizhi Museum. There are some museums, galleries and exhibitions below (not all), which may be interesting to different tourists. Even more so, some of them offer the opportunity not only to be a visitor but an artist, a worker, or even a seafarer to name but a few . Tourists may make something using their own hands!

Discover Petrozavodsk


Moscow – a wondrous city not easy to forget thanks to the authentic sentiments of its people, a cosmopolitan city with a local charm hard to resist. When you stand on the Red Square, you will be able to experience the grandeur of this city, and when you walk your way to Saint Basil’s Cathedral, this experience transcends you to a feeling of bliss. Moscow is one of Europe’s largest cities, a modern capital of Russia, a country with a chequered history which takes us back many centuries into the past. Moscow is a historical as well as a modern city of modern architecture, the most beautiful metro in the world, a city that boasts a rich cultural heritage, as well as superb nightlife.

Discover Moscow

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