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This city is very popular with foreign guests visiting our country. Moscow is the capital of Russia. It is believed that the city is eight and a half centuries old. The first record of it in the chronicles is dated by the year 1147, and its history starts with a legend about how the Prince Yury Dolgoruky ("Long-armed"), who is considered the founder of the city, invited his neighbor - a Prince as well - to a council; and in honor of the event "there was a powerful dinner" in Moscow. A monument to Yury Dolgoruky stands in one of the central squares, opposite the Moscow city hall.
Many centuries ago the city was built on seven hills. It is rather difficult to discern them now, with the only exception of Borovitsky Hill where one of the twenty Kremlin towers stands. The Kremlin (in translation from Greek the word means "a steep hill”) and the Red Square definitely are the main Moscow sights, symbols of the whole Russia.
The intricate towers and walls of the Moscow Kremlin were built to a design of Italian architects. Russian Government work in the Kremlin, so tourists are only allowed to the part of its territory where the cathedrals are located, the oldest Russian museum of the Armoury Chamber, and the Diamond Fund with its unique collection of precious stones and jewelry.
In the Kremlin, close to the 81-meter tall Bell-Tower of Ivan the Great - once the highest building in Russia - the Tsar-Bell is on display, the largest bell in the world. Its weight is 202 tons and height 6.14 meters. It has never rung: soon after being founded it broke during a fire in 1737, and a huge chunk, which came off, lies next to it now. Not far from the bell, there is the 40-ton Tsar-Cannon - a masterpiece of the 16th century foundry, which also has never been used for its purpose.
Moscow is a real megapolis: more than 40 km from North to South, more than 30 - from East to West. Including the suburbs, it has more than 10 million inhabitants, which makes it the fifth largest city in the world. Besides, every day there are more than one million visitors in Moscow, and certainly a big part of them are tourists. Those who get to the Russian capital on business - or en route - try to linger here for one or two days to have a look at the city.
There are 5 airports, 9 railway stations and 2 river-boat ones in Moscow. The length of the underground lines exceeds 200 kilometers; to more than 200 metro stations, new ones are continuously added. The palace-halls of the metro stations, which are among the most beautiful in the world, were built about fifty years ago: the first line was opened in 1935. "Mayakovskaya" and "Komsomol'skaya" are considered the best of them.
The bridges across the Moskva and Yauza rivers are adornments of the city, especially in the evening when they are illuminated in a showy way. The longest of them (2 km) is the Metro-bridge in the Luzhniki, and the smallest one across the Yauza is only 20 meters long. The elegant single-arch Krymskiy Bridge is perhaps the most beautiful one in Moscow. Bridges are constantly built or reconstructed in the city; sometimes they are even moved up- or down-stream by means of barges.
The architecture silhouette of the city is quite recognizable due to the seven high-rise buildings constructed in the late 40s - early 50s by a direct command of Stalin. The most famous of them is the University of Moscow building on the Vorobyovy Hills. The other "lanky ones" are occupied by the Foreign Affairs Ministry, some hotels, offices, or are just dwellings. The pompous Moscow sky-scrapers with their steeples and sculptures have been arising contradictory appraisals since they were built, but now Moscow without them is just as unimaginable as Paris without the Eiffel Tower.
There are more than 60 museums in the capital; the most popular of which are the Kremlin, the Pushkin Museum of Art with its unique collection of impressionist and modernist paintings, the Tretyakov Gallery.
There used to be nearly five hundred Orthodox churches in Moscow. Now about 150 functionate and another 100 are in the process of renovating. The most impressive are St Basil's Cathedral in Red Square, rebuilt Christ the Savior Cathedral, and the complex of the Novodevichy (New Maidens) Convent.
Among the scores of Moscow theatres, the most famous is the Bolshoi (Grand). Introduction to the Russian classical ballet is a must of any tour programme. The Moscow circuses are also popular with foreign guests; there are two ones in the city, both of them performing permanently.
At the highest point of Moscow - Vorobyovy Hills - there is a sight-ground from which you can see the panorama of the Moskva river bend and the Big Arena of the Luzhniki Stadium where the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games were held in 1980.
Since the early 90s, when Mikhail Gorbachev started the "Perestroika" in Russia, Moscow has been sweepingly transforming into a modern European capital. A construction boom is in full swing. Hundreds of buildings are being reconstructed or renovated; new trade, recreation and business centers are being built, as well as bridges and traffic interchanges.
New nightclubs, casinos, and dozens of restaurants spring up in Moscow every year. As in any major capital, you can find here the cuisine of virtually every country in the world. But, quite naturally, foreign guests are mostly interested in traditional Russian dishes: borsch, bliny, solianka, kulebiaka, pel'meni and - sure! - black caviar.
In Moscow itself and around it there are many very interesting estates - Kolomenskoe, Arkhangelskoe, Kuskovo, Ostankino - more than worth visiting. And from Moscow starts a most interesting tour around small ancient Russian towns - the Golden Ring.
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