Red Square

This page describes Red Square as well as St. Basil's Cathedral and Lenin's Masoleum, both of which are located on Red Square.

Red Square Red Square--that familiar bricked expanse in the heart of Moscow is located just outside the Kremlin, along its Eastern wall. Think of Red Square, and you'll undoubetdly recall pictures of those May Day parades, from the years when the Soviet Military displayed its might, respectfully passing before the Soviet leadership atop Lenin's tomb. But Red Square's history stretches back way before the Communist Soviet Union, back to the days of Czarist Russia. In the late 15th Century, people came to this square, called Torg, or marketsquare, to purchase food, livestock, or other wares. By the late16th Century, it was renamed Trinity Square, and served as the main entrance to the Kremlin. It wasn't until 1650 that it received the name Krasnaya Ploschad, krasnaya meaning both beautiful and red. The Red Square of today is more than 500,000 square feet of open land. A place where people gather to celebrate official state events, to be photographed in front of favorite sites, or just to drink in the historic splender.

St. Basil's Cathedral At the Southern end of Red Square, just outside the Kremlin, sits the cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed. Perhaps on the most familiar and glorious sites associated with Moscow and the Kremlin. In 1552, Czar Ivan IV, known as Ivan the Terrible, commissioned two Russian architects to build a magnificent cathedral in celebration of the Russian victory over the Tartars. The architects clustered together eight individual churches. Each with its own cupola or dome, around one central belfry to create this cathedral. Each church was dedicated to the saint on whose feast day, the eight major victories over the Tartars were won. Today, St. Basil's is part of the State Historical Museum. Its interior is undergoing restoration. Luckily, its spectacular exterior is there for all to see.

Lenin's Masoleum On the Western edge of Red Square, nestled up against the exterior of the Kremlin wall, stands a monument to the founder of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin's masoleum. Following his death, in 1924, Lenin's embalmed body was placed in a temporary wooden masoleum after government offices were flooded with telegrams requesting the construction of a shrine to the illustrious revolutionary. Although Lenin had clearly indicated his desire not to be immortalized, the temporary structure was replaced in 1929 with the granite and black labradorite version seen today. Each year, thousands of people line up for the opportunity to view Lenin on his glass-enclosed bier and to watch the hourly ritual of the changing of the guard.
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