“Moscow is the heart of Russia, the sixth largest city in the world. Founded by Prince Yuri Dolgoruky in 1147, Moscow had a late and modest beginning compared to many other Russian cities. Being a little settlement, Moscow did not prove to be any obstacle to the Tatars in 1238. Perhaps that is why the enemy saw fit to make Moscow the centre of their vassal Russian state and collector of their taxes. In 1328, Muscovite Prince Ivan Kalita (his names means “Money Bag “) was made Grand prince of the Khan. From there on Moscow started to take its fate into its own hands.
After the fall of the Byzantine Empire, Ivan III hastened to proclaim it the centre of the Orthodox world. It became known as the third Rome.
Moscow suffered terribly from Peter the Great, who hated the city and built the new capital of St, Petersburg. In 1762 Catherine the Great freed the nobility of most of its obligations to the monarch. As a result Moscow became a “Nobles Republic”, a freer unrestrained from the officialdom of St. Petersburg. At that time it flourished intellectually and culturally.
Napoleons invasion of 1812 brought disaster. Muscovites burnt the city and Napoleon intended to blow up the Kremlin.
Only the sturdiness of its wall prevented its destruction. A new city rose from ashes. In just 10 years it had a magnificent new appearance. Growth continued throughout the century.
In 1930s old buildings, including many churches were pulled down, and replaced with grandiose granite structures generally described as “Stalinist”. Some streets were widened and others built from scratch. World War II spared Moscow from its ravages but only just. The Battle of Moscow in 1941 stopped the first German advance within several kilometers of the capital.
Today Moscow seems immensely huge, 878.7 km2 of urbanity enclosed within the limits of the Outer Ring Road. Its population is about 10 million people.
Nowadays Moscow is rapidly regaining its old glory and new dynamism. In recent years 8 monasteries and 300 churches have been restored, new metro stations opened, a large number of first class hotels have appeared. Boutiques, department stores and supermarkets pop up like mushrooms in the nearby forests. Dozens of galleries, theatre companies and cafes enliven the cultural scene. Yet it is impossible to picture the city without its wide boulevards, bridges, embankments, fountains, art museums and hundreds of gilded domes.”
(from the Daily Cruiser, August 4th)