> ABOUT MOSCOW

ABOUT MOSCOW

Covering an area of more than 1,000 square kilometres and with a population excess of 11.5 million, Moscow is the financial and political capital of the Russia Federation and home to about one-tenth of all its citizens.

The city boasts an 850-year documented history, dating back to 1147, when it was a settlement on the banks of the Moskva River. In 1325 Moscow became the centre of the Russian Orthodox Church, and its influence expanded during the rule of Ivan III (or Ivan the Great) in the late 1400s, when its control stretched from Novgorod in the west to the Ural Mountains in the east.

It was Ivan IV (or Ivan the Terrible) that Moscow’s cemented its position as a seat of power of an empire that stretched through the northern and eastern reaches of Europe, all the way through Asian Siberia. Reigning as the Grand Prince of Moscow from 1533 to 1547, he became the Tsar of All the Russia in 1547, and it was during this period that the construct of one the city’s most iconic landmarks, the onion-domed Saint Basil’s Cathedral, which today stands at one end of Red Square, adjacent to the walls of the Kremlin. Indeed, popular legend tells that Ivan blinded the cathedral’s architect so that he could not re-create the masterpiece elsewhere.

In 1712, Peter the Great that shocked Moscow when he announced that the capital of Russia would move to swamplands recently captured from Sweden, which would be named St. Petersburg.

When the Bolsheviks seized power in 1917, Lenin decided to move the capital back to Moscow, and his government took up residence in the Kremlin, where during much of the 20th Century it was the seat of power of the Soviet Union. With the fall of the Iron Curtain and the creation of the Russian Federation, Moscow’s status was maintained.

Moscow's geography is defined by the numerous ring roads that circle the city at various distances from the centre. The inner ring includes Red Square and the Kremlin and is known as the Boulevard Ring (or Bulvarnoye Koltso). It was built in the 1820s where the 16th century walls used to be .

The next ring road, the Garden Ring (Sadovoe Koltso), and derives its name from an ordinance that required landowners near the road in Tsarist times to maintain gardens to make the road attractive.

The more recently constructed Third Ring is a heavily used motorway which absorbs a bit of Moscow's traffic, and is essentially a 108 kilometres long and encircles the entire city.

Moscow is also a rising power in the world jewellery business. As the centre of the country’s jewellery industry, it is also home to two diamond exchanges and the administrative headquarters of Alrosa, the world’s largest diamond producer by volume.