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For alternative meanings, see Moscow (disambiguation).

Moscow (Russian: Москва, Moskvá), capital of Russia, located on the river Moskva, and encompassing 878.7 km2. The city's population is rapidly increasing, with 11.2 million inhabitants counted in 2004.

The city is in the federal district called Central Russia (which is actually in the west of Russia). It was the capital of the former Soviet Union, and of Muscovite Russia, the pre-Imperial Russia. It is the site of the famous Kremlin, which serves as the center of the national government.

Moscow is also well known as the site of the Saint Basil's Cathedral, with its elegant onion domes. The Patriarch of Moscow serves as the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Culture
3 Education
4 Tourism
5 Moscow tourist attractions
6 Transport
7 Sports
8 Demographics
9 Terrorism
10 External links


slaying the dragon)]]
The first reference to the town of Moscow is from
1147 when it was an obscure town in a small province, with a mostly Finno-Ugric population, the Merya. In 1156, Prince Yury Dolgoruky built a wooden wall and a moat around the city. They were not terribly successful, however, as in 1177 the city was burned to the ground and its population was murdered. After 1237-1238, when the Mongols captured the city, burning the city to the ground and murdering the inhabitants, it recovered and became the capital of an independent principality. In 1300 it was ruled by Daniil Aleksandrovich, the son of Alexander Nevsky, and a member of the Rurik Dynasty. Its favorable position at the headwaters of the Volga river let it slowly expand. Moscow was also stable and prosperous for many years and attracted a large numbers of refugees from across Russia. By 1304 Yury of Moscow contested with Mikhail of Tver for the throne of the principality of Vladimir. Ivan I eventually defeated Tver to become the capitol of Vladimir, and the sole collector of taxes for the Mongol rulers. By paying high tribute, Ivan won an important concession from the Khan. Unlike other principalities, Moscow would not be divided up among his sons, but would be passed intact to his eldest. The Khan of the Golden Horde had long been trying to limit Moscow's power.

But, when the growth of the Lithuanian empire began to threaten all of Russia, the Khan strengthened Moscow to counterbalance Lithuania, allowing it to become one of the most powerful cities in Russia. In 1480, Ivan III is said to have finally broken the Russias free from Tatar control (see Great standing on the Ugra river) and Moscow became the capital of an empire which would eventually encompass all of Russia and Siberia, and parts of many other lands.

The tyranny of later Tsars, such as Ivan the Terrible, led to a decay of the state, even as the empire was expanding. In 1571 the Crimean Tartars from the Ottoman Empire seized and burned Moscow. From 1605 through 1612 Polish troops occupied Moscow, as Poland got involved in an attempt of the Russian gentry to establish a usurper on the throne, or to form a personal union between the two biggest Slavic states. However, the Polish army had only half-hearted support from the state, and the intervention was strongly criticized in the Polish Sejm. Thus, in 1612, a Russian gentry made an another uprising that this time was directed against the Poles, and in 1613, an assembly of the Empire elected Michael Romanov tsar, establishing the Romanov dynasty.

Moscow ceased to be Russia's capital when in 1703 Peter the Great constructed St. Petersburg on the Baltic coast. When Napoleon invaded in 1812, the Moscovites burned the city on September 14 and departed; Napoleon's troops soon left, defeated by hunger and the cold. Following the success of the Russian revolution in 1917, Lenin once again made Moscow the capital (moved on March 5, 1918), and it remains so to this day.

When a large army of German troops began to invade the Soviet Union in June 1941, (see Operation Barbarossa) one of three army divisions, Army Group Center, also marched straight towards Moscow. At one point advanced forces came within 40 miles of the city center before Russian defenders drove them off in the Battle of Moscow. Ultimately a heavy winter accompanied by heavy snow and below-freezing temperatures stopped the army and kept it from seizing the city; subsequent counteroffensives drove Army Group Center from Moscow's western suburbs. For its heroism during the War, Moscow was later awarded the title Hero City.

Historical population

YearPopulation YearPopulation
1785188,700 19151,984,000

Further Reading


Moscow is the heart of the Russian ballet and the performing arts. Theatres and Ballet studios dot Moscow. The most famous of these are the Bolshoi and Kremlinski theatres. Ticket prices can be as low as $1.

Although less than a quarter of Russians live in the countryside, Muscovites, like other urban dwellers, are still attached to the countryside. The Soviet government gave free country homes, called dachas, to all official Moscow dwellers. Many live in dachas over the weekend and over holidays. The dacha also serves as the retirement home of the elderly. Many parks and gardens are present in Moscow, see Sport.

The post war years saw a serious housing crisis, solved by the invention of plattenbau. About 13,000 of these standardised and prefabricated apartment blocks house the majority of Moscow's population. They are built in heights of 8, 12, 16 or 21 stories. Apartments were built and partly furnished in the factory before being raised and stacked into tall columns. The popular soviet-era comic film Irony of Fate parodies this soulless construction method. A groom on his way home from his bachelor party passes out at an airport and wakes up in a different city. He gets a taxi to his address, which also exists in the new city, and uses his key to open the door. All the furniture and possessions are so standardised that he doesn't realise that this isn't his home, until the real owner returns. The film struck such a chord with Moscovites, watching on their standard TVs in their standard apartments, that the film is now shown every New Year's Eve, shortly before the President's speech.


