No Russia tour is complete without a trip to Red Square
A tour of Russia will bring you to some of the most historic locations in the world. The country is flush with centuries-old cities and impressive structures, but Red Square is one tourist hotspot that can't be missed. Located in Moscow, the square is recognized as the central hub of not only the capital city, but of the entire country. Any day spent exploring Red Square is sure to be among the best of your Russia tour, and here are a few highlights you should be sure to visit.
Saint Basil's Cathedral
Few buildings are quite like Saint Basil's Cathedral, one of the most recognizable structures in the world. Completed in 1561, the enormous building is a popular tourist destination thanks largely to its unique design, which is highlighted by several brightly colored onion-domed spires.
The cathedral is more than a photo opportunity, however. Today it stands as a museum that permits visitors to walk through its breathtaking, high-ceiling central church. Additionally, the cathedral is home to a gallery that houses impressive, patterned paintwork.
Vladimir Lenin is arguably the most important figure in Russian history, and nowhere is this made clearer than at his Mausoleum. Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union, has had his body housed in Red Square since his death in 1924, with the mausoleum being slowly built up around him in the following years.
In years past, there have regularly been long lines to see Lenin, and while they have shortened as of late, you can still pass through the chamber holding his body. However, if you plan on visiting, take note of the fact that you can't bring in bags or cameras and you're only allowed to spend a few minutes inside.
GUM Department Store
Not all the landmarks in Red Square are historic in nature, and the GUM Department Store is evidence of that. Located directly across from Lenin's Mausoleum, GUM is one of the largest malls in Europe, and at its height in the early 20th century, was home to as many as 1,200 stores. Today, the number has dropped to around 200, but nevertheless it remains a popular tourist destination.
Even if you don't plan on buying anything, walking through the GUM Department Store should be included in your Russia tour if only to see the contrast it represents between eastern and western shopping culture.