If you've heard of Moscow, you've probably heard of Red Square, smack-dab in the city center adjacent to the Kremlin.
The word "red" doesn't refer to the color of the bricks or to Communism. In Russian, the square is called Krasnaya Ploschad. The word krasnaya means both "red" and "beautiful," and the latter, referring to St. Basil's Cathedral at the southern end of the square, was the original meaning. As you can see, St. Basil's is once again being used for religious services, but one can still tour the inside, where the walls are decorated with antique icons.
North of the cathedral is Lobnoye Mesto, or "Place of Skulls," a circular raised platform on which public executions were carried out in the days of the tsars. Beyond that, across from the Lenin Mausoleum, is the GUM department store, really more of a shopping mall by American standards. GUM's interior is an interesting, appealing blend of classical architecture and modern decoration.
At the north end of the square is the Historical Museum, the largest museum of Russian history in the world. The Kremlin's Nikolaskaya Tower is in the background in this picture.
Red Square can also be entered from the north side. In fact, when we visited, the storming of the Russian White House had occurred only a couple days earlier, and most of the square was fenced off to prevent large gatherings. The only entrance was through a barricade next to the Historical Museum.
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