There are numerous large universities in Moscow, including the renowned Moscow State University housed in the 250m high tower on Vorobyovy Gory (Sparrow Hills). The university has over 30,000 undergraduates and 7,000 postgraduate students. Bauman Moscow State Technical University offers a wide range of technical degrees.

See Also: List of universities in Russia


Moscow has always been a popular destination for more adventurous tourists. The better known attractions include the UNESCO World Heritage sites of the Kremlin, Red Square and the enchanting Church of the Ascension at Kolomenskoye, all dating from between the 14th and 17th centuries. Other popular attractions include the newly enlarged Zoo. Moscow is also the western end of the 9,300 km Trans-Siberian railway to Beijing and Vladivostok. The city is best visited in midwinter when the streets are cloaked in powdery snow and the dusky twilight of the far north. In winter the locals face the cold with the warm embrace of hospitality. However, as temperatures can often be below -25C, early summer or early autumn can offer a more comfortable, if less romantic, visit.


Prices are considerably higher for the foreign visitor then for locals. A cost of living survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting puts Moscow is in second place after Tokyo, making it the most expensive city in Europe. For natives, small apartments bought or given by the state in the soviet era, coupled with extremely low utility costs and easily avoidable income tax serve to lower the cost of living greatly. A look at transport prices offers a good illustration. A taxi from Sheremetyevo International Airport will cost the non-Russian speaking traveler upwards of $60; the Russian speaking foreigner will be charged $3030-$40. The native Moscow dweller will negotiate the price to $15-20 or will avoid the taxi rank altogether and take a shared taxi to the nearest metro station for about 50 cents.

Eating out

A huge and quickly growing range of restaurants, with a matching range of prices. The average cost per person for a middle to top class restaurant will be $30 to $200 (more if one goes for vintage wines). A quick 'canteen' style meal in a 'Stolovaya' can cost about $3. The chain restaurant 'Moo-Moo' offers adequate quality canteen food, with English menus, for around $5 pp. Most Moscovites do not eat in even cheap restaurants very often. The omnipresent McDonald's have outlets near many metro stations.

Moscow tourist attractions

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Moscow has four airports, Sheremetyevo International Airport, Domodedovo International Airport, Bykovo Airport, and Vnukovo Airport

Local transportation includes the Moscow Metro, an excellent metro system, filled with art, murals, and mosaics. Begun in 1935, it has 11 lines and more than 150 stations. It is not uncommon to see ornate chandeliers lighting the stations. The system is the world's busiest, with 9 million passengers every day and trains every 50 seconds at peak times.

As Metro stations are placed quite far apart in comparison to other cities, up to 4km, an extensive bus network radiates from each station to the surrounding residential zones. The buses are very frequent, often more than one a minute, and very cheap at about $0.35. Every large street in the city is served by at least one bus route and none of the city's 13,000 apartment blocks are more than a few minutes walk from a stop. There are also tram and trolleybus networks. Few people use cars for commuting within the city plagued by traffic jams, however most middle class families own a small car for use at weekends and holidays.


Soccer football is an extremely popular spectator sport among the young. Clubs such as Dinamo and Spartak are prominent on the European stage. Supporter violence has become a serious problem when international teams play in Moscow. In 2002, dozen of Irish fans in Moscow for a Russia-Ireland game were attacked by neo-nazi groups. One later died of his injuries. That same year, when a Russia-Japan World Cup match, played in Japan but broadcast live to the crowds in Red Square, went badly for the Russians, the crowd turned violent and wrecked havoc in the centre of the city, breaking windows, smashing and burning cars and looting several shops. A Chinese restaurant was incidentally attacked and five Japanese tourists were beaten. One policeman died (other sources say two) and about one hundred people were injured.

Winter sports have a large following. Most Russians own cross-country skis and ice skates and there are many large parks with marked trails for skiers and frozen ponds and canals for skaters. Often parks will have small local businesses offering ski and skate rental. Prices range from $1 to $5 an hour for rental.

Moscow was the host city of the 1980 Summer Olympics, although the yachting events were held at Tallinn. Huge new statia and sport facilities were built specially for the occasion. The main international airport, Sheremetyevo Terminal 2, was built at this time also.


Although the population of the Russian Federation declines by nearly one million every year due to low birth rates, emigration, early deaths and AIDS, Moscow appears to be immune to these problems in recent years. Moscow has a very high population growth rates, largely due to immigration (despite an internal passport system that makes it illegal for provincials to stay in the capital for more than three days). These new Moscovites are attracted by a local economic growth rate of up to 20%, versus a steep rural and provincial decline.


Terrorism is a recent threat in Moscow. The prolonged war with Chechen separatists has led them to utilisation of terrorism as a means to oppose the federal government. On February 6 2004 in a wagon near the Avtozavodskaya metro station a bomb killed at least 40 and injured many. Other prominent acts of terror include the destruction of two apartment buildings in September 1999 (see Russian Apartment Bombings), an explosion in the pedestrian subway under the Pushkinskaya square in August 2000, and the capture of the theatre at Dubrovka in October 2002 where more than 100 people died during the sleeping gas attack on terrorists.

External links

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